Berlin. After having been to the airport around four times, I finally made it beyond customs, into this hipster wonderland that as of late I've found to be the hottest destination for European travelers.
It's funny. Most people would never expect a city in Germany to be as hippie-dippie as it is, what with the more rigid, efficient, German stereotype. But then again, Germans themselves say that Berlin is unlike the rest of the country, and jeeesus do I understand why.
Though I was only able to spend a short weekend there, I felt like I got a true taste of the Berlin lifestyle...All thanks to one of my dearest best friends that's spent the last 7 months living and breathing this eccentric life.
Starting Friday night dinner at District Môt--a Saigonese Street Food restaurant where they encourage you to eat with your hands while sitting on a plastic stool while listening to hip covers of today's top 40. What a fab introduction to the city. The food was delish, and the vibe completely matching.
Next, I was taken to Mein Haus Am See (my house by the lake). A very cool bar by night, cafe by day. We enjoyed ourselves a drink as we shared a couch with some locals and people-watched the diverse group.
In preparation for a wild Saturday night, we decided to end our night after just a drink and catch some z's.
Saturday noonish, another friend flew in to take advantage of Berlin's festivities... we spent the day visiting Christmas markets, drinking Glühwein , watching Berlin's finest ballerinas (ages 6-16) perform for their loving families at the market, eating Bratwurst, freezing our asses off, and waiting in lines to pay to pee. The Christmas markets are something I've always heard about...now I see the appeal. This is definitely a tradition that makes me a little sad about our political correctness back in the states. A Christmas market wouldn't be inclusive to all the millions of people of other religions, so I understand why we don't have them. But at the same time, the atmosphere was incredibly warm and welcoming, there were nothing but smiles all around despite the crowdedness and difficulty to walk. Everyone just seems to come together to share their holiday spirit in the company of their fellow jolly people. The feeling of the spiced hot wine warming me from the inside out, is a memory I will cherish and remind myself of every Christmas to come. It was a beautiful experience, and while I didn't get to see anything touristy while in Berlin, I wouldn't have traded my experience for anything else.
Saturday night. In an effort to keep this blog PG-13, in addition to the apparent mystique the club I went to wants to keep up, I will be discreet with details. Upon finally approaching the club after about 35 minutes on the train, I was wildly confused about our location. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, we passed abandoned parking lots and construction between the train stop and the weird warehouse type front door of the club. Confused would be a good way to explain how I was feeling--exhilarated would be another.
Upon getting passed the bouncer, and putting little skull stickers over both cameras on our phones, we were finally in. I couldn't have been more surprised by what lied behind the door. Wooden benches, huts, lanterns, vintage photo booths lined the outdoor space, leading us to the main room. We entered the room. mmmmm there was that familiar skunky smell. I looked around and absorbed the vibe--quarky, random decorations scattered all around, not a single mirror to be found, smoke filling the air.
We arrived at around 1am...and 7 hours later, we realized the sun was starting to come up. What happened during those 7 hours will stay with me forever. The Berlin experience. I've never been in a club full of people experiencing such bliss. Not one person was angry. Not one creepy guy was trying to pick up girls. Every person danced to themselves, in whatever way the music traveled through them. The club was judgment-free, uplifting, and genuine. No girls in the bathroom primping themselves. No crazy line at the bar in order to ask for water because (and this is stupidly genius) there was a lion-head water fountain where people could fill their empty matcha fizzy drink bottles. The DJ's didn't look up to see a room full of phones staring them in the face. Instead, they looked up to see a room full of people dancing, appreciating their hard work as they sweated away without a care in the world. It was a magical experience, and I was sad to have to leave in the morning, knowing that there is nowhere in the world that I will be able to have that same experience.
Sunday was essentially written off between getting to bed at 8am and my afternoon flight. We had a delicious German breakfast at a nearby cafe, before I headed back to TXL.
Reflecting now on my weekend's experience, I couldn't be happier with what I was lucky enough to see and do. I'm so grateful to have had my loving friend guide me and provide me with the authentic Berlin weekend.