Germany

AROUND BERLIN

Any place that requires me to buy a hat, scarf and gloves upon arrival has a tough chance of becoming a favorite but Berlin plowed through my cold-weather prejudice and left me smitten. 

 When faced with a menu in a language I don't understand, I like to just pick at random and hope for the best. I was particularly pleased when ALL THIS arrived at my table for 4 Euros. 

When faced with a menu in a language I don't understand, I like to just pick at random and hope for the best. I was particularly pleased when ALL THIS arrived at my table for 4 Euros. 

My favorite day in Berlin was when Gianluca (an Italian from my hostel) and I rented bikes and did a self-guided street art tour. I'm usually a bit wary of bicycling in the city (face planting on South Huntington Ave in Boston and having to be rushed to the hospital in a stretcher will do that to you) but it was fantastic and definitely the best way to get around Berlin. 

  We stopped into the   Michelberger Hotel   to warm up with some coffee and I've never been more enamored by cafe/bar  . So colorful and charming. I can't imagine what the hotel rooms look like.    

We stopped into the Michelberger Hotel to warm up with some coffee and I've never been more enamored by cafe/bar. So colorful and charming. I can't imagine what the hotel rooms look like.  

Berlin is quite big on repurposing abandoned places (there's even a website) so the next day I rode over to Tempelhofer, an abandoned airport turned public park. The massive space was lovely for riding around (on the runway!) and in better weather would be perfect for a picnic. 

The Jewish Museum proved to be the best historical museum I've ever visited. Certain sections of the actual building were designed to conjure up physical sensations within the visitor as they walk through (feeling sick, feeling alone) that symbolize the past, present and future of Jewish-German co-existence. It was tremendously effective.

 This installation examined the industrial reproducibility of the torah as well as the relationship between man and machine. Titled "bios [torah]", it illustrated how the bios system (that all computers are built upon) is as "fundamental to the development of the machine as the Scriptures are the cultural history of mankind". 

This installation examined the industrial reproducibility of the torah as well as the relationship between man and machine. Titled "bios [torah]", it illustrated how the bios system (that all computers are built upon) is as "fundamental to the development of the machine as the Scriptures are the cultural history of mankind". 

LASTLY: before arriving, I figured the food in Berlin wouldn't be anything of note (bratwurst or whatever) but oh man, was I wrong. The food selection was epic. After a month of pizza and pasta in Naples, I was psyched about all the delicious ethnic food in Berlin (particularly Thai in Kreuzberg) and the doner kebabs were UNREAL. I barely consider kebabs to be serious food, just something you eat post-party at 3 AM but there's something about the bread they use that just takes it to a whole other level. 

 Burgermeister, a burger joint in an (again) abandoned U-Bahn station (metro station). 

Burgermeister, a burger joint in an (again) abandoned U-Bahn station (metro station). 

In conclusion, German's excel at doner kebabs as well as engineeringI don't even have a photo of a kebab but I just needed to share that with the internet. 

NIGHTS OUT IN BERLIN

Berlin nightlife goes all night and into the morning (and into the afternoon at certain clubs) so a few big nights were in order with friends from the hostel. 

We skipped attempting to get into Berghain (Berlin's most exclusive night club) after receiving ridiculous advice on how to get in ("don't make eye contact with the bouncer", "wear black Nike's", "look a little gay but not TOO gay") but an eclectic bar crawl took us a 60's themed bar, a goth club, an absinthe bar, a bar inside an abandoned train station and a hip-hop club. 

  My first night I met these 8 guys in the hostel kitchen and we all went out clubbing.  It was like the European version of Reggie, Bender, Trevor, Sean, et al. 

My first night I met these 8 guys in the hostel kitchen and we all went out clubbing.  It was like the European version of Reggie, Bender, Trevor, Sean, et al. 

Dancing at the last club I was reminded of the Kurt Vonnegut quote that talked about how foreigners don't hate us for our 'liberty and justice for all' but rather for our arrogance, but that they do love us for our jazz. I would add that they love us for our pop and hip-hop too as I happily joined a massive room of Germans getting down to this song with this dance. 

BERLIN, GERMANY

Ever since I landed in London, everyone and their grandmother has been telling me that I need to visit Berlin. As I have no set itinerary, after my month-long stint in Naples was over I decided to see what all the fuss was about and booked a flight. Luckily enough, my 5 day trip fell on the 25th anniversary of Fall of the Wall and the city was full of events for the celebration. I'm happy to report that everyone was right, Berlin truly is, seriously, awesome. 

I stayed at the JetPak Alternative Hostel in Kreuzberg which was the perfect location for just about everything. The hostel was beautifully designed, clean and safe despite having mixed reviews citing "aggressive drug dealers on the corner".  That turned out to be a bunch of Nigerian guys asking "you ok?" and offering "African cigarettes" that, when met with a response of "no thanks!" would simply say "ok bye" and leave you alone. Which if you ask me, is actually a polite group of immigrant entrepreneurs committed to customer service and convenience.

All weekend, the city was buzzing with events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. An obvious symbol for the Iron Curtain that divided Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, the Berlin Wall existed from 1961 to 1989. 104 miles long, the Wall (along with guards and barbed wire) was used to prevent people from escaping the Eastern Communist half of Berlin. Today, one of the sections that remains is called the "The East Side Gallery" and is covered with ever-evolving murals and street art. 

For the 25th Anniversary, 8000 illuminated balloons lined the entire path of the wall and were released into the night sky during the big concert. 

The big celebration event was at Brandenburg Gate and consisted of: food stands of delicious curry wurst and Glühwein, impressive projection mapping, live music including Peter Gabriel, a weak fireworks show (the Lincoln July 4th fireworks show would've put it to shame), and speeches from various politicians and public figures that seemed very emotional but I had no idea what they were saying. Plus a lot of German techno music. I can't say I'm fully behind techno yet but after enough Glühwein I'll bop around to just about anything. It was a great night.