Berlin, We Have Mixed Feelings

We arrived in Berlin late at night. As we were dragging my tiny beat up Target luggage bag through the city in the rain looking for our hostel, we were forced to push through the late night crowds. Berlin is known for his party scene, late night clubs and all night raves. Although I usually enjoy the artsy scene, techno and raves are just not my thing. I don’t know if it was because I was tired and we were lost, but my first impression of Berlin was negative. It was clear to me that everyone wanted to stand out. Not in a New York way. I am entertained by unique and/or crazy people. It’s just that it felt like they were trying too hard, coming off as disingenuous. I’m not quite sure why it turned me off, but on the first night I decided I wasn’t really feeling it. 

During the day we walked around the city. If you are a history buff, you’d love Berlin. The main thing we wanted to see was the Brandenburg gate. The gate was historically the main exit to the west. Until recently, I didn’t realize how fast the wall was put up, many families being separated for years because members so happen to be visiting the other side the night it was built. Later, the gate represented a pathway to freedom.

It is also famously where David Hasselhoff officially gained his legend status, performing to a million Germans in 1989. Apparently he’s pissed because there is no photo of him hanging on the walls of the Berlin museum since he feels his performance played a big role in ending the cold war. (Not joking: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/3465301.stm)

Brandenburg Gate
Tallest structure in Germany, the Fernsehturm

Walking around the city you will find Jewish memorials and Holocaust reminders. To me, its a somber place. History like that hits me hard. Although I love to appreciate it’s significance, I feel like I shouldn’t be taking photos of things like memorials. It’s like a church, you want to walk through quietly and respect the place. Watching people take 10 pictures to perfect their new profile picture creeps me out. 

Jewish Synagogue
At night, we headed to a more low key part of the city. We found a bar called Neue Odessa Bar that served some of the best cocktails we have had in Europe, but it was the bathrooms that had us intrigued. It is quite normal to have a unisex bathroom in Berlin, but this one had dragon headed taps, gold surfaces, and mirrored walls. I could only imagine the stories coming out of that place! (I’m a little gutted we forgot to take a picture.) 

The first thing you notice in Berlin is that the customer service is very different here. Very efficient, but served without a smile. This is not to say they aren’t helpful. Every time we needed help, someone was always willing to give us the information. Again, efficient and without a smile. German’s are known for being very direct and honest. I actually quite like that, but fear working here as an English teacher would prove that I am too sensitive. 

German is impossible
The architecture there is beautiful. While the sun was setting, it illuminated the city. We sat and watched the sun do it’s magic, in awe of the building’s around us glowing. 

Berlin glowing at sunset

Brandenburg Gate at night
Beyond all the history of Berlin, it’s quite a dynamic place. I understand why so many young people want to live there. The art scene. The nightlife. The shopping. (Second hand and vintage stores at every corner!) For me, it proved to be too cool. Or trying to be too cool. (I must note here that Amauri did not share my feelings about the city and looks forward to returning one day.)

Amauri loved this Brazilian mural
Maybe this means I am out too much of an old grandma and out of touch. Either way, I didn’t click with Berlin, but I can definitely appreciate its beauty. 

Especially the beauty of a mobile hotdog vendor. How cool is that?!

mobile hotdog vendor!
Hungover and back on an EasyJet plane, we were headed to our last stop, Amsterdam!
 
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