The Road to Berlin
I don’t know why I still always get that lurching sickness feeling when heading off to a new country; you’d think I’d be used to it by now. But even so, getting on the train on Thursday morning I couldn’t help but wonder, what am I doing? What if something goes wrong? Am I ready for this? So if you’re reading this and feel anxious about travelling, have comfort that you’re not alone.
And yet, as is so often the case, everything went smoothly and without a hitch, and I even had the joy of standing next to an elderly Asian woman in WHSmiths in the airport, humming softly to herself whilst buying a book titled ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck’. Legend. I suddenly found myself in Germany’s capital, Berlin, a vibrant city of rich history and food aplenty. But how do you possibly fit anything in with just an evening and a day?
First – the East Side Gallery. Seeing as it was just around the corner from my hostel I decided to check this out on the night of my arrival. But honestly, I don’t get the appeal. It’s essentially a non-descript wall covered in graffiti, and if you didn’t know why it was there in the first place, it’d be easy to wonder why anyone stops at all. But still, that’s something ticked off.
Finishing Thursday night with a classy cocktail and a bit of bedtime Totoro to unwind, I was ready yesterday to hit the ground running and really make the most of my limited time in this vast place.
Enter the historical “Discover Berlin” walking tour, a four hour spectacle run by ‘Original Berlin Walks’ and in my case led by Glaswegian guide Scott. Stops included most of the main tourist draws with all the wartime background to boot. There’s far too much information to summarise in a single blog post, but as we wandered the streets I was most surprised to discover how recent such key buildings really are (some as new as the late ’80s), merely reconstructions or replacements of architecture once reduced to rubble.
My personal highlight was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which looks like nothing from the outside and isn’t even labelled, and yet once you’re in the strictly organised maze of towering stone blocks you get feelings of isolation, insuperiority, disillusion, and hardly notice all the other people also visiting. You could only describe it as atmospheric.
After a refresher in a go-to of mine, an Irish pub (Yeah, don’t hate me for not picking a German place), it was time to put the idea of conflict behind me and have some fun, in the form of shopping and live comedy.
The Cosmic Comedy club at Bar 1820 in the basement of Belushi’s is a dingy little place but in a super cool way. And honestly, I would recommend this experience to anyone and everyone visiting the city. The hosts are lovely, the clientele awesome and the comedy itself great too. You get such a good vibe and even going solo it feels so welcoming, safe and secure. I can’t think of a single thing I regret about the decision to spend my evening here – and that’s without the draw of the multiple free shots… (which must obviously be a small factor too…) Seriously, I’m almost speechless it was so good, from conversations with random seat neighbour Florien to chats with the host and super chill barmaid, to of course the show itself. It truly was a wonderful way to end my short but sweet time in Berlin. Now to see what Copenhagen has to offer on the next leg of my journey. See you on the other side x