That is apparently what JFK said back in the day to sympathize with the people of Berlin. This city is German in so much that the buses and trains run on time. Exactly on time. But everything else seems to be a mix of all of Europe all in one city. It is a mixture of everything, everyone, everywhere. From walking around, it didn’t seem to be anything like other metropolitan cities such as London or New York for example. The biggest difference I saw was that it was completely integrated as opposed to segregated. Perhaps this is due to the peoples’ wish to be the opposite of what was during the draw of the iron curtain and the Berlin wall. Since then, although still very conscious of the fact, the city has transformed itself to a vibrant, busy, and youthful city. To one who comes from a city of 200k, this city of ~2 million was overwhelming, and something I only started to get used to when it was time to leave. While here for three days, I:
– Learned no German, because everyone speaks English; I even got tired of asking “Sprechen sie English;” it was purely out of formality.
– Tried the Curry Bratwurst Sausage before I even realized it was a “thing,” but it did hit the spot. It was my first meal in Berlin, that with fries. Healthy as f*ck.
– Satiated my need to climb going to a bouldering club, meeting a couple of people in the outside bouldering arena. Their rating system is in colors, which was the first one I saw of its kind like that. What if someone is colorblind?
– Stayed at a hostel where the first two nights, my roommates where 5 girls from Buenos Aires. I definitely got my dose of super short shorts, thongs hanging to dry in the windowsill, and really fast Spanish! They were super nice though, definitely the “peach personality” (Google peach vs coconut cultures). The second day, they even invited me to go with them on some tours.
– Sauntered around on the largest abandoned airport-turned-park watching kiteboarders and windsurfers on wheels, walkers, bikers, rollerbladers, bbq-ers, yogis, slackliners, troublemakers, lovers and their mothers as the sun dipped lower in the sky, illumiating long blades of grass.
– Tried a Koren BBQ food truck type thing for dinner while chatting to a Businessman and a Danish man. Food was delicious!
– Spent all Thursday night at a club, first hanging out with some locals and a painter from Chile, then dancing with two Dutch guys in a dark, smoke-filled room thudding with hard Techno music, till the sun came up. Then caught the 4:35 am U-bahn back to the hostel– which was speckled with passengers going to work in the morning.
– Discovered that the spy museum on the map was a lost quest; perhaps it was spying on us, but the museum was nowhere to be found. The guide at the Dali exhibit exhaled impatiently when we asked where it was, saying that it did not exist even though it was marked on the tourist map.
– Biked around Berlin with a wonderful tour guide who rolled us through the Holocaust memorial, locations where the wall was still up as a historical artifact, a couple of guard towers, the school of Law where history held a huge book burning, the Brandenburg Tor – the gate behind which the wall passed, Angela Merkel’s office, the largest train station in Berlin, the parliament building, and the American Embassy which was in fact vacated while East and West were divided as it was on no-mans-land. I’m probably forgetting some other landmarks…
– Walked along the East Side Gallery, finding some of the famous panels you can see in guidebooks.
– Made friends with an Indian whose wife also works at Intel. Small world!
– Went to a picnic by the canal with the Berliner couchsurfing community where I met more French people, pretended to be visiting “my sick grandmother,” to get into the hospital to pee, chatted with an Australian girl and a charming German programmer with whom I ended up walking back to the train at 11:30pm just catching the last train back to the Mitte.
– Slept in until Noon on Thursday
– Tried to find some free outdoor yoga meetup, but since I couldn’t find them, I ended up joining a random group of three guys doing Chi gong style Tai-chi in some park by what looked partially like a slum.
– Hung out with a thirty-some year old American “mad” physicist who kind of ended up to be a weirdo that wouldn’t stop talking and chain smoking/beer drinking. He had just finished up what must have been a really stressful and hard project in Hamburg.
– Took the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Bus, Walked, Biked.. Only swimming/boating is missing from this list.
– Checked out “Checkpoint Charlie,” the outdoor historical landmark of the third checkpoint within the American sector. It looked pretty “real” with a guard building, “American” soldiers holding the USA flag, the famous sign saying “You are now leaving the American sector…” in English and Russian. I later found out that of course the setup was all fake, even down to the sign; only the frame around it was the original.
I suppose that’s a lot in three days 🙂 “tschuss”!