Berlin, Germany

Ich bin ein Berliner

by Chiara Keating

Cold, drunk and re-evaluating my life choices: that’s how I spent my days in Berlin.

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Day 1

My dear brother, James, surprised me with a gift for my birthday – a long weekend of drinking and touring a new city: Berlin. Holiday from work was booked, the bags were packed, and in no amount of time, screeching tires set us down on German soil.

Germany was already feeling the icy bite of November, it turned out, and while Christmas decorations blocked the path to our warm and safe hostel, I was honestly just happy to not be at work on a Thursday.

Once we’d successfully navigated the strange tube system – known in Deutschland as the ‘U-Bahn’ – and dropped our things off at the hostel, we found a lovely little place around the corner for drinks.

This would be the first test of my long-gone German lessons from school.

Zwei Bier, bitte’, I yelled over the noisy tourists around us, just loud enough to show off a little. So far, so good. It wasn’t until the bartender answered in German (I assume to ask us which beer we wanted) that I was thoroughly beaten, resulting to pointing at the word I couldn’t pronounce. So, the first night went on, me with my tail between my legs, repeatedly rehearsing what I thought were drink names before returning to the bar for more.

Day 2

Feeling slightly less than fresh, we went to explore the city, awaiting the arrival of my brother’s better half. In true tourist fashion, we found an Italian restaurant for lunch, and stuck with what we knew. We wandered around the city centre for a while, where we found a shop with a car parked in the entrance, an American rapper spitting some sick bars, and a Starbucks – classic tourists.

Once we’d reunited with Louda (the better half), we decided to do some more tourist-y things. In Berlin, however, most of the tourist-y things revolve around World War II, which – although fascinating – is kind of a buzz-kill.

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There’s nothing quite like seeing the remnants of the Berlin Wall, or the Topography of Terror, to kick your life back into perspective. Reading about how the German people were separated for decades from their family and friends, how they were executed if they tried to cross the Wall, or what Hitler’s Germany was really like, were all moments that made me seriously appreciate my own life.

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At the Wall, people had placed flowers in the cracks, and beautiful roses bloomed out of this symbol of despair and segregation. Checkpoint Charlie had fake guards dressed in old-fashioned gear, the museums were everywhere, and there was no escaping it. But instead of joining the others and taking pictures with the guards, I couldn’t stop imagining what it might have been like when this was everyday life.

To lighten the mood, we found one of the most amazing clubs I’ve ever been to. Right on the water, this place was so crazy that they wouldn’t even let us take pictures inside, so the only shot I have is of the main entrance as we were leaving at 7 AM (it kicked out at 11 AM.) Trust me, it was awesome – but I’m not leaving written evidence of the goings-on of that night!

Day 3

We slept through most of the day, but when we finally left the hostel, we found an anti-Trump rally forming by the Brandenburg Gate. We joined them for a short while, cheering on the speakers and sharing our hatred for the angry Dorito that the US now calls ‘President’. We moved on, eventually, and stumbled across a flea market, which is where I found the perfect lighter to represent this trip.

I wasn’t aware of it before we set off on our trip, but my brother is terrified of flying. As I was perusing through the various Zippos, I saw one that said ‘Lucky Wings’, and I knew it had to be the one.

We spent our final hours in the city drinking two-litre boots of beer, reminiscing over our adventures and planning the next one. It was the trip of a lifetime.

Editor: Malin Lillevold

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