Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Berlin Pt.1

     After one short month in Rome, the study abroad term has come to an end. The time was full of interesting moments and places, and ended up being a unique experience. Italy has a very special culture, and each city holds its own personality. I enjoyed the fact that the majority of the time was spent in the large and lively city of Rome, however had even more fun briefly visiting the few other areas of Italy I made it to. The calmer environments provided great mental and physical breaks, while also allowing for a whole new set of activities and sights. 
     Now that Italy is all said and done, I was able to continue on to the last brief leg of my trip. I had one full week available for travel, in which time I planned to visit Berlin, Copenhagen and Oslo. I chose these three cities because I thought they were interestingly modern cities with lots to offer. Each is unique in their own way, and all three are cities I could see myself being interested to live in after college. To make things easy, I thought I’d start in Berlin since it’s the most southern, then work my way up. On move out day from the Borgo Pio apartments, Emily and I gathered our stuff early and headed to the Fiumicino Airport in Rome. Our terminals were different, since she was heading home, so we had to say our goodbyes before checking in. It was hard to separate after such a nice time together, but we were both looking forward to our break until September. After a few hours of overly-complicated check in procedures, I was on the plane excited for Berlin. The flight was short and I was there in no time. My hotel was far, so I opted for public transport into the city to save money. The bus stop ended up being kind of far from the hotel, but mostly only because the streets were tough to roll a suitcase on. The walk made it even more exciting to hear that the mini bar was free! I don’t really like beer, even when it’s free, so instead I opted for chugging the orange juice. Feeling refreshed, I quickly dropped my stuff and went out in search of a snack and phone charger. Fortunately, I found the snack first. It came in the form of a magical creation dubbed Currywurst. Might be self explanatory, but currywurst is a German sausage spiced with a middle eastern mixture, including curry powder. I found an electronics store shortly after, so then it was back to fun. It was late afternoon, so I wanted to find somewhere nice to kill time before the evening. I thought I’d explore where the subway went, so I got on and headed towards West Berlin. I got off at the stop before the dividing water, right by Görlitzer Park. I’d heard the park was a pretty lively hangout, so I thought I’d check it out. It ended up being pretty interesting, even though it was mostly just a larger circular open-space. There was a ton of people there relaxing and playing music, but even more interesting was the random concrete installations that I guess could be described as ruin-like spatial installations. After about an hour I decided to leave, with the night still (very) young. I hopped back on the train, and crossed the river into the area of West Berlin known as Friedrichshain. Lively would definitely be the word for the people and attitude of Friedrichshain, however the landscape was anything but. Looking like an untouched post-war picture. the buildings were heavily worn and the terrain was desolate. Graffiti adorned everything, and many blank spaces existed from previous architecture. I’m not sure if that’s an appealing description, but it was all these things in the best and most interesting way. 
     I explored around, without much bearing on where I was since it was now dark out. My goal was to gradually make it towards a Lebanese spot named Oase for dinner. Fortunately, I was able to find it without much hassle. For some reason I was starving, and in turn devoured the shawarma platter in a manner that had the owner surprised. In a state of fullness generally considered night-ending, I thought what better to do than head for a dance club. I’m not a fan of EDM/Dance/Dubstep/Trance/The sound my computer makes when it dies/Transformer mating-calls, but from what I gathered from the people who do is that Berghain is a must visit. Berghain, originally the male-only fetish rave Ostgut, is now a (slightly) toned down female-welcome “deep” techno club. If that gem of a sentence doesn’t make you want to visit, the fact that it’s housed in a Fascist era abandoned thermal power station might. I had directions, but the building was still a little hard to find. After a walk through some woods and over a railroad, I walked up on a humorous but daunting setting. Daunting because of the building, but humorous because never once have I walked up on a line of 500 people nearly dressed in head-to-toe black. Apparently there’s an unofficial dress code, and my blue jeans and sneakers didn’t get the memo. Once in line, even more humor unfolded as I quietly listened to everyone’s nearby conversations. I had heard the door policy was strict, but I was surprised to hear how nervous everyone was. Many people flew to Berlin just to go to Berghain, which was even more surprising. I thought that kind of a commitment deserved entry, but many others in line clung to the “exclusivity”. The line moved at a decent pace, and no more than 30 minutes later I found myself at the front. I was evaluated head-to-toe by three men, most likely to determine if I could handle the atmosphere, before being waved in. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into really, but once I walked in the first floor I was so happy I decided to come. The space was incredible, with dimensions and magnitude alone that make any other club laughable. The dance floors and bars were upstairs, but I didn’t wanna rush exploring. I made my way through the whole space over the course of the next hour, which was roughly five sub-levels and floors. From crawl spaces to hidden rooms and doors, the building must have 100+ accessible spaces. Unfortunately/Fortunately there was no photography allowed, so I honored the rule and took none inside. I tried, but couldn’t really get into the music, so I spent most of my time treating it like a fun house. The atmosphere was what you’d expect, looking like any extravagant 90’s/00’s rave scene from a movie. But no Blogger, I didn’t dance with any honeys so stop trying to catch me slippin. I ended up staying for almost 4 hours, even though the drinks were depressingly expensive. During that time, there were some unspeakables within Berghain I’ll leave out to keep this PG, but one hidden area can sum it up: leather dungeon. 
Continued in Pt.2

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