After departing Amsterdam on a night bus, I arrived the next morning in Berlin, greeted at 6am at the station by none other than my friend from high school, Mandy! Thus began a fantastic week in Germany’s capital, one of my favorite cities in the world.
Mandy was working in Berlin for the summer, so while she was at work I had a chance to relax, run, visit some museums, and explore, and then when she was done with work we spent time hanging out together.
I couldn’t have asked for a better week in Berlin, which is saying something, considering I had and/or created some significant disasters that week, including discovering that I had lice and bedbugs infested in my hair (both!), that my debit card didn’t work, and accidentally flooding Mandy’s apartment when I started the washer without putting the drain spout in the shower.
Despite these disasters (all of which have since been resolved, thankfully), we had an incredible week. Mandy handled all of them with grace and kindness, and never made me feel like the horrible guest I was truly turning out to be.
Some highlights of the week included:
- Sitting on a thoroughly graffiti’ed dock overlooking the river and eating a pastry with her near her apartment, right after I arrived, slowly talking and catching up.
- Taking a run to explore and finding several beautiful parks (and an abandoned amusement park… creepy at night, I’m sure!).
- Visiting the Pergamon museum, a museum of Middle Eastern art and Islamic artifacts. They had entire original architectural structures rebuilt inside! It was a fabulous museum, and I highly recommend it to anyone who goes to Berlin.
- Renting bikes and biking all around the city, including to Tempelhofer Feld, a retired airport that has since been turned into a park. This was the airport where the Berlin Airlift took place, as it happens. History abounds in Berlin!
- Going to an improv show hosted by her roommate, a PhD. candidate in neuroscience who went by the name of Nacho. It was painful, I was laughing so hard at times.
- Staying up until 3 and 4 in the morning with Mandy, just talking.
- Meeting her at her work downtown in the afternoon and walking home, talking and drinking delicious, cheap, German beer.
- Going to a rooftop bar with the most fabulous, incredible decorations you could imagine, complete with German techno music and an intense cloud of cigarette smoke. The lights gently blinked on and off, and there was a large garden outside if fresh air was more your thing.
- Dancing for hours at a queer club, with three different places to dance – a techno dancefloor, an oldies dancefloor, and a pop dancefloor. We tried all of them, ending up at the pop dancefloor, where the DJ was one of the best I’ve ever heard. Every song that came on was better than the previous, and Mandy and I danced non-stop. At around 3:15am, after having danced on the stage and gone hoarse singing, we decided it might be time to head home, and we walked home; I went to bed around 5am. It was certainly a night to remember.
- The next day, we woke up at noon and went to brunch at what might be the world’s best brunch place (there are just a few countries I have yet to visit, but I’m getting close to being the world’s foremost expert on brunch). On our way over, our ravenous minds concocted what we thought would be the best possible brunch to eat, and lo and behold, both of our desires were there, on the world’s shortest menu. What are the odds!? We both ate like queens and kings (we ate for two, we were so hungry). I had a grapefruit kiwi lemonade and we both had hard coffees… mm mm good. Safe to say it was a fabulous morning.
Since my luggage broke in Japan, I had to buy a new suitcase, so at the end of the week, I loaded up my new gigantic suitcase, bid Mandy a sad adieu, and headed off to the airport. As it happened, the very inexpensive bag I bought gave me exactly what I had paid for, and split at the zipper right as I was lifting it to have the airline check it. I panicked, but the woman checking me in gave me some suggestions – I went to the nearest luggage store within the airport and bought two baggage straps, which I connected end-to-end and wrapped around my suitcase the long way. So far, so good. Next stop, Greece!