Sunday, March 10, 2002

On the Go in Berlin

Berlin, Germany
Woke up around 7, slept in, checked out what was left on my to-do list, left the hostel at 11 am. First Stop: Jüdisches Museum. I’m not one for museums, but this is like no other I’ve been to. A few of the most interesting parts: 1) A “void” that represents lost Jewish culture cuts straight thru the exhibit. 2) a garden of exile, where 49 trees are confined in concrete towers, and all of them are in a sloping square. 3) an isolation tower, where you can see light a few stories above, and hear sounds from outside, but the overwhelming sense of smallness against the large concrete walls is what dominates.
Garden of Exile
From the museum, I headed over to Potsdamer Platz in an attempt to find a trinket for my collection. No luck there, but I strolled around there for a while, checking out the Sony Centre and it’s product store there. It made me really want a digital camera. I hopped on the train to Kaufhaus Des Westens, or KaDeWe for short, the second largest department store in Europe after Harrod’s in London. Again no luck, but I got another bratwurst for lunch. They’re so good.

My wanderings found me again at the Zoo, so I took the S-Bahn up to Alexanderplatz, and walked around there. It is so vast and empty that even the throngs of people milling about couldn’t fill it nicely.

I had found a nice little Berliner Bär appropriately enough in the Zoo station, and picked up a German flag patch in the area by Nikolaiviertel. At this point, I’ve nothing left that I would feel bad about missing.

So I hopped on a train, then onto another one going the opposite direction that I had intended to go, then onto another, much newer train. This train had the open car feature that allows you to walk from one end to another. By this time I was getting thirsty, so I picked up a big bottle (1,5 l) of Coke at the store by the hostel for 0.70 €. At 18:30 I checked my email again. Nothing really interesting. Most of the clubs start at 23:00, so I have some time to kill. I decided now might be a good time to know what the deal is for getting to Prague. So I went 2 stops away to the Ostbahnhof, asked a few questions that I pretty much knew the answers to, and got dinner. Subway. It wasn’t as good as the American ones, but I really liked the mustard.

On a totally different note, I highly recommend bringing a pocket radio-not a CD/other pre-recorded music system-because I’ve heard a bunch of songs and ads that have enriched my sense of what Berlin in. A few times, mostly train stations/museums/wide open spaces, some techno song will come on that sounds like it was made just for that place. Hollow echoes, beats, etc. Back at the hostel, I ended up talking, or should I say listening, to a girl in my room who’s been in the hostel for over a month. Basically, she talked faster than anyone I’ve met on this trip. Add a London accent and her being 25 minutes late and you’ve got yourself an interesting time. She highly recommends going out tonight, and since I slept in today, I am looking at my options. First train to Prague is at 09:41, second at 13:41. I think she said the U&S bahns run all night, so I should be good to go.

As I was getting names of places to go, a guy said ‘You want to come out with me?’ Figuring that I had nothing to do, I went along. The guy is German, I think he lived in Berlin while the wall was up. Jean Jacket, blue jeans, fashion guru he wasn’t. At 11 o’clock, we wound up at Alex Platz again, and he said we were meeting people there. They never showed, but after hunting down the hostel phone number, we were able to find them…or at least where they were. On the east side of town (I’m just north of the center). In my conversation with the guy, he’s quoting lyrics from the Who and the Stones, telling me how “life is solving problems,” and that as a Kantian, he’s never wrong. He then goes on to tell me about how he’s possibly the greatest unknown poet in Berlin. He even wrote a poem inspired by a song he heard at a football game. We just so happen to be approaching Warschauer Str, the change for the hostel, and I decided to cut my losses, ‘solve my problem’ of not going clubbing while hanging out with a bit of a loser. Yeah, I said it.

I’m on my way to partake in Club Night, 19 clubs for an 11€ multi-pass ticket. The club kid at the hostel desk pointed me to Sage Club, Red Salon, and of course, Tresor. It’s now just turning midnight. One interesting bit of the previous hour’s conversation was that, apparently, a Turkish paper said that every Turk must go to Mecca once, and also to Kottbusser Tor, which I’ve been thru many times this week.

So, back to club night. I went to Sage and happened to be behind a group of mostly Americans in the line. Something like this: Dan, from Syracuse/BC, living in Berlin while studying film; Jenny, his sister, first time out of the States; Alyssa, Dan’s girlfriend, of Minnesota doing some sort of engineering; Dan’s classmates Wendy, Kate of Ohio, Jeni (pronounced yenni) of Denmark, and Harriett of Britain.
The group at Sage
Danced a bit with Harriett, talked with her and Wendy mostly. Some with Dan. Sage is really fun. The fun started when I was able to draft in with the group of six fairly attractive girls and one guy-that’s a good club ratio.

The first room was mostly just space for chillin’, so we moved on to the main floor. I think we were dancing for about 15 minutes before pr of the group came back and we followed them to a back room dance hall. There was a fire-breathing dragon on the wall, seizure-inducing lights, and body-shaking bass grooves at the Sage Club. I had 2 Red Bulls and barely broke a sweat on the dance floor. We then moved upstairs where we watched people dance and talked a bit. I think we left around 2am. After a little debate, we hopped on a crowded-and therefore free-bus to take us to a U-bahn station that would put us at Tresor. But alas, that U-bahn line had closed for the night. So we, I mean they, decided on Matrix, out by my hostel. We arrived at Matrix, flashed the wristband, and we were in. The music was more trance-like, harder to dance to as well.

It’s nearing 3 am and Wendy and Jeni are headed home. I decided to make my break and walked with them back to the station. Made it back inside the hostel just fine, thanked the club-kid-desk-jockey who had suggested the clubs. Set my alarm for 07:30, a mere four hours from now, and hit the sack.

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