Berlin was never a favourite destination on my weekend escape list, especially in winter, but as people say – shit happens, and I’m glad it did.
It was a rare occasion of the thirtieth birthday, that made twelve of us come from the east and wild wild west bearing gifts. I was the last one to land and first out the door to the art deco restaurant Nolle hidden in historic railway arches at Friedrichstraße station. The place offers a range of classics as well as traditional menu, like potato soup with slices of sausages, small pork schnitzel, homemade meatball, small grilled sausages on sauerkraut, served with fried potatoes (restaurant’s special) and homemade Berlin style red berry stew with vanilla sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. I challenge you to finish it all. If you do – call me, I might write a separate story on that.
After the dinner we headed straight to jazz and blues bar Yorckschloesschen, located in East Berlin, a hipster part of the city called Kreuzberg, a continuous LSD trip through graffiti covered blocks of flats and warehouses. Don’t be surprised if someone offers you drugs. Don’t buy them, fuck knows what they mix it up with these days, call your dealer or better, as Billy Mack would say: become a pop star, and they give you them for free!
Lame jokes aside, Yorckschloesschen was a well-chosen spot. Tucked further away from the nearest subway station, it is a place known by locals and dedicated music lovers. It’s worth booking a table, as the place gets packed and there is very little space to dance or – as a matter of fact – stand.
New York based Desney Bailey & The Band were warming our reserved table up and were about to kick off when all thirteen of us stormed into the bar with the gust of snow.
Two rooms, food and drinks served late into the night, three people behind the bar and one legendary waitress worth all her tips and a round of applause. None of us sat a minute without a drink. Therefore, when Desney encouraged the audience to dance, we were jolly enough to show off some moves.
Move I did to the overwhelming beats at one of the most legendary clubs – Tresor. This is when I thought to myself: why no one ever sat me down & told me everything about Berlin?
Really, their no fucks given attitude made my knees weak. It was like time travel to good old days London, when Fabric was open and one could smoke indoors, drink beer from a glass bottle and shake it without no sleep for two days, then have a religious experience on Sunday at 93 Feet East.
- I’m in love with you, – I whispered to the cloakroom attendant handing a coat tag, because for that mere second I truly was.
He looked like Berlin: tattooed from head to toe, ripped jeans, sleeveless T-shirt, baseball cap and stretched lobes. Moving to the techno beat, cold and rough as if teenage boy masking his insecurities, but sweet and tender if some affection shown.
However, one foot out the door and the spell of love was long gone and buried deep down in the snow. It was one freezing cold journey back to hotel where I learnt that reading Kindle whiles sipping beer on the 3am tube ride is rather possible and some people manage just fine. Also, I was surprised that even though less frequently than in the daytime, Berlin metro runs at night too.
And do not mess with the, so to say, no gates policy, random ticket inspections are rather common and fines are unbelievably high. I advise to get yourself a day ticket for zones A-B for €7 that will last you 24 hours. Also, if you are coming from (or traveling to) Berlin Schönefeld Airport – buy the A-C for €7.4, that will cover your daily voyages as well as your trip to the airport. If you do decide to pay for each of your journeys, get the €2.4 ticket (valid for 2 hours), unless you are only traveling 3 stops, select the short trip ticket for €1.4.
Sunday morning was late and lazy. Sometime around noon we split into little groups and explored the touristic side of the city. I was eager to see the original part of the famous Berlin Wall, around Wallstraße. Since, the Wall is guarded by the fence, all pictures I posed to look like teasers for the new Prison Break season.
Later we circled around searching for a place to grab a bite. None of us was going to settle down for a hotdog on the go, traditional cuisine, a glass of German beer and warm atmosphere was something we all desired. And on the corner of nowhere else to go and all hopes lost we found a giant man dressed in Bavarian Costume waving at us with a salutary pint.
Maximilians restaurant hidden amongst office blocks is a place to visit, if you ever find yourself hungry walking around central Berlin. Fantastic spot to force-intake a bit of culture. Service was classic German, with a twist of European customer service fake. Waiters dressed in Bavarian costumes. Everyone was satisfied with the food choices. I boomeranged myself cutting die wurst, took a couple of pics for Instagram, added a video to My Story and then rose the glass of the divine German beer to this short and entertaining trip.
After the lunch, some more sightseeing followed. Restraining the temptation to see and experience EVERYTHING in three days, I settled with Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berliner Fernsehturm and Gendarmenmarkt square.
Monday morning was dedicated to Berlinsche Galerie, The Museum of Modern Art, a cup of black coffee and writing postcards.
The large space and the perfectly balanced exhibition made the experience memorable. Particularly, I enjoyed The Art Show (1963) – one of the major works by Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz. An art work that these days is hard to find, a vintage piece with right amount of sentiment. Simply beautiful idea, a time machine that takes the participant into the 70s bohemia.
I guess that sort of summarizes Berlin, a right kind of sentiment that applies to everyone, who at least once in a lifetime faced a wall and managed to break it.