Last Sunday I spent the entire day writing an epic and monumentally boring essay. The Sunday before I was out on research for this post. Well, I say research, what I mean is I was on holiday in Berlin.
Berlin was always on my list – not right at the top, but she was there (is Berlin a she?) The history always intrigued me; something so monumental so close to my own timeline. Also, my somewhat rusty German hadn’t had a single outing since school, so I figured it was about time to scrape off the layer of dust and take a weekend excursion of cultural enlightenment.
After a couple of hours spent spraying myself with a cocktail of tester fragrances, considering buying overpriced and oversized chocolate (if there is such a thing) and drinking tea in a fake pub named after nothing real, I queued up to reach my seat at the very back of the plane, thinking all the while about how strange the airport’s choice of classical music for the toilets was, and how bizarrely and somewhat dismally appropriate that it was Schindler’s List. I discovered over the next hour and a half something that I imagine only a chosen few know, something that I am willing to reveal to you now, oh lucky reader:
The back of the plane is a very noisy place to be.
Don’t ask me why, I know nothing about planes or how they work. Frankly, the whole concept is a bit weird, but it’s fast and sort of cheap so why not? What I really don’t understand, though, is why the tannoy system is so loud at the back of the plane, to the point of actual physical pain in my eardrums. Perhaps someone in the know could explain that to me. Perhaps they could ex-plane it… I’ll see myself out.
Thankfully it was a short flight, the only other defining feature being my utter amazement and shattered geographical preconceptions when I discovered – due to the on-screen Indiana Jones flight path, that Berlin is North of London. Who knew? Clearly, not me.
Fast-forward to our arrival at the apartment after bus and train from the concrete airport. Without knowing much about the city, we had booked a small apartment on the outskirts of Prenzlauer Berg in the old Eastern side. We’d been told Prenzlauer Berg was an up-and-coming home to hipsters, and it sort of showed. Sort of. Speak to anyone who’s stayed on the Eastern side of the old divide and I imagine they might tell you about graffiti. Edgy and unusual or sort of unkempt – it’s impossible to tell. Prenzlauer Berg certainly didn’t disappoint on the hipster front, however. Even James Dean would be out-cooled there. Unless, of course, if you wheeled out his corpse in full drag, because that is edgy.
So the first night saw us getting used to our surroundings and searching through the unexpected darkness – it’s easy to forget this is a capital city – for an “authentic German dining experience”. Schnitzel and käsespätzle. It turns out this authentic German experience was actually authentically Austrian, but that’s pretty much the same, right? (King Putney, potentially insulting multiple countries throughout 2016). Anyway, flattened meat and mac-and-cheese noodles then fumbling along unlit streets back to bed. Thankfully, it was this bed:
We filled the next day with sightseeing galore, including a tour which became my number one Berlin attraction. “What sort of tour?” I hear you all asking. Well, you’ll have to wait until next time to find out.
Ooh, what a hook.
TO BE CONTINUED