Following Amsterdam, we had a six hour train journey to the mighty Berlin. Naively, I expected Berlin to be a jolly looking city with quiant window boxes of flowers and cheerful looking old, colourful buildings. I was entirely wrong. In history classes in school , we were taught of the damage the Luftwaffe inflicted in London and Clydebank, but we were rarely made aware of the extent of the damage the RAF caused on the other side. My eyes were truly opened- and I felt almost accountable for the widespread chaos that the British side caused Berlin. What I’m saying is, war is always evil on both sides of conflict, no matter the intent or justification of ones involvement.
That said, Berlin was incredibly charming despite its modern infastructure. The first thing Rachel and I noticed was that we felt particularly uncool around the impeccably dressed Berliners. On our first night in the city, we visited an area which was known for its nightlife. Literally moments after leaving the train station, we came across this intimate but buzzing kind of mini festival happening in a small square at the sidee of the street. It was called Urban Spree, no idea if it was an extension of a club or whatever was organising it, but it was immensely cool (terrible adjective, but very appropiate.) The square was lined by tall trees which were lit up by fairy lights and there was live music all night. Turns out the party was for the Nordic Midsummer festival which doesn’t reach as far as us in Scotland but apparently does in Berlin. Therefore, the girls all dressed up with flowers in their hair but somehow avoided looking twee, as I imagine I would in the same attire. Anyway, as Rachel and I started drinking, we began thinking about how if this were the UK, 70% of people would be blind drunk by 9pm and the police would be called at 10pm to sort out a fight over something said about someone’s Mum, and eventually the whole thing would be shut down at 11 due to a noise complaint from a conservative neighbour. Not in Berlin. Everyone there- and we seemed to be the only tourists- drank and danced the night away in the most civilised manner I have ever seen. The event wasn’t by any means boring, but no one felt the need to get absolutely rat arsed and spew one’s guts out in the gutter. Berlin 1, Glasgow 0.
Our hostel, Amstel house (http://www.amstelhouse.de/) ran a free walking tour which was for me, the highlight of our few days in the city. Our tour guide was a young Irish man who really knew his stuff. Honestly, every building or important landmark which we passed was explained to us in such wonderful detail. It was truly fascinating and free(!!!), so of course we tipped him generously. The tour started off at the Brandenburg Gate, and covered the Holocaust memorial, Hitler’s Bunker, The Luftwaffe headquarters (one of two remaining examples of Nazi architecture, and is now used as the tax office, oh the irony) The Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie etc. I must stress that many of these places are still extremely sensitive issues with millions across the world, and our guide did not treat places like Hitler’s Bunker and the Holocaust Memorial as trival photo ops for the tourists. Rather, he reiterated the importance of remebering the past for a more positive future, and learning from the mistakes of the 20th century.
Although I am not massively into football, our Eurotrip corresponded quite well with the World Cup. On our last night, the Germany-Ghana was on and the city was buzzing. We managed to get inot a bar which was full, which had a courtyard with a massive screen to watch the game. Plenty of beer and sausages, standard. The game was a draw but the Germans were still ready for a party. We wandered the streets afterwards and heard DEUTSCHLAAAND echoed from miles around. We also walked right down the middle LGBT parade which was interesting. Felt the need to grab Rachel’s hand lol.