“The Hype is bloody air born!”
So Berlin has been a bit of a crazy trip for me. I mean none of my trips are normal, but Berlin has not only remarkably surprised me in its consistent breaking of rules, and of stereotypes, but also in the harsh and extreme fashion within which it does this in. Not only was I astounded that I could find a hostel which was above my expectations in friendliness, cleanliness, and politeness…. with under floor heating in the bathrooms,( in the central tourist location: Mitte), and for 10 Euros a night*(1) – but I was just as equally astounded by the people here; who are exotic, interesting, and quietly wildly passionate, both in their dress sense, and in how they perform on the dance floor on a casual Thursday night.
I fit right in here!!
Districts which would ordinarily be neglected and branded as the run down dismissed parts of the city, are cheekily and bravely transformed into critical abstract landscapes, plastered with art which not only shocks you with it colours, but in its shapes and messages. Hosting markets*(2) which encompass a variety of flavours and lifestyles; I picked up homemade hummus and 5 avocados for 2euros on the same strip I bought a pop-art stick-on jean patch of rep lips with lady fingers saying ‘shhh’ on them for my Levi’s or handbag. There was not a single ‘art’ portfolio I went to in Berlin that gave me the “been here seen this” feeling.
It wasn’t modest or polite, but rebellious and coy*(3); and this coyness, in complete contrast with the introverted and humble nature of the very people creating it and living here, made Berlin’s art scene ever more endearing and sassy.
For all links & Geographical locations corresponding to my fav hotspots mentioned in this post “A Lick of Berlin” please click here to see more detail; (Berlin Hotspots)
Pensive to the point of obscurity, Berlin made me question about whether I know anything about the world or about people… at all. And ironically the city is such in opposition with my own prejudices, of Germany and Germans, and undoubtedly that of others too, that; “They are German, they make efficient grey cars, and are obsessed with punctuality” I then found myself laughing awkwardly and shockingly during most of my time there. The mask we so readily plaster our European neighbours with, when talking about them in conversation, is completely & wholly inaccurate, especially in Berlin.
They don’t mess around.
Berliners, at least, are quiet humans in the corner of a cafe with an ear piercing and a pink beret, mildly timid and introverted, harmless yet intriguing, with yet lots to say but happily observant. Add a vodka, some techno & a mesh net vest to the equation you may just gain a gay best friend for life…..that is, with the right attitude; Berliners are the kind of creatures who will not only ground you and calm your ocean, but also tell when to show you a little more skin “coz darling you’re a god damn goddess, and you need to bloody well own it”. Mix in Saturday night with leather and some tequila and you will potentially have the best night of your life, if you let go of stereotypes, your reputation, and open your mind to new ways of being as a human.
They’re boggling, comforting and very enjoyable… they embrace change and alternative-ness. There is so much love here, and forward thinking.
The clubs here are stealthily fun, and understated*(4), and you’ll only enjoy them if you forget about looking the best there, they don’t care what you wear as long as you just head to dance floor to mingle and groove with strangers, who are almost always having the time of their lives, (but clearly do this, and have that feeling – EVERY WEEKEND).
They are the kings of consensual interference too, and compliments. They are so self assured, it’s calming. You’ll have no idea what I mean till you’ve experienced Nicki Minaj’s ‘Monster’ playing in a house converted club*(4), with pink neon lights, incenses burning, cacti drawn all over the bathroom wall, and there’s a guy dressed as Freddie Mercury grinding with a girl that
looks like she just birthed herself out of a 90’s girl pop band video, and there’s a guy called
Andre, who wearing 80’s shades and a neon green golf vest, just invited you to Brazil coz he “just loves your energy, and begs to please lets change numbers” and everyone else here is not holding back either.
The hype is bloody air born.
I came out of that night feeling like someone had twinkled with my neurotic pathways, gently with a brush drowned in hot pink. And it felt good.
My night ended with probably was the best veggie burger I’ve ever had in my life, and I genuinely have no idea where this exact shop was – sorry – they do have them everywhere, but drunken food is taken to another level in these streets.
Cola here is born and bred by these guys Fritz-Kola*(5), who literally make every flavour of soda pop in a bottle, and it’s not rubbish, (hipster eco pop can occasionally taste like c***) but these kinda rock.
You can never take the phrase; don’t judge a book by its cover as literally as you can in Berlin. These guy’s are walking Oxymorons’, and it’s fascinating. Until you go to an underground nightclub on a Thursday through Sunday in Berlin, and experience Techno at 5am with your new best friend in an orange fluffy head band, you’ll have no idea why I say the Germans are beyond ‘lit’ & that I’ve come to the conclusion they have to invent a new word to describe the way they party and interact.
The city also obviously clings obliquely to its past. The regret, and I use that word prominently, is evident and everywhere. Remorse, sorrow and embarrassment clings to this city and these people, as if it were their own actions, they humbly and admirably accept the past of their ancestors, and rightly so….However I couldn’t help but feel slightly sorry for the generations of Germans now dealing with the aftermath and consequences of their great grandparents’ actions, wearing it, silently nodding their heads, and informatively telling me where all the WW2 sites are, and where I could find the most info. They seem to understand accountability more than any other generation I know, they have absorbed and embraced their past and they diligently try to nourish and change how their country’s past affected the rest of the world, to open up a new pathway and future. It must be hard for them in a way, that most people who come here, just want to see the Wall, and talk about Hitler, as if they, the Germans, never achieved anything else in their history.
It’s commendable and inspiring yet hard to swallow. I couldn’t imagine having colonial memorials, and mementos of when we enslaved people all over London, I’d feel so responsible and obliged every day to face our history. The Germans do this gracefully*(6).
I’m not trying to be controversial here or rattle any cages but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the fact that these past events have also clearly been adhesively stuck to a nationality of people, as opposed to a time/era or political phase which was , a time, ever growing in tension, but has now rapidly changed, everywhere, not just Germany. Of course this movement has pushed these Berliners further then to the other edges of extremes, they’re progressive in nature: sexually, politically, and socially, they’re Liberal, and maybe they’re grateful, maybe these statues and attributes to a horrifying past lay footing for a “we don’t want this to be our history forever” energy and determination, the want to prove to everyone that it isn’t who they are, and that it doesn’t define them wholly. Presumably this is what has created the new world era/modern movement and proud push back to something radical, creating a generation representing morals and ideas that are bright clear and tasteful.
I couldn’t help but hate the fact that this has clearly been glued to a nationality as opposed to a space in catastrophic time. Their determination to talk about their past, and change the future is commendable.
Aside from this I experienced some very interesting food for thought. Sexual freedom/liberation and acceptance of all preferences & fetishes are fully accepted and actively encouraged here. Consent and equal entertainment are prerequisite to everything; So if you’re feeling confused or restrained in any way concerning one of your fantasies, you can probably explore it here and be rewarded for it. Go to Kit-Kat in north Berlin , for a night or 2 (you can actually go for the 3 day party if you fancy having a REAL session) and explore, (apparently you can’t get in if you’re wearing too many clothes; dancing in Kit-Kat is not an observer sport).
Since arriving here, I’ve been called religious, conservative, shy, introverted and a bunch of other things, which we all know to be counter to my nature, but only because I’ve been that equally mortified and intrigued by the sexual liberty here, to them I’m slightly stone aged. Don’t get me wrong I’m no prude, I’m more one of those ‘if you actually manage to get me back to yours after a night out we’ll just end up cuddling and ill expect breakfast and a ride home in the morning’ whereas here, interestingly, it’s fully the norm to like opera, and want threesomes. I was offered two, within three day, and one was by a new girl friend I’d met an hour prior. It’s quite freeing, the offers I mean, and their attitudes and openness. I didn’t take any of the labels they gave me offensively or to heart, just with an open curiosity and interest, especially as I presumed the Germans were the same as English when it came to affairs of the bedroom. Prudish, cold, apologetic. They’re really not.
The comments, interestingly also weren’t made based on my gender or from a place of misogyny; they were made because I was so confused and astonished by the ease at which these guys accept nudity, sexuality, and fluidity, to the point of my inner feminist being like “am I comfortable, am I cool with this? is this weird? is this normal here? I don’t know” but it’s just their culture, and they’re so laid back, it’s refreshing.
Now let’s get onto the culinary porn because I know you’re gagging to hear about it… but Vietnamese is everywhere, I’ve no idea what the obsession with Asian cuisine is, but it might be to do with the fact that the city is very much Vegan orientated, and many of the Viet’ restaurants cater to that market specifically*(8); Anyone part of the V-gang or doing Veganuary you won’t be ostracised here or stuck for choice. Not only is there a vegan DONER KEBAB place*(9), yep you heard me…. VEGAN DONER KEBAB, there’s Vegan wines in the local corner shops, supermarkets called VEGANZ*(10), and literally a vegan hipster cafe with all the nut milks on like every other street. It’s mad. And just when you’re like woah this is a lot of Vegan-ness there’s a vegan doughnut place*(11), actually two of them in the city, which have a special monthly doughnut whose sales profits go to a chosen humanitarian charity….I know… YASS!!
That’s not all, for those of you walking a different diet path there are just as individual and boojjy restaurants a plenty, I think I literally saw one, maybe two, actual chain restaurants in the whole of Berlin, everything else here is individual as hell, which just makes this city oh so tasty. There is Pizza, pasta, of course, but I barely had time to grasp the enormity of choice in the food scene here; there’s Shisha, then Poke bowls*(12), smoothies & avo on toast*(13), but also CurryWurst ( a national dish for literally whenever) every 2 stops; oh and it’s all totally low key, nothing is in your face, or overpriced. Berlin would be a good place to hide, if you wanted to. There are only about 5 buildings West of the city that look remotely ‘london-gerkin-esk’ the bourgeoisie don’t make an overt appearance here, and if they do they’re hiding in beanies, hoops, and ski bright turtle necks. If you do feel like dressing up the Bikini Centre has the sickest 270 degree rooftop bar with fancy monkey martinis overlooking the zoo and the airport*(14).
But hey, I wasn’t visiting Berlin to get a taste of home.
People still smoke in bars in here too, yes its weird but also nostalgic, and yes they still have pubs and bars, like real ones that aren’t over the top with bubblegum martinis and marshmallow shots, they ‘re the traditional beer beer beer hangout with curtains and bar stools, they’re not my cup of tea, but charming all the same. The main attraction I could see and take from the one pub I visited, (sorry but drinks were like 2,50 Euros for a wine in the hostel, so avoided prinking at bars) , is that probably they’re the kind of satire stylist places that some famous artist has probably written some music in, and shagged in the toilet, so if that’s the inspo you’re after, do it. There were also free tampons, in a red wooden box in the wall near the mirror where the word “tampons” for free had clearly been written in black nail polish – and that’s very 2019, I liked it – oh and the bartenders were also begrudgingly kind, think gothic punk attitudes, recommending in their words “a shitty tourist club*(15)“, which I actually rather enjoyed to be honest. Epic.
I could write a small chapter on my experiences in Berlin, the bear city, and not ignoring the fact it was such an enriching trip that its pushed me to start writing, but I think you get the gist of feels for this trip. It’s retro as heck, music’s’ great, I don’t like vintage but I ended up buying a boojyy as hell turquoise number here*(16), fyi Vintage clothes stores are not scarce, and they don’t care if you wear makeup or are in full on drag, they mix it all up, and they keep to themselves until you add the night scene. It’s beautiful. I barely got to experience enough of it, hence the ‘lick’, there’s still the yoga to explore, museum island and more of the shopping, the transport system is ridiculously trusting (there are no barriers) and well maintained , and the people – non tourists – actively go in search of art and interests because there is just something for everyone here.
It’s cleared my head and messed it up at the same time*(16).
I think we can all learn something here though, Berlin’s taught me about accountability, especially of history, simply that we don’t do it, and that of positively embracing sexual liberation . Girls here are cool if they’re are all fem-fatal and want to jump a load of men, you’ll get winked at and asked politely about your” experience”…. Shaming, especially that of women, doesn’t exist here, unless of course you’re a racist or judgemental. There’s no room for that here; Being either is boring and outdated – and according to the Germans – small minded, there’s other things to focus on. It’s truly like being in the 70’s but with hostels, instagram, contactless, messy house music, and coloursssss . People walk around topless, support animal rights and like getting messed up. Homeless people collect bottles on the streets for money, and beer & tequila is more a right than a commitment.(Ice Tea with Vodka is a thing here for the fancy people). I reckon you go there for a taste. It’s left a great linger of lightness in my head, a new opening of doors in my thoughts , and a soft warm pinch in my skin. I loved it.
Please click on this link here (Berlin’s Hotspots) or a full comprehensive list to all of the amazing places and spot I ventured into, from cafes, art galleries, clubs, & nourishment.
2 thoughts on “A Lick of Berlin”
I lved your post, i hope that you are better and that you could find everything that you needed
in Berlin. This is the best quote to describe you “coz darling you’re a god damn goddess, and you need to bloody well own it”, hope that you could come back to your old you, or become a better one and that you can know see what i have seen 7 months ago, every day wen i was with you.
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Thank you so much for your feedback ! 💖 that’s so so sweet to say thank you lovely! ❣️❣️ Thank you love. I hope it helps and inspires everyone to be their best selves- to believe in themselves and know I’m with them in my heart on their roads to self discovery. 💕💞💓💖