The last time I went to Berlin was during my interrailing trip after my last year at school. I have to flick through the photos I took to remind myself of what we got up to as it was actually three years ago!!! My memory has been jogged enough to reveal that the stay involved a 16 bed basement dormitory with red walls, a bar with the WORST shot of vodka I have ever had in my life (my friend and I stared dumbly at each other for a good twenty seconds, unable to do anything else, after knocking back this nail varnish remover), a bar where no photos were allowed but there were skulls hanging in it and dim, green lights giving it the feeling of a pirates’ meeting place, frozen yoghurt and a long walk to try and find some parts of the Berlin wall.
I was looking forward to going back and staying with my friend who has been the whole year and so would be able to give me a bit of an inside look at Berlin. We visited an exhibition called Zero which was fascinating in its effect on me: I felt like a balm had been massaged into the edges of my mind. We watched the sun beginning to fall from the hill in Viktoriapark, carried a watermelon across Berlin and ate dinner from an ironing table (one of the most fun ways to eat btw).
My friend had promised to show me the culinary mastery of Berlin. A quick injection of Berlin’s demography – waves of immigration during the 1960s and 70s to West Berlin has resulted in a large Turkish population which explains the huge popularity of kebabs in the city. We boycotted the infamous Mustafa’s for one which had, according to my friend, more vegetables and tasted fresher. The kebab moment came at the perfect time, following a night which we watched turn into bright morning overlooking the canal. A few hours later we went to the kebab place. It was meaty but not greasy with the crunch of fresh vegetables and a combination of all the sauces. It was hearty and delicious but did not leaving me feeling as though I had eaten a dustbin full of saturated fat. Maybe I did, but they managed to cover it up impressively.
Thames was also adamant that I tried a Club-Mate. It is an energy drink which is high in caffeine but very low in sugar and is made from Yerba mate tea. She explained to me that I may not like it instantly because “it tastes, at first, like ash.” As you can imagine I was dying to try it. And, as she said, the first sip was astonishingly vile. She was right – it tasted like ash!! However my reasonable stamina pushed me through until the end of the bottle by which point I was enjoying the drink. I also love the glass bottle culture of Berlin. It makes drinks soooo much tastier!!
There is so much to do, see and taste in Berlin. It has a cool, invigorating atmosphere that makes me want to go back. Or maybe I’m slightly addicted to Club-Mate.