Chapter 25: Berlin

Five days in Berlin with Hudson, check it out.

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Berlin is built different.

While there are certainly cities across Europe with wild/weird customs, experiences, and nightlifes, Berlin has some stuff that doesn’t/shouldn’t exist anywhere else.

Clubs that open at 10:00 on Friday and don’t close til Monday, and partygoers that stay there for 48 hours straight. Venues where literally anything is legal, and clothing is optional (or even frowned upon. Look up Kitkat club lmao. We didn’t attend, but you’ll get an idea of what is going on here. Some ridiculous stuff).

This town can chew up and spit out party-goers who go too hard for too long.

But Berlin is also rich with history and culture. Germany is Europe’s largest economy, and the German people are proud of what they’ve built. Germany is also responsible for some of the darkest periods of modern history. From the kingdom of Prussia to its modern day form, Berlin has played a huge role in shaping central European culture and commerce. The city is full of museums covering everything from Ancient Europe to David Hasselhoff (there is literally a Hasselhoff museum near my hostel). Christmas markets and beautiful lights cover the city as we approach December.

Let’s get into it.


Wednesday, November 24th

Hudson Brett, welcome to Europe my friend.

I woke up around 8:30 and headed to a laundromat to wash some clothes. Hudson was arriving around 11. We had initially planned to visit Amsterdam, but a poorly timed Dutch lockdown forced us to switch to Berlin. He just added a Berlin connection to his previously booked Amsterdam fight.

I met him at the train station at 11, and we headed to the hostel.

Hudson is an red-blooded American through and through. Southern accent, big truck, you know the deal. The best part? Pretty much everyone we met in Berlin loved it.

We dropped our stuff off at the room and headed out to do some sight-seeing. We walked all over the city, visiting the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag (parliament), and several other historic buildings. We made plans to explore some of the museums in town later in the week.

At 5, we headed back to the hostel to meet up with one of my friends, Jules. For the OGs who have been following along since August, Jules was my first roommate in Barcelona. He lives in Berlin, and he met us for dinner at the hostel. We ate some $0.50 wings and caught up on the last couple of months.

My favorite thing about Jules is that we have polar opposite views on a lot of stuff. Hudson and I are both capitalists to a T. Europe is a bit different from the States, and Jules doesn’t see eye to eye with us on a number of political and economic issues. But we have entirely different backgrounds, so of course we’ll have different beliefs. You don’t learn much from talking to people who agree with you on everything. You learn quite a bit from people who see the world through a different lens.

The cool thing about it is we can disagree on pretty much everything, and still have a good-ass time hanging out. Something that is seriously lacking in this world today.

It was really funny listening to him and Hudson go back and forth on a bunch of random stuff. We’re going to have to get him to the States to see how it is on our side.

We joined a group of 15 or so people from the hostel going on a pub crawl that night. Dive bars, techno bars, night clubs, we hit a little bit of everything. The dress code was a bit stricter at the last stop, and Jules couldn’t get in with sweat pants. He and Hudson went to a local kebab shop (Germany is the first place in the West to serve kebab, best food in the world), while I checked out the bar.

After 20 minutes or so, we hopped on scooters to head back to the hostel.

Bird scooters in Europe go at least 2x as fast as the States.

We had a pretty eventful ride back. Jules stopped to piss on the Berlin Wall and yell “F Communism!” (Yes communism and socialism are different. Most socialists hate communism lol). Jules also somehow wiped out on his scooter about half a mile from the hostel, and Hudson and I were literally crying from laughing so hard. Not a bad first day in Berlin.

Thursday, November 25th

Thanksgiving in Germany!

St. Christopher’s hostels are a well-known chain in Europe, and they cater to an American audience. On this fine holiday, they were serving a Thanksgiving dinner and showing the NFL games at night.

Hudson and I grabbed some breakfast, then headed to the Berliner Fernsehturm, a massive tower in the middle of the city. We bought tickets to the top of it, and the view was awesome. I hadn’t previously realized how big Berlin was, but the city expanded for miles. Cool stuff.

We went in a couple of history museums after that, but they wouldn’t accept Hudson’s US vaccine pass. (Again, stupid COVID rules ruining good fun!) We scootered across the city to see a couple of palaces, and headed back to the hostel around five.

I figured out that we can actually order a Swiss vaccine passport online, and we managed to get Hudson a digital Swiss one back at the hostel.

If you have Europe travel plans, hit me up for details on the Swiss pass. It will make life 10x easier.

The bar was pretty packed for Thanksgiving, and a British girl named Kitty came and sat with us at a corner table. She had just graduated from college and was backpacking Europe for a bit before working. She was also a big fan of the Berlin nightlife scene.

I ran up to the room to grab my charger, and I came back down to see that the crew was multiplying. An English couple, Murray and Shannon (both about our age) had sat at our table (Some of the best people I’ve met in Europe. Absolute class). Then three more Americans: Felix from California (dude was 18 just sending it in Europe lol), Leo from North Carolina, and MJ from New York joined our crew. Then another British dude from our dorm, Charlie, walked over. Murray had two friends flying in that night to meet us as well: Andrew, his best friend from England, and Sebastian, a Belgian combat nurse that Murray had met in another hostel.

Within an hour our duo had grown to a massive reunion of the British empire, plus one Belgian. Real ironic, considering it was Thanksgiving.

Murray was a hysterical lad. Hudson and I exchanged American vs. British slang with him and Shannon for a while. They told us they had gone to Kitkat club the night before to check it out, and it was just as insane as advertised.

After dinner and the first NFL game, we headed to a bar down the road. Then the crew headed to some night club a little further out.

In the US, most bars/clubs play music that actually uses words. Even US electronic music is typically normal songs remixed with different beats. Pure techno is rare, outside of EDM festivals.

In Germany, every single night club is playing nonstop techno all night. I’m talking dial-up internet tones for 12 hours straight. Attendees at said clubs fall into one of two groups.

Group A:

Group B:

You are either a Fortnite dancer or a head bobber. And you do one or the other for like 10 hours, feeding off of energy from Red Bull, performance enhancing drugs, and music that sounds like Optimus Prime having sex.

Just an absurd scene.

So here we are, a bunch of Americans and Brits, who really aren’t huge techno fans, in some dark smokey room vibing to the *Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun* beats that Machine Gun Ketamine is playing from his DJ booth. Really weird night. But also a pretty fun night.

Hudson and I bounced around 3:00.

When we got back to the room, Charlie yelled, “Hudson, shut the **** up!”

He really is a nice lad.

Friday, November 26th

I wake up to the sound of Charlie cussing up a storm (a common theme). Apparently, someone had peed on the floor in front of our bathroom. And Charlie stepped in it after taking a shower HAHAHAHA

I would bet unlimited money that it was Sebastian, the Belgian guy. Turns out, Charlie and Sebastian were both in our room as well. Charlie got back first, and was already asleep. Hudson and I got back, and Hudson said he heard me snoring before he fell asleep. Which means that either one of us sleep walked (doubtful) or Sebastian got back late and made a little puddle. Kinda nasty, but also so funny that Charlie stepped in it.

Hudson and I grabbed brunch then headed to the museums again today. Now that had has an EU vaccine passport, we are untouchable. We went to a history museum, but the main exhibit was closed for renovations. After an hour or so in the art section, we just headed back to the hostel for a nap. The previous two nights had been a lot lol.

We got dinner downstairs with our British comrades, and then took taxis to a venue called Sisyphos. A former factory turned nightlife venue, Sisyphos opens at 10:00 Friday and doesn’t close until Monday morning.

What we didn’t realize was that we needed proof of vaccination AND a negative COVID test (because the vaccine isn’t enough these days I guess) to gain entry. We got bounced at the door.

We walked down the road, got tested at a local center, and headed to a homely bar across the street. Once we got our results back, we walked in a different venue, Renate.

This place was weird lol. The outdoor area looked like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, with random lights, objects, and chairs strewn across the place. The bouncers covered our phone cameras with stickers before we went in. Most clubs in Berlin do this to keep visitors from taking photos.

The club itself was the bottom two stories of an apartment building. It was a maze of doorways, dimly lit corridors, and smoky dance floors.

Once again, everyone in here was either Fortnite dancing or head bobbing. The only two acceptable things to do in Germany, apparently. Hudson and I left around 2:30 and stopped at another kebab shop (actually the same one that he had hit on Wednesday night).

There was a club next to this kebab shop, and the dude making our sandwiches was vibing to the music.

*In broken English* “Do you guys like the beats??” the chef asked us.

“No, honestly we have no idea how you deal with this every night.”

“Techno is the best!”

Classic Germany.

The scooter ride back to the hostel was frigid. Really thought my thumbs were going to freeze off.

Saturday, November 27th

Hudson’s last full day in Berlin. I personally have no idea where/when I’m going next at this point. I want to visit Lisbon and Sevilla (x3) before meeting Jake in Liverpool in two weeks.

Hudson and I grab brunch with Sebastian and Satya (Indian guy from our room) at a cafe down the road. Sebastian leaves early to catch a train to Hamburg, before turning around 10 minutes later and deciding to book another night in Berlin.

“Hamburg sucks. I’d rather keep hanging with you guys,” said Sebastian. Fair enough. I guess we made a good impression. Satya left at 4:00. He was headed to Paris, and he is apparently giving a lecture at the Louvre in a couple of days. Dude was an Indian fashion designer, which is pretty cool.

Sebastian hadn’t seen the Reichstag yet, so we walked that way to check it out with him. It started raining, and we went back to the hostel to hang out. Premiere League football was on all day, and we posted up near a TV. Murray, Shannon, and Andrew met us in the bar.

Around this time, I saw that one of my best friends, Trey, got engaged today. Two and a half years ago, five of my friends and I took a poll on first one to get engaged. I’m 90% sure I was tied for first, and Trey was dead last. Now I’m drinking pints with some British folks in Germany, and he’s hitched. Pretty wild how much can change in a couple of years. Shout out Trey & Savannah. Live, laugh, love ❤️❤️

I have now become an adopted Liverpool fan thanks to 1) Jake buying me a ticket to a game in two weeks and 2) Murray’s diehard fandom. Best club in the Premiere League 😤

Hudson and the British crew headed out to check out another Christmas market, while I grabbed a drink with a girl who had just arrived at the hostel. Letícia was a Brazilian who had moved to Portugal right before the pandemic, and she was visiting Berlin to see if she wanted to move here.

I met up with Hudson, Charlie, Andrew, Sebastian, Murray, and Shannon at the COVID test center afterwards. We still aren’t entirely sure how long COVID tests are valid for here, but they are free. Might as well grab one while you’re out.

We went to a Christmas market after that. There was some massive Christmas-themed bar set up in the market, and we spent the next couple of hours in here. I spent like 2/3 of the time pacing around outside on the phone lol. Gotta keep in touch with the friends and fam in the States.

We went back to the hostel at 10:30 or so, and Sebastian was trying his hardest to get us to go out. While it was a Saturday, no one else was feeling it. He disappeared a bit later. I guess he found someone to tag along with lol.

I extended my stay in Berlin for a few days. I have a lot of writing to catch up on with Hudson gone, and the rest of the crew will be around for a couple of more days. May as well kick it with them.

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