I felt the music taking over and despite being completely sober it hit me like waves throughout my body. “Where are you from?” a tall German guy asked, “American,” I responded. His eyes lit up with mischief, “Welcome to Berlin.”
Date: May 10th, 2016
Time: 11:08 a.m. – 11:08 EST
Location: Sunflower Hostel – Berlin, Germany
The landing in Berlin was perhaps one of the bumpiest arrivals I’ve ever experienced on a plane, which perhaps was indicative of how wild Berlin will be. I found the same two guys who had scratched through my itinerary (insert link), and since they had mentioned they were going in the same direction, I asked if they could help me get to my hostel.
The journey to my hostel was an adventure in and of itself. It was past 11:00 p.m., and I was following around a pair of strangers in hopes of making it to my temporary home without getting completely lost. We spent the majority of the bus ride joking about the craziness of Berlin. One of them said, “Listen, if you want to get into the club, B.O. will get you in. Like if you’re trying to get into Berghain (one of the most infamous most exclusive clubs in the world), you have to show up like you’re coming from another party, a girl walks in with a tank top covered in stains and greasy hair – she’s getting in.” Berlin is grimy, had lots of cool history, and it likes to party.
They put me on a tram that would take me directly to my hostel, but since it was dark, I found myself getting a little lost. Fortunately, Google Maps came through even though I had no WiFI. When I finally made it there, I was overwhelmed with relief. I checked in with the guy at the front desk and put all my stuff on my top bunk. It was about 12:30 a.m. at this point. The big question was to go out or to stay in? It was Monday, but it was a Monday in Berlin. I told myself, well I’ll just go sit in the hostel bar and see what’s going on.
At the bar, I poured myself a green tea and sat down to people watch. About five minutes in, this tiny, extremely loud Italian girl sat down next to me, laughing at something funny on her phone and requesting her “usual.” Her name was Sofia too, and she was even more talkative than me, which if you know me is really saying something. An older guy named Jesus with long hair and piercings all over was sitting on the other side of me. The guy at the front said they were regulars, characters who hang around the hostel. Someone offered me speed, and I politely declined. Drugs are everywhere in Berlin and no one makes an attempt to hide it or apologize for it.
I had given up on going out since it seemed dead at the bar, and instead decided to just brush my teeth and call it a night. When I walked into the bathroom, I saw two girls putting on makeup, and my desire for sleep suddenly disappeared. I wiggled myself into their plans, and we made our way towards a popular bar in the area. Their top pick was closed, but they said, “Let’s just keep walking, we’ll find something. There’s always something in Berlin.”
I heard music coming from a building, and we tracked it down. There wasn’t a cover fee, so we went in, “If it’s crappy, we can always find something better.” At this point it was already 2:00 a.m. The DJ bumped a cool mix of techno and everyone looked lost in the music. “They’re almost all on pills,” said one of the girls. “Most of them don’t care about you because they’re too lost in the drugs.” I sipped on my RedBull and started to vibe with the rhythm.
In comparison to the club experiences I’ve had in Atlanta, this was a whole new world. Everyone was dancing and rolling and gone. “This is so great,” I said, “In Atlanta, the guys are so aggressive with you.” Ironically, not even two minutes after I said that, a guy came over and started talking to me. He made polite small talk, but ultimately got the gist that I wasn’t interested and I danced away.
I locked eyes with this tall guy with dark blue eyes and an alluring smile. We spent about half an hour making eye contact and dancing, until eventually we were standing in front of one another. He was German and charming, dancing and jumping around enjoying the atmosphere.
We danced on and off throughout the night, and I talked to a few other people, but we kept coming back to each other. Around 4:30 a.m., he leaned down and asked, “Do you want to come chill at my place?” I laughed and said “No, but thanks.” “This is Berlin,” he insisted, “Be crazy.” Despite his charm and crazy good looks, I had no desire to go home with a stranger in a foreign country. He walked away slightly dejected but winked at me as he exited the bar. A few minutes later, the group I was with decided to head out and go to a karaoke bar.
Unfortunately, the karaoke bar was closed, and hunger started kicking in, it was 5:00 a.m. after all. We wandered into a little grocery store and picked up some snacks, then finally made our way back home. I ended up falling asleep around 5:45 a.m. with plans to wake up at 10:30 a.m. My roommates woke me up at 8:30 a.m. and my body refused to fall back asleep, so I got up and out of bed. Right now I’m sitting in the lounge typing away and talking with fellow travelers.
“You have to stay here for the weekend,” one of the guys insisted. Who knows? Maybe I will.