My adventure began with a journey to Düsseldorf Weeze Flughafen, the airport that bears Düsseldorf’s name but is actually about 70km north west of the city. A tram to Köln Messe-Deutz, then a train to Krefeld, then another train to Weeze, then a bus to the airport - the whole thing almost went awry when one of the trains was really late but luckily I chose the second latest connection and not the very latest connection, and I got there on time (fist pumping after the Budapest debacle)!
Weeze Airport is a bizarre place because it’s right on the border of Germany and the Netherlands. There were a lot of people in the line for the flight to Seville and I didn’t know whether I should address anyone in German, Dutch, or Spanish, so I just went with English the whole time haha unless I was spoken to in German.
As you can see from the photos, I was in for a very sudden change in climates and I was very much looking forward to it. Also, Edwin was already on the other side awaiting my arrival.
The last hurrah of my exchange was already underway…
The reason why I went to Berlin on the dates that I did was to see Beach House at the Volksbühne on May 27. I got my hands on Bloom the day it came out (the 15th) and had already listened to it over 10 times by the time I saw them and was familiar with all the songs. Seeing Beach House was the absolute icing on the cake that was my trip to Berlin. They played almost every song off Bloom and TeenDream and even fitted in a couple oldies - an almost 100 minute set including the encore!
What I didn’t understand was why the venue was all seated and why the seats at the very front were at least 4 or 5 metres away from the front of the stage. Furthermore, the band were set up another 4 or 5 metres away! After noticing the foot-tapping and head-bobbing in the crowd, guitarist Alex encouraged us to get up from our seats and come stand up at the front. Immediately, a hardcore fan got up and stood in the front. A security guard tried to hold him back but he shrugged him off and yelled “fuck this, woooooo!” and then everyone else in the front few seats got up and stood up. I don’t think the non-numbered seating arrangement works at all as dickheads who happen to get there early get good seats and seating arrangements isn’t as flexible as standing but it actually worked to my advantage after I got there so early even though Linda’s friend hadn’t contacted me as to when she was getting there - I was in the 2nd row when we were all seated and at the very very front and centre when we were standing! Never did end up meeting up with Linda’s friend but carin’ brao as I had the best spot in the house!
Oh, and the supports were totally forgettable. A two-piece, they had no unifying direction and tried too too hard to make every song instrumentally different from each other. The drummer was actually quite skilled, but yeah, trying way too hard and often clashed with the guitar or keyboards. The singer had a weak voice and reminded me of Ricky Gervais’s David Brent character from The Office UK in his middle-ageing, not really self-confident mannerisms. Don’t even remember their name!
Coincidentally, the weekend I spent in Berlin was the weekend that the Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures) was in town. I didn’t really understand why they have a parade, and didn’t learn that much about the carnival in general at all (except that it happens every year), but I did enjoy the atmosphere and the party! If you want, you could probably get some information about it (in English) here.
I only took this photo because I thought the girls were pretty (stalker!) but looking back on it in full size, I quite like it. The girls look so happy in the beautiful weather and in anticipation of their samosas. The stall owners look don’t look like they’re doing much, but one of them looks pretty tense and the fact that there are two others not doing anything suggests how much work and effort actually goes in to running a food stall at a festival. Then there’s the man in the foreground who looks almost perplexed at the food he’s about to eat - I like to imagine he’s never eaten Indian food before.
Even from over 200 metres above street level, Berlin is by no means a pretty city but it’s definitely a real one. It has rich areas, it has poor people, it has unique suburbs, it probably does have something for everyone.
Near the East Side Gallery in Berlin. This part of Berlin is one of the many that still looks like it’s in a gentrification stage. I like it like this though.
Unlike most of my other trips so far, I don’t really have any anecdotes from my 4 night stay in Berlin. I’d been there and done all the tourist stuff thoroughly before excluding the East Side Gallery and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) which I did on my first day there which I really enjoyed. What I sought to get from my stay was just to experience Berlin life and that was probably what will stay with me the most, how much fun I had just being there and meeting the people I got to meet.
Different from most German cities, Berlin is a real “big” city, it has suburbs that have their own character and isn’t just based around a restaurant and pub-packed central Altstadt kind of area - the party scene in Berlin is much more decentralised. It’s also much more exclusive. At many places, you’ll only be let in if you’re 21 even though the entry age is 18, don’t even think about going in without women and if you’re in a big group that’ll crowd the place up. One highlight of my stay was going to Kater Holzig, which was a really cool, club sorta space, where we stayed til about the time high-school students were probably waking up. Quite a few of the people who was in my group beforehand got turned away but Hannah and I got him no probs, probs because of our leather jacket vibe/we’re just that cool haha. Other highlights included the Karneval der Kulturen, and, a big one this, the food!
Thanks Linda for putting me up here and I’ll definitely be back one day.