Friday, 22 April 2011

Berlin, Germany

I arrived in Berlin on an overnight train.

I rode second class because the supplementary fee was 10 Euro cheaper.  Unfortunately, my cheapskate ways backfired.  Instead of a bed, I was assigned a rigid, non reclinable chair in a small cabin with two German women.  And one French man with great biceps, a square jaw, and copper-colored hair sitting in the rigid, non reclinable seat directly across from me.

While it´s no secret that I love French men... 

I´m NOT fond of the ones who snore.  Loudly.

For hours
and hours
and hours
and hours
and hours
and hours
and hours at a time... 

I kicked the French man in the shins eight times during the middle of the night to try and shut him up.  At long last, somewhere between Paris and Berlin, he awoke with a startled grunt and glared at me from across the cabin.

Eight time´s the charm.  I guess...

It was 2:47 a.m.

Due to a French man´s sleep apnea, I arrived in Berlin on the afternoon of April 20th feeling exhausted, as though I´d been run over by a Mac truck.  Repeatedly.

I checked into my hostel, familiarized myself with the S-bahn and the U-bahn, ate a hamburger, downed a bottle of Berliner Pilsner and collapsed into bed with a great sigh of relief.

And then Superman arrived...

Just as I was falling down the rabbit hole into sweet oblivion, there was a flash of light.  The door of the mixed gender dorm was thrust open and all I could make out was a male silhouette standing in the threshold.

Superman stood in the doorway for a few moments too long, before sauntering across the room and swan diving into the bunk above me.  Yes, swan diving.

I´m not kidding.  He did not use the ladder.

Strange, I thought.  But then something stranger transpired:  a commotion ensued above me.

...There was rolling and rustling and tossing and turning and grunting and groaning and grasping and...

WHAT THE FUCK was going on up there???

After a few minutes, it made sense.  Superman was clearly not alone in the top bunk.  There was a girl up there with Superman and they were most DEFINITELY doing the hanky panky.

As more time passed and the noises kept right on coming, my imagination cranked up a notch.  There wasn´t just one girl up there:  I was listening to a ménage à trois!

I couldn´t decide if that was sick...or cool.

...There was thumping and thrusting and jumping and jolting and bumping and butting and...

This could not possibly be a ménage à trois.  This was a ménage à thirteen!

But as the noises continued long into the night, my patience started to wear thin.  I had to restrain myself from standing up, bitch slapping Superman´s love interest(s) and delivering Superman a roundhouse punch...straight to the family jewels.

...Bump, bump, bang, BAM...

The springs on Superman´s mattress were screaming for a reprieve...

Just as I was about to resort to violence, the noises stopped and Superman stumbled down the ladder and out of the room.  I wasn´t sure what the hell had just happened, but the mixed gender dorm was mercifully silent.

It was 3:51 a.m.

I woke up at 8.00 a.m. in order to catch a Free Tour of Berlin.  Thanks to Superman´s hour-long lovemaking session, I was still exhausted.

I wanted to see what The Man The Myth The Legend looked like.  My vision of Superman was this:  6´3", 190 pounds, muscled, tan...covered in scars, facial hair, and tattoos...

But everyone was still sleeping in the mixed gender dorm and I was too considerate to turn on the lights.

Imagine my surprise when I returned from the shower and saw Superman face-to-face.

Someone had opened the heavy curtain, and Superman was lying in bed with his legs crossed, reading a novel.  Not just any novel.  Superman was reading The Beauty Myth:  How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women.

For anyone not familiar with Naomi Wolf´s "masterpiece," I read it 12 or 13 years ago during a rather dark period of my life.

During this period, I also wore black, dyed my hair weird colors in my parents´ bathtub, practiced atheism and was an angry, bitter, little man-hating feminist.

Superman was not at all the way I´d imagined him during the previous night´s ménage à trois.  Besides his choice in reading material, he had rather girly features, and soft-looking hands.  There was no trace of scars, facial hair, or tattoos. 

...I left on the Free Tour of Berlin and proceeded to be WOWed by the German capital.  There is so much history here.  Some of my favorite things about Berlin are...

Checkpoint Charlie (once a Berlin Wall crossing between East and West Berlin):

Remnants of The Berlin Wall:

Bebelplatz (the square where Hitler conducted his infamous book burning):

In Bebelplatz square there is is an inscription by the German poet Heinrich Heine.  Over 100 years before Hitler´s 1933 book burning, Heine wrote, "Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people..."

The Berlin Cathedral (aka. Berliner Dom):

The food:


And the beer:

I sat in a cafe along the Spree River with a glass of beer in hand, thinking about my travels.

...and I drank...

I made a revelation:  cities are like people.  

Some cities you love, some you like, some you tolerate, some you hate.  Sometimes you have to give a city a second chance because maybe you just met it on the day it was PMSing, it´s car broke down, or it´s dog died (i.e. it was raining, you met rude people, or you were holed up in bed with food poisoning).

...and I drank...
Each city on Earth has it´s own, distinct personality.  If I had to sum up Berlin´s personality in a couple of words it would probably be:  nonconformist, lots of baggage (e.g. Hitler, World Wars), punkish, arty, and energetic...

...and I drank...

If cities are like people, then on this trip, I´ve wanted to meet everyone.  It´s been a bit like speed dating.  I´ve been averaging one city every 2.5 days.  I like travelling this way, but I haven´t really been really able to delve under the surface of any one city.

...and I drank...

Because even though cities have their own, distinct personalities they are definitely like people in that they have their oddities, their quirks, their eccentricities, and their contradictions...  

I´ve been able to find something I love about every city I´ve visited on this trip, though some cities have tugged on my heart strings (e.g. Tel Aviv, Paris) more than others.

...and I drank...

I really didn´t drink that much.  It was like two beers, but because I´m such a cheap date I started to get beer goggles even before I finished Beer Number Two.  What can I say...  My liver´s weak. 

I headed back to the hostel, hoping that, this time, I might get a restful night´s sleep.  

Next up:  Prague, Czech Republic.


1 comment:

  1. Lori, you should TRULY consider getting this blog put into a book and published. You're such a talented writer!! Also, enjoy Prague. I loved it there, as well... actually went back to see it a second time! :)
    [I have 2 google accounts, so if you see any posts from "kimchi"... it's me. :P]