Look, you’ve seen pictures of the East Side Gallery before. So enjoy some photos of people taking a selfie in front of it. And my little travel buddy.
If I’ve already talked to you about Berlin, the first thing I probably said was that it was freezing. Then I hopefully admitted that we didn’t get around to visiting Museum Island — which would have been inside and, you know, away from the biting cold. It was a less of a cute nipping at the nose and more like a full-on chunk missing out of my face, hands, toes, wherever. (Like, how am I standing, since I’m pretty sure my toes have fallen off?) I lost feeling in my legs at one point. I don’t know, man, it was just cold. What I’m saying is, a lot of what we wanted to see was outside. We learned to find refuge in McDonald’s, metro stations, fancy hotels, and Vietnamese restaurants.
Our adventures began before we even left London. Back in Stansted Airport, a young gent approached us, asking if he was at the right terminal to get to Berlin. “I hope so, because that’s where we’re going!” I dad-joked. Once we landed, eavesdropped on a German lady giving instructions to other tourists about which train to catch (only to find out that our train was being rerouted) it turned out the guy was going to the same hostel as we were, so he decided we should stick together. He proceeded to ask permission to guess my age. When I told him that no, I wasn’t seventeen nor sixteen, and that I was in fact twenty-two his eyes went wide. “What? No!” I assured him I was, explaining half-heartedly that I only look young because I’m part Asian. I didn’t bother mentioning that he should be able to understand this blessing/curse, since he’s full Asian. He also asked something about why my English was so good and why my accent was so strong. I explained that I was from Canada, where we speak English, and that maybe he was used to a British accent, rather than a North American one. He didn’t seem to believe me. We parted ways soon after reaching the hostel.
Asha and I spent every night at a Christmas market, finding out that the curry in currywurst is mixed with ketchup and is therefore not totally my jam. Turns out the wurst part was actually the best part.
Two things that are apparently a big deal in Berlin: flea markets and photo booths. We passed fotoautomat after fotoautomat, figuring we’d settle on one when the time was right. On our last night we set out in search of our final Christmas market and our long-awaited photos. We found both, plunked a few euros into the fotoautomat and took a series of surely charming snapshots. The cuteness! The frivolity! How utterly darling we must be! We waited patiently for our slip of photos to pop out, chuckling at the drôle, dorky poses we had made. We waited and waited, less patiently than before. Finally, someone took pity on us and explained that the machine was out of order, and if we wanted our money back we could call the phone number on the machine. We walked away. What we wanted back wasn’t our money. What we wanted was a tangible memory that perfectly captured our carefree ways, embodied by our heavily thought-out poses that took longer to conjure up than the actual photo-taking process. How could a German photo booth company replace that?
One day I’ll go back to Berlin. We really only had two days, and I spent half of it under the covers trying to fight off a cold. I only caught glimpses of the fascinating design and coffee scenes — both of which came together with the café/typography shop Type Hype. It had the kind of stuff I’ll copy for homemade birthday cards. We also went to KaffeeMitte (where I got a tea with ginger, lemon, and all other things to help lessen my cold symptoms) and Zeit für Brot (where they didn’t believe Asha when she said they forgot her order, but I had a perfectly lovely time).
Unrelated note: I hate to make sweeping generalizations, but German people are really good-looking. The men, the women, probably the babies too. There’s not even a specific look, they are all just beautiful, beautiful people.