It’s impossible for me to write about my time in Berlin without writing about ‘the Frenchies.’
The Frenchies were two Parisians I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to share a couch with for three nights, also staying at the home of my kiwi friend Kate and her German boyfriend.
One Frenchie was a really sweet guy (though he liked to sleep way too close to me), while the other was this runt of a man who liked to wander around in his boxer shorts, sunglasses and bandana.
Golden moments from him included: the morning he greeted my friend in the kitchen with an almighty morn horn, his random story about how as a child he fed his dad’s computer work to the Mac trash can because he imagined it was saying ‘nummy nummy, feed me,’ and how he somehow managed to kick me, fart in my face and cup my boob while sleeping.
Luckily the wine and fromage they brought with them from Paris made up for the disturbing/disturbed sleep, such as the morning they got home at five am after their first epic night of clubbing which consisted of them getting lost in the train system for two hours and then when they miraculously managed to find the club one spent the next two hours spewing, the other sleeping, before miraculously finding each other and coming home.
Their second night out took the cake though – arriving at the Boys Noize concert (the whole reason they were in Berlin) only to discover it had been postponed.
As for how I spent my nights, I have to admit I didn’t actually go clubbing, staying at home with a nice glass of wine in the rubbish weather was too tempting.
Besides I doubt I would have got in – I don’t sport a rank enough haircut or weird enough clothes to pull of Berlin hipster and I didn’t particularly feel like queuing in the rain for two hours to be told as much.
Instead, my biggest night out consisted of drinking Vodka Ahoys (putting a small packet of powdered drink sachet crystals in your mouth and then chasing it down with a straight shot of vodka) at a dark and dingy local jukebox bar.
Luckily I’d lined my stomach well that evening, including with a third of a pavlova that did not want to be made.
I say that because on our first attempt we learnt you can’t stick whizz egg whites and on our second attempt – which we lovingly bet by hand – the pavlova rose so much in the oven it hit the grill plate.
Luckily we were able to cut the top off and disguise the crater with cream, although I also turned the first batch of cream into butter with the same devil-child of a stick whizz.
It was worth the hassle though, given the utter joy it gave pavlova virgin and Kate’s significant other George.
He’s practically a kiwi now, especially since he took up playing rugby, and while I’d be the first to admit I’m not the biggest fan of the game, I did quite enjoy watching him play a team so crap the ball once came down and hit a player on the head.
George’s team ended up winning 110-nil.
But what intrigued me most about German rugby was the post-match ritual where they all hold hands and run towards the crowd in a show of support for their fans.
That just wouldn’t happen at home.
As for the actual tourist sights of Berlin, I was incredibly lucky that the two days we went biking around the city, the weather was perfect for sightseeing.
And, in no particular order here’s my top five attractions:
1. The 1.3 kilometre longest surviving stretch of the Berlin Wall – the East Side Gallery.
And randomly this little slice of New Zealand near it.
2. Visiting the Reichstag – the seat of German politics.
3. Getting lost and disorientated amongst the 2711 concrete columns of different shapes and sizes set amongst 19,000 square hectares of uneven ground that make up the moving Holocaust Memorial.
4. Spotting my beacon of navigational hope in Berlin – the TV Tower (I’ve recently discovered I’m actually ok at navigating via buildings, map-reading skills still evade me).
5. But hands down my favourite attraction was Templehof – the old abandoned airport which is now a giant recreational space, and for me – my new favourite running track.
And finally, I’d like to thank Kate for taking this photo and to both her and George for having me.
It was an amazing five days which went too fast and before I knew it I was at the airport having an almighty fight with the check-in staff of Bulgaria Air, who almost didn’t let me board the plane as I didn’t have proof of an onward journey out of Bulgaria.
Granted, if I had read section 13.1 of their general conditions on their website I would have known that, but I didn’t, and I didn’t foresee any issues given New Zealanders don’t need a visa to visit Bulgaria.
But my main beef with Bulgaria Air was how they refused me time to access wifi to make my own arrangements and bullied me into buying a €120 one-way flight to London, which I seriously doubt I will ever use.
As for why I decided to travel from Berlin to Bulgaria – that’s a whole nother story.