meeting people

The first people you meet when you first arrive to Berlin is either, other Australian friends of yours who you’ve already met, unfamiliar Australians, British people, or Americans in the hostel you’re staying in. Then maybe someone of these 4 groups will say, “LETS GO TO ON A PUB CRAWL!” I suggest either running away, or accepting that you’re not going to have a very cultural evening, but you will get drunk and probably have a silly yet fun time. If you actually want to go and meet some locals, the best thing you can do is sit in park, research a cafe or bar that isn’t found in literature associated with “Lonely Planet,” or go clubbing. And you know what? I bet you a million dollars even then, you don’t meet a German. You just have to persist. You will eventually meet some lovely German folk (Germans in Berlin speak near perfect English), who offer you an insight into the city no expat can give you.


However, I’m told by tourists and locals alike, that with the rise of tourism, comes a distaste for tourists. Therefore, attempting to speak German is a must, being drunk and offensive is not acceptable and disrespecting any cultural customs should seriously be avoided. Unfortunately many of my fellow Australians have a) not read this blog and taken my advice or b) have shown no initiative and carried out all of the above, thus it makes me so sad to admit, but Australians have a poor reputation amongst locals.


On my first arrival ever in Berlin, I had not eaten in nearly 24 hours, so I was about ready to chew my own arm off. I walked into a cafe and found the only thing on the menu I could decipher and that was a quiche. I asked to waitress for quiche and she just looked at me, rolled her eyes and starts speaking to me in German. I ask her to speak English, she continues in German. Until I’m feeling so embarrassed I walk out, of the shop, hungry, not thinking clearly and into the arms of a wonderful Turkish Kebab that delivered me a magnificent hit of lamb, beef and garlic sauce. Moral of the story, a little German goes a long way, but if you don’t have a little German, there’s always a kebab….


straße art.

So after one particularly long evening spent to speaking to some British Berlin enthusiasts I decided, for a city that I felt at home in, I didn’t know nearly enough about something Berlin prides itself on.

This is street art.


Being in the wonderfully financial state of “struggling student, on the verge of calling up my parents to bail me out,” I decided a free walking tour would suffice. So me and a whole bunch of friends, from home and from the hostel woke up at 9am, and dragged ourselves down the Alexanderplatz train station, which is located in Mitte, a very central almost CBD-like area.


It begins, the sun is out, our tour guide in Australia (can’t help but feel some small sense of pride and appreciation) and we start walking down a winding path taking photos and seeing some pretty spectacular art.


This is a classic example of what you can find in Berlin.


You really can’t even begin to understand just how large these pieces of art are, and how long it would have taken the artist to complete. And as much as I felt completely enamoured with the complexities, social commentary, artistic skill and creativity I found none as evoking as this guy:


This is the face of Mein Lieber, which translated to English means “My love.” No one knows the identity of Mein Lieber, but she/he claims to have spray painted over 20,000 of these faces around Berlin that point and laugh at the viewer. Sometimes Mein Liebers finger is pointed at you, sometimes it’s pointed at another piece of Mein Liebers work, but the bottom line is, Mein Liebers work is so simple and so engaging. Every single day after the tour at least twice a day I would find these little roundheaded dudes pointing at laughing at me and my friends, so much so that I grew fond of the little guy.


Berlin I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

Much like the LDC Soundsystem track I feel that Berlin can “freak you out.”

So. Berlin has a huge infamous party scene, whereby you go, spend a heap of euros in order to gain entry into a club or bar in order to have a crazy evening meeting people, dancing and listening to German techno like you’ve never listened to techno before.

A classic example of German techno can be sampled here:

As much as when you’re a little drunk, amongst your friends, in a foreign country and feeling open to a whole new culture of “fun times,” Berlin nightlife can get a little addictive. Furthermore, it can get to a point where you’ve listened to so much techno, that you feel as though all you’ve done is listen to techno, danced heaps and awoken to sore feet and a hangover. Try doing this for 4 weeks straight. You will never have experienced such a low in your whole life. I can not express how meaningless and empty you feel after blowing uncountable euros on elaborate dance parties, filling yourself to the brim with pilsner, and although you meet wonderful people, and enjoy yourself in the moment, the way you feel when the sun rises and you haven’t yet been to bed starts to make you feel a little loopy.

Point of this post: take advantage of the nightlife in Berlin. But in the wise old words of Oscar Wilde: Everything in moderation…

Including moderation…..?

Snaps from my most recent trip.

So I’m thinking with this post, I’m just going to post a bunch of photos that to me depict Berlin.

This is Görlitzer Park, my favourite park in Berlin. You go there, and find yourself hearing a cacophony of musicians and singers, others lounging around the park, drinking beer and relaxing. SO. MUCH. FUN.

This is my friends and I being massive tourists at Bradenburg Gate. Erected in the 18th Century, it is the cities former main gate. To be honest, I don’t find it particularly special, it’s what next to the gate that I like.

This is my friends and I at the “Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.” Consisting of 2711 huge slightly a-symmetrical concrete slabs, walking through it can make you feel uneasy and confused. An innovative, original and important piece of architecture, marking something that should never be forgotten.

I CAN NOT TELL YOU, HOW GOOD KEBABS ARE IN BERLIN. There is a huge Turkish community in Berlin that have inspired a huge kebab eating culture. These kebabs rarely cost more than 3.50 euros and taste like.. I literally have no words to express how good they are.

BERLIN WALL!! Pretty surreal walking down the wall for the first time. Pretty strange it only came down in 1989. When meeting people in bars, at functions, in parks, or just around one of the questions you ask them if they were born in Germany is “East or West?” To which they give their answer and if it’s West, a really confronting story will potentially ensue. A met this really lovely woman at an English expats comedy gig. Over Club Mate’s (Germany’s Red Bull) and Vodka she told me that her friend was at a party one evening on the East side of Berlin, that same evening the Berlin Wall was built. Herself and this friend of hers family, didn’t see her family again until the wall came down. Stories like that have the ability to make you feel so overwhelmingly grateful to having grown up in Australia.

One day a year in Berlin, one of Berlins most famous squat buildings opens its doors to the public. The building is an abandoned department store, but is mostly referred to as “the building with f*** off mediaspree graffitied onto it.”

In Berlin there is a strong resentment of gentrification. “Mediaspree” is a large property investment company in Berlin intending to build a stream of media and telecommunication buildings along the river that flows through Berlin. It is responsible for the O2 Arena recently built in the hopes of bringing those with corporate wealth interested in sports and large scale concerts to Berlin, given that although Germany itself if a wealthy country, Berlin is a city in great financial turmoil.

One of the funniest/ strangest things I have ever seen in my life would have to be an incident on my most recent trip, where I was casually walking to a street in Kreuzberg and I see this grumpy 70 year old man walk up to a shiny, brand new Mercedes Benz with a Munich number plate, kick it as hard as he could and exclaim “Wilkommen in Berlin,” which translates to “Welcome to Berlin.”

This anti-authoritarian feeling, is something most open minded young people can identify with. This is a huge part of what I think makes Berlin special, and why so many people identify with the culture and people.


I feel like Berlin has a stigma attached to it. Generation X & Yers have this perception that Berlin is full of anti-mainstream culture, weirdos, lost souls and techno loving, drug using ravers. This is all true. I even found an article from the age that fully supports my point.


Ironically, this bizarre new hipster culture whereby being unique and different is considered cool, has become one of the most trendy identities of my peers. Berlin really does seem to be a bit of a hipster hub. In my opinion, however, an environment where everyone strives to out do each others originality can actually be quite inspiring and exciting. Sure, there are some people that take it way too far.

But underneath this identifiable aesthetic can be a pretty awesome person, who has a thirst for knowledge and meeting people. And this to me, sums up a Berliner. Whether they dress like hipsters or not, I feel like a Berliner is constantly wanting to be challenged by new ideas and new people, and once you move past the Berliners abrupt nature, you’re likely to make a friend for life.
My entire month of December was spent in random bars in Kreuzberg (hipster dominated area of Berlin) with a friend of mine who I had met over there, drinking, attempting to speak German to one another, and after a couple of German Pilsners, others who perhaps about 50% of the time would receive us positively. But those Berliners who were sometimes expats from America and England are to this day close friends who I keep in contact with.
So to conclude, yes, Berlin contains hipsters, but there are worse people than hipsters in this world, but if you look beyond the thick rimmed glasses and pink and orange top hat contrasted with sequined jumpsuit and cons, you just might find a friend for life.

Who is Berlin

In November of 2011, I finally plucked myself out of the Melbourne party scene after purchasing a one way ticket to Frankfurt in the hopes of doing some much needed soul-searching, esteem boosting and vocational discovery. Originally my intentions were to spend 3 months traveling around Europe, in the harsh infamous European winter that supposedly inspires pensiveness. When I first arrived in Frankfurt, Germany I found myself suffering through a series of awful experiences with Frankfurt International Airport staff, followed by getting on a train headed for Hamburg, and being thrown off said train because I had purchased a ticket to Berlin (which at the time was where I thought I was headed). After what felt like a lifetime, I arrived in Berlin and was met by the meanest hostel receptionist I’ve ever met, who wouldn’t let me check into my dorm until 5pm in the afternoon. Alas I don’t want to get bogged down with detail, my point is this: my first encounter with Germany was seriously not good. Ironically, I left Germany once for a week in the 3 months I had planned to spend traveling around most of Western Europe, so it definitely got better.

My intentions in writing this blog is not to sell Berlin, but attempt to understand what makes Berlin the magical place I believe it to be. I plan to write about Berlin culture, including but not limited to street art, Berliners (expats, those from East Germany, those from West Germany, the rare few who actually grew up in Berlin and have chosen to remain there (you get the picture, it’s a multicultural place)), German Techno, German nightlife, and the history in particular the wall.