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Published: September 22nd 2009
Dubrovnik to Berlin
L-R: Emily, Katrina, Megan, Tages
Berlin is off the hook!! Emily and i had such a wonderful time that it was hard to leave Berlin. After being on an island for 27 days it was so nice being in a big city where there are so many vegetarian options and to actually have a real bed to sleep in!
Let me start at the beginning... We left the island of Brac at 7 in the morning and had to head back to Split by the catamaran. The waters had been choppy the last few days and when we left it still had not improved. We set sail on the catamaran and soon start getting some air from all the choppy waters. At first it was super fun being tossed all around, but about 15 minutes of that I started to become a bit sea sick. I've never been sea sick before, but pretty sure that is what you could call it. I started to feel nauseous and my entire body became very cold and clammy. This was the worst hour and a half of my life! Eventually I started to feel a little better but even when we were off the catamaran and onto
Katrina getting on the EasyJet flight that we were all on. I took this in the midst of some serious excitement!!!
our next mode of transportation I still felt not so great. Such a crazy day this was because we had to take three forms of transportation to get to Berlin. Our next mode of transport was via bus going to Dubrovnik, Croatia where we then had a flight booked to Berlin. When we docked at Split, Croatia we had to run to the bus station to try and get to the 8am bus, and we arrived at the platform at 7:50am and still had to buy our bus tickets. You should've seen Emily and I. Somehow when waiting to get off of the catamaran Emily and I got split up and I just bolted toward the bus station, it felt like we were on the amazing race. Fortunately we made it to the station and had enough time to buy our tickets and get on the bus. If we wouldn't have caught this bus there would have been no way we could've made our flight to Berlin. Even when arriving in Dubrovnik we were rushed because of traffic and an unexpected border crossing thru Bosnia. Luckily there was a bus departing shortly after we arrived going to the airport and
I would have to say this was one of the most exciting moments of our whole trip so far! We were all so happy to see each other and so excited for our Berlin adventures to start!
we made our check in time. While waiting for our flight gate to open, Emily hears someone frantically screaming "EMILY!! EMILY!!" Running from behind us is Emily's old college friend Katrina, whom we have not seen for approx four years. Katrina jumps on Emily and they are freaking out at the sight of 1) seeing each other since four years 2) seeing each other at an airport in Dubrovnik, Croatia 3) being on the same flight to Berlin and 4) being on the same island in Croatia, only not knowing about it until now. Pretty crazy huh?! Katrina was with her best friend Megan, who we also had met some years ago and we were all able to sit by each other because easy jet does not have assigned seats. (well, except Megan was stuck by smelly guy, sorry megan!) So after about 12 hours of transportation we finally made it to Berlin. Our other friends Katherine and Anna were meeting us in Berlin and were waiting for us at the airport. They are also friends with Katrina, but had no idea that Katrina was going to be in Berlin, as well. So when we exited the baggage claim to
the pickup area all four of us walked out together and jaws were dropped at who we had picked up.
Eventually we made it to Kreutzberg where Katherine and Anna were staying and where they had found us a small studio apartment to rent until our next room was available. Our little studio was so nice after camping for so long and not having much privacy or yr own bathroom. It was also awesome in the building we were staying at because back in the 1980's it was a squat and a group of lesbians had taken over this abandoned building and squatted it. Back then so many protests where being held that the government offered to pay squatters to fix up these abandoned buildings in hopes that it would keep protesting down and people off of the streets. So that is what this group did and they did a great job. it was so homey and cute I could've definitely stayed there forever.
Our first night in Berlin was great because we decided to go to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant called Yellow Sunshine. After not eating fake meats for four months Emily and I were in fake meats
heaven. We ended the night drinking beers in a park where a bunch of other people were doing the same. That is the thing about Berlin, you can drink anywhere and I mean anywhere. Drinking is legal on the streets, buses, trains, parks, you name it, it's legal. Even all the corner stores have bottle openers so you can drink after you buy. It was a little piece of heaven and took some getting used to not drinking on the streets of Poland.
The night life in Berlin is also amazing. Clubs and bars are open until 5am or later. So we got quite accustomed to the Berlin night life, staying up until 4am then waking up at 12pm and doing it all again. It was really the first time on our trip that we have taken advantage of not working and being able to stay out all night. It was wonderful, I could've definitely stayed in Berlin for our rest of the time in Europe.
Other than partying it up we did go out sightseeing one day with Katrina and Megan (we went out exploring berlin more than one day!!!). Katrina lived in Berlin previously so she
Anna's old kitchen
knew all the sights and we biked around Berlin. We went to the TV Tower which was constructed between 1965 and 1969 by the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) administration who intended it as a symbol of Berlin, which it remains today. It is easily visible throughout the central and some suburban districts of Berlin. We then ventured to the Holocaust Memorial which is a memorial dedicated to the murdered Jews of Europe. The slates are all different sizes and slanting in all directions to give you the feel of uneasiness, but to me it also represented never being able to steady yourself and never being able to feel like you were in control.
After leaving the memorial we had heard from one of the women who ran the lesbian squat that there was a statue of an amazon women with a labrys, which lesbians have adopted as one of their symbols as strong and independent women.
After a long day of biking Katrina invited us to dinner at Gino's which is an authentic German restaurant. Thinking that most German food is not vegetarian friendly we thought it wouldn't be a good choice, but Katrina assured us they
had a few vegetarian items we could choose from. Surprisingly the food we ordered was amazing. Emily and I both had spätzle which are fried egg noodles with cheese and onion and some other spices. It was soooo good. After dinner we all shared a Flammkuchen, which is somewhat like pizza but since this was desert it was obviously sweet and was served with a side of absinthe, which was then poured and lit over the Flammkuchen.
Since we had only reserved our sweet lesbo apartment for a few days we had arrangements to move into a room in Kerstin, Lisa, Eva and Catalina (we stayed in her room while she was on holiday in the states) It was great living with three other queer women after feeling like the only queer people since we left the states. They were so nice and very much aligned with our own political views. And they were all vegan/vegetarian. YES!! Kerstin was such a good cook she was always offering us her homemade Swedish desserts!
One Sunday we went to the most amazing flea market in Mauer Park where Lisa and Kerstin were selling some of their screen printed goods. Let
me just tell you that this was no ordinary swap meet. This is Berlin after all, and most everything being sold was handmade. There was so much stuff I wanted that I was wishing I had enough room in my backpack to carry it all around europe.
To get over our shopping woes we decided to go letterboxing. We spent a good 5 hours trying to find 2 letterboxes but were only able to find one. It was nice though because we definitely would not have seen these parts of Berlin.
One day Katherine, Emily and I went to this pool on the river called Baddeschiff, which was pretty crazy because it was like nature meets urban setting. You enter the area and they have it set up like a beach with sand and people sprawled all over the place. Since we got there kinda late in the afternoon we ended up not getting a piece of the sand but pavement instead. Aaahh Berlin. In the winter time it is also open and they cover the pool with something that looks it would be a greenhouse covering and have saunas as well.
Sadly our two weeks with
Katherine and Anna ended but we made the most of our last night together and bid them fare well into the wee hours of the morning. Katherine made us and the housemates she and Anna were staying at, a goodbye meal which was a TexMex dish of enchiladas. Different from the normal enchiladas, these had a cream sauce instead of the normal red or green. After which we all enjoyed an After 8 dinner mint and espresso made by the italian roomies. After dinner and coffee we went to the bar Silver Future and met up with all of Katherine and Anna´s old Berlin friends so they could say goodbye to everyone. We stayed with them until they had to depart for their flight at 6am and had a brief photo sesh by the recycling bins. I mean, wouldn´t you? It was hard saying goodbye knowing that Emily and I were on our own again until who knows when, but we always know that it is never goodbye forever, just for awhile. And we will hopefully see them when we move to Chicago.
After Katherine and Anna´s departure we had plans to leave as well, but our roommates invited
us to stay a few more days and we did. Lisa had mentioned that there was a museum on the outskirts of Berlin from this woman named Charlotte von Malsdorf who began collecting household items during WWII, saving historical every-day items from bombed-out houses. She was also able to take advantage of the clearance of the households of people who left for West Germany. Her collection evolved into the Gründerzeit Museum. In 1960, Von Mahlsdorf opened the museum of everyday articles from the Gründerzeit (the time of the founding of the German Empire) in the only partially reconstructed Mahlsdorf manor house. The museum became well known in cinematic, artistic and gay circles. From 1970 on, the East Berlin homosexual scene often had meetings and celebrations in the museum.
It was a cool tour, but unfortunately our guide only spoke German, so Emily and I were not able to get the whole experience and stories of all the artifacts in the house. It was cool seeing an interior of the first gay and lesbian bar in Berlin as well as items from the backroom of the bar where there was a brothel.
After two weeks in Berlin it was
time to head to Poland. It was hard to say goodbye as Emily and I had both fallen in love with the city and would love to move here if we could. Maybe one day we will... who knows.
Next stop... Warsaw, Poland
Also, Emily would like to mention that with the dedicated help of Anna, she found the first pair of skinny jeans in her life after searching since 2005 (and in 07' settling for some weird maternity stretch pants resembling skinny jeans) at H&M. They are incredibly uncomfortable but super hot and totally worth feeling really cool on special occasions during our trip!
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