Edit Blog Post
Published: September 9th 2006
Can you get anymore stereotypically Berlin than a Trabbie next to the Berlin Wall?
There seem to be three types of youth hostel in the world. Type one is the traditional "Association" hostel. They are generally large, clinically clean, sparsely furnished, characterless buildings that act as a kind of processing plant for school, scout, girl-guide and other "youth" groups. They rarely have bars and the corridors are packed with screaming kids. At night you are kept awake by the sounds of juvenial hysterics and shouting teacher/parents/instructors.
Type two is where we stayed in Berlin. It is a butique hostel that caters for all walks of life but is essentially a landmark on the Eurorail Booze Cruise. It is large, decked out in young, trendy, Ikea-esque furniture and looks like it may have been copied out of a magazine.
It is instantly recognisable by the large number of teenage American homecoming queens who jabber incessantly. "Oh My Gooood! I like totally just found out that Kirsten from my Grad School got her nose pierced - she's like such a freak...!", or, "Oh My Gooood! I've like totally got no money!... Oh thank Gooood! Daddy just transferred $50,000." Hanging on every Britneyism that spills from their mouths are the British lads who have arrived en mass
Czech Point Charlie
Not much to Check point Charlie but history and tourist tatt. Even the Czech Tourist Board has made the most of it - notice the Czech Point Tourist Office in the background.
and are trying to decide if, a) Britney will get drunk enough to sleep with them or b) should they go to Copenhagen as the rumour is that the beer's cheaper and the women easier. What no-one has told the Brits is that Britney tolerates them 'cause that accent is like sooooo cute.
Meanwhile, a smaller group of late twenty somethings watch on - distressed that they nolonger feel young; mildly alarmed by the youngsters desire to drink a glass boot full of some strong alcoholic cocktail (it's free if you can down it in under 4 minutes - so far two have failed and Britney'd friend Chelsea was like so barffing in the sink). The twenty somethings inwardly tut and wonder what happened to moderate social drinking and high brow conversation - because that is, of course, what it was like in their day.
Japanese and Korean girls flit about in pairs as oblivious to their room-mates as their room-mates are to them. At night in the darkness of the dorm room they text each other rather than talk and risk offending a Brit or a Britney. They probably complain about the smell of the tall fellow's
The solemn atmosphere that should have been evident here was lost as people enjoyed the maze of stone.
feet. They get up and move on at 6am, creeping round the room with ninja like strealth. Zips ease open. I lay awake one morning (at 4am) listening to the sound of two Japanese girls packing. I almost begged them to just tear open the damn velcro rather than picking it open painfully slowly. In the darkness, lit periodically by the green glow of mobile screens, velcro being eased open has an eerie giant insect quality to it.
Hostel three is the small independent more personal accommodation where making pasta in the kitchen becomes a social event. These hostels are never located centrally (that is the domain of the boutique hostel) but squat peacefully in a large apartment in the suburbs. There may be a theme in place - tropical (lots of bamboo); bedouin (lots of incense, throws and terracotta). The mood is more tranquil - positively calm. In the common areas people talk about travel or politics over a few beers or a strong herbal tea. And then they all go out and get trashed in a local dive with sheeps skulls on the walls and sawdust on the floor that sells pints for 80p. And suddenly everyone
is Britney again, clawing to try the boot.
Fortunately neither Vikki or I have been anywhere near the boot. However, in the spirit of adventure I thought I'd try a bit of braised knuckle... An American girl we'd had dinner with the previous night (an ex Britney, now married and visiting Berlin for 1 night on business) had described braised knuckle as being akin to the start of the Flintstones when Fred receives his order of ribs and the car topples over. And how remarkably accurate she was. Had it not been for a Texan friend on leave from Iraq joining us and ordering the very same thing, the weight of the knuckle would have toppled the table. Fortunately with two of us eating it on opposite sides of the table an equilibrium was found and the table took the weight (they make 'em sturdy in Germany).
And the taste? Personally I quite enjoyed it, however our well travelled American friend who has spent the last 4 years in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iraq living on a diet of Vodka, desert dust and sheep's eyeballs found it a bit... hard to swallow.
Tot: 1.261s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 29; qc: 97; dbt: 0.0521s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.7mb