Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Other B(e)urly

Ah, Berly...

No, not Burlington, Vermont. I'm talking about Berlin, Germany.

Damn, that place is fun!

For my birthday I hopped off the Emerald Isle to go see my buddy Jack who is studying in Berlin. Who would've thought two roommates would study abroad at the same time? Not only that, but actually make an effort to see each other? Perfect timing I suppose..

inside the clash
I landed in Berlin on Friday night after an incredibly turbulent flight (which I was not a fan of, by the way) only to see Jack standing at the train station waiting for me. Bro-mance indeed. We quickly got ready, headed out to the city, and drank some good (and very, very cheap) German beer at a cool bar called "The Clash". I highly recommend checking this place out if you're ever in Berlin, especially if you dig the punk scene. The bar has an atmosphere I've never experienced before - it was loud, lively, smokey, and the walls were filled with posters from famous punk shows and bands. True definition of being "free". That's how the punk scene is and always has been - anarchy.

I met some Berliners who'd been living there for about 10 years. I say Berliners even though they were from Australia and the States because if you have lived in the city for a certain amount of time, you are considered a Berliner. And they certainly were by evidence of knowing all the best places to go.

They spoke both English and German just about perfectly. After traveling to Germany for many years, yearly actually, I've noticed this trend. The Germans ability to speak English is astounding. Not just in Berlin, but small towns and cities. It is a trait I respect because learning another language is no easy task (ask Jack).

hops & barley: the micro brew
They took us to a cool micro-brew bar that instantly reminded me of, yes, Burlington, Vermont. Vermont is home to some of the best microbreweries not just in the country, but the world. Visiting a place like this truly felt like I was at home, so to say. They had a variety of different beers, all brewed in the basement, ranging from very dark beer to a lighter beer. If I recall there were about 7 different types of beers. I tried the Dunkelbier and Pilsner. Dunkelbier simply means a dark German lager and they vary from region to region. In Möchengladbach, the city where my family resides, the dark beer is Alt-bier. Great beer, but it is certainly an acquired taste. This Dunkelbier was much lighter than the Alt's I was used to, but still very good. The Pilsner was unlike any Pilsner I've ever tried. When you think of Pilsners Pilsner Urquell or Becks probably come to mind, both of which are terrible examples of Pilsners. This one was unfiltered and had MUCH more flavor than the mass-produced versions. Overall, it was probably the best beer I had all weekend. Oh, and mind you, we were playing German card games and getting to know one another. It was great craic.

The night was long and I learned that Germans, in Berlin anyway, stay out till 4 or 5 in the morning at the very earliest. It is quite a different culture in that sense. But still, the late night didn't deter us from getting up the next day. I mean, we kind of had too because we were about to go experience a real German soccer game, and not only that, but one that mattered significantly to the standings. As you could imagine, the place was ROWDY...

Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund. Hertha isn't a team used to winning. They usually place in the lower half of the Bundesliga, but this year is much different, they are #3 and battling to keep their spot. I cannot put into words the way fans are at soccer games in Europe; it is just something you have to experience yourself (check the video out).

At night we went a laid-back bar, seemingly only for those that "know" about it. Luckily Jack had some great connections so he found out about this place pretty quickly. The bar had a relaxed atmosphere. I sipped my gin and tonic with ease.

The next day, Sunday, I finally got to see some of the more famous (touristy) sites in Berlin, namely the Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Reichstag. These places were simply unbelievable, especially the Wall. Like the Cliffs of Moher, but different in its own way, you could feel an energy around the Wall. The energy was of angst. This city was tormented for almost 40 years of authoritative separation, all symbolized by street art spread throughout the entirety of the Wall. Some people say that it is just a wall, but it represents something far more than that. It embodies the attitudes of Germans who had to deal with such violent oppression. The art is their way of saying, "Fuck you", and deservingly so. I took a slow stroll with Jack down the wall and looked at every piece of art. They all had something to say, but each artist took their own approach to the subject. I could feel their anger.


by far my favorite art on the wall. a perfect representation 

The Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag were also quite beautiful, but nothing could top the feeling I got from the Wall. Although, I should point out that the Reichstag has some of the craziest architecture I've ever seen... (and FOUR German flags, just in case you forgot)

All in all, I cannot deny that this was without a doubt the best weekend I've had over here. I got to see my best friend (which I desperately needed), I got to drink some beers, I got to see some history, and maybe most importantly, I got to eat some Jägerschnitzel. Hallelujah, rejoice.

stay tuned...

(soundtrack to this blog: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols by Sex Pistols)

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