Arriving half-asleep in a city you’ve never been, dropped off in a bus terminal that looks like you could be anywhere in the world when all you can envision in your head is a Berlin Wall covered in graffiti that is nowhere in sight might cause some people to panic. Where is the city? I arrived in Berlin at almost 7 a.m. after an 8 hour bus ride full of sleeping on and off, having to wake up randomly because everyone’s getting off the bus and after roaming a bit, without the slightest clue where you are and what’s going on, you realize you’re trapped because somehow you’re now on a ferry. Now that freaked me out. Just a little…
Since I arrived in Berlin so early, I knew I could afford to waste time so I bought an all-day ticket valid in all zones for the subway and hopped on, hoping I’d pass an area that looked like the heart of the city. It never happened. Two hours later I somehow managed to get myself to the Brandenburg Gate. Brandenburg, the only word on the subway map that meant anything. Luckily, a Starbucks is located right in front of the tourist destination full of good ol’ wifi so I didn’t have to feel so lost and alone, if only for 25 minutes. To my luck, I discovered a free tour that started right in that very spot. There I was, me and my blue 65 liter backpack learning the history of Berlin on a walking tour.
I learned that Berlin was ahead of its time and strived for equality prior to the tragic history everyone knows, saw the balcony that Michael Jackson dangled his baby and where Hitler committed suicide, as well as the last Nazi building in the world and the location where book burning took place. The highlight was making a friend with a girl from the Philippines while on the tour, who is also traveling alone. I decided to cut my northern Germany time even shorter so that I could meet her in Prague and hopefully we’ll be able to meet in Munich too. It’s nice how things work out and sometimes traveling alone isn’t so bad when lone wolves seek out other lone wolves.
I’m actually in Leipzig now, a city chosen strictly for beer purposes, and I’m impressed. It is a beautiful, small city. The city just turned 1000 this year. After seeing buildings that looked old, but we’re actually new in Berlin (90 percent of buildings are new thanks to WW2), I was ready to see authentic old buildings. Although Berlin may not be full of beautiful architecture, it is full of subcultures and probably the best nightlife for the young and thriving. There was a random party under a bridge and another at the train station, compete with a DJ.