On a last minute decision the night before, I decided to opt out of the return flight to Ol’ Blighty, and after clearing it with everyone concerned, I took a five hour train ride to Berlin to hang for a cuppla daze. The countryside became less picturesque and with progressively less sleep and more drinking over the past few days, I slept most of the way – after a bit of transport confusion, after check in to the hostel that I’d booked that morning, I was released on the town about 9pm.
Absolutely starving, I found that once I started walking and checking things out, the hunger subsided – wanderlust….wunderbar! From Hallesches Tor, the old southern gate of the city, a walk up Stresemanstrasse took me past the Holocaust Memorial to Potsdamer Platz. Previously a no mans wasteland during the Cold War, the spectacular new buildings on its borders were no more than seventeen years old, giving the place an exciting, forward-looking feel.
Wandering on past Brandenburg Gate and down Unter Den Linden, my hunt for a feed took me to Hackesher Market – gorgeous array of open air eating. After the meal, still exhausted from a week’s partying, I found the travel bug got the better of me and still kept walking – on a particularly touristy street, I got sucked down some sideways archway and into an array of hidden away bars, the alternative vibe, looking run down and retro but where drinks are all still the same price.
On trusted advice I made my way west up Oranienburger Strasse to an abandoned looking apartment building – once inside Tacheles, marvelling at the graffiti interior, I ascended the six storey staircase and wandered into various studios of artists who lived and worked in the building. Behind the building was a huge beer garden of sorts with numerous stalls, and a huge empty lot behind that surrounded by three massive walls, one entirely painted over with street art, one with a particular mural, one still an empty canvas.
Back up the street, past a couple of incredibly opulent looking Thai restaurants (umbrellas, open fires, couches), I managed to find a salsa bar right next to a shish bar. Open air dining and drinking is huge here; I managed to find a bench seat more or less between the two places, mixing salsa tunes floating through nearby from the dance room out the back with the various odours of flavoured tobacco and a couple of mellow mojitos to end an awesome eve.