| A snap of the view wondering home from the station one crisp night |
How not to travel Berlin
Summary: Berlin was intense in many ways. The city is steeped in history and the capital certainly doesn’t shy away from its chequered past, embracing the painful lessons of the previous generation and evidencing this through a distinctly liberal approach to life.
I got quite a bit of teaching done in Berlin but progress on my other projects was stunted somewhat by a desire to make the most of a short stay. Nevertheless, i did manage to hunt down a very decent work spot and have a few strong tips on the nightlife corroborated by my new local friends.
Nomad list: The Nomadlist.com score for Berlin is 4.1 (The city scores well across the piece especially when it comes to acceptance of foreigners and clubbing)
Best bits: The liberal stance, the historical tours, and the nightlife.
More pictures: http://www.instagram.com/how_not_to_travel
Good for work?: Yup.
Where to work: There are loads of cafes and bars with Wi-Fi. I did most of my work in the Hostel as there were a few quiet corners to plot and get on with things. I can, however, recommend Oslo Kaffebar for a more upmarket and super chilled spot to get your grind on.
What to do: Loads, top two for me being the nightlife and walking tour.
Cock up count: (4) Cash flow issues due to delay in payment from a client, a padlock too small for my locker which meant almost losing everything, my phone battery dying almost leaving me lost abroad and another case of overspend. (Thank god it gets cheaper as I move south through Europe)
Learn from me
Finance – Anticipate delays in receiving payment/communication from clients, I’ve been waiting on an update from one party in particular for a few weeks now which has played havoc with my cash flow. Establish clear end dates and regular catch ups for all projects to avoid sinking the ship.
Security – Lots of the lockers in Berlin require a ‘medium’ sized padlock to correctly secure your belongings. (By which i mean the mini locks that come in 2 packs are NOT secure.)
Social – I now spend my first day in each Hostel introducing myself to anyone in sight (without being too pushy) and either forming or joining a group early doors. If you’re stuck just rally together a few new or lost looking people at the hostel. This is a great way to instantly gain a wolfpack for exploration and make some friends – the people really are the best bit of traveling,
General – Charge your powerbank each night and keep it in your day bag.
| Snap of le bus whilst on the road to Germany |
Things got off to a good start in Germany as i actually managed to catch the bus from Amsterdam to Berlin on time. I’d booked an overnight stint reasoning i’d be able to sleep en route and save some hostel money. Although this is true, in practice sleeping on a night bus can be a difficult proposition, especially if you’re a 6 ft 4 fidgeter. I’d also forgotten to charge my powerbank which meant by the time i arrived at my hostel my phone was dead. (This could have been a nightmare)
There are quite a few must do’s in Berlin. The two key ones for me being hitting up the nightlife and taking in the cities rich history.
| Snap of the wall during my visit |
I love the way in which the people of Berlin have owned the mistakes of the past and immortalized those lessons for others to see and learn from. There are loads of fantastic quotes which turn pain into positivity and the Holocaust memorial within the city was also beautiful in its own haunting way.
| Snap 2 of the wall during my visit (imaginative captions, right?)|
A quick aside on the cultural piece: I didn’t get any great pictures unfortunately but one of the most authentic Berlin moments that i had was sitting with a few friends in a park watching people play frisbee (at a ridiculously advanced level), drinking coffee and chatting to locals as the sun went down. Highly recommend checking out one of Berlin’s many parks and following suit. The picture below is to illustrate the point but was taken long after the park had started to empty.
| An admittedly terrible snap o’ one of Berlin’s many parks |
Anyway – in terms of acom, i was staying at the ‘Heart of gold’ hostel (https://www.heartofgold-hostel.de/) which was a good laugh. It had a pool table, a guitar, a bar which opened late and friendly (very relaxed) staff. It was also within easy spit of central so i feel comfortable recommending it to you fine folk.
I stayed in a ‘mega dorm’ which had around 40 beds in it. These were split into 3 vague sections so it’s not as daunting as it sounds but obviously due to the number of people in one space it’s possible you’ll be disturbed during the night. One criticism of the hostel is the lack of any real structured social calendar – there was a pub crawl and a free walking tour which were both great but i think more could have be done to introduce people to their fellow travelers.
I found it very easy to make some fast friends here. A few hours into day one a few of us gravitated together and formed a rag-tag band of explorers which meant familiar faces and a squad for excursions. Two of the beauties below.
| Selfie time |
Moving on to partying – there are plenty of opportunities to get your groove on. I’m going to be upfront and say i missed the bus on this one, (shock) I went to plenty of different venues but was tipsy enough not to remember place names and managed to miss most of the famous clubs entirely.
One i do recall was Suicide Circus. The sound system was pretty good, the smoke machine was turned up to 11 and the lighting was above average for what i’ve come to expect in London but certainly nothing mind-blowing. The place was also surrounded by street dealers. As per usual – don’t buy anything off people in the street.
To give you a taste of how crazy the night scene can be in Berlin, these places were touted again and again by locals and hostel workers as the top spots to plot:
- Sisyphos (Club) – Massive space within a former factory with large open spaces, a monster sound system and festival vibes.
- Kit kat (Sex club) – For those who feel like really diving into the deep end this is a club where people are openly searching for a certain breed of hedonistic opportunity. The sound quality is meant to be insane, there’s a pupil check on entry (to make sure you ARE high/drunk not the reverse) and your phone is also taken away at the door. Once inside there are some pretty intense opportunities to watch/indulge in group or solo sex.
- Berghain (Gay nightclub) – The infamous Berghain is often touted as Berlins most exclusive club. Allegedly inside you can expect to find a ridiculous sound system (the best money can buy), open drug use and gratuitous sex scenes in many of the clubs dark rooms and cubby holes. Many people go to Berghain for periods of over 24 hours and sometimes actually sleep within the club. It’s notoriously difficult to get in but i have it on good word that Sunday during the day is the time locals go and the best way to avoid queues in excess of 4 hours.
If you want a laugh – read this class one-star review of Berghain. https://www.onlytechno.net/1-star-review-berghain-something-must-read
When it came to the working portion of nomad life i found that Berlin wasn’t really the place for me but this was mostly a conscious decision. I wanted to make the most of a short stay and had some issues with delayed payment from one of my clients which led to a pretty sticky cashflow situation. Bit of an obvious one really but i suppose the take away is set a specific regular meeting slot to touch base on progress and mutually agree a hard stop for the completion of any project.
So yeah. Not so hot on the work front but I had a great time in Berlin. There is an incredible amount of history to take in and the nightlife is crazy but it was the people that made a good place magical.
Soundtracks for the stay:
Armin van Buurin – Our origin (EDM stuff – no idea the subgenre but it’s tasty AF) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaMkI1z3q4Y
Neverland – 7 skies (EDM stuff – no idea the subgenre but it’s tasty AF) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Cm69gtd4E
Creep on me – DJ Snake / French Montana / GASHI (EDM stuff – no idea the sub genre but it’s tasty AF) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1YHv1wHAxo