I have to say, coming back to Berlin after a holiday in the Australian Summer was hard. Straight back into work, all I could see were cold dark mornings and endless grey skies. But then, came the weekend. And suddenly, there it was again: Berlin in all it’s finery!
I wandered into Kreuzberg via the Görlitzer Bahnhof and smiled as I walked downstairs and had the easy opportunity to buy weed from the local shady dealers. I gave it a miss and continued on, through the cold air, past all the late-night Spätis (24 hour convenience stores), Turkish Döner joints and international restaurants. Then, down a few back streets, which felt seemingly empty, before meeting friends in a cosy bar, that was full-to-the-brim of international people, some here for the weekend, others working or studying abroad, all trying to come to grips with the German language. The bar doubled as a DVD rental store – downstairs, there were thousands of films to choose from. Upstairs, I lounged around on cushions and drank a vodka mate, which kept me awake well into the early hours of the morning. At around midnight, the chairs and tables disappeared to make way for a dance floor, which reached its peak around 4 a.m. but probably kept on pumping well into the morning.
The next evening, I made my way out to Eberswalderstraße to meet another friend. We feasted on a huge meal of Indian curry and lassis that only cost us 10 euros each in total. We later met with another friend and we went to a table tennis bar. You wouldn’t know it was there if you just walked past. I thought they had made a mistake when we reached what looked like a deserted shop front. But inside, sure enough, we entered hipster central – a run-down old shop with cement walls and floor, complete with a fully-stocked bar, DJ and a popular game of table tennis. We drank beer and hired bats from behind the bar, before joining the huge circle of players, who walk slowly at first, taking turns and trying to stay in by keeping the ball in play. Later, it turns into a dizzying game, as you sprint around the table, attempting to make it to the top two play-off! A good way to keep warm on Winter nights.
Later on, Moscow Mules (a delicious cocktail with vodka, spicy ginger ale and fresh lime) and more Club Mate (an infamous Berlin fizzy iced tea full of caffeine) kept us awake and it would have been quite possible to carry on to dance the night away…or the weekend away, if we had wanted. Usually, a Döner signals the end of a well-played evening, but I held off this time as we jumped on the ubahn bound for home. There are never any problems catching trains at night and early morning – it is then that the city comes alive with young people and when the ubahn reaches full capacity.
On a Sunday morning, you can safely wake up late and soak up any remaining alcohol from the night before with fresh brötchen, cheese and strong coffee. The day is grey and short. A walk might be possible. You never know what the next weekend will bring – everything seems to be hidden, tucked away, but if you know someone, or look hard enough, you might just discover a new world.