Willkommen in Berlin

Alright, it’s been a bit since my last update. I’ve kind of been busy. I don’t think I can catch up with everything I’ve done and seen since the last update, so I’ll go over it briefly for the sake of getting up to speed.

Our last few days in Paris were splendid just as the first few. Eugie, Magi, and Margi made our time in that lovely city just incredible. Without them Paris would’ve been an expensive mess as it was the last time around and I probably would’ve left with that same feeling of being overwhelmed and broke. No good. But thanks to my dear friends we saw a Parisian’s Paris and in a very short time got a real feel for living in the city. Our last days had a good amount of staying up to see the sun while dancing in our underwear. Always an adventure. I continued scoping out street art and I’ve posted some photos on my Flickr of what I found. Belleville, around the 10e Arr. was a great neighborhood and was exactly what I was hoping to see of Paris. Small cafes, away from tourists, and close to the canal. We didn’t exactly go out to many more clubs, mostly some bars, some restaurants, more bike riding, and more staying up to see the sun.

After one or two ride shares fell through we finally settled on a stop in Amsterdam. We both wanted to see the city and it was not much more expensive to spend a day or two there. We found out we were leaving at 7am the evening before, no big surprise there. We spent our last night at a wonderful bar called ‘In the Garden’ in the 11e Arr. Morgan and I were feeling particularly broke but the friendly bartender offered us some tastes of his favourite Belgian beers free of charge. We bought our little scoop of ice cream with the 1.50 € we had left and enjoyed every bit of it. We said our goodbyes to our new friends, wandered back to our apartment and passed out knowing we had a big day ahead of us.

The next morning we enjoyed a brief breakfast of coffee and croissants with Eugie then hopped on the metro to the bus station. The bus took us through Belgium in two maybe three hours. This idea of traversing a country by car in a matter of a few hours still blows my mind. I could cross through four countries in the time it takes me to drive from northern to southern California. Strange indeed. Anyway, we passed through Belgium with a brief stop in Brussels, just enough time for the nostalgia to kick in; I need to see that city again. Before we knew it we were dumped off somewhere in Amsterdam and it was all Dutch all the time. We walked pass the random gangsters CRIP walking in front of the station and were met with a sign “Benji & Morgan” and some strange jelly candy shaped like a pig. Friends of Morgan from back in San Louis Obispo were there to meet us at the station and offered their parents place for our stay.

This city moves by bike. I know Portland does, yeah yeah. But this isn’t some progressive movement here it’s just the way of life. From a young age your bike is your transportation and the first thing you notice is they have he right of way. Over cars, pedestrians, over all. Watching hundreds of bikes fill the lanes along the canals pulling along children, dogs, and groceries, it was like some strange European version of Ladd’s Addition in Southeast Portland.

We settled into our new digs in quite a fancy neighborhood with an amazing view of the canal. By far the most comfortable lodgings we’ve had yet. Most of our time in this city was spent in a gay bar called Taboo. Don’t ask why, it just was. Morgan met a nice silver fox and the beers were cheap. For one day in I feel like we got a good idea for the feeling of the city. We saw the canals, the redlight district (where a woman in a window grabbed my hat and twirled it around, turning me bright red). The night before we left we met with an old friend of mine I met while hitchhiking from to San Fransisco a few years back. From Sweden originally and raised in Barcelona she had moved to Amsterdam a few years back to study here and was housesitting a nice flat in yet another nice neighborhood. She invited us for dinner and we spent the night chatting over beer and wine with her Dutch friends. We realized it was getting late and made our way home only to spent the next two or three hours locked out.

By the time we got in we had about two hours before our ride. We napped, grabbed our bags, and traversed yet another city in search of our means of transportation. Another ride share, this time to Berlin. We got lost at the station and had no phone. We set our bags down next to a large Argentinian and started a brief conversation when I noticed he had a guitar and asked where he was going. ‘Berlin’, he replied. He was sharing the same ride as us and had a phone. You’d be surprised how often things work out in such a manner during my travels. It’s become so regular that I almost rely on things simply falling into place. It may sound a bit silly or, if you know me well, it probably just irritates you thinking about how often I fail to make plans, but I swear by this method. Although I’d soon learn a few lessons long overdue on my adventures in Prague. I’ll write about that soon. Oy.

So we all piled into an unimaginably small car and sped around Amsterdam looking for a way out. The Argentinian was awfully big, kind of loud, smoked a lot of pot, but was all around friendly. He plugged some small speakers into his laptop and starting blasting random Argentinian rock groups or the Doors, whom he loved very much. He swore by Jim Morrison and sung along to every song. As the hours passed by the day got a bit hotter and hotter. With one hour of sleep the sun took it’s toll. I spent those seven hours trying to keep my eyes open and my head up.. to no avail. I don’t remember much else of the ride other that the feeling of sitting completely still, stuck in traffic, and feeling each bead of sweat form on my forehead and back of my neck. All the windows were rolled down but without wind we baked. Seven short hours later we finally arrived in the much fabled city of Berlin. We drove past the wall, the tower in Alexanderplatz, and were dropped off near a cafe. We said our goodbyes, put our bags back on our backs, and set off to find some wifi and coffee.

It almost goes without saying but up until this moment we didn’t know where we were sleeping that night. We plopped down at the cafe, got some drinks, and I checked my email. Once again saved at the last minute, Jaqi had responded and could host us that night, We were just three metro stops away and within a few hours time we were sleeping comfortably in a bed in our new city. Welcome to Berlin!