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Berlin view of Capitol building at night with lights

European Adventure Berlin

Berlin

The next day I’m on my very last long train ride to Berlin. I arrive in Berlin to crappy weather and I start questioning if maybe I should have stopped at Munich. At this point I’m pretty tired from almost a month of traveling. I begin to miss my bed and other home comforts. I settle in that evening and make it a point to start exploring the city early next morning.

The following day a hurricane literally rips through Berlin and Northeast Germany. No joke! The storm is named Xavier, and I was completely oblivious to its arrival. This definitely puts a damper on my plans and most of my day is spent observing the strong winds knocking over trees and carrying all types of debris around the city from the balcony where I was staying. The trains were shut down that evening due to the high winds and damage to the tracks. It would end up being rainy and windy all throughout my visit with the exception of Friday evening.

I decide to head out to the Light Festival on Friday evening taking advantage of the decent weather. There was a group of couchsurfers that were planning to go on Saturday but knowing the weather was predicted to be crappy again that day, I asked if anyone wanted to go on Friday night instead. To my luck, Henrike responded and we made plans to meet up that night. Henrike had been living in Berlin for a short time, and we ended up exploring the city together while enjoying the light festival along the way.

The light festival was this huge art project event commissioned and sponsored by the city where artists from around the world got to showcase their projection skills. It basically involved lighting up iconic structures all throughout Berlin, like Brandenburg Gate, the TV Tower and even the President’s Palace. There was a voting system that allowed you to vote on the best one. Each artist represented their respective countries.

It was truly amazing seeing these beautiful, iconic structures all lit up and seeing the different patterns and sequences that each artist chose to use. The way they scaled these presentations to match the structures, it was like the structures themselves basically served as the canvases for each artist’s interpretation. Truly fascinating stuff!

Throughout the course of the evening, I get to know Henrike better. She indulges me in taking your typical touristy pictures and we even end up eating currywurst together. It was my first time trying currywurst and for her it was the first time trying organic currywurst. That’s right, after searching for quite a bit we end up at this popular spot that only serves organic currywurst.

For those that are wondering what currywurst is, it’s just basically a hot dog chopped up into pieces with ketchup and curry powder. That’s pretty much it. Nothing really all that special but apparently it’s one of those must dos if you visit Berlin. After finishing off our currywurst we’re on a mission to find a late night coffee shop/bar that serves hot chocolate and tea. We finally find one that matches this criteria and continue to have a nice conversation while sipping on our hot beverages.

We both agree it was a perfect night for warm drinks. At first I attempted asking for a hot cider to which the bartender responded incredulously with a shocked response of “Hot cider!” I guess they’ve never heard of this in Germany. So after getting a dirty look, no doubt thinking I was pulling his leg or something, I settled for the hot tea instead. We finish our drinks and head back to the metro station. As we’re walking by, we see a guy getting propositioned by hookers on the street. This is actually a very common and legal thing in Berlin.

Henrike goes on to share a funny tidbit with me about how these women who stand on the streets all glammed up aren’t actually the ones who do the actual deed per say. Their sole purpose is recruitment, and some of them are even college students looking to make extra money on the side. The way it works is after you agree to terms for their services, they later take you around the block to a nearby brothel where they hand you off to the real ladies of the night. I found this insider tip to be quite interesting and amusing.

We arrive at the metro station and say our goodbyes with promises to keep in touch. I really enjoyed my time with Henrike, and I’m glad she was available to venture out with me on this night. It really salvaged this Berlin portion of my trip.

My last day, as expected, the weather is still pretty crappy so I decide to take it easy. I had also been getting over a slight case of the sniffles that was no doubt due to the drastic change in weather from sunny to cold. I opted to stay indoors for much of the day and later ventured out in the evening for dinner.

Afterwards, I decided to head to the infamous Liquidrom for a spa treatment and massage. I was scheduled to fly back out early morning so this was something that I definitely needed and was very much looking forward to. It was a last minute decision but proved to be a worthy one indeed.

The Liquidrom is an amazing concept! You pay like 20 Euros and get to use all the spa facilities inside for hours. That includes saunas, steam room and even floating in a saltwater pool while ambient music plays underwater. They have showers all throughout and even hair dryers to dry yourself out afterwards. They really have thought of everything. The building itself also looks really cool from the outside.

Another interesting thing to note about the Liquidrom is that it’s completely coed and mostly completely nude. It’s perfectly normal, acceptable and even encouraged to be walking around nude among other naked men and women all throughout the facilities. It took me a little while to adjust to this at first but at some point you just go with it and chalk it up to “when in Berlin.” Turns out nude saunas and spas are a common thing all throughout Germany.

This proved that Germans work hard but also know how to relax just as hard. I ended up getting a great massage and took advantage of all the other amenities. After getting my fill of relaxation and nudity, I called it a night. I really needed that spa time to recompose myself and my body. By the time I left, it was 1am and my European adventure was soon drawing to a close. Just five short hours later I would be on a plane headed back to the states.

Final Thoughts

All in all, this was a great trip and a true European adventure. I got to visit four different countries. Yes, I’m also counting Austria. I was fortunate enough to meet so many wonderful people and beautiful souls along the way. Everything thankfully worked out! Every decision I made proved to be the right one and every person I met seemed to lead me further along the yellow brick road.

So the question I often ask myself is, was I meant to meet these people or was it all just pure coincidence? I like to believe it was more than just random chance or coincidence and I’m glad to have made these new connections and friendships.

Aside from being a trip of many firsts, it was also a trip about conquering fears. The biggest of which was fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. This brought to mind a quote I saw displayed on one of those art installations at the Biennale in Venice, “Life starts when fear ends.” This pretty much sums it up quite beautifully. At the end, the only real question left to answer was why I waited so long? But to quote another famous phrase, “Better late than never.” Also equally important words to live by. 🙂

To those who took the time to read my story, thank you! I hope it serves you well. I wish you all safe and pleasant travels my friends. Prost!!

—Alain
Born in Havana Cuba, raised in Miami, and spent a decade of his life in ‘America’s Finest City’ sunny San Diego and now living in America’s capital, DC aka ‘the gateway to Europe’ or is that NYC?

An adventurous and nomadic soul. When he’s not actually traveling, you will find him mostly dreaming about it and occasionally writing about it.

Trip photos

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