I wasn’t sure I’d make it to Berlin for ESFLC. Certainly not on time.
As I posted to Facebook, it began on Monday when I woke up at 11 am because my alarm didn’t go off. I arrived at work two hours late. Then my boss reminds me that my flight to Berlin is today, not tomorrow. So I dash home to hurriedly pack for a 7-day international trip and dash off to Reagan. Except Reagan isn’t an international airport. My flight leaves from Dulles. So I metro to Rosslyn and call an Uber. Who gets lost, makes me wait for 10 minutes, then cancels. So I hail a cab. I’m on track to miss my flight because I’m a space cadet, and then I get a notice. My flight has been delayed. Hallelujah! For 5 hours. I was $30 into fare from Rosslyn when I found out. But thank God Dulles has free wifi and I always have crap-ton of work to do!
So, Berlin. This is my first and only European city. There is graffiti absolutely everywhere. None of it makes any sense. Well, two things did. There was an anarchy A on the train about the size of my fist. And someone wrote the word “sex” on a wall. I generally associate this with overall lawlessness, but as my host mother Maria explained, there are “high levels of social trust” here. It’s unusual to be robbed, for instance.
Every young person speaks excellent English. Most are more than happy to help me.
Word to the wise: Get cash from the ATM, not money changers. There, and buying train tickets, the flag for English is British. Fuck you, Germany, the US is now the world’s foremost imperial power.
The sound I heard most often while walking was a bicycle bell. Because I could not wrap my head around the fact that half the sidewalk is a bike lane, even though I was reminded every 7 minutes by a pissed off pedaling German.
Having established my conspicuous lack of common sense and practical ability to take care of basic shit in the first paragraph, you’ll understand my hesitation at wandering alone around a strange city in a strange country on a strange continent. Especially without cell service, as I didn’t set myself up for it before I left. Are you beginning to see a pattern re: my shit not being together?
The venturing out was to find the bitcoin neighborhood.
I’d sincerely hoped that finding the general area would lead me to the correct places of business. A neon blinking Bitcoin-accepted-here sign would have been super clutch. Instead, I internetsed a few choices places over a chocolate chip cookie and water I had to pay for (wth, Germany?)
This led me to two closed bars. So I found a bar with wifi and asked for a wheat beer. I can’t imagine why I asked in English when I know the German. The pretty young barkeep was like, “What?” “Hefeveizen.” Ya!
So I finally found two places which sold things I wanted (namely food and beer) and took bitcoin for them. Both were closed. So I chilled out and Facebooked til one opened. Sadly, I was felled by a lack of a bitcoin wallet on my phone and an inability to download one over the wifi. But, I got some pix!
One of the things I’m most struck by is how are just kind of cities, even in Europe. I imagine back in the day things varied more. But less so now with international travel and commerce commonplace. Berlin if anything had a small city feel, as it’s really spread out, with a low population density and no high rises.
Stereotypes: the service at a really nice bavarian restaurant indeed was pretty terrible. Not really rude, just neglectful and to-the-point. People really do take their dogs everywhere. Ladies are much more dressed down here than in America’s East Coast. More so too than in the American northwest, but I’m overall less familiar. Spike heels are incredibly uncommon on the street. Heels are chunky, Clark’s-style. But most women are in flat ankle-high leather boots of some fashion. Lucky for me that’s exactly what I brought.
I had wondered how most everyone I talked to about going to Europe for the first time had been and didn’t act like it was a big deal to go. Keep in mind I just talked to people who live in D.C. At this point, I think going to Europe is like group sex. It’s a way bigger deal before you do it than afterward.
Spend Thursday with Moriah at the East Side Gallery. Here is my whole Flickr photoset from the trip so far.
Tomorrow is the start of ESFLC!