Ich bin ein Berliner!!

Trip Start Mar 30, 2010
Trip End Dec 13, 2012

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All righty folks.  I promised to catch up on my blog and well...I guess I lied a bit :P  I am writing this blog from a German train, trying to catch the rest of you up to where I am now.  So friggin much has happened in the last few weeks that I have hardly had enough time for myself to really sit at a computer for more than just a simple facebook status update.  I would like to start off by wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and hope that everyone I know of all religions and beliefs had a good time.  I send my greetings out on a global scale this year.   Much love going out around the world to all.  Too many countries to list.  I really am thinking of you all.  Family, friends and newly acquired family,  may your holidays be amazing.  
    OK.  So where to begin.  Berlin.  This is a city that many of my German friends had told me that I would love because of the plethora of options of things to do here.  My main reason to come was for a heavy metal concert.  This whole concept of visiting Berlin started when I was in Munich for Oktoberfest.  While walking to or from the beer gardens(I can't remember because  it  was  a beer induced idea, so likely on my way out from the beer gardens!) I noticed a As I lay dying concert poster for Nov. 11Th.  I thought to myself how I hadn't been to a concert in ages, and how cool would it be to see a concert in another country to see how it all goes down.   I visited Mareike and Annie in Gutersloh, and tried to use my time there to find a CS host, but no real leads came up.  Since I was running short on time, with or without host, I had to get my ass to Berlin.  Back to the autobahn with my rented Fiat 500. Giddy up!
   I remember after leaving Gutersloh so late in the evening, I was rolling into Berlin area around 10 pm, which isn`t such a bad thing.  But I was starting getting tired of driving, which is funny because I was dying to get some driving in after taking so many trains, planes and boats.  I eventually found the hotel I was looking for, but it was rather expensive and lacked internet, which is a must have for me.  Its the only way for me to keep in touch with all of you, and also let mom and pops know that I am still alive somewhere in the crazy world. :)  After some help from my rented GPS, I ended up finding a hotel in the heart of the city, which was also closely located to a return depot for my rental car.   Perfect.    I rested my head and got ready for the coming day of roaming a monster city, and one of the biggest European capitals solo (as per norm.)
  After returning my rental car, I started wondering around, but was it ever cold, and I was not fully prepared for the cold weather.  I took a few pictures and tried to make the most of it, but I was freezing.  Back to the hotel to figure out where I could maybe stay for the next few days.  I had gotten two replies from CS, which looked promising as I couldn't afford to keep doing the hotel/hostel thing.  I had agreed to meet up with both CS just to see how and if they would be able to help, and to also see if we would make a good connection.   The first meeting was with a Vietnamese/German girl by the name of Tri (pronounced "G").  We went and had coffee together and hit it off rather well.  I explained to her that I need a place for the rest of the week because of my timing.  She was super sweet enough to allow me to stay longer than I had originally mentioned in my first email.  She was even going to be leaving to Munich area before I would leave and told me that I was welcome to stay at her place even after she was gone and that I could leave her keys with her roommate.    Tri and I went on a massive grocery shopping mission and grabbed all kinds of tasty and good foods.  Along with her roommate Quincy, and American working and living in Berlin, we had some really good times just sitting in their kitchen, eating and drinking wine.    Tri had a new nephew, and had decided to go to the build a bear workshop, where for those of you who aren't familiar, can build a custom teddy bear for a loved one.  The two of us ended up making some small bean bags for the hands and feet to give the toy a little more weight.  When we went to the store to have the bear filled with the "guts", you have to give the bear a name and a birth certificate.  Tri hadn't gone as far as to come up with a name for the bear, so when they asked for a name, she looked at me for an idea.  I just said the first name that came to mind....Huey (don't ask...I have no idea why I came up with that).  Funny enough though, the name fit perfectly as her nephews name was Hugo.    Huey it was then.  I thought it was rather funny that some random stranger CS got to name her nephew's teddy bear.  Well Hugo.... I hope you enjoyed the bear :)
    My main purpose for coming to Berlin as I mentioned before was for a rock concert.  And the second night in town, I got suited up to go and get my rock on.   My hotel was located very close to the opera house of Berlin, and actually across the hall from me, I could hear a singer warming up her voice.  I just remember thinking  it was funny that on my side of the hallway, heavy metal was being blared from my computer, and classical music on the other.  Slight differences.  I boarded the metro to go to where the concert was with only a rough idea of where exactly the concert hall was.  But as we got closer to the station, more and more people in black trench coats, piercings, dying black hair were boarding the train.  Bingo!  follow the freaks.  And believe you me....there were some freaks there.  I have seen some interesting characters in my day, but Germany definitely has its share in the big cities.  When I arrived at the concert, some other bands were playing  already getting the crowd into a big frenzy.    When the time came for As I Lay Dying to come on stage, the crowd was all fired up and rushing the stage.  The venue was a really cool old factory looking building which was a good size for a concert, you still got the feeling of being up close and personal with the band instead of some big arena.  I got into the mosh pit for a while, throwing some people around for a bit all in good fun, but I didn't want to stick around in there too long, as some of those German boys are big boys and know how to throw their weight around.  I am not in a mood to leave here with a broken arm.  It was also funny to watch some people trying to sing the lyrics.  Now I can easily admit that I dont know all of the lyrics to their songs.....I am just not that big of a fan.  But some of them were saying words that weren't even English when singing along.  Made me feel better about attempting to sing along.  All in all, I was very glad that I got to see a concert here, it was lots of fun.  
  I also did some of the sightseeing things there was to do in Berlin like visiting Checkpoint Charlie, an old American checkpoint into D.D.R from back in the day.  It was cool to see this part of German history.  I am not really much of a history buff, but the world war stuff I do find very interesting.  I also made a visit to the East side Gallery, which is a large section of the Berlin wall that has been left up, and it is covered in graffiti, some of which is rather amazing.  The only down side was that it was raining so much when I was there, that I didn't want to take my nice camera out to take pictures, and the sky was pure grey too which doesn't really do any of these places justice.  I wish I had some more pics for you all to see of this fantastic city, but as you will read in other entries later on, I make a return visit.   The cool thing about Berlin is that you really feel like you are living history in the city.  Visiting London, I found it more like visiting a large museum....everything looks cool, but don't touch.  Berlin has this raw feeling that I just was really feeling.
   Now my other couch surfer that I had ended up meeting up with was a girl by the name of Anne.  She had taken some time out of her very busy school and work schedule to show me some cool underground bars in the city.  It was rather funny  because she told me that there was this mountain that we could climb to get a fantastic view of the city.  I was unaware that there was a mountain even in Berlin, but I had no idea to be honest.  After a few metro stops we arrived at the base of the mountain.  The mountain stood about 55 meters high.  :)  There was a small language mix up, but it made for some funny laughs.  I was beginning to wonder if I should have brought a tent when she mentioned a "mountain".  Thanks Anne for taking me mountain climbing in Berlin :P
   Now one other person I had also been coordinating with to meet up with in Berlin was my friend Mathias whom I had met in Athens.  The two of us had been chatting on and off leading up to my time in Berlin.  One  night on the weekend, Mathias traveled all the way from Dresden to visit me for one night!  I thought that was absolutely amazing of him and was touched that someone would travel hundreds of kilometers just to see my hairy traveling ass again.  After a little bit of confusion meeting up, we met at his hostel and had a few beers together and got caught up from since we had last seen each other a month or so previous.   Plus I think he really just enjoyed hearing some of my many stories.  Later on that evening, the two of us met up with Anne, and us as a trio went to a bar.  There was some German ska band playing that Mathias was eager to see.  Now I will admit that I didn't understand a word of what they were saying, but they did put on a good show in this tiny little bar that was packed with people.   Even though you could hardly move, and always had to shove your way through the crowd of people, everyone was always smiling and easy going.....even if you spilled some beer on their shoes(not that I know or anything...).   After the band was finished playing, we went to our second and final destination of the evening, a rock and roll club called the Sage club.  It was massive.  There was 4-5 rooms all playing different kinds of rock music.   I was wondering about what all the interesting furniture like beds and large sofas was about.  Anne told Mathias and I , that on the weekends, the Sage club is turned into a sex club.  That's Germany for ya.  After hearing that though, I was a little hesitant to sit on any of the sofas.   Sometime around 3 + am, we decided to throw in the towel and call it an evening. Thanks Mathias for traveling so far to see me again, it was great to see you, and always a good time.  Glad you made it home safe in that hippie van ride share.
  One thing that I did notice about Berlin also is the differences between the west and the east side.  It was cool to talk with Anne and Mathias to hear some stories about the way it used to be before the wall came down.  I can't even really describe it, but something just feels different on the east side of Berlin.  Nothing bad, just different.  The buildings, the trees, even some of the people just look like its got this old eastern feel to it.  I really wanted to grab an old D.D.R. shirt or something.  It really gave me the urge to want to travel farther into the eastern side of Germany, and eastern Europe as a whole.  Again the travel wheels started turning in my head about how and when would be the best to go.  I am still working on this plan in my head but I know that it will happen......sometime.  
  And so to end my visit in Berlin, I ended up taking a ride share from Berlin to Amsterdam.  I will try to update you more soon so that we are back on track again.  I know I have been taking some slack from some of you that I haven't updated my blog often enough.  To be honest, I like to hear it, because it lets me know people are actually reading, and it puts a flame under my ass to get back on it all.  Happy new years to everyone. 2010 has been one of the most memorable years of my life, and I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Thank you to all my friends and family worldwide that have made this such a memorable experience.  Have fun, Party it up, and be safe.  Matty out.

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