When you go your separate ways from your childhood bezzie for university, it can go one of two ways: you could savour that close bond and talk all day e’rryday over Skype and Whatsapp, or you could become the shittest friends ever who see each other once a year. My most fave homie on the planet and I went our separate ways nearly five years ago, when he went off to pursue dentistry in the far corners of the universe (Newcastle), and as we’re pretty shit at being in contact with each other, we only reunite once in about eight blue moons (love you Ash hun).
The great thing about having close friends, is that no matter how long it’s been, you are still the most hilarious pair of guys on the planet when you reunite, and the private jokes flow ‘til everyone else in your company hates you both.
So to make up for being the worst friends in the UK, my GBF and I try and make it out to Europe every once in a while, to be cultured as fuck and get some great snaps for Instagram (priorities). This year, we headed to Berlin as a quartet of fabulous-ness, to hipster around appreciating history and art in their plenty. And my god we were cultured…
Within hours of arriving in Germany, we’d dumped all our shite at the hostel of dreams and set out to find some techno with cries of “Gutentaaaaag!!!”. Now, none of us actually listen to techno, but we’d heard that when in Rome you do as the Romans do, so we figured that when in Berlin you become a default Berliner and lover of techno.
So off we went on that first day with techno in our hearts and a thirst for history. For anyone who hasn’t visited Berlin, you should know that there is an absolute shitload of history, and most of it is pretty brutal. Within 10 minutes of aimless walking, we had stumbled across some amazing street art, and stopped to get a pic; little did we know that we had in fact stumbled on the Berlin wall, and we didn’t have a fucking clue, realising a little later on and of course pretending that we’d known all along.
What we were really looking for, however, was the techno Mecca (not the bingo hall) of Europe: Berghain. A mythical place known only by the words from mouths of people who may have gotten in but probably didn’t, Berghain is a disused power station which has been converted into a techno powerhouse. And the bouncers seem to have a special hatred for anyone who isn’t German.
Having heard tales of just how impossible it is to actually gain entry to Berghain, we donned our coolest outfits and a huge pile of self-confidence (and a load of vino) and headed out knowing that we were
probably definitely cool enough to stroll right in. We figured the odds were in our favour as our party consisted of a gay couple, myself and Helen (who coincidentally pretended to be a lesbian pair on our arrival in the hope of improving our chances of getting in – it’s a gay club).
We approached what is genuinely the most terrifying building I have seen in my life (see right) feeling ready to techno bop, and after spending a couple of hours fretting about our appearance and building up the courage to even walk up to the door, we were sent packing with a swift “nein” from the bouncers (which doesn’t mean “come on in you cool cats”, apparently).
And so it was that we were KB’d from the coolest club in Europe by some fluke accident, and we were forced to spend the rest of our time sightseeing. If you’re considering going to Berlin, I’d recommend you always have a contingency plan for when Berghain says “nein”: we spent the night shouting “ein Berliner bitte” over the bar in our best German at a funky club on the river, drinking enough beer between us to intoxicate a small cow.
I’ve thrown together a travel-guide below of things to see in Berlin
if when Berghain says “nein”:
1. Check out the Brandenburg gate (or Tor, if you’re as German as us) – Michael Jackson hung his child out the window just opposite it
2. Get your picture taken with any and every wall, if it’s got art on, it’s probably the Berlin wall.
3. Bring your sexiest poser game for all the photo opps.
4. Visit the parliament building with the cool glass roof (but make sure you’ve found the right one, we had a photo in front of a few buildings before hitting the jackpot).
5. Throw some shade at anyone who looks remotely cooler than you.
6. Be the most hipster version of yourself, even if that does mean pretending to be a vegan.
7. Genuine tip: do one of the bikeride tours – Berlin is so spread out due to its history (which you will learn about on your bike) so some of the best sights are hard to find. In fact, we left our bike tour ‘til the last day, and realised that we’d in fact seen fuck all, and learnt nothing. Well worth it (and you too could look as cool as this cat below on a bike). There’s literally so so much to see and do in Berlin, and the best way to see it all is on a bike. Be sure to visit the holocaust memorial, I think it’s a really important place for people to visit and understand.
Ich bin ein Berliner.