13 of us organised a weekend in the German capital with the intention of visiting techno palace Berghain. A small number of us had flown from Manchester with a larger group meeting us flying from London. We arrived Friday night and the Manchester contingent stayed in The Grand Hostel, a clean, basic but decent stayover. You're advised to bring a padlock to these places so you can store belongings in a locker. You'll be sharing a room with a load of randomers, so it's ideal to secure your valuables.
Some of the locals were a little difficult with us. The barmaid in the hostel didn't want to tell us where she was going later on. Other people were a little cold, others were ridiculous. But more on that later.
We used the incredibly complex underground train network to get to Sisyphos, a well-respected techno club.
It took 2 hours to travel there, where the pay machines wouldn't accept card or cash, so the transport was pretty much free all weekend. The underground took an hour, including 3 separate trains and a huge walk through the empty industrial areas of Berlin's outskirts. It then took and another 2 hours to queue up at the club, and when we got to the entrance a promoter opened a side door for us.
“This way please,” he said in English with a German accent. We followed, and heard the slam of the door behind us. We were back out on the street.
What an arsehole.
It's probably Brexit that caused this. German doormen hate British people because as a country we voted to leave the EU. It's certainly the case with Berghain, as the head doorman has apparently said.
I think we'd have crashed hard later into the night if we'd have got in. We got a taxi back and were asleep before long.
The next day we met the London contingent in Alexanderplatz, where beer was flowing, dancers were breaking and construction cranes steadily lined the horizon with new-build high-rises against the shadow of rain-soaked pre-war blocks. We got meat dishes in a German pub, where the drunk waiter lost our order. I was absolutely ravenous by the time the food arrived, but the sausage dish I had was incredible.
We took a look at Checkpoint Charlie, The crossing point of what was the Berlin Wall, which would have been used to cross between East and West Germany.
We found a Cockney tour guide who'd married a German girl and now lived in Berlin. He ran free tours that took around 4 hours to complete. Most of us only caught the beginning and end. He was incredibly knowledgeable and a pretty funny guy. Keep your eyes peeled for him.
We picked up our bags and moved to Ringbahnstrasse, a block of large apartments, one of which was occupied by the London contingent. And then our northern selves. It was much cleaner and tidier than the hostel, akin to a large house with a large dining table and couches and TV. We got ready and began another trek to Renate, another techno club. We checked out who the DJs were in advance, so if the doormen asked us this we each had a name to say. There wasn't much of a queue, but the doorman looked at us in disgust and turned us away before we could say anything.
I didn't manage to see the remains of the Berlin Wall, but I did see a building from a distance that apparently contained a part of it, and I saw Brandenberg Gate at dusk, which was illuminated at night with a light show.
To Berlin's credit, It's a cheap weekend. The guided tours were free, the taxis were a hell of a lot fairer than in Manchester, nobody checked our underground tickets and none of the clubs would let us in. So I ended up not spending a great deal at all.
Half the group stayed an extra day (and got to see the Wall). They tried to get into Berghain. We hadn't managed to fit in a trip to that club after all. Suffice to say, the eight of them queued for five hours and every one of them was turned away.
Setbacks aside, I enjoyed the trip. We're looking at other cheap deals away, hopefully before Theresa May invokes Article 50, we leave the EU and we'll need visas to travel out of the country. Which will cost a bomb. I guess what I'd advise is trying a few other clubbing destinations before you risk Berlin.
|Clubbing is so entrenched into Berlin's culture that even the trams have Berghain's image on them.|
|Inside this building 'Nue Wache', you'll find...|
|...the Käthe Kollwitz sculpture Mother with her Dead Son. It's mor dramatic on a rainy day like this...|
|...due to the oculus exposing it to the elements.|
|We lost the tour somehow, but found a museum full of sports cars.|
|Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe|
|After being knocked back from two clubs we picked a nearby subway stop and found ourselves in a nice suburb with a trendy bar.|