Next stop, Berlin. By far the most interesting and least touristed big city that I’ve visited. The constant construction is frustrating but the energy of the place is really exciting. I stayed with a guy named Roderik, a really guy with whom Russell Bryant placed me in contact. He’s about 30 or so and lived in the old East Berlin. His apartment had anti communist graffiti all over the stairwell and was in an old, dank, Stalin era building (some would call it disgusting, but I call it charming). I walked in and quickly noticed that the shower was in the kitchen (where the kitchen sink doubled as a bathroom sink). THats not important, but kind of interesting. That night, Roderik and a bunch of his Berliner (and “Berlinerin”, to use politically corrent bad German) friends came over and we had dinner. All of his friends spoke perfect English and so it made a potentially awkward evening comfortable.
We went out after that, I guess it was about 11:00. Well, 7 hours later (I think) we came back in. Man, those Germans were wired all night long. It was weird, though, a billion miles away and the Friday night procedure was pretty much the same as in Tuscaloosa (albeit with tighter clothes, much more hair gel). I will say this though, given that I packed 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants, my selection of clothes suitable for a night out in Berlin is quite slim, so I’m grateful that I couldn’t understand all that was said around me. On saturday morning, with about 3 hrs of sleep, I took a great, guided walking tour of the city. It was VERY interesting. I won’t go into the details of all the sights, but Berlin really has some top notch things to see. All European cities abound with history, but few have such important recent histories. I rank it really high on my list, thats for sure. In the afternoon, I saw the Pergamon museum, and was very impressed by the 2500 year old Ishtar gate, and all the “Old Testament” art of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hittites. In the evening, I climbed the new cupola of the Reichstag and had a spectacular view. On Sunday, the whole city shut down as Germany played Brazil in the World Cup final. I went with Roderik and his friends to a local biergarten that was packed with drunk Germans (at 11 in the morning). Although there was barely room to breathe and Germany lost, it was one of the most fun things I’ve done. After I knew I was gonna be in Berlin, I had rooted for the Germans the whole time just so I’d get to see the final there. It was funny, before the game, Roderik’s girlfriend leaned over and asked if I knew the rules. I lied and said of course. That evening, I had dinner with Roderik’s father, who was extremely nice, and had the most frank discussion I’ve ever had with a German person about the difficulites in constantly being reminded of Nazism (As anyone living in Berlin would be). It was intriguing.