After Amsterdam we travelled by plane to Berlin.
Now Berlin is really an experience – the night-life here was my favourite of all the places I went. It was the clubs that really made Berlin stand out from the rest of the places in Europe that we visited. Some of these venues were:
Wilde Renate: an abandoned mansion house with multiple floors open, small attic space and a huge outside courtyard area with blankets and pillows … and, yes, a boat hanging from a tree-house.
Tressor: set in an industrial (now abandoned) power station. It has three floors, one of these being a basement which can be reached through a 30 meter long tunnel.
Club der Visionaere: A small brick building that sits on a canal. This place is more of a bar or an after-hours venue. It was nice to sit on the wooden deck outside, under the weeping willows, watching the sun come up.
The clubs in Berlin are known for having exceptionally long opening hours – most opening on Thursday or Friday and finishing on Monday. From what I gathered, Berlin is totally a party city, with lots of students occupying certain areas.
We didn’t get to see many tourist attractions here, as we would be sleeping nearly all day, but one thing we did see was the East Side Gallery. It is about a 1km section of what is left of the Berlin Wall and is regarded as an international memorial of freedom. Along the wall are things done by artists – mostly expressing political messages. The wall and the art are mostly in good condition, but some of it has eroded over time or has been ruined by vandalism.
Here are some of my favorite pieces I saw on the way:Berlin has a lot of abandoned buildings.
Apparently some were abandoned when the Nazi regime was defeated in 1945, some were abandoned when the Soviets left (e.g. warehouses in the East side were emptied and left vacant), and others when the Americans left (same in the West side), both at the end of the Cold War. When the Wall was taken down at that time, people reacted against being under such intense control by just being as out there as they could and going against the old social norms. One of the places we visited was an abandoned theme park. Now this place was scary: we had to jump a big fence to get in, and the whole place was overgrown with grass and weeds, but all the rides were still there. It was like something out of a horror movie!
Here are some photos!
After about 8 nights in Berlin, I was thoroughly exhausted! Our next stop was Portugal – Lisboa!
In Lisbon we met some of the nicest people, and despite the language barrier locals would always be polite and at least try to communicate with us. We in turn learnt a few of the key words needed in order to make this easier for them. In some other countries, if you couldn’t speak their language, they would pretty much just ignore you even if you were trying. We stayed in an old mansion house which had been converted into a hostel (Oasis Mansion). This place was amazing, and the hostel workers were so nice – it was almost like a big family.
Lisbon is famous for its many lookouts. You can take the tiny little trams up some massive slopes, which are a bit scary at some times, as it feels like you won’t quite make it up the steep hills. Locals would jump on the back of these trams and just take a ride for a couple of stops holding on to the back of the tram. I went up to about 4 of these lookout points and they were quite breathtaking. You could literally sit there for hours just looking out over the whole city.
One of the most amazing places we visited was a town called Sintra, about an hour and a half out from Lisbon. I can describe this as a fairytale town as is it home to many castles (one of them looks a lot like the Disney castle) with the most incredible views. We had to walk up about a 45-60-degree slope for about 40 minutes to get to some of these, but in the end it was definitely worth it!After this long, exhausting walk we actually realised there was a bus that took you up the hills to the castles!
In my experience, Lisbon’s night-life revolves more around bars than clubs. The ‘party district’, called Bairro Alto, is a series of streets and lanes with nearly every shop-front being a bar of some description. Most of these bars were tiny, but people seemed to just buy their drinks inside and then everyone would stand in the street drinking. It was quite strange …
Portugal is such a beautiful place – I could definitely live here!