“Seeking adventure in Berlin”, read my Tinder profile. The matches were plenty. My study was proving quite the success. As I left Jay’s flat on Torstraße Strasse I wondered how I’d gathered the courage to actually wind up there. What was I thinking? Deep down I don’t think it mattered at all. I was always fearless abroad. Some people were made for solo travel. Others can read this blog post.
How I ended up in Berlin is another story. Another ‘shit out of luck’ love life failure to be added to my long list but the important thing was I made it there. Once I’d booked the flight I knew there was no getting out of it. I’m not one to cancel flights and travel plans. There I was at Shoenefeld airport stepping out of the plane and right into the ’80’s. The long stairs led to the tarmac and off to the building I went. One taxi ride later I had arrived at my flat for the week. Airbnb was kind to me in Berlin.
The lovely flat was located in Schoeneberg about a 30 minute bus ride away from the city centre. While I was very familiar with the U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems in Berlin, the buses were a whole other story. Luckily I met a lovely florist who gave me all the information I needed to know. So off I went to discover the Mitte district.
I remember the last time I felt so alive. It was the first time I arrived in downtown Toronto all by myself. I was 17, volunteering at a charity and so thrilled to walk out of the subway station, into the city. What a fantastic experience it is to find yourself in the midst of it all. Unfortunately, I haven’t felt that way again since I came back from Berlin. Toronto, somehow lost its appeal.
Sitting on a bench in front of the Berliner Dome I met Rita, a Lithuanian girl visiting her sister in Berlin. I’m not sure how but we hit it off right away and were off to a bar at Museum Island. She had dreams of moving to London and I of moving to Berlin. A simple conversation turned into a life-long friendship. (note: Rita made her dream come true and is now living in London)
The next day, my sense of adventure begged me to do something about meeting Berliners. I wanted to have a local experience. I had previously contacted Sissi, a foodie based in Berlin, on Instagram. She had promised me a lunch date but that was still a few days away. So, I gave in to that nagging voice inside my head and set up a Tinder account. Figured I’d try my hand at Tinder tourism. It’s a thing you know!
Jay was my first Tinder ‘date’. I say ‘date’ because he and I were both aware this was going to be a platonic relationship. We were going to grab a drink or two and he was going to show me his city. We set our date at Hackescher Markt and grabbed a drink – or five – at the Weihenstephaner brewery. After drinks, Jay offered to take me for Curry Wverst. Next to Doner, this is the most amazing and unique Berlin dish around. Jay was a kind soul. He wanted to lend me his bike after just meeting me. I agreed to go to his flat and see his bike before rejecting it. We played soccer with a tiny stone on the street and shared a couple of laughs before he told me about his relocating business – in case you’re in the market for a move do try his service or just ask him to show around.
My second Tinder tourism guide was Stefano, an Italian living in Switzerland. Since he was also a tourist – staying with friends in Berlin for a few weeks – we decided to just have a coffee at Starbucks – yep, they have that there. We met at the busiest Starbucks near Postdamer Platz. Originally from Naples, Stefano was a gorgeous, dark eyed and haired 30-something-year-old. It was a fun hour but nothing memorable other than his penetrating gaze. Oh those Italians.
Next up: a burger with my good Instagram buddy Sissi. We met up in Kreuzberg and went to a fab food stand called ‘Hamburger Heaven’. This girl is seriously awesome! She works for an ad agency, loves to eat and knows the best places to grab a bite at in Berlin. If you’re ever in need of some advice for where to eat in Berlin, give her a ring or rather, message her. She’s also super friendly and sweet.
That evening, Jay and I made plans to meet again. He wanted to take me for drinks at a cool bar he knew in Prenzlauer Berg. I got to his flat a bit early and ended up going with his American buddy. Jay was to join us later. Well, the American had a dutch bike with a big basket – big enough to carry a child in. I obviously fit into this basket and he rode his bike to Weinerei. I could try and explain this amazing bar but what good would that do when it’s one of the places you’ve got to see before you die. Two Euros. That’s all it costs to start drinking and eating here. The concept is simple: Pay-for-what-you-eat. I LOVED IT! We had a few drinks and some food and off we went to walk around.
The next night, I met up with the lovely florist who’d taught me all about Berlin’s transportation system. Katarina is originally from East Berlin. She was born there and her parents lived through those horrid times they now have a nostalgia for. We had a few drinks at Train. This bar is literally an abandoned train turned into a bar. Also, I should point out smoking is permitted in many bars in Berlin, including this particular one.
The two week trip ended with tears as I walked up the stairs to my plane. I knew I didn’t want to leave. Sarah Jessica Parker said in a Sex and the City episode ‘maybe we obsess over relationships that feel unfinished’.
To put it simply, I am not done with Berlin, yet.
Have you been to Berlin? Do you have something to share? Comment away 🙂