Rommel and I arrived in Cologne late in the afternoon on August 23rd. We plan on staying in Cologne for three days. We are both heading to Essen after, and from there Rommel will go to Frankfurt and I will go to Berlin.
We both felt a bit tired when we arrived in Cologne. Maybe its the amount of stuff that we did in Amsterdam (all the walking that is). Our first night, we spent drinking and hanging out with a couple from south of Germany. Very uninventful. The second day, we walked around the city. Walked in the massive Cathedral right across the central station. We walked some more and walked along the Rhine River. Then we walked.. walk.. walk.. never ending walking here. After, we grabbed coffee along the promenade and just people watch. People watching is awesome. It´s cheap and require the least energy. For some odd reason, I started sweating and feeling delirius. I think my sugar was too low. To fixed my low sugar, I ordered a beer, a berliner doughnut, and brutwurst. Soon after, we called it quits and headed back to the hostel for our naps. When we woke up, we wanted to go to the Beer Festival happening in the city. On our way, we passed by a coffee shop with live jazz music. It was pretty cool. However, we were looking forward to some excellent German beers. Once we got to the beer fest, Rommel found a beer stand that is called Augustiner.. now we have to try that.. it rhymes with our last name. The beer was pretty good! While we were sitting down, we started talking with 6 university kids that lives in city. It was a pretty funny night. We then partied with them at the park near by. Beer and more beers.. At 3AM, we headed back to our room since we have an 850AM train to catch to Essen.
The following morning, we woke up at 8AM. There is no way we will catch our train. We both want to take a shower since we will not be checking in anywhere in Essen. Our plan is to start partying once we get there until we catch our train the following day. We then realized that our ticket is good for 2hours. Score, we can catch the 951AM train. Even though we were tired from the night before, the ride from Cologne to Essen had a party athmosphere. Locals from Cologne, and us, and maybe some other travelers are all heading to one of the biggest electronic music festival in Germany.. the Love Parade. People were dressed funky and singing all the way to Essen. Forget napping. Once we arrived in Essen, people started clapping. Indeed, there is a party going on here!!!! And I love how I am part of it.
The Love Parade started once we got off the train. There were thousands of people already in the city center by 11AM. The parade doesn´t officially start until 2PM! Once the parade started, the DJ in each floats started to showcase their stuff. We started to follow a float that plays house music. It was crazy. All of the 1.2-million people that showed up brought their party spirit with them. You can definitely feel the love in Essen that day. In between, Rommel and I lost each other. Hmm.. now, I should make an effort to talk to people. German people are very welcoming. But for some, their english is not very good. It becomes one big game of charades. Rommel and I set up a meeting point since we knew we will eventually going to loose each other. And at 830PM, I walked towards our spot – Burger King.. and right across BK and through hundreds of people walking.. there he was looking floored than ever! He has been partying! And that is exactly the point why we came to Essen to begin with. At the end of the parade, the floats parked, and the people go towards the main stage where DJ´s spun until 10PM. After 10PM, the party continues until the sun came up. DJ´s spinning infront of some stores and people just dancing their night away. At 6AM, there was an after party in one of the major city parks. However, I have a 630AM train and Rommel has a 730train to catch. Ahhh!!! I wish we could have stayed longer. 19 hours of straight partying is just not enough. Maybe next year! I missed my train anyways. WTF.. we should have just stayed….
I arrrived in Berlin at around noon on August 26th. I was so exhausted, but I needed to fixed something with the train company since I was charged twice for the train ride. The ticket lady was very nice and put a request to refund the charges. Since I didn´t have a travel book on Germany, I tried to purchase one at the bookstore. There was none in English. I was left looking for hostels either in Spanish or German. I chose to read up on Berlin in Spanish. Hopefully I got the jist of what they were saying. I found a hostel in the Berlin-Mitte district, closed to the famous Friedrichstraße where Checkpoint Charlie is located (old East Berlin) . Once I checked in I just crashed until 10PM. Right when I woke up, I went to get a Doner. I love doners! They are cheap and pretty effing good!!!.
The following day, I walked around the city. I checked out Deutsche Guggenheim since it was free on Mondays. Currently, Phoebe Washburn exhibits her ´´Regulated Fool’s Milk Meadow´´instillation. The piece is massive where it exhibits a factory devised to nurture the growth of grass for the factory’s own sod roof, where it will eventually wilt and decay. Very interesting. I then walked some more and read the history of the Berlin Wall and the Cold War written on the streets. I wasn´t feeling too well on Monday. I was just exhausted from this thing called traveling. So I went back to the hostel and just slept.
With fully charged batteries the following day, I woke up at 1PM. I started my day a little late, but it is okay. Again, it is not a race! I got lost around the city for a little bit. Found Paris Platz and met up with the New Berlin Free Walking Tour. Not a fan of tours, but this one is FREE!!! The tour took us mostly around the old East Berlin. We started a Paris Platz where Hotel Adlon where Michael Jackson almost dropped his baby. To name some, the tour lead us to the Jewish Memorial, Brandenburger Gate, DZ Bank which is a Frank Gehry piece, where Hitle’s bunker was located, and the infamous Berlin Wall. I got to admit, the tour was both educational and fun. We were fortunate enough to have such an animated and smart tour guide Victoria. Shoutout for the New Europe Free Walking Tour. After the tour, few of the people decided to join in the famous Berlin pubcrawl. I have done a pubcrawl twice in my life.. second being in Berlin. The pubcrawl was a lot of fun. Went to 5 bars/clubs and met a great amount of other travelers.
Ah, another night of boozing, and again I woke up a bit late the next day. Oh well, that’s life. My goal for the day is to go up the Germany’s Parliament Building, and to go to the central station to meet my friend Karin. The view from the top of the parliament building was absulutely captivating. The building provides a 360-degrees view of the entire city. Berlin from the top is not bad! Right after, I went to the Hauptbahnhof Station to meet my friend that I have not seen the last 7-years. I waited in front of the terminal where the bus coming from the airport stops. Ah hour later, there she was…same ole Karin!
My last day in Berlin consisted of more walking. I love walking in this city. This place rocks! I finally made it to the old west Berlin. It´s fascinating to think how the old West Belin was an island (well.. it was surrounded by the Berlin Wall!) within East Germany. I learned, and obviously, everything and anything needed to support the walled city was flown in. We checked out KaDeWe. That mall is very posh. Also that day, we checked out Alexander Platz and Siegessaule.. and other stuff that I have no clue what they are called or how to say in German. Yes, my German friend has not been to Berlin before.. therefore, I showed her around the neighborhood!
Germany… definitely coming back to this country again!!! The people are great, and there are so much history. If you want to see first hand what you learned in your history classes, come to Germany. Berlin provides a venue where the old and the new are intertwined creating one of the best cities that I have ever been to. To top that, the beer is just brewed to perfection… And for all the other budget travelers, Berlin is the place in the western world.. I find it quite affordable. It you want to party your brains out, come and join the festivities during the Love Parade. Can´t wait to visit other places in this country.. maybe on the next trip!
Again, if you made it this far, this is the link to my Germany pictures: http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=2AbtXLNq1cMWFc&emid=sharshar&linkid=link3
I arrived in Barcelona this morning. I took the metro to my friend Xenia´s apartment. Xenia and her roommate are currently in Andorra and will not be back until next week. She trust me enough to stay in her apartment without her supervision. Thanks to Miriam (Xenia´s sister) and her friend for showing me the apartment and giving me the keys!