I arrive at Warsaw Modlin with three mates. We meet another in my hotel room and drink the night away, random bar to bar, the heavily accented rejection “Not tonight, lads” a frequent leitmotif. This pattern continued the following two nights; no historical sites or culturally relevant landmarks were sampled.
I emerged with a ghastly unexplained bruise on my shoulder, and lost three jackets and a phone – someone is enjoying the plethora of life-changing memes on that phone (hours of work). I therefore have no photographic proof to provide evidence that I was in the Polish capital so I’ll just sign off by saying that Warsaw was … alright.
To Berlin Hauptbahnhof on the 1400 train in a lovely First Class carriage. A porter chucks us bottles of water. At Poznan, a middle-aged Chilean couple join us. They speak very eloquently about the fight for the Republican nomination. Donald Trump dominates the chat. I’m a bit ashamed of myself for not nipping that topic in the bud.
Berlin got a bit X-rated on occasion, the most subdued episodes nightly trips to Last Cathedral bar just north of Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. A self-described ‘Horror Rock Bar’, we shot the proverbial shit in the atmospheric haunt, discussing Game of Thrones and East German historiography in hushed voices.
Nothing touristy was done; walking tours were jettisoned in favour of lengthy hangover-induced lie-ins with Alka-Seltzer and YouTube. This was not a conscious decision to take the apostate route and ‘be different’ by embracing the anti-tourist modus operandi. It was merely a case of being too ill to leave the hotel before 7:00 p.m. Moreover, I had been to Berlin before, so I didn’t feel I was missing out on much daylight happenings.
What I did take from Berlin was a sense of the possible, a wander in an evolving maze. I see no uniformity to Berlin save its randomness. The city feels like it was endearingly designed using the paint program on a Windows desktop. The locals seem content with this, chilled, unencumbered with appearances.
A few salient memories remain: Zooming past the Berlin Wall in a Mercedes-Benz in a dash to the airport, smoking Cointreau from an e-cig, guzzling from a litre-bottle of Smirnoff Ice in Matrix club and convincing myself I was a hip-hop artist, a chat with a verbose pub bouncer about the Stasi, and insouciantly munching sushi off a bin like a glorified hobo.
Once upon a time in the noughties, alcohol didn’t dominate holiday proceedings. I’m not sure when I’ll fully exercise a bit of nostalgia and hit a city teetotal, but when I do I’ll frequent the museums and stuff.