Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Berlin: A Dark and Gritty HugeParty

Is Berlin a HugeParty? Absolutely.

Admittedly, I didn't spend enough time in Berlin to experience every HugeParty it has to offer. But I did the best I could and wound up meandering across this unique city until well into the early morning.

Berlin Wall

As part of a 2013 Eurotrip with friends I ventured into the darkness that is Berlin's HugeParty. The rumors are true, Berlin is awesome, I can only hope to make it back while I still have the energy.

West Side, East Side
Read more after the jump!!!

Where not to Stay?

We stayed at The Cat's Pajamas Hostel. I'm not saying it was bad, because it was quite clean and well run, but I wouldn't stay there again. My primary reason would be the neighborhood. Located in KREUZKĂ–LLN, it was too rough and edgy (and that's saying something for Berlin). The "Visit Berlin" website says this neighborhood is up and coming, I don't buy it. Sure, I expected a rougher scene, but I'd prefer to sleep in a neighborhood that I can venture out and explore in the evening.

Underground HugeParty Club Life

Berlin clubs have a well documented tolerance for everything, and and equally famous strict entry policy. I had heard stories of a legendary night club Berghain where "anything goes". Unfortunately we visited during the week, Berghain is open round-the-clock from Thursday to Monday. Instead, we tried our hand at ://about blank (yes, that's the name of the club)..... instantly denied after waiting in line for an hour. Sad.

So, we ventured off to other areas, and honestly, I couldn't give you the name of any of the three clubs I went to, as they were all located in rundown industrial buildings. Literally, one of the "clubs" seemed to just be a place where some people rented out a deserted space and started playing deep house music until 5am. Quite enjoyable, given the seedy circumstances.

The Outside of the Club.... So Inviting...

What to Expect?

  • Off Beat Life - Berlin is edgy. The effects of the Cold War are still very much felt. The amount of run-down/graffiti ridden buildings is unbelievable. But right next to those buildings you'll find a thriving coffee shop with happy Berliners. It's a pretty cool scene to experience. Maybe I'm just so sheltered in Chicago I didn't know what to expect.
  • Club Couture - Leave your collared shirts in your suitcase, Berlin is a different beast when it comes to nightlife. It's dark, smoky and the more you "don't care", the better a chance you have in getting into some of the underground raves and clubs. Dressing down is highly recommended.
  • Get a Nice Gift - Ready to impress someone you love? Go to the Fraas Scarf store. Legit scarf designer from Berlin.
  • Cost - Compared to other European cities, I found Berlin to be quite affordable. This part of the trip we weren't looking for great food spots or mixed cocktails. We were just looking for some historical sights..... and crazy nights.
  • Avoid!!! - After dark alone and the casino. Berlin was the city I felt most unsafe in after dark. The combination of location, transient people and gritty clubs was a bit overwhelming. Certainly not some place I'd recommend a solo female traveler at night. Also, I found myself at the end of a good night at the Spielbank Berlin Casino. Although I managed to win 200 Euros in less than an hour, the people I was gambling with were drunk and they did not fare the same.


    I've mentioned the issues I had with Berlin above, similar too were the local people. One club we found, a young gentleman wasn't happy that a tourist had found this rave. He rudely let me know I wasn't welcome in the dark and smelly club. 

    My lack of German speaking prevented me from entering into another club as well. Perhaps my overly friendly American demeanor is off-putting... I think that's ridiculous and will take my money elsewhere if that's how it's going to be in Berlin.

    Some of the Locals were VERY Friendly

    So Much History

    Like I experienced in Rome, Berlin has so much historical relevance. The idea that I need to see everything makes me itch just thinking about it. Feeling obligated to see so much, versus experiencing cultural fun, kills me. That's one regret I had about Berlin. See less WW2 and Cold War, get involved with local shops, bars and people. 

    However, if you plan on playing tourist, I highly recommend Topography of Terror. Located at the former site of the Gestapo and SS, this museum is free and thoroughly informative.

    Berlin Wall, adjacent to Topography of Terror

    Travel Quote?

    "Berlin is poor, but sexy.” - Klaus Wowereit

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