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One Night In… Berlin

We had particularly efficient and unfriendly staff handling our affairs at the Dubrovnik Airport as we headed towards Berlin — and they get the blame when our intended carry-on luggage was somehow sent off on the conveyor belt and the staff refused to recall it for us.

And that was a bit of a problem. The details for our Berlin contact, our new friend Moritz, were in one of those bags, now unavailable to us.

Luckily, we had no reason to despair.  A good friend now splitting time between Berlin and London had laid out a three-point evening for us to follow.

We now present… A.B.’S GUIDE TO ONE NIGHT IN BERLIN:

“You should go to the bars of Mitte – around Hackershe Markt and August Strasse (there is a v good one call Pauly Saal – a great bar and restaurant on August Strasse),”  our friend A.B. e-mailed.

“And if you want to club there is Cookies on Friedrichstrasse (in Mitte), and if you are very adventurous there is the Kit-Kat Club (for brave, swinging types ;)))”

It would be the best two sentences of advice we’d ever receive.

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We first knocked out some of the mandatory sites right off the bat by hopping on a bus right outside the Airport that took us to the Brandenburg Gate.  Snapped some photos in front of Reichstag, the German Parliament Building, and ticked off the box.  [One thing I did want to comment on was the complete perfection of the wind beneath the wings of the German flag on top of the Reichstag.  We all know about German engineering, but this was a bit much.  I assume there was a permanent electric fan under the flag supporting the flap of glory.]  Now let the fun begin!

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We started the leisure part of our evening in the area of Mitte, right on Auguststrasse, which used to be a part of East Berlin.  This particular area was a Jewish community and the former Jewish children’s school was converted into a cultural center, with a gorgeous restaurant and lounge, courtyard seating, café, and other interesting points of commerce.  In the hallways there hung black and white photos of the building when it still housed young students, more pictures of children playing in the courtyard, and the story of the disappearing children.  The juxtaposition of the gentrified and gorgeous lounge against the morbid display of dark history was unsettling.

We scanned the formal dining room and the lounge of Pauly Saal, complete with a jazz band and comfy leather sofas with dark wood trim, and relaxed in the more lively lounge area.  With some of the most beautiful furniture I’ve ever seen and gorgeous windows with wide and thick window sills (my personal favorite), and a mixed crowd of young and old – the type of old I want to be when I am older – I declared this place a personal favorite.

We took a short cab ride to Cookies which seemed to be a club that came alive in something that looked like a business district that had temporarily gone to sleep, rather than a trendy club area.  Nevertheless, the line came out of the alley and bled along the street, filled only with kids a bit too young for my present taste.

Also, Cookies is now reportedly closed, permanently, so it’s good we decided to venture forth to the Kit Kat Club.

We knew we were in for a treat when the taxi driver gave us a knowing look when we told him our destination.  He then kept peeking back at us through the back mirror, and finally started trying to tell us stories about this club.  We stood in line, this time a shorter one with a more interesting and varied crowd.

The door swung open only a few minutes later and a lady (who was petting a stuffed animal cat) picked out just a few people from the crowd and told us to come in.  We were two of the lucky chosen ones!  We stepped into the dark space, which took a couple seconds to adjust to.  We were soon ordered to pay 20 Euros each and leave our clothes on the side.

There was a hanging rack along the wall of the entry way. It dawned upon me that my green silk sundress was not going to be suitable attire for a swinging sex club.  We were also carrying two computer cases, a purse, and a CPAP breathing machine – all ordered to just put against the wall.

On a different night this would have been an adventure that would have spawned story upon story for years to come.  But I wasn’t feeling quite sexy after traveling for half a day and walking around town with hand luggage in flip flops.

While hats off to my friend A.B. (we love you, man), we were now on our own, with our innocence intact.

We had heard a lot about Kreuzberg, a hip city neighborhood, so we checked out the main drag. There, we got a drink in one restaurant and a sandwich in another.

Nourished, we were ready to check out the most infamous nightclub in the world. The spot is filled with legend and possibility as it’s opened for days straight. But — and this is a big but — you have to get in first. And there lies the problem with the Berghain Panorama Bar… the bouncers are the toughest in the world. And they let people in for no rhyme or reason.

We spent a long time on the line, watched as a beautiful sun rose, and then decided to leave. We didn’t want our brief stay in Berlin being spoiled by a red-rope rejection, especially since’d we felt victorious upon being chosen to enter the Kit Kat.

There’d be other nightclubs, we thought. There’d be other nights.

We had a couple more hours in the city before we needed to head back to the airport.

Travel makes us hungry so we ordered up some lentil soup at a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant and then asked a taxi driver to swing by the former site of Checkpoint Charlie.

To us, Berlin is a city tinged with sadness, grandeur, choice and excitement, a must stop on any itinerary… even if you have less than 10 hours to experience it.

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Image Courtesy of canadastock / Shutterstock.com