Hipster. The one recurrent word our European friends have used to describe this city. I ain't gonna lie. I was a lil iffy at first, ya know, coming from a hipster town meeself. But then I set foot in this city aaaaand it's worth the hype that everyone has raved about. Total opposite of Communist anything. Berlin is vibrant, hip, happenin'. Hard to believe the Berlin Wall fell only 25 years ago! In my lifetime! I remember as a wee 9 year old watching the events unravel on TV. Mind blowing stuff.
If anything, Berlin is resilient. Which became very apparent when V and I met up one of my old neighbors from the Spain days, Guil, who recently moved to Berlin from Sao Paolo and moonlighted as our tour guide. I'm gonna digress a bit, but I haven't seen this dude in 7 years! He'll always have a special place in my memory during my life in Spain, being one of the first people I've met in Salamanca and one of the few who've stuck around when everyone went back to their respective home countries. We've had many a crazy nights chugging down chupitos at the local pubs and lazily drinking in front of a church and then drinking some more at our residencia. But I don't want to give the impression that we've drank a lot (just half the time =P). Fundamentally, everyone bonded over their own unique life experiences from all corners of the world during these gatherings. And that, there, is really the beauty of why I love meeting fellow travelers while traveling. Chances are you're going to meet someone who's in the same boat as you, constantly roaming the world searching for something more. More than what the social convention expects of you. Shared life stories of these fellow life wanderers reflects that. I'm in awe and inspired by these kindred spirits.
Guil is truly a kindred spirit of that very kind.
So with Guil practically a Berliner, we set forth on a cray-cray foot tour around town, hunting down currywurst and iconic street graffiti and remnants of the GDR. I swear we must've circled this town TWICE. Which is not an easy feat considering Berlin is HUGE. There are times the old Communist influences are still very evident and others like it had never happened. It's really befuddling and curious at the same time. But one thing's for sure, Berlin is a better, happier place. A city where one can easily roam its streets and find an artist's haven. A place I would come back just to explore more of its strong-willed history and perhaps seriously live in if I had the option of moving back to Europe (I wish!)
Guil - You're always welcome here at Casa de Chu-Ferrer. From one hipster town to the other, you'll love it here in Austin. We'll even take ya up on that dog-sitting offer if that's what it takes for ya to get here. Let's not wait another 7 years! ;-)
By the way, I must really mention how awesome The Generator hostel was (is!) during our 4-5 day stay in Berlin. How awesome? Let's just say it's been awhile since we've stayed at a clean, brand spankin' new, accommodating, insanely convenient, trendy hostel - not since Thailand 2009. Stay there if ya ever in Berlin.
besos ... jin.