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I went to Berlin with my school in early April for five days and had a great time exploring the city, all the of the art galleries and museums. Now I was back with Rob for a whole week. We arrived at Schoenefeld Airport around 4:30 in the afternoon. After catching a train and a tram we went to supermarket to grab some food and beer. We met our couch surfing host in the parking lot and he took us to his house, which shares a yard with a water purification plant in the Wuhlheide Forest. Stephan, our host, was a really nice guy. He is studying for a Masters Dergree in Physcis and we had a a lot of great conversations. Our first night in town we spent eating currywurst, drinking delicious beer and watching TED talks with Stephan and his brother Olly. On Saturday we woke up around 10 and made our standard breakfast of fried potatoes. We took the S-Bahn to Oranienburger Strasse in East Berlin and proceeded to walk around for a couple hours. We saw some good art galleries, Checkpoint Charlie, remains of the Berlin Wall, and an  abandoned building that has been turned into an artist squat. We also got some delicious coffee from The Barn, a cafe that one of the students took us to when we were in Berlin with my school. We left Oranienburger Strasse and headed east to Warschauer Strasse to get some hamburgers from a burger place that a different student took us to in April. We got off the U-Bahn and after walking a couple of blocks towards the hamburger place, we ran into a street festival. There were two different stages with reggae bands playing, a girl stacking beer crates 30+ feet tall while she was standing on them, and tons of people. We grabbed our burgers and then went to sit in a park and drink beer while people watching. It is legal to drink beer in public in Berlin not to mention it is a huge part of German culture. After sitting around for a while, we walked to a bridge to watch the sunset next to the Berlin TV Tower. Then we got back on the U-Bahn and headed to Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg, a hip neighborhood in south east Berlin. There we walked along a canal to a bridge where lots of young people like to hang out at night and…you guessed it…drink beer. After sitting around for two hours we began to head back to Stephan’s house. It was a good day in Berlin and we needed some sleep. The next day we woke up early because Stephan had invited us to play paintball with him and some of his friends. When he originally proposed the idea I was a little unsure. I looked at Rob and he said we should definitely do it. So we met up with his friends around 9am and drove out north of Berlin. After about 45 minutes of driving we arrived. The paintball place was in an old military barracks and when we got out of the car we realized we were the only people without camouflage and military parafinalia. It was a little intimidating and too WWII-like at first, but then it got fun. We played several different military games with about 50 people total and then some smaller games with our group of 8. It was definitely something I did not expect to do in Berlin but Rob and I had a great time. We got back to Stephan’s around 7 or 8, bruised, covered in paint and tired. We did some laundry, made dinner and fell asleep. On Monday we had a late start and walked all around Mitte and the Tiergarten Park. We saw The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, The Reichstag, The Brandenburg Gate, some interesting architecture and even a Richard Serra sculpture. That evening we went back to Kreuzberg and got some cheap chinese food for dinner. Around 10 we headed back to the Wuhlheide for our last night at Stephan’s. Tuesday we woke up, made some potatoes, packed our stuff up and headed to Ostabahnhof to our next couch surfing host’s apartment. Reena lived on the top floor of a student hostel. It was basically college apartments. Rob and I even had our own room with a full sized bed and a great view of the TV Tower. We spent the night cooking up a huge batch of curry, talking with Gloria and Kenna, and waiting for Reena to get off work. She got in around 12:30, while we were watching the movie 180 degreees South (a great adventure documentary). We finished the movie and went to bed. On Wednesday Rob got up first, as usual, and headed to the Neue National Gallery, which I had already seen with my school a couple weeks before. I met him there, after he got lost for a bit pre-museum. Then we walked to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum. I had seen this museum before with my school but they have a ton of great art work that I wanted to see again plus a new exhibition. We spent a couple hours there, the last of which I spent in the museum bookstore scouring the shelves for some art theory books in English. The museum closed at 6 and we headed back to Reena’s for more curry. On Thursday we headed back to Oranienburger Strasse to visit some art galleries. We spent a couple hours wandering around the neighborhood before heading east to Rosa-Luxembourg Platz to get burritos and visit my friend Victoria at work at Bar 3. My stomach has been suffering without Mexican food, something that is abundent in New Brunswick. The Mexican ingredients in France were expensive, usually Taco Bell brand, and it was impossible to find black beans. Dolores’ made huge, delicious California style burritos. I had made the trek across Berlin to Dolores’ one night with two fellow students in April but just as we arrived they were closing down. It was worth the wait though. After chowing down we headed to Bar 3. I met Victoria with my school when we were taken to visit her and her boyfriend Ryan’s studios. They were two Americans who had graduated from art schools (Ryan from RISD and Victoria from Brown) and made the move to Berlin. It is an extremely attractive city for artists. There are lots of galleries, very cheap rent and if you can prove that you make a living from selling your art the government gives you a stipened. Berlin is probably my favorite European city and one that I could definitely picture myself living in. Thursday was our last night in Berlin and we headed back to Reena’s around 11 since we had an early flight to Milan the next morning. On Friday we woke up at 6am, walked to the S-Bahn station and had a breakfast of bread and jam on our way to the airport. We had a great time in Berlin and I am very glad I was able to return to it and explore it more.


One response

  1. Gi Cochran

    Happy 21st Birthday Ethan, Wow what a 21st birthday. I love reading your blogs. You would be a great travel reporter. I know your Mom and Dad must be missing you today. I spoke to Kait tonight the cousin you share a birthday with. I hope this is a very special day for you. You must really be looking forward to seeing your family soon. Miss you and love you and hope to see you next month. Love always, Your Gi

    June 9, 2011 at 2:17 am

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