In all honesty, it’s just easier to hang out with your fellow travellers than it is to try an break into a group of locals but in Berlin, all that changed.
Alrighty, I’m going to hit you hard with the stereotypes first. You (and I) really don’t expect those serious German-types to give a crap about welcoming the tourists.
If anything, we’re a nuisance, getting in the way with our lack of public transport knowledge and making them late. Or holding up the supermarket queue with our lack of German language skills and making them late, again (I did warn you).
But of all the cities we visited, it was in Berlin that I managed to find myself at a local’s barbecue birthday bash. And she didn’t even speak English.
This is my over-privileged, native-English speaker talking, but honestly how is that even possible? Of the 30ish people there, only some four or five spoke English at all.
It was surreal, really. My travel buddy wasn’t invited so there I was, in a near empty park as it grew closer to nightfall, with a bunch of total strangers who I could barely speak to, getting mildly tipsy.
Would I recommend it? Hell. Yes.
I sat in a park, cooking meat on a grill over a fire, wine in hand. That just doesn’t happen with us city kids in Australia.
How I got there is just as great a story.
It all started the previous night when, after following a fellow hostel-dweller to a dingy table tennis bar (best.idea.ever), I began mingling with the locals.
A few stares and several drinks later, we found ourselves in with the cool kids. Well, with some locals, anyway.
Fast forward a couple hours and I’m leaving with some dude’s number and a promise of a barbecue the next day. Should this happen to you, first check he’s not a creep and then GO! It’s awesome, you get an insight into local life and memories you’ll be able to brag about for years on end.
Elsewhere in Berlin, we checked out the best tourist places, (which is the interactive DDR museum btw), and met up with friends across the city and into Potsdam.
I’m still a huge walking tour advocate and Sandemans Red Berlin tour is a huge must-do, especially if you’re like me and have next-to-no knowledge about the Cold War.
Food-wise, you can get great cheap eats right by the East Side Gallery. Check out the Indian restaurants nearby for a meal that’ll keep you full for days, and all for just 5 euro. I believe the one we ate at was called Shaan.
For dessert, head over to Five Elephant cafe in the south of the city. Peaceful, hipster and a top-notch cheesecake. You’ll truly be right in there with the locals.
Quick question for those of you who made it this far. At the barbecue, we played some strange German ball game, which I can’t remember the rules of for the life of me, so if someone knows, give me a yell! I’d love to know in the comments below!