Travel Flashback: 08.23.02 Berlin

[Ten years ago this month I traveled abroad for the first time. I spent the first two weeks in France and Germany with a friend from college, and the next four weeks roaming around mostly by myself. I kept a journal faithfully every day. I’ll share a few unedited excerpts from that here as we come to the anniversary of the day in question. This trip meant everything to me. I had just graduated college, I had no career-type job lined up, and I used all the money I had saved up from slinging coffee and sandwiches at a local cafe to fund these six weeks. It nearly killed me at times, it provided probably half of the good stories I’ve got, it taught me who I was as a beginner-adult, and it solidified that travel would always be a thing I would make a priority, no matter how broke I was or how scary it felt.]

Later on saw some of Berlin’s true strange underbelly. Went to a basement exhibit called Dead Chickens full of mechanized acid-trip puppets–claws and organs and feathers and tongues, it was grotesque and wonderful. Made everyone laugh and give each other knowing looks that in any language meant “This is fucked up.”

Then wandered around, passing through a club district and young people dancing on the street to three guys playing German folk songs.

graffiti at Kunsthaus Tacheles, Berlin (photo taken in 2008, not 2002, but it’s the same deal)

We found this place at a huge artists’ complex where out back they have a sort of post-apocalyptic beergarden. Random benches and chairs tossed around, some trees and big boulders, stands selling drinks, music playing from all corners, a gigantic screen showing abstract film. And tons of people–mostly punky/raver kids, lots of normalish, some middle-aged, both freaks and normals, one 20-something mom had brought her kid in a stroller. The back of the building, full of studio space, was partly exposed, three floors up covered in graffiti, and inside you could see lines of people climbing up to view the art, lights flashing from a top-floor dance club. We sat and drank in Alice in Wonderland chairs and took it all in, only interrupted once by an obnoxious boy. Almost didn’t make it home as we don’t know the night schedule for the buses and trams, but it was ok in the end.