Day 14 – Part Drei – Berlin

30 Sep

After class today I make my way to meet Bénédicte and her boyfriend Harry at Schlesiches Tor U-Bahn station. They’ve got the whole evening planned out. First we walk to a bridge to watch the sun set – amazing.

Then we head to the old train repair station where they’ve revitalized what was probably a pretty depressing place. They even have a skatepark – yes, hello, hospital please.

The best part of the evening is this cool bar that serves 3 euro meals on Thursdays. It’s in the old neighbourhood where Béné and Harry used to live.

When we arrive the place is empty. After a while it starts to fill up. The food is out of this world – mashed potatoes, apricot chutney vegetables, fried eggplant, green salad. The dessert is this apple strudel thing. I think I know where I’m going for supper next Thursday night.

There are three girls sitting at the bar. The one on the left has a Chinese symbol tattooed on the back of her neck. You can tell from the fading that she’s had it for a lot longer than neck tattoos have been fashionable. The middle one is so plain but she’s laughing the whole time and this makes her more attractive. The one on the end has a dozen piercings in her left ear but none in her right. It’s a very strange asymmetry.

The whole place looks like I was in charge of its construction. There’s a lot of wood, unfinished drywall, posters everywhere. By some miracle it made it to a functional state and that seems to be enough. It’s the comfort place for a lot of people.

Your comfort place is a bar or restaurant where you are totally at ease. It’s not to say that everyone has one but those who do are very aware of the appeal. I think one of the reasons I like it here is that I feel like it’s mine – and I’ve only been here two hours. I stole this term from my brother who used it to describe a bar in New York that my friend Rachel recommended. She suggested it as a rendezvous for several of us who were visiting NYC. At 17:00 it seemed like a bit of a dive, but 2 hours later with a couple of pints under our belts, a delicious chicken-pot pie resting peacefully in our stomachs, and some good friends around the table, it had taken on a whole new vibe. More bars should have sofas.

I feel that providing a picture of this place would detract from its appeal because an image could never do it justice. It might be worth a thousand words but they would be the wrong ones.

Our table now has four strangers sitting at it. There’s five of us on a sofa on one side and the others are on chairs. Everyone is smiling and switching effortlessly between German and English and French. The smell of smoke is just faint enough to make me not leave. This will change in about 3 minutes when one (or more) of the eight people around the table will light one up. Berlin might be one of the last cities in the western world where one can smoke in a bar. I will celebrate the ban when it arrives.

The DJ is actually playing his music at a reasonable volume. It seems to me that in your average bar, most times the DJ is alone by himself while the rest of the patrons engage in conversation. He’s in his zone and he ends up blasting his music. Or maybe I’m just getting old.

At the end of the night I can’t help but think that if we’d arrived 2 hours later than we did, I would not have enjoyed myself at all. Getting there early allowed us to secure a spot on the sofa, get some food in us, and enjoy a few smokeless minutes before things got busy. Berlin is an awesome city.

2 Responses to “Day 14 – Part Drei – Berlin”

  1. Nina October 3, 2011 at 15:25 #

    Actually there is a ban of smoking in public places / restaurants / bars in whole Germany. And as far as i know this also includes Berlin 🙂

    • Die Hard Three October 3, 2011 at 15:33 #

      I was in one bar and they were smoking weed. There are ashtrays everywhere. Nope, smoking is alive and well here in Berlin. Sadly…

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