Berlin is a vibrant city full of history with an abundance of cafés, fun boutique shops and lots of art. And lots of young folks. I had a blast roaming the streets solo during the day and hanging out with my couchsurfing hosts in the evening. One of my host’s took the time to show me his city two nights in a row, giving me a bit of a history lesson as he highlighted the changes as well as new construction of condos that were clearly being advertised for the expat community. I wouldn’t have noticed that some billboards were in English instead of German since plenty of English was spoken. Thankfully, because I know about next to nil of German.
On my last night, we explored his neighborhood bar hopping and even buying beers at a kiosk to join all the young twenty and thirty something’s who were enjoying the long summer nights, beer bottles in hand, watching the sun set as it painted the sky with hues of pinks and oranges. I felt initiated. Apart of the Berlin scene by doing what the locals do, thankful for couchsurfing bridging the gap between just being a traveler to feeling more of a local. Soon after, the police came over to politely but sternly ask everyone to leave because it was sunset time- about 10pm. People hung around a while but within a matter of 10 minutes most people had gotten up and were making plans for the next spot.
We wandered off, chatting as I took in the sights, pointing out things that caught my eye and that he had never really noticed. The beauty of experiencing your own city through someone eyes. We decided upon our next bar- most of which can be best described as hip, modern; hipster bars. He commented on the incredible amount of change the neighborhood has seen and then headed to a bar he’s been wanting to try. He did a double take when he entered, both of us feeling like we wandered back in time about sixty years. The decorations clearly hadn’t changed since the fifties and the few patrons could best be described as unique characters. I wanted a small beer but they only had one size. I wasn’t going to complain. An older man at the bar kept looking over at us and made some comments, to which I didn’t understand but my host chuckled.
We made ourselves comfortable at a table and asked for a translation, never wanting to miss out. We kept looking around the bar, taking in the scene, looking at each other, and then laughing. We got a kick out of a woman likely in her late 60’s, wearing jeans that seemed more likely worn on her granddaughter with her lacy underwear showing, plumber style. Her gaudy purple jewelry and overdone make up made who seem like she was ready for a freak show but I appreciated the scene. Later a man was by her side wearing a black leather jacket and pony-tail, we played guessing games of their dynamic. She seemed to know well and hoped to go home with him as half the evening she hung on to him as she nearly fell off her stool a half-dozen items, always with one hand on her freshly poured beer.
In between sips and laughs, the older man at the bar who seemed lonely and eager to chat kept turning around to say a few words in German. And likely because we were given him some attention by simply paying attention, he stood between the bar and our table saying all sorts of things. Basically, how we seem like a great couple and he should marry me. We get a long so well, she’s beautiful and she laughs a lot.
Why, thank you.
Sure, we get on well but we only knew each other less than 48 hours. Thanks for the observation. What does a lonely elder man know? But maybe he was picking up on something. After all, the two nights of hanging out and exploring bars and grabbing dinner in Berlin with him felt more like being on a date rather than out with a new friend. But I pushed the idea aside, thinking that can happen when you hang out with the opposite sex and I was also dating a guy back in Basque Country. The older man had fun, making jokes, singing and going back and forth for sips of his beer. He was enjoying the camaraderie. My host would smile and translate and I realized then just how amazing my Spanish is (something I don’t credit myself for enough when I stumble over words) because I couldn’t’ understand a word of German. For all I know I was hearing a different translation.
I regret not talking more photos of the bar and sneaking shots of the eccentric patrons but before we made out way out the door, I asked the elder gentleman if he’d take a photo with me. We snapped several and each and everyone he’s making some weird face that kept me laughing.
Later, a man in his forties came sliding in, white tennis shoes, fade blasted denim pants with a white sweatshirt, ordering a beer and then pulling coins from his fanny pack to play a casino game. A few minutes later, the machine was going crazy with clinking sounds, coins falling out of the machine as he tried to catch them into his fanny pack.
The word for the night: Bizarre.
It was a series of unexpected folks who kept adding to the scenery. If only we had captured it on a film. We kept laughing.
Ironically, we were the only ones in the bar who thought the dynamic was odd. Weird. Strange.
Then again, we likely were the weirdo’s. They were in their element.