The U-Bahn rumbles down the tracks to Nauener Platz station like a tame adult rollercoaster. Maybe it’s the perpetual luminosity in the Berlin underground that makes it so interesting to me. Outside it might be the loveliest late summer morning or the worst November evening, but once I move underground it is the same neon-lit brightness as at three in the morning on a Saturday, the same screaming beer-drunk punks, the same grey mice scurrying around between the smashed green Lech bottles on the tracks. The short ride down to Berliner Strasse feels like travelling in limbo.
by Gill Davies
I just returned from a weekend in Amsterdam, where it was 18 degrees and the sun was shining and the city was glowing bright in red and brown and yellow.
I was invited to the second Spotters Weekend ever, again organized by lovely Sanne & Bart, the founders of Spotted by Locals. I was a bit apprehensive about the second round, partly because we were more people than the last time (SbL is growing, which is a good thing), partly because I thought it might be hard to replicate the magic that was the first weekend in 2012. Everyone was so enthralled and excited about the first edition that it would be hard to replicate the amazing atmosphere of the mother of all Spotters meetings, I thought.
But this year was equally magical. Again, I found myself part of a an amazing positive group of people. I went to a bookshop with a ghost cat (confirmed by the owner) to get scary books to give away to the other Spotters on Halloween; drank schnapps from at least five different cities in Europe including Pfeffi from Berlin and my preferred poison salmiakki from Helsinki; slept on the creaking ‘Flying Dutchman’, walked around autumn Amsterdam in a hungover daze, drank coffee in a theater from 1793, went to a squatted house with a large snake painted on the outside to play ping pong, fed my Dutch snack vending machine addiction, read a story about Berlin and Midsummer on a boat, listened to the Ukulele and Johnny Cash, danced to cheesy dance radio until three in the morning and fell asleep to an a capella version of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ reverberating through the cabin over my head.
At one point I found myself standing in a squatted house in Amsterdam, hungover and tired; surrounded by a hundred amazing humans drinking beer and playing ping pong and dancing and laughing, and I could not stop smiling and thinking ‘This is so nice!’
Today it is the same as two years ago: I’m sitting here endlessly tired, adding new friends on Facebook and looking at the photos they took all the while again convinced that I was part of something tangibly good and positive.
Fellow Spotter Tiago mentioned a ‘happiness hangover’, and this is how I feel today. Well done again and thank you, Sanne and Bart. We will be back.
Tags:Amsterdam·Spotted by Locals·Spotters Weekend 2014
Next Thursday (November 6), I will be hosting the launch of the Mauerweg (Berlin Wall Trail) book of my esteemed colleagues Paul Scraton (Under A Grey Sky/Traces of a Border) and Paul Sullivan (Slow Travel Berlin). There will be stories from the Berlin Wall, beer and music and you should come.
Mauerweg: Stories From The Wall brings together two separate walks around the entire 160km length of the former Berlin Wall Trail in the shape of a pair of interlocking essays and 18 full colour photos. The emphasis throughout is on the Wall’s fascinating stories: the tragic deaths and spectacular escapes of the past, exclusive interviews with Berliners who experienced the Wall first-hand, and the various ways in which the Wall continues to shape the contemporary city.
The authors of the book will be at the Circus Hostel on Rosenthaler Platz on the 6th November to talk about their experiences of walking the Mauerweg and some of the stories they encountered along the way. Following the talk there will be live music from Ken Burke. RSVP on Facebook.
More info about the book (and an excerpt) can be found here.
Tags:25 year anniversary·Berlin·Berlin Wall·Mauerweg
Inspired by this.
And then everything is full of inconsequential ’10 things to do when..’ lists and ‘You Won’t Believe the State of this Guy’s Asshole’ posts on Buzzfeed that everyone believes to be important news and in ten years we will have lost the ability to ask strangers to take our picture as everyone is carrying selfie sticks and worries about their followers on Instagram and everyone will keep posting unrelated images with life-advise-texts in their Facebook timeline and gradually loose any media competency they ever possessed while the largest refugee number since World War II is knocking on our doors and no one wonders why it’s 24 degrees in October and instead keeps buying houses for their imagined kids like nothing is going to ever change, nothing is going to change, ever. And you wonder why I hide here behind the words of men long dead like Roth and Celine and get drunk every day?
The Standing Stone opposite the Garda station on Townsend Street has vanished, and Molly Malone pushed up her cart to the tourist office. Maybe there are more customers here for her cockles and mussels. There are more tourist buses than before – at least as many as during Celtic Tiger times. Dublin now even has one of those obnoxious miniature road trains, shuttling Germans in Goretex from Christchurch to the Four Courts and back. ‘THE BEST TOUR IN TOWN’ is stenciled on its side. I am not sure I agree.
Above the bushes and trees in the Irishtown Nature Reserve, hundreds of crows are riding the winds coming in from Dublin Bay, barrel-rolling and playfully swooping down on each other.
One day I will die. Of liver failure or diabetes or by getting hit by a car or, my preferred version, in a spectacular explosion after I’ve saved my wife and the world from a megalomaniac madman. If I’m lucky, someone will sift through my notebooks and find something useful for other people to read, but most likely my books and kitchen chairs and tea kettle will end up in one of the shops in Wedding that buy household clearances en bloc. And no one will care about the fact that I once sat in front of the castle in Olsztyn with a beer, smoking my pipe and watched the sun set behind the ramparts and the forest. And neither shall I.
Stepping from the train from Constanța felt like disembarking in a war zone, near the final battle against alien invaders. Over the Black Sea a thunderstorm was raging, illuminating the towering night clouds every few minutes with flashing lightning, like artillery fire in the distance. Papers lanterns carrying candles were drifting across the sky like flaming pieces of debris, and the rotating bright green and red floodlights and thudding bass sounds of the beachfront clubs reminded me of searchlights and autocannons. We shouldered our bags and started walking towards our apartment, together with the throng of the other party recruits. We had arrived in Costineşti.
In Dublin, in summer, tracksuited men still sit in cafes and stare at the French and Polish waitresses, wishing they would sleep with them.