From Hamburg to Berlin in every disco...
For anyone confused by the title I suggest reading this with Infernal - From Paris to Berlin playing. You're welcome.
After a brief pit stop in London to replace my lost possessions, Hamburg was supposed to be a quiet night with some sightseeing the next day. 2 hours later I was being taught what may be the most complex card game I've ever encountered.
The name eludes me, as do most of the rules, I think it was Argentinian. It's played in two rounds, using the entire deck except 8's and 10's and involves adding something to something then taking away the number you first thought of. I did not win. Or perhaps I did it. We'll never know.
My suggestion of an early night was predictably greeted with skepticism, "you're here for only one night? Then we're going to Reeperbahn". I knew I was going to get on with this guy when we walked past a bar playing "Johhny B. Goode" and we simultaneously shouted "Back To The Future". Of course we went in.
I'm not sure it's possible to be less like the clientelle a bar is hoping for. The music was coming from a live band which took up the entire floor. Excluding us, everyone there was wearing a lot of leather, studs, had long hair and was about 7ft5. Ordering anything other than beer was met with confusion and I'm not entirely sure they appreciated our dancing.
I believe we were the only none musicians there, after every song somebody else would come up to take over an instrument or the microphone. They could really play.
After what can only be described as a somewhat late finish, the only logical thing to do was get a 9AM train to Berlin the next morning.
There's nothing quite like this:
To perk you up when you realise you've somehow forgotten to eat for the previous 18 hours. I also strongly recommend the view from the top of the parliament building, it's free but requires booking in advance. If anyone can tell me how they close the roof, I'll buy you a beer.
I was hoping to fall in love with Berlin, so many of my friends seem to have and it's the startup capital of Europe after London. The street art is incredible, as oddly was the vietnamese food. But it didn't have the same buzz I found in places like Budapest.
This may not be entirely fair though - I met friends there so did less of the #hostellife, #travelling stuff than usual. I also didn't visit any co-working spaces or try out the famous all night clubs. So I'll definitely be heading back for a week or two later this year.
Completely exhausted I headed to Warsaw. I had a brief moment of panic as the train pulled in, there seemed to be a lot of concrete. I'm not a huge fan of concrete.
This turned out to be completely unjustified. Stepping out of the station to see this:
Is something special. Admittidly it did remind me slightly of the Ministry of Truth from 1984, but in a good way... Several people have said Warsaw reminds them of Chicago. I was skeptical but can now see where they're coming from, especially some of the newer syscrapers could have been taken straight from the windy city.
Five days is a ridiculous short duration to try and understand anything of the local culture, but there was definitely a theme. Lots of people seemed, for want of a better word, gruff, when I first met them. A few minutes of conversation, or however long until they first laughed and they would become some of the most friendly, helpful people I've encountered.
Nights out in Warsaw are predictably cheap. A beer in the hostel was about 1 Euro and in a regular bar about 2 Euros. The only remotely expensive moment was the all gentleman of the party being charged club entry. Thinking about it, this may just have been a surcharge because of our shoes. That was justified.
You can get a train to anywhere from Warsaw. As long as it's Berlin, Prague or Vienna. Having come from Berlin and visited Prague three weeks ago, my decision was fairly easy. I'm at least 90% sure I now have a one way ticket to Vienna.
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