Brilliant Berlin

I’m going to take a break in the recap of my last contract to share some of my vacation travels. This vacation, I finally went to see and audition for some shows that I have been talking about and looking into for years. It was somewhat daunting, but with the help of some friends, both new and old, I had an incredible, exhilarating, liberating experience!

I started my journey with a 6-hour train ride to Penn Station, a mistake of a Lyft ride to JFK, and a flight to Stockholm. My layover in Stockholm was already scheduled to be exceptionally long, but I decided to just stay at the airport, since I didn’t want to be hauling luggage around the city. I regretted that decision when my flight to Berlin was delayed, making my layover a full 8 hours!  When I finally made it to Berlin, the computers at my hotel had crashed, so I was unable to check in. How, you may ask, did I conclude that this trip was a success? Like I said, I got by with a little help from my friends.

A good friend was able to sync some of his vacation travel plans with mine, and when I was unable to check into my room, he met me in the lobby, let me shower and change in his room, and he and his friend poured me a glass (or two) of champagne. By the time I was cleaned up, I was able to move into my room, and then the three of us went to an electronic music club recommended by one of the receptionists. The scene was different than what I’m used to, and I felt like I either needed a lot more alcohol or some illegal substances to fit in. We had a responsible good time (don’t worry, Mom), and headed back to the hotel in the wee hours after stopping for gyros.

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Fernsehturm from my window

The next morning, I was able to appreciate how awesome our location was! We stayed at the Park Inn at Alexanderplatz. When I opened my curtains, I was staring straight at the Fernsehturm. We decided that should be our first destination. We got tickets for lunch in the revolving restaurant at the top, and killed time by walking around. We first stopped near St. Marienkirche, the second parish in Berlin, and continued to the Berliner Dom.

 

Lunch at the Fernsehturm was amazing. The restaurant is 207 meters up in the 368-meter building. It is the tallest building in the EU! We ordered a bottle of champagne, and I had a spring salad and currywurst sausage. We took our time, enjoying the food, drinks, views, and conversation, and were eventually asked to leave so they could prepare for dinner! Later, we walked through the Oktoberfest celebration at Alexanderplatz, and I left my friends at the hotel bar with champagne.

 

The next morning I woke up early to take company class at Friedrichstadt-Palast. It was a beautiful morning! The sun was shining, it was warm with a light breeze, and the sidewalks were not yet crowded, so I could appreciate the classic architecture I was passing. I grabbed an Americano and croissant at a café, and sat on a bench by the river to enjoy them before continuing my walk.

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Friedrichstadt-Palast

I enjoyed the ballet class, and left feeling good! By the time I got back to the hotel and showered, the gang was ready to go! We went to the Berlin Dungeon, for an amusing, slightly scary tour, ending with a 10-meter drop ride. I am extremely skiddish, so I found myself jumping out of my seat and screaming more than once. It was a lot of fun! We essentially ran from the dungeon to a 1-hour Wine and Cheese Boat Tour with Berlin City Tours. We enjoyed more champagne while sailing through the center of Berlin, the Government District, and Nikolaiviertel. It was a very enjoyable way to see more of the city.

That night we went to see “The One—Grand Show” at Friedrichstadt-Palast. It was fun to see the dancers I’d taken class with that morning onstage. They were very talented, and tackled a variety of styles throughout the performance. The show was very unique, with costumes designed by Jean Paul Gautier. The stage is the largest theater stage in Europe, and had some really interesting features. I loved it all! We went with one of the dancers, a friend of a friend, for a drink after, and I was able to pick her brain about living in Berlin and working for the theater. Next, my friends and I went dancing at a couple clubs, stopped for late night gyros, and hit the hay!

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Outside the Jewish Museum

The rest of my time in Berlin, I was on my own! Feeling the need for more of a cultural experience, I walked to the Jewish Museum. My sister told me it was “designed to disorient”, and it certainly did! Rooms were not perfect rectangles, floors were not flat, and there were random spaces that seemed to serve no purpose. The area featuring items seized during the holocaust with stories about the owners made me cry, and the Holocaust Tower was extremely unsettling. The rest of the museum had exhibits about the history of Judaism. By the time I left, my brain hurt from trying to take in so much information!

I decided I wanted to spend the afternoon with a glass of rose at one of the restaurants along the river that I had seen on the tour the previous evening. On my way there, I stumbled across Checkpoint Charlie, a border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War, where a chunk of the Berlin Wall can be seen. Continuing on, I came to Gendarmenmarkt, a beautiful square dating back to 1700 with cathedrals and a concert hall. I had seen it from above at the Fernsehturm, but could appreciate the buildings so much more at street level! I did eventually get my glass of wine along the river, and then strolled back to the hotel. By the time I arrived, I was exhausted! I grabbed dinner at the hotel restaurant with the intention of finding a bar after, but ended up turning on a movie, packing, and going to sleep early!

The following morning, my last in Berlin, I walked to Marameo Dance Studio for ballet class. After barre, a girl came up to me, said I looked familiar, and asked if I was from San Francisco. We chatted for a couple minutes, and figured out that we used to take some of the same open classes in SF. I haven’t lived there since 2013, so I was surprised to be recognized, especially in a different country! Disney was right—“it’s a small world after all!” The class was great, but unfortunately I had to leave before it was over. I hurried back to the hotel to shower and grab my things, and then hopped in a cab to the airport.

I set off for Paris, my next destination, feeling invigorated! It was a wonderful few days in Berlin, and I hope to return in the near future!

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