My train pulls in at 6.15am and I’ve arrived, here I am, it feels like home. Other cities are stopping points, somewhere to drop the bags for a couple of days (having a look around while you’re there, might as well). Berlin feels like the destination, the goal, that pot of gold at the end of my cross-continent rainbow.
It’s not though, of course. It’s a 24-hour stopover between Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. I arrived in Berlin with that warm familiar feeling, but there’s an an edge of fear; my first couchsurf.
A mad 24 hours it was, staying with Berliner Pola in her one-bedroom flat right on Mauerpark. She replied to my couchsurf request and offered me a futon on her kitchen floor – fine by me.
She recommended her university cafe as an alternative to the Fernsehturm, so I sat on the 20th floor with a coffee and a cookie (cheap cheap!) looking like any old TU-Berlin student with a clear view over Tiergarten and into the city centre. A perfect insider tip!
Pola had an evening itinerary planned for us and her friends, commencing with Badeschiff – a perfectly clean, average swimming pool, sat in the Spree river! The meeting place of Berlin’s coolest; the music, that view, being in a warm pool as the murky waters of the river flow by, not a tourist in sight. Only €3 entrance (student) and the perfect place to watch the sun set on a warm Berlin evening. I pray the guide books don’t catch on, but I strongly recommend it all the same.
Unfortunately this wasn’t quite enough to quench our swimming thirst and at 5am, after a heavy night in a crowded Berlin club (they genuinely played ’99 Red Balloons/Luftballoons’ – what?!), my couchsurf host and I stripped to our underwear and leapt into the Spree river near Museumsinsel, crossing to touch the slippery wall of the Bodemuseum. There we swam, in that dark, calm river, as the sun rose on what would be another gorgeous day on the capital.
Couchsurfing again please.
And when can I return to Berlin?