Foreword by Stan Lerner: I wasn’t kidding when I said she won’t stop with the letters!
I’m currently writing to you from my quaint Berlin Hostel, which was chosen based on the fact that it boasts its own bar, complete with the stereotypically stoic East European bartender and lots of equally stereotypically cheerful Swedes. You should actually feel pretty special right now, given that I’m choosing to entertain you with my witty correspondence, rather than using this time more effectively, ie: Facebook stock my friends and exes, while updating my status to brag about how fabulous of a time I’m having in the city my guidebook referred to as “irreverent.”
I’m not quite sure if “irreverent” is the word I’d use to describe this place. Actually, I’m positive I wouldn’t. Instead, I’m choosing to utilize the word “interesting”, a selection meant to disguise my reluctant disappointment with the city that I have wanted to visit for quite some time. Chalk it up to my unrealistic expectations, but thus far, Berlin has failed to impress.
Now knowing you, you’re thinking “God, there goes Kate with her masochistic tendency of expecting too much out of something, which inevitably only fates her to suffer unavoidable dissatisfaction” (Ok, so that probably resembles more of self-assessment than one of yours, but for the sake of this letter, just go with it), but my high hopes for Berlin were by no means a consequence of some self-inflicted fantasy. This excitement was actually a result of the praised bestowed upon it by many of my Euro-familiar friends. Take my friend Viola, for instance. She had declared Berlin her favorite city, and being a native of Florence, she’s been exposed of a myriad of global hotspots. Then another one of my friends confirmed this by saying that Berlin is just as dynamic of a city as London, and I think even added the term “cosmopolitan Mecca” just to add emphasis. Unfortunately for me, Berlin is causing me to feel more confused than contented.
Maybe I’m missing something, but Berlin is lacking the only thing I ask of a European city—basically, I just want it to be pretty. Not that I can’t appreciate the artistic component of graffiti, which is abundant in the liberal West, but the remaining, more communist, sector of Berlin reminds me more of an “off the Strip” Vegas local than anywhere else I’ve seen in Europe. Maybe that’s my fault for thinking it was going to be something it’s not, because what else can you really expect of a place that was communist up until the Madonna “Like a Virgin” era? The thing is, boss, is that rather than beauty, Berlin has this really modern history that is a bit too contemporary for comfort. Like really, is the history of WWII something you really want to have on your mind while trying to get an impression of a place?
I know this e-mail has been lacking my usual wit and charm, but there’s something somber about this place. Plus, the exhaustion of getting to the airport at 4:00 AM to save a few quid on our plane ticket is beginning to take its toll on me. But fear not, tomorrow is day 2 and I am sure that I will have a much better taste for the city then, and hopefully a bit less melancholy of a tone.
To be continued…..
I’m back in London (ya!) and let me just say that the disappointment I initially expressed towards Berlin did not subside, but my bitter reaction to it did (insert sigh of relief here). For instance, I’d be lying if I told you that we really put in effort towards trying to immerse ourselves in the German culture. Instead, and brace yourself for this one, we basically chose to eat at Dunkin Donuts as often as possible, a decision I justified with the following defense: “Well, we don’t have Dunkin Donuts in LA”. I mean, really, if I had never been to the East Coast I would have never known that DD was an American treasure and would have assumed that this charming little café was the genuine German article. I’m still, however, trying to find a creative way of defending our dinner at the Hard Rock Café. You know, sometimes you’ve just got to be the quintessential American tourist, complete with a high-maintenance order demanding the salad dressing on the side and extra ice in your Diet Coke.
Don’t worry, there was one thing that did make our trip to Berlin entirely worthwhile was seeing the Altar of Pergamon and the Ishtar Gate. You know my penchant for Art History, so for me this seriously was the sh*t. I mean, sure, it is kinda wrong that Berlin has all this awesome old stuff that was wrongfully acquired through the pillaging of ancient civilizations, but hey, at least I got to see it. And it really was incredible. I mean, looking at statues that rival Michelangelo’s skill and were created around 600BC was insane. Ok, and now I’m about to get sentimental, something about the experience made me feel honored to be able to get up close and personal with these ancient relics. Not gonna lie, there could have possibly even been a little tear in my eye (but hey, at least I don’t cry in The Notebook…. that would just be way too b*tch).
So there it is. Not a very thoughtful analysis of Berlin, but an honest one nonetheless. I know you were probably expecting something about partying till dawn, or anecdotes that involve me getting into trouble with the law or inadvertently challenging someone to a dual, but the only misfortune suffered during this trip is was a lack of the picturesque. I hate to say it, but for this victim of wanderlust, Berlin was a bit of a bust.
Now back to London.
Your expatriate intern,