Friday, January 12, 2018

Deutschland- Tage Sieben und Acht (Germany Day Seven and Eight)

For our last full day in Germany, we toured Sachsenhausen concentration camp. When Kath had first proposed the idea of visiting a concentration camp I was against it. That's because I was on vacation. I didn't want to spend a whole day contemplating the horrors of the Holocaust. Also I feared that a visit to a concentration camp would cast a dark, depressing cloud over our whole day. Kath told me she was going to go anyway with or without me and that if I wanted I could spend the day perusing German record stores in Kreuzberg. In the end I decided to go with her though.

Sachsenhausen is a good hour outside Berlin in the outer zone of the U-bahn. We traveled with a a tour group that had been organized by a youth hostel and there were about eight of us and a tour leader. We learned that Sachsenhausen was actually the first concentration camp and was intended as a model for all the others. Honestly, though, the tour didn't get me too depressed and I think that was because I had already read a great deal about the Holocaust so there wasn't much new information.

But, there were a couple of emotional moments. When I saw a display of badges. I thought about how open and accepting Germany was of LGBTQ in the 1920s. Then they would have been locked up in camps. And if I had been there,  I too would have been locked up and stuck with a pink triangle. At the end of tour, the tour leader said something that really got to me. He said that the only reason we tour these camps is because they were an aberration. They are not normal. They are part of history. And I hope they stay part of history.

During the tour I didn't take any photos out of respect. Though I did snap one at the end of the tour. That was because it felt good to know that the concentration camp was empty and that there were flowers growing in the shadow of the guard towers and walls. It's up to all of us to ensure something like this never happens again. 

After our tour was over, we had our last night out in Berlin. We got dressed up and planned to meet my high school friend and another friend of hers. There was a show they wanted to see and we had planned some food and of course drinks to go along with that. We wanted our last night out in Berlin to be amazing. 

Yes, I enjoyed Die Letzen Jedi. Screw the fanboys.
First up we went to Berlin Prater Garten a beer garden in Prenzlaur Berg. The day we went it was mostly empty. But I could totally see it being a really amazing hangout. If Kath and I lived in the neighborhood, I could totally see that being our usual hangout. There is just something nice about a beer garden. And of course my friend made us do a Lady and the Tramp style pic with a bratwurst. Because why not? 

After a couple drinks at the Beer Garden, it was time to head to the show at  Marie Antoinette. The opening act was a Belgian synth rock band and the headliner was an American artist Jeremy Jay. Both were fun eighties inspired synth rock. It was pretty fun. Though, we ended up spending much of the show hanging out outside so my friends could smoke. 

After that we made our way over to Kreuzburg. My friend's friend said she knew a place that did the best kofta sandwiches in all of Berlin. But first, we had to stop for beers so that we could drink on the U-bahn on the way over. 

The area of Kreuzburg was covered in graffiti and had a number of Middle Eastern food establishments for late night drunks. And the kofta sandwiches were in fact delicious. They were actually gigantic and only cost like three euros. Plus, they were actually spicy. I think it was the only spicy meal I had my whole time in Berlin. 

Our stomachs fortified by the finest kofta, we set out to go some gay bars. Our hosts insisted they knew all the best gay bars where we could go and dance. At least ostensibly we were there to dance, but I think my friend wanted to show us some of Berlin's good and seedy side.

The first spot we visited was, in a word, interesting. It was a small bar and instead of seats, there were large cushions that were suspended by ropes from the ceiling. It looked kind of unique and interesting, but I absolutely didn't want to set foot in the place. That's because there was a super thick cloud of cigarette smoke. Just standing in the door I could already feel my eyes watering and my throat getting sore. No, thank you!

Luckily the next place wasn't too smoky. I mean don't get me wrong, it was pretty smokey. It was another small place, almost claustrophobic, with decor that looked like it was from the 1960s. There was an inch of mystery water on the floor of the bathroom. It was pretty seedy. And it was full of mostly middle aged people. My friend was quick to point out the drug dealers and prostitutes at the bar.

Her friend even nicely offered to buy us some coke or MDMA if we were up for it. A drunken part of me was like, hmmm, coke wouldn't be too great with my heart condition, but maybe MDMA? Never done that before. I wonder if it's good? In the end though, it was already like 2am and 2am is not a good time to start experimenting with new drugs, especially if you have a flight the next morning. So sadly, I had to decline and Kath and I headed back to the hotel. We had a flight we had to get up early for! 

For our flight back, I decided to wear no makeup. Not even to cover what remains of my laser burned facial hair. This was to avoid the smudgy raccoon eyes I ended up with after our flight to Europe. I was hoping that my facial hair wouldn't grow out too much during the 12 or so hours until I was home. 

Thankfully we made our flight, non too hungover and bid Germany farewell.

We had a short layover in London, so even though the light wasn't that great and I looked like a rumpled scarecrow, I still had to take the first photo of my real self in the UK.

Obligatory plane selfie.

I was super sad to leave Berlin. It felt like home. It really did. Well, while we have no definite plans, Kath and I have been talking of moving to Germany and we have both been learning German. It was just such a wonderful country and a wonderful city. I can't wait to go back, even if it is just for another visit. 


  1. good times and good photos

  2. You mentioned the pink triangles. I've pointed that out to friends numerous times during the bathroom bill squabbles to make them realize how much of a slippery slope that stuff can be.
    Anyway, I believe season 2 or 3 of Transparent has a good reference to that period and a horribly moving episode showing the crack down on the sexual and gender openness by the Nazi's and brown shirts. Our LGBTQ tribe back then was even forced to wear shoes with bells on.

    1. As long as one person is oppressed, none of us are free.