Flying via Dusseldorf, I arrive at midnight in Berlin and pull up at the Michelberger hotel in Kreuzberg and finally feel out of my comfort zone. Dealing with the moustachioed man at the front desk who spoke no english, really hit home that I had made it through all the packing and planning of previous few months and was now TOTALLY OVERSEAS.
Kreuzberg is one of the hip, arty suburbs undergoing gentrification, but that is normally the sort of suburb you’ll find someone like me in. I had the first day to myself so did a free walking tour of the street art and galleries with this nice guy, Mike. I had been planning on doing the red bus one, but this one was far more up my alley, gave me my bearings around the area and gave me a sense of how serious these guys are about the street art thing. Melbourne doesn’t have shit on Berlin. We saw the former glory of Tacheles, walked through the Hackescher Markt, Mitte and around Alexander Platz.
Berlin is, maybe now in a more organised and less squat focussed way than before, a punk rock city. It’s full of people getting DIY, setting up bars and galleries wherever they want, painting and stencilling all over the town. It is covered in graffiti, there’s almost no point trying to photograph it all. It also has a tonne of awesome book stores which I’ve been really careful not to start just buying things at – the number of books I’m gonna see on this tour is going to push my luggage limits. I might need to start strapping them to me when I get on some flights.
Later I met up with my friend, Ed, from art school and having thought I was so clever avoiding jet lag with my stopover managed to recreate the same feeling after a good long session of “catching up.” This left me a bit dusty and overwhelmed waking up to the towering, pink, multi-headed beast that is the Pictoplasma conference the next day…