Ring in the New Year
December 28- January 4
It’s not my favorite country in Europe, but Germany is where I had the BEST and most unforgettable experiences with some of the coolest Canadians I have ever met. Within 5 minutes of boarding our 5-hour bus ride from Brussels to Dusseldorf, Alex and I met two fellow travelers from Canada whom we would be spending the next 24/7 with:
Jason: the serious but silly aspiring chef who came from his hometown of Saskatchewan, Canada to travel Europe before going home back to work. He can make an extremely good open-faced blt, loves salt and wears contacts.
Michael: This big friendly giant, also from Saskatchewan, can make anyone smile with his goofy personality, tales of cherry-picking and love of sitting in doorways. With his handy dandy oil and eucalyptus cough drops, he can cure any cold.
First stop: Dusseldorf
After talking for hours, sharing Belgian chocolates, playing a game of Life on my iPhone and getting my hair played with by the Arabian guy sitting next to me, we arrived in Dusseldorf, Germany. The four of us decided to get our first beer in Germany, so we walked to the nearest liquor store where we each bought a 17oz. beer for less than $1!! (AKA the best deal of the trip).
We drank our deliciously cheap German beer and after talking for a bit more, we found out that Michael and Jason (the Canadians) didn’t have anywhere to stay and that most hostels would be closed, so we invited them to stay with us and our couchsurfing host in Duisburg.
Next stop: Duisburg
Just a 15-minute train ride away and we ended up in Duisburg where we met up with our host: Christoph Vallen. He was around 35 years old (I think) and has so much experience on with couchsurfing. He has hosted hundreds of people (mostly musicians and artists) has transformed his apartment to be more suitable for hosting and his story was even aired on tv. His living room was tagged on every single wall, including the ceiling, with thank you notes, drawings, signatures, etc. from people who had stayed at his house. After not even knowing Michael and Jason for more than 24 hours, we were all sleeping within inches of each other:
After a few nights in this town, the four of us moseyed onward toward Berlin via an 8-hour train ride. We managed to make the best out of switching trains three times and making sure to grab a beer during every 30-minute layover. I never thought that being confined to a small train could be as much fun as it was. We told stories, jokes, made sandwiches with cheese and a random meat spread; It was as if we had all known each other for years.
Last but not least: BERLIN
It was here where the boys and Alex and I were supposed to go our separate ways. We had a place to stay and so did Michael and Jason; But after a lot of dilly dallying around the Berlin Central Station talking to a brother and sister from Brazil, walking to a nearby hostel for no reason, drinking a beer and my phone running out of credit, we lost contact with our host, whose house we were going to stay at. Luckily, Michael said we could stay with them.
Ivan: Michaels cousins Italian boyfriend, the nicest person I met in Berlin, allowed us to stay in his room while he slept on the couch in his roommates room. As our tour guide in Berlin, he was extremely patient with our slow indecisiveness and showed us the best NYE ever.
It was in Berlin where I got my first real taste of traveling and making do with what you have. By this, I mean our sleeping arrangements. The first night at Ivans, we were all too exhausted from traveling all day to be bothered moving the mattresses around. Now imagine, Alex and I, a 6-foot plus Michael, and Jason all sleeping on a single mattress. It was impossible.
NEW YEARS EVE WAS CRAZY. For an hour nonstop at midnight, there were fireworks and m80s that seriously sounded like something was being blown. This does not include the entire afternoon before the evening began where bombs were being blown up on the street, sidewalks, alleys and basically everywhere. I am so surprised that no car alarms went off, because I know if I was back home, they definitely would have gone off and dogs would have been heard barking from a mile away.
This was post New Years Eve after an underground drum and bass club in Berlin, that we didn’t get out of until 9 a.m. Despite the massive blur of fun it was, it will be a night I never forget.
My favorite moments in Deutschland:
-Eating curry wurst from a street stand
-Learning that habibi means “my love” in Arabic
-Drinking the cheapest beer I’ve ever seen
-Watching a friend get chased by a bouncer for spraying a fire extinguisher near a club entrance
-Going to a reggae club
-Witnessing everyone drinking alcohol in plain sight on the streets
-Visiting the Berlin Wall
-Spending 6 hours at the Berlin Central Station deciding what to do/waiting for a hostel to open
I will definitely be coming back.