Borders, beers and Burgers
26.05.2011 - 27.05.2011 24 °C
"Is this the party-bus to Berlin?!"
- My words as I jumped into the mini-bus.
We had all been awaiting this trip, anxiously and eagerly, and now it was finally happening. This was one of those trips that you start talking about months before it actually happens, and then you set a date. Once you set the date your mind starts the time travelling, you walk around at work like a zombie, because your mind is already far gone. This was going to be a fun weekend of cheap beer, crazy club-nights and learning how to longboard.
I finished work a couple of hours earlier, but the best thing was probably that it was my last day. I was finally done with my fundraising ahead of my next big trip. After six months (or so) of overtime and graveyard shifts at a factory in my tiny hometown called Lagan in southern Sweden, I was more than ready, and happy, to be released on to my next adventure. But first it was time for a mini-adventure to the big country to the south.
The purpose of the trip was simply to acquire alcohol, and for me and Max to check out Berlin as we're both contemplating moving there for up to six months after our next trips. I had expectations ahead of this trip, but I can tell you that what I experienced way surpassed my imagination. I fell in love with Germany, it's liberal attitude and all the awesome people we met along the road. Somehow (I'm most definitely to blame for it) we got delayed both on the way from Hamburg to Berlin and on the way from Berlin and back to Sweden. The story unfolds as follows:
"I can't drive in Denmark or Germany, I dropped my driver's license back in Canada and I haven't had time to get a new one made. All I have is this paper and it is only in Swedish. I don't wanna risk getting a nice, big, fat fine." Said I as we were discussing the driving schedule.
So while Max and Kris were taking turns driving I was spread out in the back seat jamming away on my guitar. I even managed to write a song about the trip, I wrote it down but since I was a little under the influence of whisky at the time of creation I must confess I no longer remember the melody at all.
After a couple of hours of driving through the beautiful south-Swedish landscape in Skåne, we reached the bridge from Malmö to Copenhagen. As we were driving across it I said "cheers beers" to my homeland for the second time this year. We entered Denmark and all of a sudden everything was completely different but still all the same. The road signs had changed slightly, the written language was still intelligible but when we stopped at a gas-station for some food I couldn't even understand what the poor guy behind the counter said. "How much did you say my burger was? No, I still don't get it. Could you show me?" Danish is far from the same as Swedish when it is spoken.
So another couple of hours in the bus flew by and we found ourselves waiting for the ferry to take us from Denmark to Germany, from Scandinavia down to continental Europe. This was to be the first time I'd left Scandinavia in the past year. Though I've had time to visit all three "true" Scandinavian countries, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The lands of Vikings. Now we were going on a raid to plunder the continent again, spreading fear among the peasants and churchmen as we swept by in our silver metal-ship-on-wheels.
What do you think was my first move on the ferry? Of course, I went and bought me a drink and some tax-free cigarettes. Time to die a little more. Back on the bus and only a couple more hours to go before we'd finally arrive in Hamburg. We followed the directions given to us by Sergej, a friend of Max' brother, to his place. The location was beautiful, unfortunately, I was too drunk to remember to take any pictures of it.
The place was pimped out to the max. Neon lights under the bed, cool pictures on the walls, high tech music equipment and the cherry on top - alcohol. We sat on the balcony, drinking, bonding, smoking and just enjoying a weekend away from Sweden.
Since I was the only one who didn't speak German, the language of the night became English. I do speak a little, and a lot more when I'm drunk, even though I still don't get any better at it, but I can't hold a conversation. Just the basic stuff, like order beer, ask for directions or tell someone we're going back to their place. You know, the usual and useful stuff you learn.
What I hadn't realized was that the clubs in Germany, or at least Hamburg and Berlin, don't really close until the last person standing has fallen to the floor. I was the first to bite the dust. I drank way too much whisky already on the way down, then the drinks kept on coming and I suddenly found myself in that happy state-of-mind where the world starts to spin, faster and faster, until you decide you've had enough and push your built-in reset button at the back of your throat. Brush your teeth, go out.
We hailed a cab (or so I think) and took it down to Reeperbahn, in the red-light district of Hamburg. As a Swedish man, raised in a society where prostitution is far from as open and accepted as it is in Germany I would say the experience of walking through a brothel for the first time in my life was a little bit unsettling. I wouldn't say I was uncomfortable, but I sure wasn't comfortable either. Need I even say I didn't buy a night of fun with one of the lovely ladies that were all sitting outside their rooms, calling us over? Neither did any of my friends and judging from our talks about it afterwards we all felt about the same. It's just not a part of who I am, I don't find the pleasure in paying for sex. You can't buy connection with money.
Some of you might call me a pussy, others might say I'm a man with his values straight. I don't care about either of you, I just am, and I do what I want. I didn't want to pay for sexual services. This doesn't make me a saint in any way. Especially since I was too drunk to talk to the girls anyways.
We stumbled on to the clubs, I was beginning to sober up a little as I'd been drinking water for the last hour or so before we took the cab. I remember getting chatty like a crazy little monkey, talking to random people in the street and the bars, but I can't for the life of me remember what we talked about. This is quite typical Beppe-behavior, even when I'm not drunk. A little habit I've picked up on my travels alone, the way I prefer it. It pushes you out of your comfort-zone and forces you to make contacts with random people. Unless of course you want to spend your whole trip feeling extremely lonely, with no one to share the special moments.
The first thing I noticed in the clubs was the fact that people were smoking inside, there were lit ciggarettes flying through the air, glowing faintly on the dim-lit dancefloor. Sparks flying here and there as someone hit the angry orange glow. All of a sudden the sweet smell of cannabis hit my nostrils. Wow, the nerve to smoke a joint in the club. But then I realized it was probably the best place of all to smoke, how would anybody be able to single out the weed-smoker from the tobacco dito? The answer was simple and I soon found out that a lot of people had the same idea as I kept on smelling it throughout the night, and still I was unable to single out who smoked what.
As soon as we landed in a club we wanted to stay in for a little longer the beers just started appearing in my hands. I didn't buy a single bottle for my self, but somehow I never had both my hands free. Even though I tried, I downed a beer to free my hands. Allowing me to dance without spilling all over people, or just enabling me to throw someone over my shoulder and carry them away (it seemed like a good idea at the time) but as soon as I'd put one empty bottle away a new beer was shoved into my hands. Then I realized: The beers only cost 1 euro!
The next realization that hit me was the fact that you could take the beer out from the club, keep on drinking it in the streets and bring it in to the next club. Put it down and get a fresh one served and then go back and start the procedure all over again.
Now, I'm not going to go into any more detail about what I did during the night, who danced with who, what was said or who slapped who in the face, but I can tell you the night ended when I realized it was bright outside. As I left my phone in my bag at Sergej and Tobias' place I had no clue what time it was all night long. Then all of a sudden the sun was up. Me and Tobias smashed a 'bab and hailed a cab. Max and Kris were long gone, "who knows where" I thought. I looked out through the window and I saw Sergej running towards us, getting in and telling the driver the adress.
As the cab stopped we found Max and Kris on the balcony of Sergej and Tobias' place. Apparently they'd broken in somehow. I managed to stay up for tops one more hour, then I passed out, face down on the couch. I was told my ass had been properly spanked without me showing so much as a twitch, our hosts had started fighting, things were broken and knocked over and still no reaction from me. So I take it I was pretty far gone.
I woke up around noon with the worst hang-over a person can have. Ready to snap someone's neck I drank at least two liters of water before we hit the road again. I fell asleep before we'd even left Hamburg and didn't wake up until we got off the highway in Berlin.
My first lesson in Germany: Alcohol is really cheap so the Swedish way of pre-drinking is not necessary.
The next part of the trip is all about Berlin, clubs, a little bit less alcohol, the wall, new friends, old friends and longboarding. Stay tuned.