My weekend was filled with sight seeing, games and relaxation.
One of my oldest friends visited me in Berlin. She only had to jump across from London but while she was here, we uttered at least a dozen times that we couldn’t believe we hadn’t made more of an effort to meet up in the last two years. Flights between London and Berlin are so affordable even at late notice, yet in the two years she has lived in London we have seen each other twice in Berlin and once on a trip to Budapest.

We had a great night on Thursday catching up and started Friday morning with a quick coffee before joining a walking tour with the Alternative Berlin tour group. It was my second time doing this tour and it was great to do it again with a different guide, and new information about the sites I have seen before.

I highly recommend one of these tours if you are stopping by Berlin and don’t want to see the same old tourist sites. They give you an insight into the social ramifications of the fall of the Berlin wall and the tour doesn’t dwell so much on the war history that other tours do. Many of the areas we walked through were rich with street art.

The guide explained all the different methods the artists employ to create the massive scale murals and images on the sides of apartment buildings. Many of these areas are coming under the threat of gentrification as luxury apartments, shopping complexes and car dealerships try to bid their way onto the land.

Later that night we had a bunch of our friends around to our apartment for a bit of healthy competition. We broke out Pictionary and Cranium and even tried to reinstate an old drinking game from my Uni days.
We had the German version of Pictionary so it was even an educational experience. My trusty German-English dictionary was on hand and there were a lot of whispered translations from the more fluent of the German speaking players.

Among some of the classic misunderstandings of the night was 'tramp' interpreted and depicted as 'prostitute'
Craniums charade challenge at one point had four people rolling around on the floor trying to illicit 'spring roll' from their bewildered partners.
'Kitty litter' was the low point of the night.

This amazing drawing of Köln

It was great to have our friends over and the energy of the competitiveness really filled the apartment. And I should also add that my team won both games.

On Sunday I was treated to an afternoon of saunas, swimming and a massage at the Liquidrome.
I had an aromatherapy massage then spent a couple of hours in the salt water pool. There is a heavy door leading to the darkened pool which says ‘quiet please’. On the other side of the door is a large dark room with a domed ceiling, coloured lights illuminating parts of the pool and music playing above and beneath the water. If people adhered to the quiet rule, it would be a really soothing experience. I lay on my back and immersed my ears beneath the water’s surface so I could hear the music from the underwater speakers. The experience of being dragged around the pool in this position with my ears under the water to more vividly isolate the music was other worldly. I wish I could fall asleep that way every night.

There are a few different saunas to choose from, a steam room and a smaller outdoor spa. The very open nakedness was unexpected. One of the saunas faced directly to the bar where upon ordering a bowl of muesli and a coffee you could stare across to the sweating breasts through the opposite glass window. The men and women’s changing rooms while separated had no final partition so the more modest visitors were faced with undressing to a crowd. The overall attitude of the staff was quite unpleasant as well but the experience itself trumped that and I would go back again.

Posted in: Work abroadExperiences