Welcome to my Berlin trip report. I decided to write a very comprehensive trip report, in an attempt to try and recreate my own participation in the event.
This way my hope is that people who were unable to attend can at least get a feel for just how incredible the event was. This is part 3 of a multi part story and you can expect a new chapter every other day.
PS. I apologize for not having more pictures, I usually don't take many photos when I'm travelling around.
Part 3 – Touristing (you are here)
My last report, concluded with me leaving the hotel in search for touristy things to do whilst in Berlin. I had not been here before so I felt I owed myself to at least attempt to go out and be cultural. Sadly I had not incorporated much time to sightsee into my itinerary so I did not have time for any massive excursions or lengthier museum visits. In the end I simply walked across the main train station and followed signs that said “Reichstag” and “Brandenburger Tor” as these were the main two sights people were going for. As I was crossing a bridge a girl with a clipboard ran up to me with what looked like a petition that also had a big handicap logo on. She furthermore indicated that she was deaf or mute, or something I’m not sure. Maybe I’m cynical, but when people approach me on the street like this I stay the hell away. Before you know it your pockets have been emptied by associates or you signed up for a financial investment or something completely different, but equally shady. This girl did not accept no for an answer though and every time I pushed her away she became more aggressive which culminated in her almost tugging off my arm in an attempt for me to sign her petition, or whatever was going on. Let me just say, that had I seen a Polizei after this encounter I would definitely report her for violation of the peace. I mean, fair enough you have some kind of project that means a lot to you, but foreign signatures probably aren’t valid anyway and if people do not wish to participate then leave them be. No need to harass people.
Anyway, I made it to the Reichstag and it is a very impressive building. I am not a type of person to look at buildings for an extended period of time, so I casually made it towards the Brandenburger Tor. Due to the World Cup there was quite a lot of stuff going on around it, so it was not as usual, but that was okay I imagined how it would normally look. Apart from the nice Brandenburger Tor there was also at least 3 separate demonstrations in the square there. One about the middle east, one to free some Chinese people? And the last one I didn’t even have a clue. Maybe they were just football fans.
I decided I had walked around enough and went to find a train, to get back to the hotel. But before I made a stop in a supermarket to get a refreshment, and while I was in shock of how cheap German supermarkets are compared to Danish ones I got a bag of vine gums and two bottles of a special caffeine cola a friend recommended to me: Fritz Cola. I made my way home to the hotel in an attempt to locate any familiar faces, perhaps they had arrived in the meantime.
Back in the Polyglot Gathering Lobby a few new people had arrived, but nobody I could recognize, so I went to the room. I enjoyed my Fritz Cola while I was being tested by, as previously mentioned, the worst WiFi in the world. Now dinner wasn’t far away and I was excited for what could unofficially be called the start of the event.
At the Dinner, where we were served a typical prison-type food, I sat and mingled with people I did not know – which was a great experience. I had the pleasure of meeting a group of Austrians that included Dani Maizner, whom I’d talked to online a fair bit. It was very interesting to talk about languages and get into the spirit of the event. It wasn’t long into my terrible food that Ellen Jovin came by and I was delighted to greet her as well, apparently she had been napping after her long flight. My to-be roommate and very good online friend Chris Huff was still nowhere to be found though, which was slightly worrying because he should have left Moscow Airport many, many hours ago. I had a peek around the hotel and eventually made it to the fifth floor where the registration desk for our event was. Just checking to see what was going on I heard a familiar voice and met my roommate Christopher. He is one of those crazy people that came from America (or similar distances) to join the event, which I have huge respects for.
Since he missed Dinner, Chris was hungry. Additionally I would not mind a pint, so we went to the rooftop bar. Here we socialised with many of the other participants and eventually we formed a bit of a bond. The rooftop bar itself is not as glamorous as it may sound, but it is a nice venue with comfy sofas as cold beers. The only huge problem is the service. Since the bartenders are not allowed to receive tips, they get paid the exact same hourly no matter how many customers they serve and the conclusion was very apparent. The bartenders were slugging around and waiting times of 10 minutes with only 3 in front of you were very common. Nonetheless the group of people decided to try out Berlin and find a bar in close proximity.
In the next installment I’ll talk about a night on the town not quite as planned and funny encounters with the locals.
Kris is the founder of Actual Fluency, and has spent the last 8 years becoming an expert in language learning software, methods, and techniques.
Originally from Denmark, he now lives in Portugal and speaks 5+ languages at varying levels. His other interests are Wine, Online Marketing, and Travelling.