Berlin on my mind

Hi all,

You might have remembered that I posted about going to Berlin for a long weekend to see Sam Smith, my current obsession. Well…it happened. And it was even better than I could have predicted.

It goes without saying just how incredible Sam Smith’s performance was, but I’ll say it anyway. I can’t remember the last time I was that blown away by a gig – every note was perfect, and he seemed genuinely humbled and wowed to be performing for us. He’s only 21, and though his youth showed through in his lack of arrogance on stage, his professionalism and skill totally outstripped his age. GO SAM GO.

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Apart from the concert, which was always going to be something to remember, I completely, totally and utterly fell in love with Berlin itself. Head over heels. A no-turning-back-now-I’ve-got-to-learn-German-and-live-there kind of love. The atmosphere and vibrance of the city totally infected me and I can’t stop thinking about it/stalking it on the internet/daydreaming about my life there! My plans have all shifted a bit after my four nights in Kreuzberg, and once I’m fully confident in my Italian I’ll be starting the long road of learning ANOTHER language. And I cannot wait.

I have many many MANY recommendations from my time in the city, but three particular nightlife haunts really made an impression. Whilst everyone visiting Berlin is probably aware of the exclusivity which surrounds the nightclubs there, it doesn’t really hit you until you’re standing in line for a club at three in the morning, entry money clenched tightly in your fist, being rejected after a fleeting and perfunctory once over. As a 22 year old tall blonde girl living in Italy this year, I’ve had seven months of standing out and being rewarded for looking different –  so let me tell you it is most definitely a sobering experience being rejected from anywhere! Whilst Italy and Berlin are potentially the most extreme of each end of the spectrum (thanks for the confidence boost, Italia! You not so much, Berlin…) it is definitely realistic advice that you have to keep it cool if you want to get into the clubs in Berlin. Seriously, look like you wish you were anywhere else in the world but in the queue trying to get into their club. Don’t smile. Don’t laugh. DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH.

Despite being so mercilessly tossed aside at the first club, our gang persevered and the next place we tried let us in, as thankfully we had some German-speakers amongst us, and it ended up being THE BEST PLACE EVER. Did I just blow my cool-cover? It was a giant old squatters’ house on three different levels that had been sort of renovated. It was edgy (sorry about that word), shabby-chic and achingly cool, like a sassy girl wearing a man’s jumper that she found in a skip. There was a boat in garden…a boat. It was essentially the house party to end all house parties. We arrived at 4am and didn’t leave until 7.30 the next morning, in true Berlin fashion.

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looking fresh at 7.30am

On a slightly less exclusive note, we stumbled upon a great bar in Kreuzberg which I whole-heartedly recommend, Rummels Perle. It has a great chilled vintage feel, with atmospheric lighting, beautifully mismatched decor and a great DJ. And they’ll let you in even if you speak English. Which I do.

Finally, Butcher’s Bar. This is a bar situated at the back of an old butchers, which is accessed through the back of a red telephone box at the back of the shop. I know, amazing right?! We passed the door lady’s muster and soon enough we were in the smoky secret back room decorated with meat hooks and red lighting. Though the prices are a bit steeper, it is a really great place to get your first drink and soak up the feeling of Berlin secrecy and exclusivity. While this place does has the exclusive feel to it, I’ve since been told it does actually let most people in. So don’t fret too much, use it as your dry run and ACT COOL….Then grin like a loon when you get let in through the telephone box.

Moral of the story? Go to Berlin. Love it. Just don’t let anyone there know that.

Ciao Verona! – Italia: Take 2

So,

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog side of things recently  – but quite the opposite in reality. On 20th January I moved back to Verona for the second semester of my year abroad. Having had such a lovely four weeks at home in the UK, I (secretly) wasn’t 100% pumped up to be returning to Italy. However, much to my surprise, all i’ve really felt since i’ve been back is….happy!? Obviously every day has its ups and downs, but overall I have found myself feeling surprisingly pleased to be back here 🙂

On the 21st I had my first exam (‘Storia del Teatro Greco e Romano’/’History of Greek and Roman Theatre’). Oral. In Italian. Whilst the preamble was painstakingly slow and inefficient, the exam itself very much went my way, and ended with my professor telling me I had achieved 25/30, and then proceeding to give me a copy of his book for free. Bizarre. But much appreciated! Grazie mille!

Since i’ve been back i’ve been pretty efficient with my time (which might explain my inefficiency in the blog area of my life…), going out for pizza, earning money at work and, most pleasantly, visiting my two great friends Bettina and Mona in Bologna. I met them in Siena in August, at a month-long intensive language course for Erasmus students. We bonded pretty much instantly, and whilst we are all different ages (22, 24 and 28) and from different countries (England, Switzerland and Germany) something about us just seems to work. I appreciate their advice, honesty and life experience – they get me and I get them. It was Bettina’s final weekend in Italy and one of Mona’s last, so it was a great way to round off our six months in Italy together. We ate prosciutto e formaggi, drank Amarone, went to the Terme (underground baths and pools), watched movies,  draank some wine, shopped, went sightseeing and drank some more wine!

It’s amazing how just a month can bond you so tightly. Even though we have no idea when we will see each other again, we all know it will happen sooner or later…even more exciting is that we have NO IDEA where on earth it will be! True friends can be made over a lifetime or over a single month – when you know, you know

Mona, Bettina and me with the winning contrada's flag ('Onda', meaning 'Wave') at 'Il Palio' in Siena (August 2013)

Mona, Bettina and me with the winning contrada’s flag (‘Onda’, meaning ‘Wave’) at ‘Il Palio’ in Piazza del Campo, Siena (August 2013)