Friday, 6 April 2012

To start the blog off thought it would be cool if we shared with you the places TTGV have been exploring..

In October I decided to take a trip to Berlin. As a lover of underground electronic music, as well as indie and alternative music I was quite excited to take a trip to what some class as the electronic music capital of the world. Before going I researched well into places and things to see and do in Berlin, discovering Berlins sinister and underground reputation. With bouncers apparently turning away tourists, or people because they don't 'look' right. So we were fairly weary of this before we went....

When we got there in the day Berlin just looked like any normally city, we didn't really explore to much of Berlin until the next day.

We planned out a route so we could see the most we could each day, and ended up doing most of it on the first day, IE the Berlin wall, Jewish museums, Berlin gate and the Reichstag's.

We then went back and prepared for our first night out in Berlin. Asking the hostel owner for advice on clubs. He showed us a website with lists of club nights on, we quickly spotted a few DJ's we'd love to see playing a few districts away. So we went to a few bars around Berlin first, noticing straight away the sort of 'rebelious' attitude Berlin showed to any kind of authority... Although like England Germany has a smoking ban, in Berlin every bar we went in people were smoking.. We knew beer was obviously a major thing in Berlin but when my friend dropped his fag into a pint glass with less than 3 millimetres of beer in, the bouncer gave him a bollocking shouting at him to throw it on the floor of the bar next time calling him ' a mad English fool ' we were all stunned , but at the same time very amused with the weird culture.
Also when walking the street police were very present and made themselves clearly seen yet prostitutes were scattered along every street, and the police turned a blind eye to them all. As the club we were going to that night didn't open until 1am, and didn't finish until 10am the next day, the bars had started to shut, (baring in mind this was a Tuesday night) we roamed the street to find a bar, stumbling across very loud music coming from what seemed to be a 15 story block of flats from the 70s.. walking towards it we noticed huge banners in English? saying you will never take us..

The building was covered in graffiti and huge parts of the building were missing.. from the street you could see it to what appeared to be old bedrooms, now just covered with people and graffiti.
So naturally we went in, people guided us up to the top 5 floors where the music was coming from..
The place was painted in complete black with UV and fabrics on the wall. there were huge bean bags and old pillows scattered across the floor as what seemed to be seating. We roamed round not really knowing what to do, and in every small room there was a DJ playing really dark techno music.. some small rooms had a very strange aroma about them, with even weirder looking people. We found some English people in there and they explained that this place we were in, the local authority had been trying to knock it down for years... but the 'ravers' as such just never left, and wouldn't leave..Feeling rather out of place and a bit insecure we quickly left that building to go on the club we planned to go...

As expected the club was not a let down. Looking like a block of flats again on approach, we saw a queue outside.. the bouncers patted us down asking if we had any drugs... and then took some themselves in front of us. We were rather bemused, yet we carried on in to the club. And we got more than expected with very few people drinking or doing anything it seemed huge crowds of people were just going mental the club was perfectly laid out for that sort of night...

The next night we tried to go find some sort of bar that would provide us with indie music, yet this was harder than expected, with even restaurants playing deep house. Everywhere in Berlin was electronic. Yet after our struggle we found a really cool bar with live music on for the first couple of hours, then a DJ came on and played some disco and guitar based music. Which we were quite content with. After another long night we roamed the street home to stumble across what seemed to be a gallery , the sculptures were all made out of metal and scrap, the floor was just mud and people we lay around just sitting in this place. Another strange part of Berlin we felt at edge in... we walked around looking at these mangled pieces of art and trying to make sense of this place. Looking at the sculptures some were amazingly good some were just pieces of car put in a pile. At the end of the circle there was a tent with again, techno music being pumped out this was a Wednesdays night in Berlin about 4-5 in the morning in some side street. We were absolutely baffled as only about 7 people were in there going mental again dancing and jumping around. I mean it looked like great fun... but what do these people do with their lives? ha...

Last day we strolled around Berlin city centre and saw check point charlie along with more from Berlins past.

Although it was difficult to find anywhere that played anything but house and techno we found a few really good places to go. And even if you don't like electronic music I would highly recommend to go to one night just to get a sense of how much the Germans love and live it. I promise you wouldn't be let down....

In January I went to Amsterdam, just two of us went for a few days..
This trip was with the intention to see everything we could whist there, obviously well known for its underground scene again, Amsterdam is also one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.. We were there for 4 days and must have walked constantly 5 hours everyday going to see places.
We hit the Heineken brewery first, this was actually starting the trip of on the right foot being on the the best things we did.. then the House of Bols, which won the Amsterdam design away 2011 easy to see why...

We strolled from one side of the city to another taking snaps of every other building..  One of the strangest things we noticed was that a lot of the buildings were 'wonky' and appeared to be leaning on one another. They all seemed to be completely different, as if they were built at completely separate eras.. One being white with black beams next door was old wooden house, next to that a taller building made from steel. all very strange yet beautiful in its own right.

And obviously coming onto the weed.. walking though the city it was quite literally every second smell... food, weed, food , weed, flowers, weed, perfume, weed, weed, weed. It was everywhere... I heard a lot of rumours before I went that there has been rule changes and that tourists could no longer buy weed from any cafes unless they were members, but talking to people and other English people in bars. This wasn't true at all.. It is still the easy going rules on smoking..

And the one other major thing in Amsterdam was bikes.. their bloody everywhere and they don't give you a second chance to get out the way, if your in the way your going over haha... I mean  how do you know which is yours...

Might not be able to tell from this picture but 85%  of these bikes were black... with a black lock. Good luck trying to find yours.. Its not just bikes either in the cycle lanes, on paths or wazzing around in the parks mopeds can go all over them as well, which don't tend to 'peep' they just reved at you, which made me shit a brick a couple of times must admit.

Aside from this the bars in Amsterdam were far from cheap being about 12 euros for two pints, but all very welcoming people in the bars as well as bar staff happily chatting asking what we've seen where were going etc. One of the friendliest places I've been... The music wasn't great in any place we went, but we didn't really go here for that so we just took it as it came (normally chart hits). But we can forgive Amsterdam for this. Its other qualities made up for it.

We went to the red light district also, which was one of the most bazaar things I've seen.. we obviously knew about the place and seen pictures but until you have strolled along it you cant really have the full felling for it.. very bazaar, but if you do go to Amsterdam have a walk down its very funny.. both day and night.

Hope you liked my little trip stories..  I could have gone on for ages on what we saw and did in both places etc. Both places were similar in some ways, yet far different in others... If you were to do day trips this year I'd recommend going Berlin and Amsterdam to anyone. As long as you go both places with an open mind your bound to have fun. Don't think I could go either place for more than a week though, unless you took it really steady but again I'll be returning to both places in the near future for sure!

Josh X!

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