Early morning sun, birds chirping and that beginning of summer chill–would have been another lovely start to the day if I hadn’t spent the whole night out for the umpteenth day in a row. Realizing I had left my keys at the hostel, I was locked out and had tried to stay out until 8AM when the owner would open the doors. I even considered pulling the Sexless Inkeeper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sexless_Innkeeper) on some sweet, drunken boy I had been chatting to but thought better of it. Eventually tired and deflated, I caught a cab around 5AM back to the hostel to try and find a way in.
Lights out, no one around, I didn’t want to be that one person knocking on windows so took a brisk stroll around the block to try and stay warm. Eventually, I noticed someone going into a building next to mine and followed them in and fell asleep curled up in the stairwell–the low point of my trip but at least it was warm! Awoken by steps, I quickly tried to stand up–realizing too late my legs had fallen asleep. Falling over onto the rails, I smiled sheepishly as someone awkwardly maneuvered around me.
8AM. FINALLY. Back inside and warm, I snuggled under my blankets and fell asleep until noon. Traveling alone has its perks and downfalls. Used to wandering around late at night by myself in the cities, I really should be more careful…but I just love being out in empty dark streets illuminated by neon signs and street lights. It’s so serene but rather careless of me.
It was June 19th and having arrived in Germany a little over a week ago, I was getting ready to leave Berlin after spending a few days in Cologne with some Germans I had met at Lajuma. When I had arrived, ze Germans had retaught me how to ride a bike. Something I hadn’t done in probably a decade. Sitting behind me and using his legs like training wheels, we somehow managed our way through the streets. When I had to ride solo, I lost my balance twice and fell over and probably freaked a lot of Germans out with my squealing, giggling and swerving.
But we survived.
Now, I was navigating my way around Berlin effortlessly by bike. Overwhelmed by the city, I made my way to the Tiergarten to try and get away from all the bustle and noise–not used to crowds and traffic, all I wanted was some peace and quiet. To lay down with a book beneath some trees. Instead, I came upon a large group of sunbathing naked men playing Frisbee.
Where the hell am I?
Finally tired of the city, I caught a rideshare (http://www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de/ which I can almost pronounce now!) to Munich after spending a night with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost a year–we had molested statues and she showed me the city. Using couchsurfing, I was able to find a place last minute since my sudden departure had been unplanned. The following morning, I caught a train out to Fussen to enjoy “nature” but ended up being surrounded by hordes of slow-walking tourists that I just wanted to punch.
Eventually I found my way back to Cologne for the Lajuma reunion! My rideshare was with a middle-aged professor and designer who was visiting his girlfriend in Munich. We ended up talking the whole 5 hours until he dropped me off at 1AM for my couchsurfing host to pick me up and take me to Bonn (also a last minute request! People are pretty amazing sometimes!). We enjoyed beers and cigarettes until dawn before he had to go to work. I caught a train to Haribo to buy a nice baggy of gummies before finding my way back to Cologne for the reunion.
At last reunited with Lajumies! The weather was soggy and we spent our day wandering around from The Chocolate Museum to the Dom and restaurants and bars. Playing pool, stacking coasters, drinking Kolsch, smoking cigarettes. How weird to see everyone in street clothes and off a mountain. The next day, everyone returned back to their respective cities.
My last night in Germany, I spent wandering the streets alone one last time and happened upon a concert. Watching with beer in hand (hooray for public drinking!), a group of girls caught me by surprise as they linked arms with me and started explaining the German songs to me.
Every time I started to feel homesick or sad in Germany, a random stranger or group of strangers has always approached me and immediately cheered me up. To the stranger in the Tiergarten to the people in their 40s-70s in a random bar I wandered into once (and ended up spending 6 hours until 3AM chatting with!) who bought me beers and shared their stories and cigarettes, and now this! They helped me steal a Cologne glass as a souvenir and wished me a happy trip home.
A great way to end my close to ten month journey away from home.