Like all good Queers, visiting Berlin has been on my radar for years. It is a city you’ll find one of the most thriving queer communities in the world. While sitting in our favorite hostel, Generator, the first night in town I couldn’t help but realize that I was far from the only gender nonconforming person in the room. This perhaps happening for the first time ever in a space not specifically designated as LGBT.
While Berlin has all the hallmarks of what I often seek out in a city, street art, delicious food and unique architecture. What was different for me about visiting Germany is my interest in the history. I’ve been a self admitted horrible student my entire life. Learning about WWII was possibly the first and last time in my academic career I was actively seeking out information in books without being prompted by an assignment. I was captivated by the first hand stories and read everything I could get my hands on.
Possibly my first taste of wanderlust was after my Dad’s best friend visited Poland and Germany. He visited the Memorial at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau among other important historical sites. I vividly remember sitting a the kitchen combing through his printed travel photos with my Dad. I was wondering what his experience was like and longing for my own. I was in 6th grade, I have never been on a plane or left the east coast of the United States. The idea of visiting Europe seemed almost unimaginable.
Getting to Berlin
I’ve now had the privilege of visiting more countries than sixth grade Lindsay could probably name without consulting a map. After a couple weeks in Turkey and Scotland I hopped on the short 2 hour flight from Edinburgh to Berlin. Excited to finally be touching down in a place I dreamed of visiting as a kid. From the airport we headed to the hostel by train. Berlin’s public transportation system is fantastic, even a directionally challenged country kid like me was able to navigate the U-Bahn. After getting settled it was time to plan for the 24 hours of free time I had in the city to make best use of my time.
What to do in Berlin
The size of the city coupled with the amount of stuff to do can be a bit overwhelming. The are so many small details you would quite frankly walk by if you don’t know what you’re looking for. I actually found a website called Withlocals absolutely packed with Berlin adventures hosted by Berlin locals. The extensive tour options simultaneously made things harder and easier to narrow now. Did I want to see street art like Meg did on her first trip, take a food tour, drink craft beer, get an in-depth tour of the Berlin Wall? As my eyes started to glaze over a bit I remembered what interested me about visiting Germany in the first place, the history. I ultimately decided on the Berlin Under Nazism: Beginnings and Aftermath, a private three-hour walking tour. We hit tons of the most notable attractions including, Hitler’s Bunker. While travel has become my job I try to remember that big-haired kid who couldn’t imagine going “
From there my focused jumped immediately to food. The one thing I’d read about and really wanted to try was currywurst. The dish is a steamed then fried pork sausage covered in curry ketchup typically served with french fries. A quick google search of the best currywurst in Berlin had me headed to Curry Mitte. I got the currywurst, fries and a drink for 5 Euros. It was delicious but also my first and only so I can’t confirm or deny that it was the best.
To cap that night I finally got a taste of the thriving queer scene. That meant a couple drinks at the Himmelreich Cafe, a Berlin lesbian bar in the tourist-heavy Simon-Dach-Straße. The drinks were good and it ended up being the perfect way to end my short Berlin adventure.