A lot happened since my last update over a month ago. I moved from Ku'damm to Reinickendorf with a friend (on the first of July, mind you), and we ran into all sorts of trouble with the previous tenants. I spent most of July signing documents and carrying donated furniture. Nonetheless, I still found time to explore and have fun.
Once again, my plans to see Europe were delayed. After sorting out my living situation, I promised myself to see one new city every week, starting with Dresden.
July 26: Dresden
Dresden is a city of 525 000 habitants situated two hours south of Berlin. During the Second World War, it was the target of a highly controversial bombing raid that killed 25 thousand civilians and destroyed most of the city.
76 years later, the rebuilt Dresden lives up to its reputation of being a beautiful city. The old city and its elaborately decorated buildings is a sight to behold, especially on a tourist-free Sunday afternoon.
Faithful to my habits, I spent most of my time in Dresden at the Military History Museum. My favorite exhibit was a scale model of a First World War infantry division on the march. The column of 20 000 perfectly aligned inch-tall plastic soldiers spanned over more than 20 meters. I could only imagine how it was to witness several dozens of such divisions marching to the front.
As the museum was closing, I made my way back to the Old City, then waited for the train with a book and some ice cream.
I took fewer pictures of Dresden because I had a Moto G as my only camera. I had my iPhone stolen on Warschauer Straße a week prior, and I settled for the cheapest phone I could find.
A day in Dresden seemed enough to appreciate what the city had to offer. After a weekend of partying, it felt like the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sun. My entire day cost me less than 30 euros, including bus tickets.
July 27: Team Escape, Berlin
I went to my first escape game with my colleagues. You are locked in a room with clues scattered about. With your teammates, you need to find and combine the hints that will allow you to escape.
As simple as it sounds, it was a ton of fun!
July 31: Przystanek Woodstock, Poland
Each year, a tiny polish town with an unpronounceable name hosts a festival that attracts over 700 000 people. The two-way train ticket is 12 euros and admission is free. When I told my boss I would go to Woodstock, he preemptively gave me monday off.
As soon as I got off work that friday, I met Maxime, Simona and Dao at the Berlin-Lichtenberg station, and we boarded the train to Kostrzyn.
My first realization upon arrival was that Poland has a different currency. We spent our first twenty minutes in town frantically looking for an ATM to withdraw some zlotys. On the bright side, beers were not 3 euros, but 3 zlotys, or 75 cents. 75 cents for a beer. At a festival.
When you reach the festival site, you are presented with a sight that can only be described as Mad Max in Eastern Europe.
It was one hell of a party. I had my new camera with me, so I was able to take a few pictures. The Sony RX 100's large sensor performed exceedingly well in low light, and I am pretty proud of the results.
On our way back, we spent two hours in a crowded train station waiting for the 6AM train. We were dusty, smelly and tired, but it was entirely worth it. Woodstock was a blast.
Total cost: about 30 euros, with some leftover zlotys.
August 2: Oranienburg
On Sunday, I took the S-bahn to Oranienburg, a small town 45 minutes north of Berlin. Oranienburg was home to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. After a night of heavy partying in Poland, it was a very sobering experience.
Despite my interest in history, I would classify the camp as a must-see. After the initial shock of seeing the barbed wire fences and the main gate with the infamous arbeit macht frei inscription, I found the rest of the visit largely uninteresting.
Nonetheless, I had a great time in Oranienburg. I spent most of my afternoon under the sun reading Anthony Beevor's monumental book on the last days of the third reich. I felt a tingle down my spine while reading a mention of the camp in the book.
Total cost of the trip: 10 euros for a meal and an ice cream
Odds and ends
We also threw a party for Simona's birthday, hosted half a dozen great travelers and visited new places. Among those were Tempelhof airport, Schlachtensee, lake Tegel, and many small bars. I am celebrating my third month in Berlin, and this city still finds ways to surprise me.
Most importantly, I have met more amazing people than I could name. Here's to all of you wonderful people who might be reading this.