While on that now infamous hike that almost killed everyone in the group, I befriended a girl from Berlin who offered me to stay at her place if I was ever in Berlin. A month and a half later, I came knocking at her door.
Having spent the last week and a half in Amsterdam at a friend’s house, I was glad to not have to go back to the hostel scene immediately. After all, who looks forward to sharing their room with 9 other individuals right?
Plus this time around it was an upgrade…..I went from a couch in Amsterdam to an inflatable mattress in Berlin.
The Local Life
For those who have experienced it, travelling and staying with a local is quite different than your usual travel. Not only does it mean a lot of savings because of the staying away from the tourist spots (traps), but also you get a more authentic sense of the city you’re visiting.
Being a local in Berlin has definitely been one of my highlights of 2017 so far.
It might not seem like much, but where else could you get a huge variety of Thai food in the middle of Europe at less than 5€ per plate.
Thai Park, that’s where.
Thai Park is a weekend event where many members of Berlin’s Thai community congregate to sell delicious Thai food. From fried noodles to fried rice to chicken, pork and veggies, Thai Park is THE BEST place in Berlin where to get authentic Thai food.
I headed to Thai Park with my friend and surprise, surprise…..there were only locals in sight. No tourists, no cameras, no line-ups…..only many groups of locals, both young and old, enjoying a sunny day in the park.
Best of all, you can either bring your own drinks, or purchase some “local” Thai drinks at an equally cheap price.
During summer time the park apparently fills with people, being at its fullest as of 2:00 PM.
Thai Park is located on Preußen Park, in the West Berlin district of Wilmersdorf. Getting there is easy, simply take the U-Bahn U3 until Fehrbelliner Platz, the park is located right outside of the exit.
Cheer For Hertha Berlin At A Local Dive Bar
OK so, first of all, what’s a “dive bar”?
In simple terms, a dive bar is simply a neighborhood bar where locals go and socialize. It is one of those places where everyone knows everyone and yes, people will look at you oddly when you first come in wondering if you’re lost or something.
I had a chance to watch the local team, Hertha Berlin, play a seemingly important league game at a local dive bar. They lost….
Being of South American descent, I got the odd stares from patrons when I first came in. As my friend greeted the bartender in Deutsche, people paid less attention to us.
The locals started losing by a score of 2-0 after an idiotic mistake from their goalkeeper. Locals yelled what sounded like German profanity (I did hear a few Scheisse in there).
Towards the end the winning team scored in their own net, and locals were again back into the game (they seemed to have lost interest as the clock ticked down). But their team would ultimately fall victim to 2 more goals before the end, losing 4-1.
But the game itself was not the highlight, but rather both the ambiance of locals watching their team, and their friendliness towards me and my friend.
Another high was the price of drinks. 6 pints and 2 shots: 18.5 €………beats any tourist spot price any day of the week.
There are dive bars all over Berlin, one only needs to keep an eye open. My recommendation is to look outside of the touristy neighborhoods. The one I went to was a 10-minute walk from Fehrbelliner Platz.
Ping Pong Matches
No, not that type of “ping pong”.
To my surprise, Berliners love to play ping-pong…..while drinking…..at a park…..
On a day when my friend came to meet me in the afternoon, she came “prepared” with a few beers and…..2 ping-pong paddles.
When I asked “what are those for?”, she said that we would go play some and proceeded to open the beer with it. So I thought she was shitting me and kept walking, not making much of it, until we got to a portion of the park where indeed there were ping-pong tables set and a few locals playing the game while drinking a few.
While I got my ass whooped by my friend 11-2, I still have to admit that I had fun. Nothing beats doing something non-touristy with friends!
The ping-pong tables we played at were on the Tiergarten, while walking from the Haubtbahnhof towards Moabit while walking near the river.
OK, this is no longer possible to do so I didn’t try it myself. However the stories are there for those who want to hear them.
Spreepark, formerly known as Kulturpark Plänterwald was the only leisure park and form of entertainment in the old GDR (German Democratic Republic – East Berlin). In its peak day, it attracted millions of visitors per year.
Once the Berlin Wall fell, the park continued welcoming people. However the number of visitors dwindled down, until the park eventually shut its doors in 2001.
Today the park is shut down, fenced, and nature has taken over it. Graffiti is all over the place, leaves and trees have grown all over on top of old rusty rides. Overall, an eerie sight.
Tales of the abandoned amusement park were so popular in Berlin, that the city finally built fences and and hired guards to prohibit curious people like me from entering the area. At night, guard dogs take over. Unfortunately it is no longer possible to enter the park without being a James Bond type, and if you get caught you either will need to pay a fine, or become dog meat, depending on what time of the day you decided to try your luck.
I certainly loved experiencing all of these non-touristy activities during my stay in Berlin. It was a welcome change from the line-ups and crowds, and a much more relaxing ambiance. Would you like to try some of these?