The day after my birthday I took the train to Potsdamer Platz and walked to the Topography of Terror exhibit. Its a section of the Berlin Wall and the land of the former SS and Gestapo headquarters that have been turned into a monument not only to the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, but the effect the movement had on the city itself.
The exhibit is outdoors — I think they plan on taking it indoors in the future — and is a collection of photographs, historical accounts and personal stories. It was fascinating and exhausting at the same time. After a few hours, though eager to read more, I left and walked towards Checkpoint Charlie.
Checkpoint Charlie, figuratively a symbol of the Cold War, was the border crossing point between East and West Germany, intended for Allied Forces members and foreigners (separating it from Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo). It was used as the official crossing point for foreigners and diplomats right up until German Reunification in 1990. Today, it’s the main thoroughfare for idiots with cameras and souvenir salesmen.
That night I got ready and went to Hackesher Markt to meet up with Rich. I intensely debated with myself the whole day whether or not to go, and ultimately I realized that the point of traveling wasn’t to sit in a hostel all night. Rich was finishing up his post-shift meal and despite being full of food, found some room to expand his ego even more. He was going on about some apparently very beautiful woman whom he very suavely picked up.
We drove to his place so he could change before heading out. I don’t know how he got on the subject, but he started telling me about some pornography site where girls are convinced to get into a minivan, have sex for money and then the makers of the video ditch the girl and speed away before paying them. Of course, I’m sure it’s all set up for the cameras, but Rich excitedly told me about how he was a paying member of the site. I started to think that maybe staying in a hostel all night wasn’t so bad after all.
The reggae club was actually a boat. One of those restaurant boats that travel up and down the river, transforming into a dance club on weekend nights. After a quick run through the chilly night air, we climbed the stairs to the bar area. I was under the impression that there would be a live band there, but it was actually a DJ and a couple turntables. Even still, the music was fantastic. The speakers had been cranked up to “11” and you could feel the dub beats echoing through your bones. The air was thick with marijuana smoke, and it as you could imagine, everyone was either high, or in the process of getting high. There was one guy who was so high, all he could do was spin in circles, his eyes half closed, a spliff held loosely in one hand frequently lifted up to his lips, bumping off other dancers like a pinball. Once the spliff was done, he would sit down and roll another on his lap. And repeat.
I was trying to get over a cold, so I didn’t drink. Rich got up and solo-danced for a while. Even though I was enjoying the music, after a couple hours I was tired and ready to go. I told Rich I’d take the bus back to the hostel, but he was ready to go too, so he dropped me off.