Stuart Hammond and James Edson report on a few adventurous days in the German capital
Dazed's road trip through Europe, heading towards last weekend's Open'er festival in Poland's Gdansk, hit Berlin a few days ago. While there, the Dazed ambassadors met up with local creatives for chit chats and massive parties. Thanks to the Canon IXUS 510 HS camera and its wifi ability, you can follow Stuart Hammond and James Edson's photo updates in real time on Twitter. When in the German capital, Hammond sent us this recap of the their last few days on the road...
The road from Antwerp to Berlin was long and mainly hilarious, because Edson's as mad as a badger and he cracks me up. We rolled into the city late at night and went to the our hotel, which was like a microcosm of the whole of Berlin: huge, with a splendid sort of commune-ish feel, and crawling with cool young creative types in well-jazzy outfits. Within half an hour of arriving I was thoroughly pleased to hear a brilliantly only-in-Berlin sentence: we asked a barman what time a club he'd recommended was open until. It was Sunday night, so we were expecting a fairly early hour on Monday morning. "That place stays open until Tuesday," he said. You don't get that in London.
We woke the next day to blazing sunshine, so we went out exploring on skateboards. Berlin is really rad to skate in. We pootled about in Friedrichshain, going to shops and cafes and looking at graffiti (Berlin is also really rad for graffiti), getting tows off accommodating girls on bikes. I found a second-hand bookshop that was run by a guy who very clearly had a bit of a problem with hoarding: you couldn't get to most of the shelves because of the piles of old books in front of them. If you'd wanted to, you couldn't really get to his face either: his beard had overrun it years ago. He was basically just a pair of eyes behind a massive fuzzy Brillo Pad and a shoulder-high pile of paperbacks. And he was nice! It was around this time that Edson was bitten in the street by a ferret. As you can imagine, this was funny in the extreme.
We went to the thoroughly sad-making 'Topography of Terror' and the nearby Holocaust memorial, and then ate hotdogs in the park to cheer ourselves up. Then night came and we met up with an old chum, skateboarding legend Greg Finch. He's a PWBC icon who works for the Pointer shoe brand these days, and he'd just arrived in town for the Bread & Butter Berlin trade show. Peckish for burgers and beers, he took us to a White Trash, a glorious mix of old-timey red-lit stair-winding building, bits of horror-schlock decor and heavy metal music. We made friends with some locals and some interlopers and eventually managed to take ourselves to bed.
The next day we headed straight for Prenzlauer Berg: an area some Berliners had told we'd get a kick out of. And we did: we bought second-hand records and some amazing street currywurst and looked in some swell boutiques that showcased local young designers, and Edson copped a vintage Germany football shirt for a mere ten euros. There were dead-cool-looking youngsters everywhere you looked.
After that we met up with Greg again and went to a bizarre attraction that Edson had heard we'd be into: the Berliner Gruselkabinett. We didn't really know much more about it than that it was a kind of house of horrors, but OH MY GOD: it was without doubt the single most terrifying thing that I have ever paid money to experience. It's a massive old bunker from World War II that's been converted into a stomach-turning museum of medical atrocities and an out-and-out scare attraction. On the top floor – the really scary bit – we all three went into a state of purest terror. At one point, some dude in a freaky mask jumped out of the dark at us and Edson collapsed flat on his back, squealing and waggling his limbs like an upturned beetle. I screamed like a little girl so much that my throat hurt afterwards. For a minute I even had to hold Edson's hand. I promise I'm not exaggerating: it was horrible. And brilliant: the best thing we did by far in this city outside of going out at night.
Then it was night again, and time to go out in Berlin one last time. Some of our best pals in the world had just landed in town for the Bright Tradeshow: Rory Milanes, Lucien Clarke and Lev Tanju of our beloved Palace Skateboards. We found them at Cookies, a cavernous and labyrinthine nightclub, and partied to dawn. It was a perfect bright experience and we left town without any sleep to speak of.
I'm in Gdańsk, Poland, as I write this. Spread out in front of me is the huge sun-spangled Baltic sea. We've made it to the last stop on our road trip: the Open'er Festival. I'd better get along there now.
Here's hoping all's well with you. We are exhausted and happy and we don't ever want to come home.
Photos by Stephanie Sian Smith