Berlin 1996-1997

When I arrived in Berlin, I got a cab ride from an anachronistically dressed Jazz and Bebop fan. He kept calling me ‘cat’ and singing ‘Dupidoodohwah’ as we drove along.
In Berlin, I was away from my friends and family for a whole year. It was very cold and miserable at times. I had a nightmare of a time with the German Bureaucracy (I thought they’d make it easy on EU Citizens – you should have seen how they treated the non-EU immigrants). I had a neurotic landlady who tried to make my life hell (she did for a while, but then I saw that I could have fun at her expense too). One of the greatest trials to be endured was the endless stream of Beverly Hills 90210 on T.V.

But I had the FUNKIEST time in Berlin!

Berlin really is a cool place. Everything is being rebuilt, street names are changing every day. There are amazingly wacky bars, that have literaly been built in people’s living rooms, and you very rarely feel threatened by nutters in the street at night.

I had a rather marvelous time of it in Berlin, especially in the evenings. The bars are really amazing places to go. Try Oranienburger Strasse for great bars and clubs.
The eastern part of the city was really beautiful with dim lighting and seedy streets (photo, right).
One of the great things about going out in Berlin is the gorgeous German beer. They have all sorts of lovely beers that give little or no hangover because they are usually pure. Another great thing about going out in Berlin is the fact that you can almost always find a friendly Turkish Doner Kebab stall which serves you twenty-four hours a day with the finest kebabs in Europe. Doner Kebabs are perhaps the healthiest thing to eat in the world when it is 4am and you have no other means of obtaining food. To learn more about the wonderful world that is Germanised (but alas not naturalised – please let them be citizens Kanzler Schroeder!) Turkish Cuisine, please refer to the Mr. Habibti Tribute Page.

Berlin is a really historical place. Every important decision made here or about the city since the 1860s has significantly influenced world history. Of course that’s obvious, but the stuff left behind by the opulent monarchy that ruled here is beautiful.
Take a walk east down Unter den Linden. This is perhaps the greatest 2 miles for sightseeing in Europe. There’s the Humboldt University (where I studied), the Brandenburg Gate, Bebelplatz (where the Nazis burned books), a huge cathedral and the communist ‘Palace of the Republic’.
Now some people object to the palace because they say its ugly. I’m not so sure it is. It is a huge cement building with massive murky copper reflective windows. It has been condemned because it has an asbestos hazard. They’re going to tear it down. I think it has some interest and the fact that there is an out-of-place building there amongst all these lovely ancient buildings (it is opposite a lovely cathedral) sort of sums up Berlin for me. It is a historical city – you can still see the scars.

(Migrated from old site – first written October 1997)

One Response

  1. hanna
    hanna September 20, 2007 at 10:00 am ·

    hi ciaran!
    I was just googeling berlin 1996 and found your website – I’m writing a book which is taking place in Berlin 1996/97 – exactly the time you were there…! So I wondered if I maybe could ask you some questions about the time and places – I’m mainly interested in the atmosphere, and especially from prenzlauer berg, if you knew the place then. I would be very greatful!

    hanna

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