Friday, 11 July 2014

Hen-Nighting in Berlin

I wrote a post a while back about how one of the best things about travelling in your twenties is having friends all over the world that you can go and visit in your thirties (and beyond, I hope!). If you're still living abroad in your thirties, the chances are that that network is still growing and the opportunities for meeting up in different places are developing exponentially - there is some compensation for all those tearful goodbyes after all!

And so it was last weekend, when one of my English friends from Paris had her hen do in Berlin because her Australian friend who also normally lives in Paris and was organising the hen weekend happens to be working in Berlin for the year and it seemed like the best thing to do. For me, it worked out particualarly well because it also gave me the chance to catch up with my German friend from my assistant year in France and and Australian girl I worked with in Italy. (Hi, Gemma!)

Berlin turned out to be a great destination for a hen weekend, especially for a group like ours who were all more interested in relaxing and sightseeing than binge drinking and leching. The bride was taken out to brunch and then to Show Me, a cabaret-style performance at the Friedrichstadt theatre that is apparently "the largest ensuite show in the western world." As well as lots of dancing and singing incredibe costumes, there was spectacular acrobatics and a few surprises that I won't mention here in case anyone is going to see the show themselves. I've never been to the Moulin Rouge or the Lido in Paris, but the general consensus was that there was probably a lot less nakedness - there was a lot of body stocking involved, and the only time when nipple tassles made an appearance, the bodies behind them weren't actually visible at all. (Go and see the show to find out more!)

Next up was a tour around the main sights on a Conference bike - hard to describe, so here's a photo stolen from someone else's blog:

Everybody is supposed to pedal (the people at the front of the bike pedal forwards but travel backwards, which is strange!) but as there is only one gear, on the flat or downhill it feels as though the pedalling is having no effect at all, while the slightest uphill makes it hard work for everyone. I have to say as well that Berlin's drivers were remarkable tolerant of our slow and somewhat ungainly progress!

After the bike tour, we drank champagne by the river before heading over to a tapas bar-type restaurant in Mitte. We were all a bit thrown by the fact that they only served German wines, as we were only really familiar with Blue Nun and Liebfraumilch, but the waitress recommended a delicious light red that we liked so much we managed to get through several bottles quite easily!

By this point we were all quite tired, but we decided to have one last drink before going home to bed.
To get into the bar we went to, you had to ring the bell outside a very unobtrusive looking door and wait to be admitted. I think this might be something to do with the fact that it was a "Raucher Bar" (smoking bar), although in fact Berlin's smoking ban is very weak and not very often enforced in places that don't sell food, so perhaps the secrecy was all just for show. I personally am a huge fan of the smoking ban, so I was a bit skeptical about going to this place, especially as nobody in our group was even a smoker, but in fact there were only a few other people there and nobody was smoking, so we were able to enjoy the comfy sofas and posh cocktails until eventually none of us could keep our eyes open any longer and we headed home.

I opted out of the next day's first activity, which was another bike tour, this time on ordinary bikes, which was a tour of places the locals go to off the tourist track. The others enjoyed it, but as it involved four hours of cycling in the blazing sunshine after a fairly early start, I didn't regret my choice. Later on, we all went over to the Mauerpark, which used to be part of the Death Strip (the area behind the Berlin Wall where the Eastern Bloc had their defences) and is now a public park with a fleamarket and outdoor karaoke on Sunday afternoons. The karaoke has become something of a tourist attraction, and with a 2-hour wait to sing, we didn't actually participate, but it was fun to watch. We rounded off the evening with a delicious Vietnamese dinner on Schoenhauser Allee and some corny photos underneath a sign not unlike this one:



  1. I can't believe how far spread around the World that group of friends are! It sounds like you had a blast and really let your hair down! I have never been to The Moulin Rouge, but would love to go!

  2. Sounds like fun! A friend of mine lives in Berlin now (going back to what you were saying), so I'll have to make it there some time.