I've seen a lot of things and I've been to a lot of places, but I've never experienced anything like Berlin. Each adventure story I shared during the trip (and since I've been back home) has been replied to with: "That's so Berlin". Nothing shocking or taboo, just general acceptance that you're in one of the most ecclectic cities in the world. Berlin is daring, diverse, a bit manic and 100% awesome.
When 'The Wall' came down in Berlin, the city changed. The sense of new freedom in East Berlin allowed many young Europeans to illegally occupy buildings and turn them into outlandish clubs, hidden speakeasies and bizarre restaurants. It is now the premier nightlife district in Europe. A night can consist of a 16-course meal followed with a trip to a pitch-black speakeasy and a nightcap in a basement of a church with punk rock jazz. That's so Berlin.
I'm here for ITB, the world's largest tourism trade show, and I'm making my way through 180 countries, learning about each destination's travel product and marketing campaign. Who knew you could surf in Iran?
Every nationality has different boundaries of what they like to experience and what they'll risk with each journey they take, so when you're amongst every county in the world expect a wild ride. Americans are tame compared to other nations. But even if you can't understand everything the other guys are saying, sometimes it's good to let them be your guide. When we travel, we should embrace something new and go out on a limb – isn't that where the fruit is? I'm being so Berlin.
The Top 5 Things Ted Learned About Travel On This Trip:
1. ITB is the largest travel trade show in the world. There are 11,700 booths representing 180 countries and countless cities. Brush up on your geography.
2. The Holocaust Memorial is a five-acre site made up of 2,711 concrete slabs of various heights, designed to evoke a sense of confusion within an ordered system that lost touch with reality.
3. When eating a 16-course meal, it's best to stop asking, "what is this?" after the 3rd course, because the next morning you won't want to know or remember.
4. Don't ever take your camera out in an underground club or it will get confiscated until you leave. (And they'll take some weird photos with it before they return it.)
5. By area, Berlin is nine times larger than Paris, it has twice as many bridges as Venice and 13% of its residents have foreign passports.
Well...underneath Berlin's beautiful and intense exterior lies a a medley of culture and individuality that's been cultivated by its acceptance of all cultures, creeds and lifestyles. No wonder ITB is held here each year. Ethnic and cultural diversity should be accepted for its differences when we journey. After all, it's the one true thing we all have in common. That's so Berlin!
"So I'm in this weird bar in East Berlin, it's pitch black and I'm with an Egyptian, an Irishman, a Swede and two guys from Brazil who barely speak English, and..." - Me at the ITB Tradeshow early one morning.
"Sully, I'm pretty sure I've heard this joke before." - My buddy from the Great Lakes region.
"Joke? ... This was just a few hours ago!" - Me... That's so Berlin!
Addtional photos from this journey can be found by clicking here FlickrTravelWithTed