Berlin, Germany and the Berlinale – Part One

Prologue

          It was January 6th and I was due at the airport in five hours to fly to London. The idea of going abroad for 4 months was exciting but vastly overwhelming. I, like everyone else in the program, wanted to do everything and go everywhere. I had a few countries I was interested in going to, but the only place I knew for a fact I had to go to was Berlin, Germany, and I was getting anxious to book the flight, a month from then. I love history. I was almost a history minor and Germany is one of the best places in the world to go to for a history lesson. This wasn’t why I needed to go, though. On February 6th-14th, Berlin would host the 64th annual Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival – the second biggest festival in Europe and among the top five on the planet.

Being in Berlin and being able to get some tickets for some of the films would be an amazing experience in itself, but the main reason I had to be there was because Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was having its world premiere. Wes Anderson is my favorite filmmaker for a long list of reasons I could talk about for pages and pages. Every one of his films are spectacles and marvels of filmmaking and storytelling and I’d been waiting for his new film since I left the theater after seeing his last film, Moonrise Kingdom, for the first time. If I was in Europe and I had a chance to see the world premiere of his new film, I had to be there. London Stansted > Berlin Schonefeld. Berlin Schonefeld > London Stansted. I bought the plane ticket on January 6th.

Part One

On February 3rd I woke up at 8AM, nervous. The week before The Berlinale announced its official festival program as well as when advance online ticket sales were. The world premiere of The Grand Budapest Hotel was on Thursday the 6th. The tickets went on sale online on February 3rd. Germany is one hour ahead of London and the sale started at 10AM, which meant I had to get on a computer at 9 sharp if I wanted to try and get tickets. I dressed for my internship, which I had at 11, packed up all my things I needed for work and head to the London Center, where I could get on a completely reliable computer with completely reliable internet. I was on the Berlinale website by 8:30 and kept refreshing the ticket page every two seconds starting at 8:55. If we couldn’t get tickets online I was very doubtful that we would at all. We would be getting into Berlin after the public ticket booths opened and what tickets one could buy there in person I was sure would sell out as soon as it was open. For all I knew, this was my one and only chance. It was 8:59.

All of a sudden, after hitting refresh, the little icon that meant online ticket sales was open turned from gray to pink, and I immediately clicked on it. I was taken to a “waiting room” with a countdown icon saying I would be taken to the purchase page in 30 seconds. I figured this wasn’t the worst sign in the world, so I patiently waited. The 30 seconds wound down and I was ready to do whatever the next page told me. At the end of 30 seconds, 30 more seconds loaded and I had to keep waiting. Not good. I had no choice but to keep waiting until I was able to get in. Wes Anderson is a respectably famous filmmaker and not only was his new film opening the festival, but I was sure it was by far the most sought after ticket of the whole festival. While I was in the waiting room, people were getting their tickets. When I finally broke out of that limbo page, I was taken to the purchase page. I scanned it frantically to find out how I went about buying tickets, but my eyes finally landed on some text saying that there were no more tickets for the time I wanted. I was devastated, but I guess not all that surprised. After trying a few more times and going back to discover that literally all the other showings of the film were sold out as well, I bought some tickets to a couple of other films that I’d never heard of. They were in competition though, so I was glad I would be able to see some of the films competing for the Golden Bear. After this I printed out the receipts and vouchers to claim my tickets in Berlin and left to catch the tube to my internship.

 

On February 6th Josh woke me up at 1:30 AM. Josh is a film student as well, for those of you who don’t know, and in passing one day a few weeks ago he said how much he wanted to go to the Berlinale. I told him I was going and suggested he come. He bought his plane tickets almost immediately. Our flight was for 6:25AM at an airport an hour away from us, so we booked an EasyBus – a cheap mode of transportation to and from London airports, for 3AM, which would get us to the airport about 2 and a half hours before the flight left. I hadn’t traveled within Europe yet, so I wanted to make sure we had enough time to get where we had to go. We woke up at 1:30 because we had to take a night bus from Earl’s Court station at 2:07 (thank you TFL journey planner) that would take us to Baker street, where the EasyBus would pick us up.

We collected our things and went into the living room, where most of the flat was still up from the night. We grabbed our good ol Gregg’s sandwiches and left into the night where we walked down the street and up an alley to an Earl’s Court bus station. We waited there for about 15 minutes with two other guys who took turns ducking around the corner to probably do some blow until that N74 via Baker street lazed up to our stop. I was excited so I wasn’t quite as exhausted as I would come to be about a day later. We came to Baker street with about a half hour to spare until the bus came. It was cold out but I didn’t really care, it’s good to be early and I hate being late.

At 3AM our EasyBus rolled up and we got inside. It isn’t really a bus, more like a big van/shuttle type of thing. I tried falling asleep on the hour long ride but it was actually pretty uncomfortable and I was still sick. Oh yeah, I was sick. I woke up two days before feeling very sick to the point where I had to call in sick to work and book a doctor’s appointment. I was on antibiotics though and there was never a point in those past four days when I didn’t have tylenol in my body, so I was hoping I would get over it. But at this point I was still feeling kind of sick.

Stansted Airport is an economy airport that mainly serves the cheap airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair. It’s a pretty big place, regardless, and once we checked in with Ryanair we went to the main passenger terminal, which was like a mall and for 4AM, it was packed. There were a few things that stood out, like there were more pretty girls in this one place than I’d seen in once place for a long time. Weird, I guess. There was also this nice car in the middle with advertisements saying you could win it if you did something, like I see in malls sometimes. There was a middle aged woman, obviously affiliated with whatever company was sponsoring the car, standing next to it waiting for someone to inquire about the context. She was wearing a uniform and had more makeup on than I’d ever seen anyone wear. It was 4AM, I felt really bad for her. Josh and I found some seats and tried to sleep for an hour until our gate was announced. When it was, we took a shuttle to the gate and got in a long queue before we boarded the Ryanair jet.

Ryanair is actually a very nice airline. I’d never flown on a cheap economy plane that wasn’t a bigger brand before, but it was a nice experience. The flight was an hour and a half and I fell asleep for most of it. We landed on the outskirts of Berlin to a gray day at the tail end of a raining. I didn’t have any trouble getting past customs and Josh and I entered the terminal with ease. I expected more English in Germany. I don’t really know why, I guess, but there was very little English anywhere so it was all very confusing very fast. A few years ago I would have been panicking, being in a new place with no knowledge how to get to the city center in a country that doesn’t speak English. I wasn’t, though. For the most part I’ve gotten over that part about myself. You can always just ask someone and they’ll answer your questions in a second. It’s not really a big deal, I guess. Anyway, we asked someone at tourist booth and she gave us a subway map and told us to take the S45 train from the airport to a stop called Templehof, and then from there transfer to the underground (S means overground in Berlin) and ride it to another place. It was actually very simple, you just have to pay attention. We transferred our pounds to euros, went out to find the train platform and took the S45 to Templehof, which took about a 40 minutes. We followed the tourist person’s instructions and rode the underground from there a few stops up to the place she told us our hostel should be. We went above ground to look for it.

We were lost. We walked around for a few blocks but couldn’t find the street the hostel was supposed to be on anywhere. Luckily it was a really beautiful day out and while we were trying to find the place, we stumbled upon a very large square with two beautiful buildings in it that I think were museums. We found a bench and sat down – I was going to try and call the hostel. While we were siting, two deaf people came up to us and tried to get us to sign a petition or something and donate money. Who knows if they were actually deaf. We didn’t give them any money.

I discovered my phone didn’t work out of London and Josh discovered that he lost his phone somewhere in between the plane landing and sitting on the bench. We decided to go into a nearby Starbucks and ask the fine employees if they knew where our street was. Their English was broken and they were a little rude, but they gave us a map of all the different Starbucks locations across Berlin. It didn’t help. We supposedly had tickets for a film that morning that started at 9, so when we walked around a little bit more to no avail, we decided to get back on the subway and go to the place where the center of the Berlinale was to try and make the screening on time. We rode Das Free Subway to the Potsdamer Platz station.

It would take us about a day to become familiar with the radius of Berlin we would become close to, but at that moment we were totally lost. Strangers in a strange land, am I right? (ugh). We asked some fellow how to get to some mall that our online ticket receipt said was the place where we had to claim our physical tickets. He pointed us around the corner. Around the corner we were greeted by a huge building with an inexplicable giant mound of earth in front of it. We walked past the dirt and into the building, where the ticket place ought to have been. We were lost. The receipt said ground floor, so we got in an elevator with an old German man and went down to the ground floor, which turned out to be some weird industrial hallway that was “only for the crew,” as the German begrudgingly told us. We returned to the first floor with furrowed brows when suddenly we saw, out of the corners of our eyes, an elevated glass enclosure with a red Berlinale standard. We looked around for an entrance and found two doors leading up and around to the area.

The place we entered was a ticket office of some sorts, but there was also a sitting area where people were eating and talking. The room wasn’t big at all and there were only two small stands that had anything to do with the film festival. We approached one of the booths and asked the young woman behind it if this was the correct place to exchange our internet vouchers for tickets. Her English was broken as well but she managed to tell us that we had the wrong place and we had to go to a mall which, apparently, was just next door down a thin alleyway. We couldn’t miss it, she said. Well it turns out she was right. We went down the incredibly steep steps toward the dirt mound, hung a left and saw the alleyway clear as day, it being the day, and the mall was right to the left in a square just out of the alley. Red Berlinale bears were everywhere. The ticket area we wanted was a few steps into the mall and there was a large double line ahead of us. A television monitor propped above the ticket kiosks listed all the films playing over the ten days of the festival and if there were still tickets available to buy. The films on green weren’t sold out yet while the ones in red were. The yellow films we weren’t sure of, the language being German, but we came to a conclusion shortly.

Anyway there were two places to get tickets: this place right in front of us, and the internet ticket counter. Josh and I exchanged our receipts for physical tickets (beautiful, large pink tickets with a golden Berlinale bear on them) and then we waited in line to buy other tickets. We found out that the film we thought we had at 9 Josh got for 9 the next weekend by mistake, so we didn’t have anything to do until that evening. At that moment in time, we had tickets for Friday morning (the next day) at 9:30AM for a German film in competition called Jack, a film Saturday afternoon called ’71, also in competition, and a film that Saturday night called Two Men in Town, with Forrest Whitaker, also in competition. We wanted a film for Friday night, though, and we wanted to see if we could get tickets for The Grand Budapest Hotel. We looked at the monitor showing what films were available and, all of a sudden, when the days reset to the present day, Budapest changed its color from red (sold out) to yellow (what did yellow mean?!) We both freaked out. We were about ten people away from the booth and we were eager to ask what the yellow meant. The plan was to try for Budapest for that night and also to get tickets for a restored version of a film called Caravaggio for the following night. The line kept moving.

When it was our turn, Josh went up to the booth and frantically asked if we could buy tickets for Budapest. I didn’t hear the exchange, but once we bought Caravaggio, we huddled together and he told me that you can’t buy tickets for a film the same day the film is screening. What the yellow meant was that an hour before the screening, you could line up outside the box office of the theater the film was showing at to see if you could get any unclaimed tickets that people didn’t come to collect. There was usually a couple tickets available like this for every film. We made a new plan. Get out of here, find the hostel, drop our stuff off, get something to eat, and camp out where ever the film was showing for hours so ensure we could get tickets. We were excited: we might actually get to see the world premiere of this movie.

The mall where one could pick up tickets was situated in close proximity to the biggest theater of the Berlinale: The Berlinale Palast (located on Marlene-Dietrich Platz). We knew for a fact that the red carpet premiere of the Budapest was going to be here that night, and we walked out to see the theater and ask where one had to start lining up to get any extra tickets for that night. It was a grand venue replete with festival logos and statues. Outside there were already a lot of security guards and workers setting up barricades and girders and stuff like that. We asked a security guard where the line started for extra tickets but he didn’t know. We resolved to come back as soon as we dropped our stuff off and stick around until we found it.

With the whirwind excitement of getting tickets and soaking up the main center of the film festival behind us, we sobered down a little bit and adopted the problem of having no idea where our hostel was. We walked back the way we came and found a Ritz Carlton. We went in to seek out a concierge (two shit tired Americans with backpacks and hand luggage wandering into the Berlin Ritz Carlton – it was funny.) The concierge was actually extremely helpful and nice. I handed over my journal and pointed out the address of the hostel and he took out a map and drew some circles around landmarks to guide our way. He informed us that we could walk there and he even talked outside with us to point us in the right direction. We looked like the biggest tourists in the world trying to find this place, but when you’re in a situation where you have no idea where you are in a place whose street names look like they were written by someone having a stroke, it’s ok to look like a tourist. Our walking path took us past a giant formant hot air balloon, a lot of bears (Berlin is nuts about their bears) part of the Berlin wall and Checkpoint Charlie. After what felt like a long time (it was a beautiful day though, so it didn’t really matter) we found the hostel and checked in.

This was my first experience in a hostel and it actually really wasn’t that bad. Hostel’s have a connotation associated with them, but if you do a little research and find some good ones then it’ll make for a pretty nice experience. We were in a ten person mixed dorm with five bunk beds and lockers. Neither of us had locks, though, so we had to trust no one would steal our stuff the whole time we were there (no one did). We dumped our stuff, changed, and left almost immediately to find some place to get food. We retraced our steps and found a little German cafe that looked good so we went in. I got a brotwurst, a pretzel and this other dessert pretzel thing that wasn’t that good, though the other stuff was. It was cheap, too. We had a nice time sitting down to catch our breath and relax, but once we were done the mission of the day arose again and we ventured back to the mall to ask some Berlinale employees where the line would start for any extra tickets for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

After talking to two people and getting some confused looks, we found out something we didn’t expect then but should have, I suppose. There’s a red carpet premiere of the film, which has the filmmakers and cast in attendance, and then there was a public premiere that took place one hour after the red carpet premiere. The Wes Anderson/famous people premiere was at the Berlinale Palast at 6:30. The public premiere, the one that we wanted (no one could get into the red carpet premiere), was at 7:30 at a place called the Friedrichstadt Palast. By then it was around 3 o’clock, so we had a lot of time to get over there and get in line. We asked where the heck this other palast was and promptly left to go find it underground.

The Friedrichstadt Palast is located just a short distance away off of the Oranienburger Tor U-Bahn stop. From the outside it looks like a grand palace and, I mean, it is. The box office for this particular theater was right next to it, tucked away in the palace’s shadow. It’s a very small box of a place and the area outside looked deserted save for two people waiting outside, not really on any kind of line. We asked if they were and they said yes, but there aren’t any tickets left. I was both relieved and worried. Relieved because if this was the line, we were exceptionally early for it and might be able to get tickets. Worried because I guess I didn’t understand what he meant by “there’s no tickets left.” I knew that, but maybe he was referring to another set of tickets. We went in to find out.
The lady behind the glass was very nice and told us that yes, this was where one could start to queue up for extra tickets but that she didn’t have any. We asked what the chances were that there would be any extra tickets at all, and, like music, she said that there’s normally anywhere from 10-40 extra tickets for a film like this. I asked if there was a minimum she could expect and she said she didn’t know. We left the box office and regrouped outside. We decided to leave and get some food for just a few minutes and then come back and spend the afternoon online. When we came back, the two people had moved inside the box office and we found them seated at a little bench to the side of the room. We joined them. Josh and I were number three and four in line. Josh was sure that we’d get tickets but I still thought it was a little too good to be true, although I guess we did everything right. It was just such a momentous thing to be so close to, I guess I didn’t believe it. We sat down against the wall and tried to sleep. It was 4 o’clock. Whatever tickets that might be coming would be there at 6:30 – one hour before the screening.

Josh fell asleep almost immediately, but I couldn’t. I was nervous. As we sat, waiting, more and more people kept coming in and approaching the glass, asking about The Grand Budapest Hotel. Some people left after hearing what the woman had to say, but some stayed to wait with us. I started to get nervous because those that did decide to wait started taking seats ahead of us on the bench. I was nervous that once it came time to line up for tickets, they would transfer their spot ahead of us to the line and we would go from numbers 3 and 4 to 15 or 16. This kept going on for about two hours. I went up to the box office a couple of times and politely voiced my concerns, but the woman reassured me that she’s never seen such a thing happen and people are usually polite when it was time to line up.

It came to be about 6:15 and there was about 20 people in the place when we started to line up. Sure enough, the people who were ahead of us went behind as we sorted out who got there first. From one of my talks with the box office lady, I found out that there were indeed tickets on the way. How much, she didn’t know. But at least they were coming. We waited in line and talked about movies for about 15 minutes until I saw the woman behind the glass pick up a phone. The line started to move. We started to move. Now we didn’t know how many tickets were going to be available. For all we know they only got maybe five or ten. So my intense excitement temporarily gave way to nervousness when the first person in line asked for four tickets – and got them. I guess I hadn’t considered the fact that the three people in front of us could ask for multiple tickets each, to buy for friends or something. We got up to the box office window and there was this dormant franticness in me, if that make sense, and I asked for two tickets for The Grand Budapest Hotel. I had this sense of being on the edge of something. I was holding my breath, I think, and I was watching the woman behind the glass to see if I could notice any kind of physical tell that she had run out of tickets before she had a chance to tell me. Even now as I write this two weeks later, I don’t look back on this anxiety and think it was silly or overly dramatized. It could be seen as that and people can think that if they want. But this was important to me and this is my thing. It was special and momentous. We got the two big pink tickets for cheaper than we thought they’d be and I was happy. Really, really happy.

One important thing to know about the tickets we got. After that night, Josh and I saw four other films in the Berlinale program, and all four of those films – three of which were in competition – didn’t have assigned seating. When you arrived at the theater, it was first come, first served for the best seats. For The Grand Budapest Hotel, you had an assigned seat. We didn’t even think about what kind of seats we were going to have because we were just so unbelievably beside ourselves that we got tickets in the first place. The Friedrichstadt Palast is a great big theater, and we could have potentially had the worst seats in house but we didn’t care.

We had an hour and 15 minutes to kill before the movie started, so Josh and I ran across the street to grab some quick dinner. We walked out of the box office past a huge queue of people trying to get tickets and down the short steps onto the sidewalk in front of the Palast, where a red carpet lay in between barricades underneath theatrical lights. People were starting mull around and occupy the space. We crossed the street and spied a little cafe type place on the corner opposite the theater and went in. Josh got some meat kind of thing and I just a waffle desert thing, which was incredible and actually very filling. We ate excitedly and couldn’t believe we were apart of the night outside.

We crossed the street and got on queue to enter the theater. The name of the palace was lit up above us and we inched slowly toward the door. The ushers nodded at our tickets and directed us up the nearby stairs. The inside of the Friedrichstadt Palast is massive. I mean, it’s a palace. There’s two bars on either side of the first floor room, and a grand staircase leads you up to the second floor, which is another great, open floor with tables lining the railings that look over down into the first floor. When we got up to the second floor, we had our first hint at what was to come. When you reach the top of the stairs, you turn right and there’s a door leading into the theater. Past that door to the right is a long corridor that leads to two other sets of doors, also leading into the theater. There was a line to get into the first set of doors, right off of the stairs. There was a velvet rope next to this line, making it seem like you weren’t allowed to go further to the other sets of entry ways. There was a smartly dressed woman standing outside of the middle entryway, past the velvet rope, and we recognized the letters above the doorway she was outside of as the ones we were supposed to go through for our seats. We ducked under the rope and went to try and go in. The woman said that these particular doors don’t open for another ten minutes. There were several small tables to the opposite of these doors, so we went to sit down and collect ourselves. We observed the line to get into the other doors and noticed that, on our side of the rope, there was no one there, just us. We started to get the feeling that we might have stumbled upon two great tickets. The advance tickets that we got and were in line for are just tickets that people bought and never claimed, so it was possible that they were actually good seats. Why someone wouldn’t come get their tickets in time is beyond me. We dwelled on this for a few minutes before going to the bathroom. When we came back, we went and tried to get through the doors. There was still no one on our side of the rope, but the woman looked at our tickets, opened the door, and extended her arms through the entryway into the theater. We couldn’t believe what we saw.

The door we walked through was the door to the floor of the palace. There were probably about 50 rows of seats in this place, going all the way from the first row, about five feet from the stage (apparently this place has the biggest theater stage in the world, if I remember that right), curving up higher to the top. The seats were divided into several sections: the first 15 rows, then a walkway, then the next 20 or so, then another pathway, then more seats, etc. The big line of people at the first set of doors outside came into the theater more towards the top, but as we walked down the floor of the theater it became more and more clear that we had come across, by absolute chance, a great pair of tickets. We followed the letters on the hand rests and kept walking down to finally stop at the first row of the second section of seats. Josh and I kept saying ‘oh my God’ and when we found where our seats were we looked at each other in kind of amazement. I’m not being biased and I’m not trying to exaggerate this story when I say that our seats were the absolute best seats in the house. They were right in the middle of the second section of seats, so we were very close to the screen but had the leg room of being right in front of the walkway. Once the movie started, we wouldn’t have anyone’s heads in front of us to distract us. It was incredible.

By this time it was about 20 minutes until the movie was supposed to start, so we just chilled out and soaked up the moment. We were really besides ourselves. Now, because this was the world premiere, our showing had the added bonus of having the red carpet event (that took place at the Berlinale Palast less than an hour before we took our seats) streamed before the movie. Just before the ceremony was going to begin, a man in a tuxedo got up on stage to introduce it and the movie. At the end of the introduction, he mentioned to all of us in the audience that there was a small chance we would be getting some “visitors” at the end of the film. This obviously meant Wes and or some other people from the cast. While this was obviously tremendous and insane news to hear, I honestly wasn’t all that surprised to hear it. Wes and the others were just about ten minutes away anyway, and this was the world public premiere of his new film. If I were a director and I was in that position, I would totally come over and say hi and enjoy the film. But there was no time to dwell on that. The lights dimmed and the opening ceremony began. We were taken on screen to the Berlinale Palast, were we saw Wes Anderson and the cast of the film seated, watching the host do her thing. It was neat. It was a nice thing to see and cool because we knew that all those people in that theater were still there at that moment, watching the film we were about to see.

What we didn’t expect was to be watching this opening ceremony for an hour and 20 minutes. It was treated like the Golden Globes or something. The host had a long speech and she was funny, but then she went up in the crowd and talked to a lot of people, and still that was fun to watch. She approached Bill Murray and said that she saw him drinking something earlier and asked what it was. “It was clear and it was painless,” he replied in that dry, sardonic, yet harmlessly endearing way he speaks. But then she went on about German politics and there was a band that played two sets and it was like, come on man we just want to watch the movie. Anyway, it finally ended an the whole audience was, I think, a little annoyed because I don’t think anyone imagined it would be that long. We squirmed around and started talking and the whole theater was whispering to each other and started to anticipate the movie, when all of a sudden a man came running on the stage from stage left. It took me a second, but all of a sudden I recognized him as that man I saw in the opening ceremony – the president of the Berlinale. That’s pretty cool, he was just on the s- OH MY GOD WES ANDERSON IS 30 FEET IN FRONT OF ME AND BILL MURRAY IS BEHIND HIM. Wes came running out like an excited kid, waving at us and smiling, and Bill Murray trotted after him with a similar expression. The crowd went insane and I was in a state of shock and awe. The man is a hero of mine, it was surreal.

Bill Murray did all the talking, more or less. Bill Murray said that through the miracle of television, they were there, and through the miracle of cinema, were about to see the best film that this man has ever made, referring of course to Wes. Wes was embarrassed, I think. For such a damn great filmmaker he’s a very humble man. It’s really interesting, because I think when you watch interviews with Bill Murray or see him in ceremony settings, like the one we had just seen, he appears to be kind of stoic, emotionless and a little detached and maybe lethargic. But when he was up on that stage in front of all of us, he was so lively and cool and funny. You could really feel his energy and the whole crowd was with him. Afterward, Josh said that man, he really knows how to handle a crowd. And he does. He’s a comedian and great actor and I think that’s what he thrives on. It was very telling of him, and I loved that I got to see it. Wes talked for a little while and said how much he hoped we all enjoyed the film. He’s such a great guy. Right before they left, Bill Murray mentioned that he knew we all wanted to watch the movie, so he looked up ahead of us to the projection booth and said “Mr. Projectionist, [German word I don’t know], baby.” It was so cool and funny and after than we went nuts and they ran off smiling off stage. It was really like they were two excited kids, eager to share what they made and happy to to see us happy. Man it was so cool.

We were elated and vibrating from the rush when the lights went down and the film began. I won’t give a proper review of the film, because that’s not what the blog is about. But I will say that I loved it to death and I think it’s his best film yet and it’s one of the movies that you watch and it just takes over your whole body because not only is it so damn good, but you’re just proud to be a living person because the man that made it is also a living person and it makes you happy that people can make such great things. It’s one of those. Go see it. It’s incredible.

We were still reeling from the experience when we left the theater and stepped out into the Berlin night. We talked about the film as we walked to Das Free Subway and kept on marveling over it as we rode back to Checkpoint Charlie, which was the closest stop to our hostel. We walked up and down the streets, looking for a pub or a beer garden to go to but we couldn’t find any. I think we were just in a bad place in Berlin to do that sort of thing. We continued walking a ways down one quiet stretch of road until we saw a convenience store in the distance. We walked in and got some beer and drank it on the way back to the hostel. There are no open container laws in Berlin.

To be continued in Part Two