This post was contributed by Lynn Chen.
Too many times have I bought an overpriced entrance ticket to spend just 5 minutes on a viewing platform taking a picture-perfect Instagram, blankly staring through my iPhone. Too many times have I shrugged off opportunities to hang out with cool new people while travelling.
Half-way through solo-travelling in Europe, I was no longer excited when the bus arrived in a new city or while I was walking down the boujee glamour of famous fashion capitals. Don’t get me wrong, everything was incredibly pretty. But because the experience was only shared with myself and my thoughts, they often sank to the bottom of my mind, almost half-forgotten.
It was different with Berlin. Even getting to Berlin was a not-so-picture-perfect process of delayed flights, trying to catch my connecting flight in 30 minutes and walking in circles around Alexanderplatz, trying to find the correct metro line to my hostel. The butterfly effect from all the manic and panic I had in Berlin lead me to have one of my most cherished memories of my trip.
It was my first full day in Berlin. By four in the afternoon, I was drenched from the rain, and the only attraction I visited was the Brandenburg Gate. That night when I walked into the kitchen to eat my dinner, I was met with a lively room and a dining table all full except for one seat. Usually the introverted side of me would shy away and find an empty corner, but something pulled me to join the chatter of the table. And thank god, I did. I ended up making some cool friends (ironically over the friendship-breaking game of monopoly, Berlin edition!) and it snowballed into a full-blown friendship group the next day. I didn’t get any photos to post on Instagram but gained something more valuable than that.
I tossed out the need to visit any tourist attraction and went with the flow. The first stop with my friends was the Museum für Naturkunde (the Natural History Museum). While a natural history museum is usually my idea of boring, I don’t think that any part of that visit was dull. We joked around while standing in a 30-minute queue to the museum entrance, gawked at the huge skeleton of “Tristan” the T-Rex, and were mildly-disgusted (yet very interested) at the jars of preserved animals in the Wet Collection. Then, trying to get to the famous flea market at Mauerpark, we laughed as we took the wrong tram and as one of our friends was slowly getting grumpy from the cold. Even with only a couple of euro notes in my pocket, all these “troubles” made my time in Berlin precious.
The drizzly and chilly weather of Berlin meant that we stayed inside more than often and so, many of my treasured moments were spent lounging on the couch in the common room of the hostel. Somehow, all of the friends I made were musically gifted and while having a couple of Berliner Kindls, I listened to their angelic voices sing acoustic renditions of some old classics. I distinctly remember them singing Dreams by the Cranberries, a song I had discovered from my Spotify Weekly sitting in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on my way to Berlin (talk about coincidence!).
The sad inevitable part of any trip is leaving. On the day I left Berlin, I was devastated to be leaving when I had just got to know my friends. But it meant that I truly felt happiness. The truth is (at least for me) solo travelling can get real lonely. It’s hard not to feel lonely eating a 3€ hostel breakfast in a new city without friends. It is even harder to visit a whole new city without someone to experience it with and hear your thoughts. In the cold and rainy weather of Berlin, I learned that happiness is meant to be shared.
To fall for people, and not tourist traps.
Meet Lynn: Lynn is a not-so-average, twenty-year old Aussie. Although she’s currently living in Sydney to study creative writing, she dreams of moving abroad to a country with cold, moody weather. Keep up with me on IG.