The sun shined through my blinds and the birds sang in chorus as I emerged from my pit at a devastating 7am. Distant memories of the night before involved a final shift at work, a few too many bevvies and a joint that finished me off. The taxi ride home remains hazy but I can remember a co-worker telling me not to fall asleep and the taxi driver congratulating me for making it through the journey.
On any other day I would slither back under the covers, but alas today was the day that 3 months of working two full time jobs finally became worth it. Throwing whatever clothes I could find into my suitcase, it soon became apparently that a single hand luggage bag wasn’t necessarily enough for 16 days in Europe. My friends Liv and Abi shortly arrived and we made our way to the airport for our first flight.
Arriving in Barcelona that evening, we began our struggle to find the hostel. After an hour of walking from block to block searching for a Metro station/our hostel/someone who could speak English, we somehow arrived at Hostel Layetana. Being sceptical about the lift which resembled something out of Titanic, I decided lugging myself and my suitcase up the 60 steps to the lobby. This was obviously a bad idea as I am incredibly unfit and needed a time out between floors with plenty of water breaks.
Using my last remaining breaths to slither up to the desk, we then had to stand and watch the receptionist as he recounted our money over and over again before accepting that we were right. As I watched him recount the money, resulting in a different number each time, I felt my hand tremble on the desk as I resisted the urge to bitch slap him, take the keys and lock myself in the room. It took 7 attempts for him to count the money, before handing us the key and leading the way to our palace. Waiting for us at the end of the corridor was our home for the next week, a single room with 3 camp beds, a wardrobe and a sink. Although we had low expectations initially, the blow of encountering what we had paid to sleep in almost knocked me off the balcony. It was hard to engage in a conversation within the room as the traffic was that loud, we had no safe, we only had warm water in the sink, we had a total of 2 plug sockets in the entire room and we struggled to share 4 hangers between the 3 of us. This was ok though, we can deal with this. Atleast we had a lovely canvas of a flower hanging above the crisp off-yellow sheets on our beds. Opening the doors onto our balcony, a patio area big enough for one person to stand on, you can only imagine how I felt as my heart violently fell from the 6th floor and painted the street once I noticed the 5* hotel directly opposite.
Moral was even lower after discovering the wifi didn’t work in our room, forcing us to venture into the living room and congregate with other guests. The day couldn’t have got any worse, we decided to cut our losses and get an early night in preparation for Picnik Electronik in the morning. About to call it a night, a voice appeared from the darkness and here we saw a rare novelty in England… an Aussie. We joined him, his brother and their friend in their room which was admittedly a lot worse than ours, with 3 litres of vodka and the aim to see how hammered you could get. On a whim, we bought tickets on Resident Advisor for the FACT pool party at L’Atlantida with Reboot and Ten Walls merely minutes before it started. By the time we made it out, I was far too gone to realise we had also brought along the hostel receptionist with us. I lasted an hour before returning home, waking up on the other side of the building with an Amnesia Ibiza cup in my hand. Making it back to my room, I was met by a collection of bodies and an A4 makeshift sign that had “If found, return me to Hostel Layetana” scribbled on it.
Whilst our Australian conspirators made a frantic rush to make their flight to Portugal, we lay in the sweaty remains of our room after turning down the offer to join. Picnik Electronik was a miss. Finally surfacing from the ruins of the previous night, we began to materialise some stammer and prepare ourselves for the Sunday night spent at Razzmatazz. RA claimed it was one of the best clubs in Barcelona, and a night of local techno talent seemed promising. We already knew it would be hard to outdo the previous 24 hours as the mixture of holiday excitement with spontaneous plans and hilarious company was impossible to forget. All of us knowing we should’ve got that flight to Portugal, we made it to Razzmatazz looking for a continuation of the night before.
Advanced tickets were taken off the RA website so we paid €20 on the door after being greeted by a drag queen and two dwarfs with whips. Having been told that Razzmatazz had up to 5 rooms going on at the same time, I was pretty disappointed to walk into a warehouse like building at 1am completely empty. We went to the smoking area to hide for an hour before giving it a second chance, finding an underground unisex toilet space with a DJ playing on the way. The slap of €9 per single vodka on a budget was softened when I realised a good 80% of my cup was pure alcohol. This however didn’t stop me from managing four before sitting in a corner trying to stop myself from falling asleep, after forcing my friends to come out when they didn’t want to; you can only imagine how annoyed they were that I wanted to go home. So what do I do, how do I sober up? The club has a vending machine on the fucking dancefloor. Liv read my options for a 3am sandwich which were cheese, cheese, cheese or cheese. After deliberating the wide variety of flavours, I chose cheese.
It was tuna mayo. I went for a second, instructing Liv to carefully read the packaging this time. My options this time were cheese, cheese, cheese or cheese. I chose cheese once again hoping for a classic cheddar on white bread, only to be faced with the disappointment of a second tuna mayo filling. I couldn’t bare the third blow of another tuna mayo sandwich so I took myself home, making the error of shouting “TAXAAAAAAAY” outside the club and being met by a group of Indian men whom all claimed to be taxi drivers. One took me by the arm and guided me round the block onto the next road, we walked for a while as he began to stroke my hair and whisper that the taxi was coming. Either the collective four slices of bread, tin of tuna and packet of crisps had soaked up some of the alcohol or my auto pilot had switched on, I realised what was going on and ran back to the club. By ran, I mean I power walked back (I am very good at power walking) to the club to find a real taxi that wouldn’t end in my corpse making the front page news.
I remember getting in a real taxi. I do not however remember getting to the hostel, speaking to the receptionist or making it up the 60 stairs. That afternoon I woke up fully clothed in my bed, only to be informed that some sort of adult party went on around me as I slept. If this wasn’t enough, I was also shown photos of myself innocently sleeping amidst the debauchery surrounding me.
The reality of overspending on the first two nights sunk in and we remembered that we had to do this thing called budgeting seeing as we had 3 more countries to experience before we returned home. I feel we got there at the wrong time really, for our week there the agenda on RA was limited and we didn’t see a better lineup than the first Saturday at L’Atlantida. If we had stayed the following week, we could have seen Luciano, Marco Carola, tINI, Loco Dice and M.A.N.D.Y during various trips to L’Atlantida, Nitsa, Razzmatazz and Elrow. We spent the rest of the week seeing a lot of Gaudi, eating a lot of tapas and walking everywhere before spending our last night at the rooftop bar of the Grand Central Hotel opposite us.
It became apparent during this week that I should definitely not pack stoned in future, as I filled my suitcase with a Gucci bag I was too scared to use, a book I was 10 pages from finishing, plus 3 pairs of sunglasses and 4 pairs of shoes I didn’t wear once. I did however get much use of out the only tshirt I packed. Louisa, for future reference all you need is basic tshirts and shorts, don’t kid yourself with a dress for every night of the week. The plan for the last night was to have a nice meal, have a nap then return to Razzmatazz for a second time. We returned to the hotel after dinner and didn’t wake up.
The flight to Venice was short and simple, we paid €6 for a bus that would take us to Mestre and the driver told us when to get off. Paying little attention to our surroundings, we found ourselves in no-man’s land. A deserted Italian village with nothing other than ice cream shops and a cafe. The hotel was nowhere in sight and on the rare occasion we saw a human being in the street, they either spoke Italian or Catalan and didn’t understand a thing we were saying. We found a woman in a cafe that directed us to the hotel with a concerning look on her face, which I didn’t understand until I saw our hotel much later. The receptionist resembled an underage Barbie doll and the language barrier was difficult to keep patient with, the hotel looked like it had been decorated by a housewife in the 1960s and hasn’t changed since. Sitting in our silent mint green room, we all agreed that hostels were definitely the way to go. My heart sank as we explored Mestre that night and found we were the only tourists in the entire village, we couldn’t sleep without the soothing lullaby of Barcelona traffic and it felt wrong to have the air conditioning on after a week of sleeping in sheer humidity. The only upside was that we finally had our own bathroom and didn’t have to share with 40 other backpackers who liked to soak the floor or hide the toilet roll. The hair dryer resembled an elephant’s trunk and average drying time for a chunk of hair was over 40 minutes.
Italy was the calm before the storm, we spent two nights in Mestre and a full day in Venice. It was too hot, too expensive and too much effort to actually get up and do things so we spent the majority of our time watching Italian MTV and eating Milka cakes. Time well spent.
Two days of isolation was enough and we embarked on our journey to Berlin with high hopes. As Liv was only staying with us for the first two nights whilst Abi and I were staying for five, we booked two hotels for the trip. The first being the Meininger hotel in Central (Hauptbahnhof station) gave us the impression that we’d be staying in the centre of Berlin. Couldn’t have been any more wrong. Berlin being a large city, has 12 districts rather than a main area. It took us a while to deceiver the difference between the S-Bahn and Underground trains, trying to figure out where to go and what to do.
We made the usual tourist rookie mistake of attempting Berghain. We knew we wouldn’t get in, but it was worth a try anyway. We left the hotel at 1am and got the train to Ostbahnhof and waited 2 hours in the queue outside. We wore black, we didn’t speak English, we didn’t draw attention to ourselves and I certainly didn’t make a noise when the arctic weather conditions started to make my legs quiver. The people we saw go in had shaved heads, platform boots and capes on in August. They all looked fucking morbid, pretentious and downright weird. We met an Italian guy called Pablo in the queue that moved to Berlin two months ago, he said he had only ever got in at stupid times like 11am on a Sunday morning or 4pm in the afternoon. He also said the last time he was in there he walked in on six lads having an orgy so maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t get in. We got a taxi to Watergate where we waited for another hour before being told by the girl on the door we were “too young”. She said we had to be 21, and that Abi could go in but Liv and I couldn’t. We are all 19 and born within six months of each other so that makes no sense whatsoever.
It was reaching 4am and I had done nothing but wait in the freezing cold and get fucked around by Germans. We were told to go to a club called Chalet round the corner, by this point I was more than happy to get a falafel and go home. I had already decided that I hated Berlin, I hated wankers and I hated myself for even bothering. A slice of pizza later and we had regained some energy, yet stone cold sober by this point. We found Chalet, a 150 year old mansion next door to a Shell garage in Kreuzberg and waited for another fucking hour in the cold. This time we met a guy from Brighton, his Swiss friend from university and their two French friends plus three Italian girls. We passed the time with exchanging the translation of swear words in different languages. It was incredibly cultural. We were told your odds of getting into a good club in Berlin are dramatically improved if you’re with someone that can actually speak German. Luckily for us one of the French guys was fluent and the 10 of us got into Chalet no problem.
I don’t know how to describe Chalet other than a cesspit in which the dregs of society come to congregate, it’s pretty incredible though. Ian Pooley had just started playing as we walked in, I paid a tenner to get in and the last set was starting at 8am. Five minutes in and I was already having one of the best experiences ever. The place is a fully kitted mansion with sofas, wallpaper, chandeliers and a piano; except they’ve shoved a bar, some decks and a load of fucked Germans in there. It didn’t matter that I was sober, I was having so much fun in here it became regardless. The party was still in full swing at 8am and packed from wall to wall, I poked my head outside to the garden to find a bonfire, another setup of decks, a treehouse and a horse and carriage. We sat below the apple tree trying to wake Liv up, when Abi bumped into a girl she had met earlier. She told us to forget about Berghain as we looked too clean for it, people get in when they’ve literally rolled out of bed at 9am and ridden their bikes there. Sitting there in a dress I’d previously wore twice in Barcelona plus passed out in with a black shirt we had all shared during the week and unwashed hair; I couldn’t be any less clean. The trains run 24 hours on a weekend so we called it a night at 9am and tried to find the nearest station. Sleep deprivation, hypothermia and alcohol meant we were all useless, blind and irritable. I didn’t want to leave, Liv wanted to sleep and Abi was floating around in a stolen jacket. We made it back for 10am, closed the curtains and slept. Or atleast, tried to. I was up at 12 ready to leg it back to Berghain in different clothes, attempting to wake the beasts in the bunk beds below me (10/10 to me for not falling out of the top bunk). Nobody wanted to get up so I spent the day sat watching the window in silence.
That night we went to Weekend Club, an open air rooftop party by Alexanderplatz. The Independent named this as one of the top 10 places to visit in Berlin so we thought we’d give it a go, the parties usually start from 6pm so we turned up at 12 thinking things would be in full swing. This however was wrong, and on colder nights they don’t start until midnight, which meant we were the first in there. Feeling unnecessarily embarrassed and catching onto the dejavu, we once again retreated to the smoking area until the place filled up. The rooftop terrace is gorgeous, covered in fairy lights with tall panels of glass protecting you from jumping off the 15th floor and green ivy growing up the walls it’s certainly not something you’d expect to see in England. We were sat at the bar inside when one of my friends pointed out a guy in the crowd and commented on how much like Tom Daley he looked. After watching him for a while and trying to figure out whether he was just another German or the real thing, he started to grope the lad next to him. Definitely Tom Daley. Abi and Liv went over and got a photo, I shuddered back into the shadows of the bar. When Tom Daley is in the same club as you, you know it’s time to leave.
Conducting a swift check of RA to see what else was on to find Chalet was open, it was time to move the party elsewhere. Having picked up more Australians once again, we made it back down to my favourite club and got involved with the 12pm-12am event they had going on. It was a lot more enjoyable this time and I seemed to have picked up an Australian firefighter who doubled up as my bodyguard meaning I could bust out the creepy salsa dance moves and not attract any unwanted attention. I also realised he was wearing a silver bodywarmer which made me die a little inside, this was as far as our friendship was going.
It approached 9am and with checkout of our hotel at 11am it seemed a reasonable time to retreat. Liv was leaving that afternoon to go home, whilst Abi and I would stay out in Berlin before going onto Amsterdam. We went back to the room where once again I would sit in bed and stare at the window for hours on end waiting for the others to wake up, Berlin had literally chewed me up and spat me out and I was loving every minute of it.
To be continued…
By Louisa Newton