Berlin was the last stop on mine and Joel’s workshop tour. I didn’t want to think about having to separate at the end of our time there, but it was coming up quick. We took a bus from Amsterdam to Berlin, which took about 10 hours and reminded us what it really means to be cramped and bored. (At least we had free wifi.)
We arrived in Berlin late in the afternoon, and we immediately set to finding our hostel for the night. After a slightly failed attempt to figure out the Berlin metro system, we arrived at the bar that was supposedly also our hostel. I was a little nervous, as the bar was crowded and loud and full of drunk people, and I just wanted to sleep. However, Joel had gotten us a private room, and when we arrived at our room, I was amazed at what we found. It was probably the cleanest room we had stayed in thus far, with a private bathroom, windows looking out onto the courtyard, and clean, fresh sheets in both beds. I immediately showered (what felt like the most wonderful shower of my life after that bus ride) and went to sleep.
The next day was the workshop. We were meeting in a park called Grunewald Forest, at the very last metro stop in Berlin, which had been made into a memorial park since World War II. During the war, Grunewald was the last metro station in Berlin that the Jews would see before they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Theresienstadt concentration camps. Knowing this, it put a much more solemn feeling around the rest of the day.
Our workshop group that day was smaller than the others, with only a couple of students and some friends visiting from Ireland–one to serve as our model. The other two girls had traveled to Berlin all the way from Norway and Lithuania. Though our group was small, it allowed us a chance to get comfortable with one another and enjoy shooting throughout the afternoon in the beautiful forest of Grunewald.
The light was so gorgeous and dappled everywhere, so I couldn’t resist taking photos of my lovely Irish friend, Erica.
I think she looks like a 20’s movie star in this photo! So so pretty.
We finished off the shooting portion of the workshop, and then we headed back to the station, where we would go back into the city for the editing part.
Berlin seemed to be known for its incredible street art, with amazing paintings covering the walls everywhere we looked. I had to snap a few photos of the walls as we walked to our next stop.
We (or Joel, let’s be honest) taught in an old warehouse building with gorgeous window light, and we had a really great discussion about photography, self-promotion, media presence, art theft protection, and much more. It was a great way to end our last workshop, and we felt really good about everything that had transpired during our workshops as a whole.
Finally it was time for Joel and I to part ways. He was heading back to England, and I had plans to stay a couple more days in Berlin, and then venture solo to France to meet up with my friend Brooke. I wasn’t ready to head back to the US yet, but this would be the first time I was traveling in Europe by myself, and I was a little bit nervous.
I knew saying goodbye to my best friend was going to be really hard, and I didn’t want to think about it until the time came to actually part ways. We ventured into the Berlin city center and waited for Joel’s bus to take him to the airport, and I tried to pretend I wasn’t holding back tears. Though we’d only spent a few weeks traveling together in Europe, it felt like a lifetime with the memories we’d made along the way, and taking into account the combined years we had known each other before then. We’d travelled to some awesome places together–Vancouver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Oregon, Canada again, and now Europe. We hugged each other tightly, vowed we’d see each other again soon, and I put him on his bus with a heavy heart.
It wasn’t until I got back to my Airbnb (and a text from Joel that said “Okay come back now”) that it really hit me. I was doing this traveling thing alone now, at least for the next week and a half, and I missed my friend so badly I cried. I wasn’t worried so much about getting around, because I knew how traveling worked–I knew how to catch buses and board planes and find my way around new cities on my own–but I didn’t necessarily want to do it alone. It was so nice and comforting to have someone else to travel alongside me, to share in the experiences, and talk about everything with. I settled into my airbnb for the night and got some sleep, hoping I would feel a little better in the morning.
Luckily, the sun rose and my spirits were high once again. The window light in my room was gorgeous and I couldn’t resist taking some self portraits with all the white before I left for the day.
I had made plans to meet up with some photographer friends in Berlin and explore the city with them that day, and I was so excited to meet some people I had looked up to for so long! Most of the these friends I had met on Flickr years and years ago, and we had kept in touch online ever since. Since they were living in Germany and I in the states, we had never had the chance to meet in person until then, but I was determined to bring us all together this day. And as luck would have it, it began to rain–hard. I thought our plans for the day were ruined, and I met up with my friend Rona at a cute coffee shop in town, soaked from head to foot by the rain. We chatted together for a while until more of our friends showed up, and finally the skies outside began to clear.
We headed into the city to visit the flea market, one of the most popular places in the city on a Sunday. The rain had flooded many of the stalls, but there was still plenty to see and trinkets to buy. I got a 3 euro dress, a small bag, and a really pretty ring.
Erica (<–Click on the links under my friend’s photos to check out their work!)
Once everyone was together, including our friend Moritz, we took group photos in the photoautomat machine! It was such a perfect way to capture the memories of that day, and I felt like I had known these friends forever.
Our group parted ways after we grabbed a lunch of doner kebabs and felafels, and I spent the rest of the evening exploring with Rona and Regina. These two girls were so sweet to me, and we talked about everything as they showed me more of their beautiful city.
Our last stop before we parted ways was to the last remaining part of the Berlin Wall. It has been converted into a gallery for street artists to decorate over the past several years, and it was a beautiful symbolization of the fact that even something ugly can be turned into something beautiful when there is love and peace in people’s hearts.
This was my favorite piece that I saw that day 🙂
Berlin was a place I will never forget, and I had such an amazing experience there with old and new friends. I can’t believe how loving and kind my German friends were, and I felt like I truly belonged.
The next day I would get on a bus and head to France–the last country on my European adventure. I was excited and nervous and every emotion in between, and I couldn’t wait to explore the French countryside and see Paris again.
Keep an eye out for my next (and last) blog post; Viva la France!