Ibiza: when the cracks begin to show

Like with most things in this modern age, there’s quite a gap between marketing and reality.

Ibiza is always advertised as the crazy party island where young people rave on the beach, get laid and enjoy the sun.

Yet, this photo for example…

A smiling beggar with a Defected Records fan and a million-dollar yacht…. We are the world, we are the children – as MJ once sang.

… is quite different from the pictures you see on Instagram.

If you look in the background, you’ll notice a yacht with sleek blue neon lighting on its sides. That yacht belongs to a Russian oligarch and cost him $300 million. Peanuts.

No time to dwell for bleach blonde girl though. An oblivious stroll through the whole scene with eager eyes set on the multiple bars ahead. I’m not blaming her. That is what we all came for.

Moments before that, an athletic bar tender had brought the drinks ordered by my friends and I to the table. She has the most amazing ass but her front two teeth noticeably protrude out of her mouth. Like a sexy rat. She was cool and told me she might visit and stay with me in my bed in London…if I pay her to. Anything for that butt, babe.

Top knotch out-call escort services from the Med right? Ibiza rocks.

But back to our dear old Defected lady:

“You’re asking me if I have a bit of cash for you?” I said, as I held my iphone up to take her picture. “A bigger smile and I say Yes.”

Making a scene in Berlin

 

Anything which would be considered abnormal in most other cities becomes the norm in Berlin. Over there, being ‘normal’ is considered weird. I fell in love with Berlin for its open mind, its young and dynamic working culture and of course, the nightlife.

Berlin’s districts can quite easily be divided up into different scenes:

Prenzlauer Berg is inundated with yuppies. Hipsters flock to Kreuzberg (Neukölln if you’re *really* hip). Charlottenburg hosts the elite. Punks and anarchists squat in Friedrichshain. Gays go partying in Schöneberg. Marzahn is the refuge for neo-nazis.

Everyone can find their home in Berlin. A place where you can be who you want and find yourself.

I heard that one of my friends’ cousin had recently moved to Berlin. I didn’t know him very well but we used to hang out on the beach when on holiday many years ago. After being nagged enough, he would reluctantly join us to play football. He was a typical French BCBG (Bon Chic Bon Genre), bourgeois, studious and maybe even a little shy. He had traditional catholic values and possibly a little aristocracy in his blood.

Since I had already been living in Berlin for a year, I thought it would be a nice idea to show him around some of the alternative places I had discovered, to try and ease him in to the Berlin lifestyle. Nothing too outrageous like the Berghain darkrooms (an account of what happens in there is far too graphic and risks spoiling the enjoyment of your stout). But maybe a dive bar where you can smoke cannabis inside (how daring) or an open-air electro party, often illegal, where some party goers take ecstasy (don’t tell mum).

A couple of months went by and we still hadn’t met up. Mostly my fault as I was busy with work, study and other social engagements. Soon after, a photo popped up on my Facebook feed in which he was tagged with one of my acquaintances from Berlin (who happens to be a member of the gay scene). What a small world I thought. And shot off a message to this acquaintance asking him how they knew each other.

His reply?

“How could I not? He’s the biggest queen in Schöneberg.”

The words of Stalin (probably shared with most dictators’) helped me to figure this one out. Seeing homosexuality as bourgeois decadence, he introduced laws making it a crime punishable by a prison sentence in the Soviet Union.

Stalin couldn’t have imagined the city of decadence Berlin is today. The crowning of Schöneberg’s ‘biggest queen’ may be the epitomy of everything the Russian dictator despised: a bourgeois reveling in the pleasures of a neighborhood dedicated to the celebration of being gay.

The Unwritten Rules of Conduct during a Year Abroad

Do not follow in our footsteps

We all know what a year abroad entails: little academic work and a hedonistic lifestyle. My attitude during my year abroad in Germany and in particular in the story that follows is therefore forgivable. Case closed.

It was the very end of the year to be precise, in July. All of my fellow Erasmus students had already left town and gone home to their respective countries. I had stayed a bit longer for a scheduled visit of friends from school. It was to be my year abroad closing weekend; a typical lads weekend with all the imaginable shenanigans.

On one of the nights, which was nearing its end, we decided to go to a strip club.

It was 5 A.M. The strip club had already closed.

Drunk as we were, we started knocking at the door and hammering on every surface of the strip club’s facade, looking – wastedly delusional – for a secret entrance.

This scene (five lads making a racket in an otherwise silent street) was interrupted by a window above the strip club opening, and a furious woman shouting down at us in German. In short: ‘You’ve woken me up, you idiots! Get the hell out of here!’

The five of us put a halt to our endeavours and looked up at her.

One of my friends, who is German, exchanged with her for at least five minutes and apologised thoroughly for our behaviour, trying to explain the reason for our noisy presence. It was not easy for him and her rage was hardly dissipating.

I decided to interrupt the ongoing dialogue. Maybe because I thought it was time to move things forward and find a plan B.

Catching the woman’s attention, I inquired calmly and thoughtfully (I may even have been scratching my chin): ‘Bist du eine Hure?’ (In English: ‘Are you a whore?’)

My German friend wilted, as he felt that his diplomacy had been obliterated by the four words I had just pronounced. My other friends, however, bursted out laughing.

The German lady did not metamorphose into a slutty Rapunzel, ready to let her long golden hair down for us to climb up and join her in her abode.

Nope, she amped up the volume of her shouting and threatened to call the police.

Hastily, we ran away.

Get the girl and the job in Lisbon

A moody Lisbon on Jan 1st: balmy air to soothe the hungover

Spending New Years in Lisbon was tempting. To flee the icy Northern temperatures with a good friend and to head out without a winter jacket on December 31st. It was also a great opportunity for me to take a break from the endless job hunt, the tedious process of writing cover letters and the applications to graduate schemes.

Fast forward three nights and we had spent the past 72 hours either drinking, eating or sleeping. (Actually, we walked around town a lot too.) But guess what? We’re doing it again!

We end up in a techno club at 4 a.m, quite intoxicated. I spot a girl by the wall, I go to say hi. Kissing ensues and intimacy grows.

‘Wanna chill at my hotel?’ I ask.

‘Yes’ she answers ‘but there’s something you should know: …. I’m a transsexual.’

And boom, that’s one I hadn’t checked off my bucket list (partly because it was never on it in the first place.)

I step back and feel the shock run through my body. But I repress that and act polite.

‘Ummm really!?’

Honestly – really? Well actually, her hands had felt quite big come to think of it.

‘Yes, I take hormones. I will have an operation soon.’

Oh, I see, the operation to remove the willy, right, of course.. *scratching chin* So I’ve spent a quarter of an hour snogging a girl who has a willy. Excelente!

‘Umm, this is very new to me… It was great to meet you, you are a really nice person. However, I’ll be heading off now.’

In the cab back to the hotel, it dawned on me: “Oh my, I accidentally landed on the lady-boy graduate scheme.”

The German Winter

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The beauty of Neuschwanstein under the snow.

Germany is about extremes. Painfully low temperatures in the winter and a crushing sun in the summer. How does an Englishman, used to soft grey skies, survive that?

Well, huddling in a bar is a good start. Until you realise that smoking is accepted in bars in certain regions of Germany. It is too cold to go outside to have a cigarette. Allowing people to smoke indoors is therefore logical right?

In my experience, having a drink in a bar where everyone smokes is enduring: prickly eyes, a sore throat and gasping lungs.

A room full of toxic fumes where people can’t breathe…now what does that remind me of?

I cough!

British humour: boozy journeys for all

London, December and Graduation. What a joyous time. All conditions united for a fantastic few days. The city was decorated from top to bottom with the bright and cheerful lights of the festive season. Each graduant had made their way from their part of the world back to the capital of England for the ceremony.

It must have been around 8pm on the day after we graduated. We’d hopped off the extremely packed streets of Piccadilly Circus and onto a bus. We were setting off for a big night, equipped with beer and wine stashed in our plastic Tesco bags. The trip to the southwest of the city is quite long after all. Having settled down in the few remaining empty seats at the top of the bus and taken off our winter jackets so as not to sweat, we cracked open our cans of Stella and savored the ice cold lager.

Fifty minutes later, we – my coursemates and I – had made it past the 22 stops that separated us from our destination and were about to get off the bus to go to Jaks, one of our favorite bars.

We stumbled down the steep staircase, descending from the top deck, with the last beer in our hand.

Stella?‘ a woman asked, smiling.

Yes!‘ I answered, brandishing the can as my eyes adjusted to her face and spotted her husband next to her.

Where are you going to now?‘ she inquired.

We’re getting off at the next stop to go to Jaks. How about yourselves?

Ah Jaks, nice place! We’re just looking for one more pub before heading home.

Oh, how many times have you said that tonight?‘ I asked with a smile.

You mean: how many times have we gone home tonight?‘ her husband grinned, making us all burst out of laughter.

After wishing them a merry Christmas, we jumped off the bus and continued the final part of our journey by foot. That dose of absurd and self-deprecating humour, which had ensued from the convivial spirit of a brief friendly encounter, had reminded us that we were indeed back in the United Kingdom.