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What’s to Like About Berlin in Quarantine?

By Allison Krupp . March 29, 2020

Greetings from the closing-in walls of my quarantine bedroom. Here we are, together but apart—in the greatest city in the world, a wide metropolis of closed bars, once-great clubs, shuttered cafes, and fenced-off parks. What a bummer, hey?

To begin this article, I suppose we have to dip into the reason we liked Berlin in the first place. For me personally—and I suspect many of you, since I’m really quite middle-of-the-road, your basic-Berlin-asshole—it was the freedom. Here, time had no general meaning, even outside the bounds of a pandemic. We drank and romped and screamed and kissed and laughed and lived loudly and wildly, wherever and whenever we wanted to—and we did it with cheap Sternburgs and slung-back shots and drugs in bathrooms. It’s all so delirious to think about, this very-recent past. I think I’m getting a contact high from my nostalgia.

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Regardless, now that we’re all stuck here sans our vices, it’s perhaps appropriate to discuss the things we can still get outta this city o’ sin. They’re our bright lights in the darkness, the last rolls of toilet paper on an empty shelf. Here are a few ideas.

Berliners are taking their lives and creativity online and forming unique friendships and connections.

So many people have offered up exchanges of skills (dancing lessons in exchange for language lessons, interior design tips in exchange for web design assistance) on the internet, it’s wild. And assuring. Did we even do stuff like that before this whole thing happened? Were we ever *there* for each other like this? 

Berlin musicians are still making music behind closed doors.

And finally, you have time to take it all in! Here’s our playlist of some of our favorite Berlin artists. Tell us if we missed someone(s) important.

Clubs are streaming DJ sets — because the spirit of Berlin cannot die.

Check out United We Stream for more information about streams and how to keep Berlin club culture afloat.

The 66 Lakes Trail

66 map

If you have a bike (why wouldn’t you have a bike) (unless it was stolen), sweep out of the city for the 66-Seen Wanderweg. It’s all stunning springtime lakes and thick forests, blissful fresh air: another whole world out there, never closed-off and always free. Check out more information here. 

You can finally do all that art you came to Berlin for.

Ha-ha, just kidding. We’re in a global pandemic, the world is burning, and Tiger King is on Netflix. Give yourself a break (unless you’ve got a wild drive to finally do the damn thing). 

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Everyone’s favorite romantic Berlin pastime – ghosting – just got a lot easier.

And after this is all over, a casual, “heeeyyy how r u ? that was crazy, right ?” is totally fine. These weeks—or months—whatever, don’t count for anything. Be an asshole. Be needy. Do whatever you need to do to get through.

Big wide empty beautiful streets.

Recently, I went on a walk at 7 a.m. through a sunny people-less Kreuzberg. While I obviously believe that the “people in this city make it magical” blah blah, it really was its own brand of strange/beautiful to see these places sans their normal streams of weirdos. I want the other version back, ASAP, obviously, but. It’s like peering into another dimension.

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Photo: Yu Siang Teo

Our Gods, the Spätimen

On the front lines are the Spätimen, still manning their registers and selling us bb wines and glowing golden beers and sad-person candy. You know that feeling when you go on “vacation” and you realize a lot of the rest of the world don’t have Spätis? Think of that and thank them every time you enter. Which, listen, if you want to protect them – make sure it’s really not so, so much.

Despite our “individualism,” we’re still willing to work together to beat this.

To be honest, I thought Berlin would be amok with rule-breakers. While, sure, you see the occasional imbecile, I’m actually mesmerized with the capability of this city to play by the rules to keep us all healthy. It’s certainly not the first time Berlin’s been through hard times. Rumor has it we might just beat this.

Stay healthy. Wash your hands. Stay in quarantine. Berlin is still out there, she’s beautiful, and she’s waiting for us to get better. So let’s do it. 

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