The Berlin Pub Crawl Experience

by Ekua on June 5, 2012 in Germany

As we approached Berlin, I was happy to see that the city was welcoming me back with abundant sunshine. From the train station, I made my way to a hostel on a quiet street in the Mitte neighborhood where I’d booked a bed earlier in my trip. I’d have preferred to stay in a more happening part of town, but plan-as-you-go travelers like myself quickly realize that spontaneity can limit your options in Berlin’s high season. As I checked into the somewhat sterile hostel, I was unaware of what awaited me in my room — a celebration in the form of two Australian travelers.

On my train ride, I’d imagined that I would take advantage of a quiet hostel and get a lot of rest after some late nights of talking and laughing with lively fellow hostelers in Prague. But not long after walking into the dorm room, my new Australian roommates made it clear that they didn’t think that was a viable option. They convinced me that I needed to throw my backpack down, get changed, and join them for a pub crawl in an hour.

I was keen on exploring Berlin’s nightlife during my trip, but I hadn’t planned on doing so via a massive Euro-backpacker pub crawl. But here was a good opportunity to exercise spontaneity, so I went. Good times were had by all and despite being in a ridiculously large group of tourists, it was a decent introduction to the illustrious Berlin nightlife scene. Here is a stop by stop overview of the night:

Stop 1 – A Sundowner at the “Beach”

We met up with the rest of the group at a spot along the Spree River. On nice day like that, the sun-hungry Berliners treat that particular area near Hackescher Markt as if it’s a beach. Locals were lounging in reclined chairs with drinks in hand while enjoying the river view. We made our way through a huge crowd to check in and get a complimentary beer to enjoy as the sun went down. Before moving on, the guides gave an overview of the night as well as a few tips for staying out of trouble.

Stop 2 – Where Strangers Become Best Friends

This was a typical watering hole, but what made it fun was that being indoors helped get everyone mingling with people beyond those they came with. The loudest and craziest person in the room was a fellow American. I was not surprised. He took an immediate liking to me after my Australian roommates told him I was from California. I decided to humor him by engaging an animated discussion on the States. We had a lot of laughs here before moving on to the next stop.

Stop 3 – The Clubby-Club

This club attempted a “high end” atmosphere which seemed out of place in Berlin. Unfortunately, the pretentious vibe limited the fun. What this place did have to offer were the cleanest bathrooms along the crawl. Everyone had the same idea, so this stop largely consisted of waiting in line and chatting with others in the queue.

Stop 4 – No Parking on the Dance Floor

Our second to last establishment was a more casual club. This was undoubtedly the best stop of night. Inside, it felt like a brick walled cave with plenty of space to dance. The DJ’s setlist was the kind of bad but good Top 40 stuff of dancing dreams. The Australians and I took to the dance floor along with some new friends we’d met at the previous stop until we heard the call to leave and reluctantly moved on to the last destination.

Stop 5 – The Mega Club

The last stop was the Matrix, the only name I remember because it’s a popular end point for pub crawls. It was the type of gigantic clubbing venue that I’d imagined before I arrived in Berlin. I hear there are better comparable spots in Berlin, but I was intrigued by it because it’s rare to find massive warehouse clubs like that in San Francisco. In a lowbrow sort of way, there’s something poetic about a huge dimly lit space filled with the masses united over beats and movement.  We danced until tiredness set in and we all agreed that it was time to leave. I was glad I’d stuck with the Australians the whole night, because looking around as we left, I didn’t see a single person from the tour. With an enjoyable night behind us, we made our way back to the hostel in the wee hours of the morning.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan Look, Jr. June 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Will be traveling through northern Europe on my way to Thailand this summer. Looks like I may have to make a detour to Berlin too!

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Ekua June 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I think Berlin is definitely worth a visit. It’s an endlessly fascinating city, especially if you’re into history.

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Fly Girl June 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm

You really had an adventure by being spontaneous. It sounds like an interesting experience that would not have happened if you hadn’t stepped outside of your box. That said, I’m not sure I would have left my comfort zone for rowdy Australians!

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Ekua June 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Haha, these two were more lively than rowdy. At my previous hostel in Prague, I had a four bed dorm with 3 rowdy Australians… I barely saw them because they decided to explore Prague almost entirely by night and they slept while I was out doing stuff during the day. I can’t say I would have gone out with them. I use my discretion to hang out with people who seem fun but not too rowdy 😉

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Dani June 6, 2012 at 9:40 am

This sounds like a great way to get to know the city! Knowing that we’ll make a longer stop in Berlin at some point, I’ll put this on our list of things to do there 🙂

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Ekua June 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I believe at least one of you speaks German, so maybe you could get some local advice about cool spots to hit up instead of doing an organized tour! This was a really fun night, but I think Berlin rewards the more independent traveler as I later discovered on my trip 😛

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Natasha June 7, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Sounds like a fun way to party in Berlin! Why do Australians love pub crawls?! No idea, being an Aussie myself, I think we’re just lazy and like being taken from pub to pub. I’m going on a Monopoly board pub crawl in London next month!

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Ekua June 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Well, I think pub crawls can be a good place to start with experiencing nightlife or meeting fellow travelers in a new city… especially bigger ones. A Monopoly-themed pub crawl sounds like a fun idea! Curious to hear how that will be.

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