Terrae Nullius Streets


And, like that, we departed Orly Airport, and embarked across the border to Berlin. There was a peaceful moment, as the sun rose over the horizon in the sky, above Europe somewhere. The orange, and pink hues dimly lit and shone through the window across the aisle to my right. I sat peering out at the wonderful sight, and felt peace amongst all the craziness that had been the last 72 hours.

Trawling through the streets of Paris, and getting lost in perhaps the most beautiful city I had ever seen. Searching out bars, and cafés that didn’t charge seventeen euro for a cheeseburger, or 9 euro for a Pint of Guinness. Sitting through the 6pm service at the Notre Dame, and eyeing Police officers as they smiled and joked with heavy artillery in hand. Peace is what I felt, up in the sky at 7:30 in the AM, aboard a budget aircraft with surprisingly ample foot-room. Those pink hues are what sealed it all, lighting up my travel acquaintances faces as they tried to catch up on sleep.

We landed, and attempted to catch a cab. But, were refused by three drivers due to our large luggage. After eventually securing a driver, we rode through the cold streets. There’s not a lot I can say about the edges of Berlin, other than that it looked frozen over, and there was an abundance of houses that resembled the viral “mini-houses” manufacturer. There was snow, some new, and some old all along the side of the road. And, the few woodland areas we drove through still had white dusting across the dead leafless branches.

We had accommodation not far out of the city, but, like any location you are not familiar with, its suburban nature drove fear into us. We were unsure of how long we would have to commute each day, to get amongst the reputable “vibrant” life of the city. This reputation of a must see, vibrant, never sleeping, artistic city was the main driver in our decision to visit. It also, rendered us completely astonished, and confused after just a few hours walking the streets. We were layered up, and looking for some action, looking for some life, and were granted barren desolate city stretches.

We walked down main avenues in the centre of the city, which resembled ghost towns. At times, being the only visible pedestrians for hundreds of metres. The cold chilled our bones; perhaps, the minus six temperature played a part in the empty streets. Back home, relatives and friends endured forty-five-degree heat, and here we were strolling down empty pavements with icicles hanging from our eyelashes. Just to catch a glimpse of the city’s unmissable liveliness. It didn’t take long for the cold to drive us indoors, retreating to a mildly busy Currywurst restaurant, adjacent to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. An eerie, and worthwhile visit for any tourist to the city, which we were forced to call short, due to our frostbitten extremities.

The answer to the cold of Berlin, lied in a litre of beer, and classic German food. Whether it be a pork knuckle, schnitzel, or, one of the many styles of sausage; if you were cold, and felt like you might freeze over at any minute… You could surely find yourself a large beer, and a solid feast.

At this point in the narrative, I am left unsure what details to focus on… Should I mull over the antics that drinking four litres of beer led to? Bailing out of a German Beer Hall, gut filled with larger, and food, and being hit so hard by the cold that I longed for a cigarette desperately to warm my insides. And, somehow, successfully bumming three in three minutes, and smoking them instantly – despite never in my life being a tobacco smoker. Or, how I found myself later in the evening sitting in a Gay bar, with four undeniably gorgeous twenty something senoritas from Spain, with chemical engineering degrees… Discussing the Spanish Civil War, and Australia’s once declared status of terra nullius, and the consequential historical fallout that followed. A bizarre night indeed, but, what else are you to do when it’s so cold outside, you can’t focus on anything other than finding your next point of refuge…