Race to Berlin

Cruising with doors open wide, blaring carbs open speed wind in our hair, Our Puerto Rican hitchhiker blazing with the setting sun behind. This is Amsterdam to Berlin in the lumberbus. Nonstop, rolling in to Germany the light dims and coffee flows to keep eyes from dozing, this is Amsterdam to Berlin. Bare foot patting around fuel stations then thrum of the road again, doors open all night as the cats eyes flick past, 11 hours on the road and Berlin stirs awake, throngs of revellers line the streets as we dance with the taxis and Ambulances. 3am and we are somewhere, in Berlin, the tarmac has ended and we judder the last few yards on cobbled streets.

“I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless emptiness.” 

― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Three days in Berlin, nothing but sleeping and eating and sleeping. I feel a distinct lack of do. We sleep for the city that never sleeps, showers are a Godsend and a day is spent revelling in our cleanliness. Fragranced hair and crisp white bedsheets, the van becomes an oasis of cleanliness.

Our ‘do’ returns with gusto, a hedonistic zeal of sugar and sprinkles, unashamedly buying all the doughnuts in a Kreuzberg doughnut shop and on.

Later slacklining in a park we were fortunate enough to meet a Heroin addict / Historian. One of the best people I have met so far, his knowledge of Germany’s history was outstanding and taught us more of the tragedies of the war than any school teacher I had. His leaving sentiments were as such:

‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ - George Santayana / Mickey from the Park

Then jazz until the early hours, crazy snapping free jazz, the sober pianist conducting and orchestrating the whole affair with subtle nods and gestures, a flow of musicians joined and left the band and yet the music rolled on never stopping, with music reverberating through our ears and beer to keep us from sleeping we swayed to the canal to raise a glass to the rising sun.

Words: Hugo Pullen | Photos: Dora Damian