Bangs Does Berlin
This past weekend I went to Berlin. It was my birthday when I flew out on the Friday and what better way to celebrate than to run a half marathon on the Sunday? I’d wanted to go to Berlin for a very long time, so the levels of excitamacation involved in this trip were pretty ridiculously high. Not only was it the culmination of months of hard work for my Team Bangs on the Run girls, but I was out there with about 60 members of the crew I run with, Run Dem Crew, so the weekend was extra special.
I didn’t have too much time to take in the city and explore so I decided to go on a walking tour. My friend Becci had been to Berlin last year and did a tour with a company called ‘Alternative Berlin‘, which she just raved about it. Soon as I landed, I decided to look them up. The ‘Alternative Berlin’ tour did not disappoint. Taking in artist squats and plenty of street art, this tour takes you to bits of Berlin you might not find by yourself. Our tour guide, Ben, was fantastic, really knowledgeable about the city’s art scene and history, the tour was crammed with interesting facts. Weather wise, Berlin appears to have four seasons in a day which made the tour a little tough at some points, but I imagine if you do this on a sunny day, it’s amazing.
Race day itself was fantastic. Running through a city with so many of my friends is just a great experience. Tougher course than I expected, but I got a new personal best time, finishing in 1 hour 55 minutes. The after party celebration with the crew was a party like no other. Seriously, there are elements we must not even speak of again – things got messy.
But when the dust had settled and we stepped outside our bubble of friends and running and good times, Berlin had a bit of a strange vibe. I’m in an interracial relationship and the attitude we experienced towards us was uncomfortable to say the least. I’m not going to pretend London is a haven of racial harmony but we genuinely don’t have many issues being a couple here. In Berlin, there were a couple of incidents that really shocked me. I had wondered before going, given the history of the country, what race relations would be like and was disappointed to find a city with pretty much no racial diversity and apparently a bit of a problem with race. Maybe those were just isolated incidents, maybe we read to much into them, but we both felt uneasy there.
I had a great time in Berlin. It’s a fascinating city with a very interesting history. We partied hard and made some great memories, but sadly those were slightly tarnished. I’m not sure I’d be in a rush to go back.