(School trip continued from Witchtapes #46, 47 and 63)
Our bus was slowly crawling on the bumpy highway from Dresden to Berlin (which had been constructed in the Nazi-era and hadn’t seen much repairs since then). The slow speed was due to a suspension failure which couldn’t be repaired in communist East-Germany so we just hobbled towards Berlin, with even the primitive Trabant cars overtaking us. But the Belgian school girls on the bus didn’t mind the slow speed and we were all in an excellent mood after a very pleasant 2 day stay in Dresden. The shockingly awkward crossing of the Wartha-Herleshausen border checkpoint and the eerie misty night in the ghost town Erfurt 3 days ago were already long forgotten and we were all looking forward to our stay in Berlin, or rather East-Berlin as the town was still divided into a (capitalist, democratic) Western half and a (communist, totalitarian) Eastern half, with both sides hermetically separated by the infamous Berlin Wall. Back then (and mainly because of the division of the city), Berlin must have looked pretty sleepy in comparison with the vibrant, thriving, artistic city it became after the reunification of Germany.
Like Dresden, East-Berlin was full of friendly people and we chatted quite a lot (in our broken German) with the local youth, demolishing for good our prejudices about brainwashed broken-spirited people on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Yet, there were also some awkward moments, like our visit to the telecommunication tower at the Alexanderplatz. It was dusk time and from the observation platform we could see the sharp separation between both halves of the City, with West-Berlin bathing in light while East-Berlin was plunged into near-complete darkness… everything was scarce in the communist East, also electricity.
After returning to the hotel, we went to the bar and ordered a beer. So far, all foods and beverages which we consumed in East-Germany were absolutely dreadful, so I didn’t expect much of this pint of beer. The name of the beer was ‘Budweiser’ but luckily this brew had nothing to do with the watery American substance with the same name. On the bottle I could read that this beer came from the town of Budweis (České Budějovice) in Czechoslovakia and the taste was absolutely fabulous … probably the best non-Belgian beer in the world. And this beer was not only tasty, it had also a magic effect on my German language skills (despite drinking only one bottle) and for the first (and last and only) time of my life I was capable to have fluent conversations in German with some locals. It was our last evening in the communist world and we were really having a great time. One of my roommates even got so much carried away that she smuggled a Czechoslovakian schoolboy into our hotel room. Despite (or thanks to) the fact that we couldn’t communicate (he only spoke Czech … or was it Slovak?), he was a real cutie … but it was clear that things were maybe getting a bit too cozy in the East and it was time to go home …
The next day, we crossed Checkpoint Charlie into West-Berlin and – after the bus got the much-needed repairs – we headed back to Belgium, leaving behind the mystifying parallel world on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Little did we know that only a short time later, the Wall would suddenly collapse and Berlin would finally rise from the ashes …
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These beats were originally posted by Hekske ❋ The House Witchtapes