Drink, Play, Loathe: The Trip

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” 

― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

So, I’ve been on a trip of Europe, and kept a diary all the while. If travelling is anything at all, it is unpredictable, and the trip I expected to have was, as is usually the case, radically different to the reality. Modern life is a series of spinning plates, and the more you age, the better you become at keeping them spinning. I am young, and youth is wonderful, but the trade off of so much freedom is that fairly regularly, largely due to my own gross incompetence at being alive, my plates come crashing down around me all at once, and I am left lying bruised and stupid beneath a heap of porcelain. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – International Women’s Day


If you’ve followed these rambling diaries at all, you’ll have seen a steady decline in my sanity over the past six months, from wide eyed new kid on the block to another paranoid, muttering hermit on the U Bahn.  When I arrived, all I saw was bright lights and endless glitter, and everything else was muted in the background, and I didn’t care to know anyway; but after half a year, those beautiful faces in the foreground melted away as if someone refocused my brain like a camera lens, and behind everything I saw so much that I didn’t like. In the depths of winter, my spirit shrank to smaller than it had ever been before in my life. I’d fallen out of love with the city, and the thought of seeing out the rest of the year here made me shudder. But, as I’m fond of saying, a lot can change in a day. And in Berlin, a lot can change in a minute. Continue reading


I’ve not written anything for a couple of weeks; I’ve been travelling around Europe, looking at things. I’m still polishing everything I wrote, but I can’t stand to see my beloved website sitting empty. So, while I write up all my travels, here’s a video of one of my favourite writers, Jack Kerouac. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, every single time. This man inspires me to see the beauty in every day, to throw myself at life for all I’m worth, and to never stop dreaming. His writing is as wonderful as it is tragic, and the fluctuations he experiences between cascading joy and absolute misery have touched my soul like nothing else I’ve read. I’m far from the first to say this, but by the time you’ve read a couple of his books, you’ll feel like his friend. He was deeply flawed, but he was honest, vulnerable, and his appreciation of beauty was unbridled. We never met, but I miss you, Jack.

The Berlin Diaries – Devil’s Mountain, Part 2


Previous post: Devil’s Mountain, Part 1

Before I ever tried any psychedelic drugs, I used to imagine that they would be enhanced by going to wild places. However, now that I have dipped a toe into the ocean of psychedelia, I have realised that this is a risky move – doing so increases the likelihood of you freaking out. The experience of a suddenly mutated reality is weird enough in itself without crowding your peripheral vision with terrifying foreign schema. The idea of a tree had baffled me earlier; now I found myself facing down a thousand nightmare frescoes in the bowels of a hidden necropolis.

Maya, however, was having the time of her life.

As I stalked the compound amid gathering storm clouds and grinding violin shrieks, she skipped alongside, marvelling at the artwork. I was loathe to spoil her fun, as I knew my panic was only chemical and would pass. I eventually murmured to Maya that I was scared, however, and she took my hand. I was craving a blanket, an armchair by a fireplace and a cup of tea, not this ravaged Nazi cemetery in a cruel and twisted hellwood. I couldn’t shake off the sickly tendrils of dread. Meanwhile, Maya was following a trail of dog’s paw prints in the mud and wondering aloud whether there might be puppies nearby. I agreed with her that there must be lovely puppies hiding nearby, but my inner monologue knew the truth. No, Maya. Not puppies. Wolves, coming to eat my face.

With an orgasm of relief we rediscovered the trail of painted cats, and followed it upstairs into the main building. The remains of the structure are a shell, without walls, and the wind rolled through as the cats led us higher. Breathtaking artwork lined every floor, the vibrant, pulsating colours pouring through more now that we were sheltered from the soul sucking drizzle and mud. I could feel my rib-cage cautiously relinquishing its grip on my heart. Miraculously, we stumbled upon a lone, dog eared sofa surrounded by paintings of tropical birds; the oasis I sorely needed. A soft wind rolled over us as we nested together. I drifted back down to earth, and I was safe once more.

Exploring further, we found a mural of a gigantic cartoon mouse wearing sunglasses, next to the words ‘Take it cheesy!’. Maya stood before the mural in awe, and I wandered into the next room alone, where I froze. The space contained nothing but a single, dangling noose. Maya came to my side, and we stared at it a moment in horror, before doubling over laughing; between the two rooms, nothing could have summed up our separate psychedelic experiences more perfectly.

We eventually emerged onto the rooftop, back into the drizzle, and took turns yelling inside the two giant ragged golf balls. They are echo chambers, and every sound is churned over and over like a tombola drum. The yellow cats then led our duo of giggling idiots into the creaking skeleton tower, where together we began the ascent of the blackened stairwell towards the final orb, the last, pristine sphere at the very pinnacle of the compound. As we drew nearer, music floated down to us.

At the top of the stairwell we left the daylight behind, and hand in hand we stumbled into a thick blackness. We’d expected nothing much, merely venturing up out of sheer curiosity, and yet at the top of Teufelsberg, after hours of wandering, of suffering the elements and battling an imposing panic, we were richly rewarded. We had passed all of the trials thrown at us (admittedly, almost entirely self-imposed), and finally, we emerged from the stairwell into a new reality; a room unlike any on this earth.

High above the forest, amid howling winds, we found ourselves in a hallowed cavern, the walls stretching away in all directions, reuniting high above us. The second we entered, we were embroiled in a torrent of drums and oily echoes, a cacophony of the purest, deepest sounds you ever heard. The orb was vast around our small, confused forms, groaning high above in complete symmetry and perfect dark, save for one blade of light that severed the gloom, cast from a small grille. Beyond that window, there was nothing. Mist had ransacked the forest and left only unforgiving white. The blankness beyond was startling, and seemed to insinuate to my fragile mind that we were inhabiting a space that was disconnected from the real world. This tower of endless echoes was all that existed, lost in a white void.

We weren’t the first there; two French girls were sitting in the centre of the sphere sharing a joint and playing music from a speaker, the source of the infinite drums. The orb’s echo was so powerful that every beat hit a hundred times, a whisper became a roar, and everyday sounds of no consequence boldly elbowed their way to the fore. I could still hear myself humming ten seconds after I had finished. Every sigh became a waterfall, every footstep an avalanche.

The French girls shared their joint with us, and then faded away down the stairs, leaving Maya and I alone on the shores of our dark cove. My mind was a cinder, burned out by the day’s exploits, so I gave up trying to comprehend the spectacle and instead we simply sat, listening. And it was only when we sat, that we saw it.

Above us, towering and wreathed in shadow, was the Devil himself. Ten metres high, savagely scrawled across the whole interior of the dome, the Devil glared down at us, arms outstretched, reaching to embrace us. Maya hadn’t noticed it, yet. I took a photo of her as she sat, pensive in her innocence, cradled in the arms of Lucifer.


We stayed there a long time, lying side by side, idly chatting and clicking our tongues at the Devil, listening to his immaterial orchestra sing back at us. Maya and I found that we could sit twenty metres apart and whisper to each other. Occasionally, birdsong from beyond the grille was swept into the cavern on the breeze, where it was bowled around the sphere like a carnival daredevil gunning a motorcycle around a Cage of Death, finally reaching a brilliant, sweet crescendo, then disappearing. None of it made sense, it was all too much to process, and so we simply lay there in wonder.

I remembered the spray cans just as we were deciding to leave. We looked around for somewhere to sign, and chose the spot where the only sliver of sunlight fell. We signed our initials in pink paint. It makes me happy to think that it is still there now, a simple message to whoever next climbs the tower that two people were happy there, once. Finally, we bid farewell to the chamber and began our descent.

Within five minutes we were back at the guardhouse, its door still sending forth blossoms of smoke into the afternoon air. It seemed a lifetime had passed since we were last here. We’d been hours inside the complex, lost on our voyage of nonsense. The 2CB had worn off now, mostly. Patterns and textures were slowly stabilising, and colours were settling back to their normal shade. It felt like we’d been asleep for a very long time, and had finally woken up from a symphony of peculiar dreams.

We looked back together at the tower and its crowning white orb, watching us leave without emotion. Mere moments ago it had seemed a safe, tranquil womb, our secret cove, but already the tower was reestablishing its menacing posture. It had shown us its secrets, it had allowed us a brief glimpse into the unknown, and now, as we wound our way back through the woods, it was reclaimed by the clouds once more. We smiled at each other at the thought of our initials daubed up there, entwined in the sky.

Teufelsberg tower


The Berlin Diaries – Devil’s Mountain, Part 1

Teufelsberg artists impression

One Friday a couple of weeks back, I woke up in bed next to Maya and looked at her while she was sleeping. She’s a sweet, graceful dreamer, not like me whose mouth hangs open with all the elegance of a kicked over dustbin. Our bedsheets were flecked with stubborn glitter from the previous weekend, and we woke every morning that week covered in it. She lay there dreaming, her chest sparkling in the morning light as it rose and fell with the gentle rhythm of her breathing. It was our last day together, she was flying home early the next day. I was due to start work at 9am, and it pained me to think I’d be wasting our last few hours together stuck in an office. Damn it all, I grabbed my phone, called in sick, then rolled over and kissed Maya awake. “We’re going on an adventure,” I told her. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – I Went To Vabali and Got My Dick Out


Hey, you: wanna hear a tale of legendary nude spa Vabali, filled with steamy saunas, burning incense, young love and quivering genitalia? Of course you do.

This post actually took place on the same day as the Bärenquell adventure with my girlfriend, who we shall once more refer to as Maya, in the interest of her modesty. We shall refer to the other character in the tale (me) without alias, for I have no shame.

So then, mucky, bruised yet elated, we left the old brewery behind us and frolicked our way back to the city. We grabbed some Vietnamese food in Kreuzberg, in an establishment that served excellent dumplings but which was let down by a surly waitress whose sole expression can be fairly summarised as ‘hateful glowering’. With our bellies full of reasonably priced noodles, we skipped over to Hauptbahnhof, which my sources tell me means ‘Central Station’ in German. It is very large, and there was a man vomiting loudly on the floor outside a sandwich shop. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – Gonzo Part II


Some more nefarious deeds have been done down in the gloomy frozen backalleys of Berlin, and I’m going to let you in on them. Walk with me a while, let’s talk. But, just like last time around, my cast of characters are real people with real lives who don’t necessarily want me to bounce their stories around the stratosphere. So we’re going to need disguises. We all know who they are really, but let’s play make believe for a few minutes. So, meet Jack and Sal. This time I think the narrator will be, oh I don’t know, Levi. Yeah, Levi is good.

So, as a warning to the reader, I would like to paraphrase and bastardise the title of the Oscar winning Daniel Day Lewis film: There Will Be Drugs.

Further to this, I would like to evoke a young Eazy E: Don’t quote me boy, cause I ain’t said shit. Continue reading

Missing Havana

cuba-havana-city-wallpaper (1)

Yesterday I was searching for some music to listen to. I was listening to Rodriguez, because I’m slow on the uptake of what’s cool and I’d only just heard the soundtrack to Searching for Sugar Man and loved it. I began poking around in different genres, and I stumbled across Buena Vista Social Club. I threw on their album, and sat still, amazed. Man, those guitars, those soft, complex nylon strings. Those soulful voices, those drums. Chan Chan. I knew that song, or I had once known it, somewhere far away. I’d heard it before, two years ago on the far side of the world. I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes and I was there again. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – Heideglühen


This article was illustrated by my incredibly talented lil bro, Charlie. If you like his stuff you can jump on over to his Instagram, here, to see more.

Vic and I were complaining to each other a couple of weeks ago that although we’ve been in Berlin for a quarter of a year now, we’ve only gone to a few night clubs. I’ve been to Chalet, Monarch, Sisyphos twice, Kater Blau four times, and yet there are dozens of clubs I’ve never gone anywhere near. So, when Michelle text me last week saying she was off to the near-mythical Heideglühen for a day party on Saturday, I was well ready for mayhem. Mayhem I tell you! Continue reading