Last week – I went on a rather whistle-stop visit to Berlin courtesy of AKG to witness the launch of their new ‘Y-Series‘ of headphones and also here about the ‘AKG Inspired‘ competition they are running for creative people.
I’ve not left the country in six years, my passport had expired and had the wrong name on it (I was ‘Christopher’ back when I got my last one), so this meant an expensive trip to the Passport Office in London a week before travelling to get a new one, there and then. I hit a small stumbling block – they can’t do a FIRST name change on the day – you have to wait – a WEEK. Still it would cost me less to do (by £5) and I’d JUST have my passport. HOORAY!
A car was being sent to collect me at 6am (yawn) to take me off to Gatwick, on arrival I found mt flight out to Berlin was delayed for two hour – arse – I could have slept more! To kill the time I found myself watching ‘Non Stop’ (a film about a hijacked plane is a BAD idea before a flight) and drinking coffee in the departure lounge.
Can I emphasise again – DON’T WATCH A FILM ABOUT HIJACKING BEFORE YOU GET ON A FLIGHT!!
On the plane I was sat with two REAL writers – you know – people who can write and get paid for it, rather than me, who sits in his pants bashing at a keyboard hoping for some semblance of sense to emerge. I don’t really like new people, I can’t talk to them, I’m worried I’ll call them c*nts and make an out of order comment in the first breath, but these were tech journalists – similarly socially awkward. They were more than happy to discuss the penetration of Windows phone, headphones and other gizmos. These are MY people.
So, all being geeks, we spoke politely for 5 minutes, and then slipped off onto our respective laptops / tablets / phones for the duration of the flight, not uttering a single word.
We touched down in Berlin and the weather was GLORIOUS – 35 degree heat – it actually felt like a holiday! A short, lonely, holiday.
The cab to the hotel – nHow Music Hotel Berlin – was a bit bizarre, the cabbie was offering our group lot of sweets on the journey, most of the party declined, but I was petrified of being offensive (is this a German ‘thing’?) so I gladly accepted his confectionary. There were some jokes that if we ate them we’d probably wake up in some kind of Saw / Hostel / Deliverance scenario – thankfully, my limbs were still attached and bottom untouched when we arrived at the Hotel. Phew!
The Hotel is probably one of the funkiest I’ve ever stayed in, it’s funkier than James Brown’s rotting corpse. They even offer ‘Room Service Guitars, Keyboards and DJ Decks’ all free. It also has two recording studios too. It’s a very peculiar place, but in the first year it’s been open it’s had a plethora of musical stars stay.
The European press had all assembled and were waiting for us Brits to arrive before the launch started, so we hurriedly checked in, dumped our bags and rushed down for a quick-lunch. There was a small problem with the lunch.. It was all meat based – Ribs, Sausage and Burgers, in what felt like an epic – diva / vegetarian strop – the hotel rustled up a ‘Vegetarian Club Sandwich’ for me – it was sublime – and worthy or a photo.
So – the launch happened – it’s probably best covered in another post, but we were introduced to the new ‘Y-Series’ – it’s a slightly cheaper offering from AKG , aimed at younger people. I kind of got the feeling they are wanting to steal some of the market from Beats, and why not – Beats headphones are shit. The AKG Y Series we had demoed to us are great, beautifully clean and accurate sound and all sub £100 too!
We had a few hours before the evening meal, so I decided to step out onto the streets of Berlin and be tourist face – I’m not at all cultured, and honestly, every inch of me wanted to sit at the bar in the hotel, drinking, or sit in the room of my hotel, crying. So I thought I’d push myself and see a bit of History and walk along one of the last standing bits of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery.
I took lots of pictures of the varied and awesome graffiti that adorns the wall, and it felt rude not to take a selfie at the spot on the wall someone had scribbled #selfie.
Berlin is a beautiful city, I really enjoyed my little wander around, I wished I had more time, but I needed to get back to the hotel to get changed and ready for the evening’s events. I did manage to squeeze time for a few drinks on the river, I didn’t realise a ‘pint’ wasn’t a ‘thing’ in Germany – I asked for a pint of Heineken – I was asked if I wanted ‘Large or Small’ – it took a lot of power to stop my inner ‘Brit abroad’ coming out and say ‘NEIN LOVE, EINEN PINTEN’. I just smiled and said “large please”.
It was time to go and get ready for the evening’s entertainment, I needed a shower, and discovered that I’d been given an ‘accessible’ bathroom. It was all very nice, but one small problem – the door wasn’t sealed. So when I wasn’t paying attention with the fancy shower head, and dowsed the bathroom door with water. This meant I’d also inadvertently started to soak the bedroom too, vast pools of water were gathering in there! When I left the bathroom and found myself sloshing around like Gene Kelly. Not good.
We all assembled on the terrace for our dinner, the food choice was vast and thankfully very veggie friendly, the waiting staff were far too generous with the wine, and within a very short space of time I was battered (nothing changes). Although the wine was helpful, this not being your standard blogging event, there weren’t any friendly faces or my normal drinking buddy to cling on to. So I had to ‘go in alone’ which was – horrible – but I think I disguised it well (ish), and I befriended a few foreign tech journalists and random people. I think possibly my worst opening line to a new person “Ere.. Mate.. You look like ‘im”. *Kip thrusts pictures of Stephen Mangan at terrified foreign man* – don’t worry – I’m cringing too.
The evening’s entertainment was supplied by Reeps One – champion Beat Boxer. He is quite incredible, and I’ve honestly no idea how he can make the sounds he does – if you every get the chance to see him – DO IT! I took a quick video of him doing his thing – it doesn’t really capture the full ‘experience’ but he’s got some skillz.
After that, the night is a bit of a blur really, I seem to remember a lot of people left politely when the event was due to finish.. I ended up with the fifteen or so (mostly British) people who wanted to carry on, probably not the wisest of moves, as I’d been up since 5am, and was leaving the hotel at 8.30am- I fell into bed just after 2am. Urgh.
Berlin really is a beautiful city – I had a blast there, and the people were so lovely and friendly – I really do want go back there for longer and have more of an explore !