Her Umbrella is a women's digital, lifestyle magazine dedicated to creating a life outside the lines. Published quarterly during the changing of the seasons, you'll find a bohemian, free-spirited style woven throughout its pages. Every woman has an umbrella with a variety of likes, dislikes, stories and memories hidden underneath. And we're looking to uncover them. Our winter issue features some heart-hitting stories and festive features intertwined without rhyme or reason. We've nixed the rules and forewent table of contents and the like to be a freer, more unmatched way of exploring. Enjoy!
It quickly became apparent that Berlin was the place European millennials were rushing to in droves. The architecture read like a street out of a dystopian novel: grandiose towers mixed with grey abandoned soviet-era cement buildings. Street performers littered the sidewalks with different music and art. The streets were plastered with graffiti. I?m not talking about gangs marking their territory. Artistic statements. Every inch of the city was a canvas inviting young artists to write their messages. All the young people who lived in Berlin had moved there to become artists or philosophers and join in on the renaissance the city had been so desperately denied during the Soviet occupation. While the rest of Europe was swinging through the 60?s experiencing the trippy and freeing art that the Love revolution brought, Berlin was simply trying to stay alive. When the 90?s hit and The Berlin Wall fell, Berlin was left wondering what kind of city it would become. I learned all this on a street art walking tour that I took on my first full day in Berlin. It was lead by a scraggly middle aged Australian in a green army coat who happily translated common German phrases for us. We passed art plastered on buildings and billboards created from someone's personal experiences yet, I related to every single piece. Berlin slowly morphed into one long hallway at a museum for alternative art which I gladly soaked up. Because of the city?s past, censorship is considered to be on par with other major crimes. The artists of Berlin created without fear of judgement or society?s misunderstanding. On this tour, I was surrounded by other young artists like myself. The passion and creativity that I felt had drained from me slowly began to fill back up. The first person we met on the tour was a towering gorgeous Australian girl named Amy who I immediately felt a kinship with. She gave us piggyback rides through the streets while we dreamily wondered what it would be like to live in Australia. On the tour, we walked for hours, listening to the history of Berlin. Having met a group of people we got along with, we all decided to join a pub crawl that night. It was the street art tour that brought us together but it was the pub crawl that would solidify our bonds as long time friends. Pub crawls are a staple of backpackers life. They lower inhibitions give you an alternative look at a city through a local's eyes and, frankly, show you the best party spots that aren?t saturated by big chains common in America. Pub crawls are normally lead by an ex pat working at the hostel. In this case it was an artist from New York named Sebastian. He seemed less than thrilled to be leading the pub crawl and spoke about uniformly as if he had walked by the same street performer doing the same fire dance for the past 5 nights. One aspect of all European cities that I found comforting and familiar was how dependable the public transportation system was. They weren?t trustworthy in the sense that they were ever on time but trustworthy in the sense that they were there. I found pride in myself as I was able to navigate the twists and turns of each city's unique public transportation. Despite my experience and confidence, Berlin?s transportation system broke me. There was a railway above my head going one way. A street level one going a different way and an underground train that took me to a stop I?m still not certain was even in Germany. ?We?re going on the underground but don?t worry if you don?t have cards we can just wing it,?Sebastian apathetically said to our group. Sebastian must know what he?s talking about, I thought as I pushed anxiety about the trains away and skipped along in anticipation for what the night held. Sebastian ran down the stairs and on to the subway train in one huge leap. We all breathlessly followed. I remember thinking if this is hard for me now what's it going to be like with a few drinks in me. Think of the typical European road. Curvy and littered with cobblestones, right? Berlin was a few steps away from that. There were miles and miles of long straight highways that cut through the architecture and art. Nothing really seemed to match. You?d blink Winter2015 / HerUmbrella 26
and suddenly find yourself in front of a uniform government looking building when just seconds ago you were passing through a covered bridge splattered with a multi color 1960?s version of Mona Lisa. Berlin had it?s own rhythm that was impossible to follow along with. We became friends with all the pub crawl patrons. We were all comrades- falling in love with Berlin for different reasons. Our love for the city only grew as we walked from bar to, skirting across six-lane highways while the do not walk sign blinked at us. Hand in hand on one side and arm in arm on the other we traveled down the wide sidewalk of Berlin?s club district with Australian, British, English and Spanish accents spilling out from our mob. More and more travelers joined our group as we stumbled from bar to bar meeting new people and learning about what brought them to Berlin. It was always the same. Berlin had a reputation as the epicenter of new art and culture free from any influence set by years and years of pre-existing history. Berlin was the youngest sibling in the family of European cities, desperate to make a name for itself. At the fourth bar, we met some British business men who owned an apartment in a suburb of Berlin. We talked about the draw to the city as they bought everyone rounds of German beer that tasted more like beer than anything I?d ever had in The U.S. ?What bar are we going to next??someone from our pub crawl asked. We had been so wrapped up in conversation with each other that we had forgotten we only had an hour at each bar. We frantically began to search for our guide. We ran onto the street hoping he was simply across the street. Sebastian was nowhere to be found. The street lights created orbs of gold around everything I looked at making everyone blend together into a big beautiful water color. ?It doesn?t matter.?the young British businessman said to us, ?Sebastian got us here but we can find our way back.?At the time I shrugged, thinking that at least one of us in the large group that had left the hostel could find our way back. It?s funny how a few drinks and misplaced confidence play hand in hand can lead to new adventures. Everyone decided to wander thinking we would just happen upon something like a subway station or a familiar face. As we wandered, I don?t think I looked at the actual ground once. I was hypnotized by the architecture and culture of Berlin. The night transformed the city into one big party. People in line for clubs spilled into each other on the street creating miles of young party seekers. The after bar hunger began to set in and we began to search for food. Someone knew of a burger place famous for it?s food in the student district which, luckily, is where we found ourselves. After walking past it about 12 times we finally realized the famous burger restaurant was actually just a little stand sandwiched between and liquor store and bakery. There were no tables but still we huddled on the sidewalk as we enjoyed Germany?s version of greasy burgers and fries. Tired from the night?s activities, we all decided to get a cab. This was the first time I had opted for a cab instead of finding my own way. I knew that cab rides could get expensive because it was easy to exploit travelers in a foreign country but with so many people splitting the fare how expensive could it really be? We squeezed in to the cab slightly pretending we didn?t understand the driver when he told us in broken English it was too many people for one ride and we were off. An hour and a half later we arrived at our hostel equaling an 85 euro cab ride. We sadly parted with what little money we had and grumbled about how there had to have been a better route to take us. Later that night, I looked on Google maps for the path that we had walked. My friends and I had ridden the subway to the other side of Berlin. I finally comprehended how massive this city was and suddenly felt very small. After all the walking way had done from the bars to the burger stand we had made our way six miles from the nearest subway stop. We had strayed so far from our hostel that there was no way the cab ride would have cost less than what we paid. At least I hadn?t been ripped off, I thought. I saw Sebastian the next morning in the hostel lobby trying to recruit members for that night?s pub crawl. Amy called out to him as we sipped our coffee. He sheepishly shrunk away from my group but, I wasn?t mad. Berlin was the quintessential artistic revival that I needed. I had been able to see the city through the eyes of a wanderer and was thankful for the opportunity. Winter2015 / HerUmbrella 27