16th Mar 2012 2:44pm | By Editor
The ‘couch surfing 2.0’ concept helps you see uber-cool Berlin like a local. We try it out in search of the capital’s cutting edge
Playing psychedelic mini-golf at 1am underneath the café in Kreuzberg’s gritty Gorlitzer Park is precisely the experience I was hoping to get from ‘couch surfing’ with a Berlin local. Germany’s capital is such a popular alternative nightlife spot nowadays, most attempts at getting off the beaten path are met by a crowd of fellow native English speakers who got there well before you.
But as I swing my club around these 18 trippy holes, moving through rooms that vary in theme from ‘under- the-sea’ to ‘cyberpunk-jungle’ – and all of them bathed in a bonkers UV light – I have the unique pleasure of swigging beer and potting balls as the only non-Berliner in attendance.
It’s thanks to Dennis Elias, a 32-year-old soul singer who resembles a more delicate version of a Thelma And Louise-era Brad Pitt, that I’m here tonight. I found him on 9flats.com, which pitches itself a little grandly as ‘couch surfing 2.0’. The idea is that you make contact with a local who has a spare room for short-term rent, meaning that you get your own space and some valuable insider tips for about the same price you’d pay at a hostel.
Dennis is a particularly helpful host. When I arrive at his flat, he sits me down in the kitchen and shows me an A4 sheet of paper on which he’s scribbled recommendations – front and back. Not only that, he’s numbered them and then transferred those numbers on to a map, so that I can find each place with ease. By the time he shows me my room – where there are chocolates on the pillow, and a basket furnished with fresh fruit and apple juice on the table – I am thoroughly ready to marry Dennis.