Dating apps have changed the game when it comes to finding romance. Whether you believe in ‘the one’ or just anyone to share a glass of mulled wine with a great date could literally be one swipe away. When it comes to romance, there are few things more exciting than finding a spark with someone on holiday. So, as you can imagine, I was very happy to be invited by Tinder to visit Berlin and try out their Tinder Passport feature, which taught me a whole new way of meeting people and exploring a city.
Before packing my suitcase in pursuit of international love I had to get to grips with Tinder Passport and honestly it couldn’t be easier to use. A feature that comes as part of Tinder’s paid-for Gold subscription, passport allows you to change your destination on your account to match with people in the same area. You can also switch back to your current location and don’t lose any of your previous matches. I switched my location from Manchester to Berlin a couple of weeks before my trip.
As a self-confessed dating app lover I couldn’t wait to see if the dating scene in Berlin was any different to the UK. As I started to look through the users, I noticed one stark difference to so many profiles. I’m fussy when it comes to bios. If there isn’t one, is super limited, or doesn’t really show a person's sense of humour I probably won’t swipe (unless it’s Tom Hardy.) So many of the profiles I came across once I’d switched to Berlin had either ‘NSA’ AKA No Strings Attached or ‘No Hook-Ups’ in their bios. While it seemed a little forward at first, this clarification of what people were looking for made it so much easier in my search for a date. This no-BS approach to dating carried through to the conversations I had with people when setting up the dates. Due to the simple nature of Tinder’s Passport feature it was so easy to explain to people why they’d matched with someone 900 miles away.
After cutting the romantic wheat from the chaff (one match invited me to his sister's engagement party and another to one of Berlin's renowned sex clubs), I settled on a date with Berlin-native Felix and South African international student Chris. Now all that was left to do was to pack my nicest top and jeans and a very warm coat and fly out.
I’ve been on more than my fair share of dates, good and bad, and when you’ve got a new city to explore there’s so much to be excited about. However, as Thursday night rolled around and the time to meet Felix grew ever closer I couldn’t shake the nerves in the pit of my stomach which I haven’t felt for so long. There were the usual worries of would the chat flow and would we be into each other, but the added dimension being unfamiliar with my surroundings made me feel a little bit like a dating novice all over again. To combat these nerves I made sure I’d been messaging Felix on and off all day, I worked out a way to get to the destination (praise the lord for CityMapper), I arrived about 20 minutes early, and we met in super touristy and busy Alexanderplatz.
I sat waiting on a bench, watching tourists take selfies with Berlin’s Television Tower looming in the background, feeling queasy with nerves, and wondering how mortally embarrassing it would be if I got stood up, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Felix looked just as he did in his pictures, effortlessly cool with a really big smile. I’d been so nervous that I’d barely noticed how Christmassy Alexanderplatz looked. For hours we wandered around the Christmas markets, ate bratwurst, and drank beer. It was the perfect Christmas market date. Because we’d been chatting for a week before, my nerves subsided really quickly and he already knew I had an affinity for tacky Christmas tree decorations which he allowed me to look at for a bit too long.
As date one went off without a hitch, I was far less nervous meeting Chris the next day. An art Masters student, he’d already sold me on a day of brunch, a art gallery, and drinks. We met at Factory Girl, an incredibly stylish breakfast place in Mitte. Normally I’d never agree to go for food with someone on the first date. The idea of sitting across from them, attempting to make conversation, and eat at the same time is my worst case scenario. However, I already knew Chris loved photography, had just featured in his first exhibition, and had a miniature Dachshund called Otto so to say that there was no shortage of conversation would be an understatement. We wandered over to the KW Institute of Contemporary Art, and then went to look around a very aesthetic bookshop nearby. Doing an activity we both knew we’d enjoy definitely eased the pressure on this date. I got to see a gallery I wouldn’t have known was there before and because we were preoccupied by the installations, chat flowed a lot easier. I think we both knew by the end of the day that there was no romantic spark there but he did invite me out for drinks with a group of his friends that night.
One of the best things I found about Tinder Passport was I didn’t just end up going on two dates. After meeting and really clicking with Chris on a personal but not romantic level, I met with a group of his friends. I’d normally find going for dinner with strangers incredibly intimidating, but because we’d already had a great day and we’d been chatting for about a week and a half before my trip I already felt like I knew him. This was a way to see a city I thought I knew in a whole different light.
It’s rubbish that it’s got to be said but when you’re using something like Tinder Passport, especially if you’re travelling by yourself, it’s incredibly important to exercise usual safety precautions. When I go on any dates, I tell a friend where I’m going and will generally message them when I get back (or throughout depending how bad it is.) While there’s not a great deal my friend could have done I still let her know where I was in Berlin as well as scoping out each date destination and working out how I could get home should I want to.
Tinder Passport is an amazing way to connect with people ahead of your visit. It made a solo trip so entertaining and I’m still chatting to a few of the people I met now. It’s so easy to use and while you shouldn’t look at your date like a tour guide it was definitely more eventful than taking a walking tour. While I’m not packing my bags to move in with my new German bae, I saw parts of the city I’d never seen before and it completely cut the awkward conversation that can happen when you first meet someone in a bar.