Let me reiterate: I absolutely love Berlin. Life here has the perfect tempo, and there’s always something to do, even when you’re not looking for it. It’s the mix: Flea markets at Markt Halle Neun (2 euro suede wedges!), lunch at Monsier Vuong, dessert at Wonder Waffle, odd performances at Madame Claude, dancing at Tresor, chillin’ at Prince Charles. I
won’t can’t believe there’s only a month left!
This weekend started off on Thursday, not thirsty but still terrific (hehe). I went out to dinner with some family friends, and afterwards we headed to a piano battle at Sophiensaele. It was one of the most entertaining events I have attended in Berlin. I had had high expectation for the music, but never thought that the entire performance would be perfectly planned and executed – it was an elaborate production involving the audience and weaved in and out of moments of spontaneity. The audience voted with lighters (which were provided) to choose the winner. I loved the venue’s peeling walls and atmospheric lighting.
On Friday night I went to Indian restaurant Amrit for my friend’s birthday. We ordered 10 different entrees and shared between guests. Jolly feast! It was the best Indian food I’ve had in a while. We then went to Monarch bar located on top of Kaiser’s on Kottbuser Tor, talked, danced a bit, and headed home. When I returned to Schlesisches I heard the always familiar sound of The Arctic Monkeys and was sweetly surprised that a band had installed themselves in the entrance and was playing “I bet you look good on the dancefloor”. Head bobbing followed.
Saturday I got touristy and went to Museum Island with the intention of a day at the Pergamon.
As I walked around the island to take it all in before heading into the museum, I heard music and was drawn toward it. I ended up finding a parade – a legalize marijuana march – and thinking it would be quite amusing, I followed them through Mitte.
After walking for a long time I no longer had the energy to go back to Pergamon. Another day I guess!
On Sunday I picnicked at Mauer Park, ate a (super German) steak sandwich for dinner at the oldest beer garden in Berlin – Prater – and went on a night walk from Kottbusser to Schlesisches on the search for some pudding. I ended up settling for some Baklava. Not too shabby.
It’s been a while since I’ve written something here, but I’m still alive and still in Berlin. The times have been of ups and downs, affected by the gloomy weather, but in the past week the sun has come out and my mind has cleared. What’s been the general feeling? The initial energy of arriving died down, and I stayed home for some weeks reading, watching and eating, but now I’m ready to reignite a passion for out and about-ness, sightseeing and exploring. Now, to illustrate with images:
My friend Amy and I have gone twice to her lake house in Alt Kladow. Once for girl time, the next time with Scott. It’s a beautiful place with calming energy and reminiscent of Sweden. We watched movies, drank wine, went for bike rides, swam and picnicked. We even went sailing, which was absolutely terrifying.
Sometimes work errands take me through unique parts of town. Other times for lunch break I go to Inka Eis Cafe & Restaurant to get Chilean empanadas and a coke. Don’t forget the Lucuma ice cream for dessert….
One weekend I got ambitious touristy.
I met up with my family friends Manfred & Regina. They treated me to dinner at the boat restaurant Patio on the Spree river.
I went to the zoo. It was a great time until my hands had some sort of allergic reaction and swelled up till I couldn’t close them!
That’s all for now!
What a busy last couple of days! I have been working hard at my job doing translations, edits, and working on the new site design (which is up now by the way, so go check out berlinreified.com)!
Luckily, I made a bit of time for play and was able to meet up with my friends this weekend to go to an outdoor movie. I’ve always wanted to do this, and the experience did not let me down. We went to the Freiluftkino and saw the movie Barbara, which won the ‘Silver Berlin Bear’ for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival this year. I really enjoyed it. It had fantastic acting (accomplished with little dialogue) and unique camera work. I also thought that the development of the plot was well done in regards to both personal stories and encompassing themes. It leaves you thinking at the end, lusting for concrete answers, yet fully aware that the hints have provided you with more than enough.
I also enjoyed the movie theater’s atmosphere. Families with babies and dogs, the young and old, couples and loners, from goth to hipster, grabbed chairs and sat side by side (or on a blanket in the grass) to watch the movie. Bringing in food was allowed, provided that you recycled and composted whatever materials you brought in. Before the movie began, a woman gave a short introduction, informed us of the rules and thanked us for coming… in four different languages. She then walked off with a “Peace to all!” and Barbara began.
I finally managed to take a picture of the apartment front on a nice day! So here it is (please don’t stalk me, kthanx):
I’ve been feeling a bit anti-social this week for whatever reason, but I’ve still been having a great time in Berlin. It’s difficult to hang out with people anyway since most Stanford interns have a 9-5 schedule, and after that they are usually tired (I mean, at least I am?). Also, the rain prevents people from doing things! However, it’s been really nice to settle in, find a rhythm, and
read intellectually stimulating books catch up on True Blood.
I realized I haven’t really mentioned anything about what I’m doing here as an intern! I’m currently working for a Stanford alumnus. She has lived here for about ten years and does a variety of different things. Particularly interesting to me is that she is the owner and writer of a food & culture blog. Through this blog she eventually started getting contacted for different projects from both German and international associations & businesses. I’ve been assisting her with a wide range of tasks pertaining to these projects. Mostly my work is split between translating, editing/proofreading and web design. We have also been plotting future projects and brain-storming the future social-media outreach. So far I have been really enjoying it. The translating is extremely challenging and slow, but it’s really helping my German, and most times when I figure out the puzzle I learn a lot about current events in Berlin. For example, I translated a newsletter for the Buchstabenmuseum (the letter museum). I would have never known about this otherwise! I am planning a visit for tomorrow.
I’m also learning many new skills. I never realized how many rules there are for editing. I’m not very good at it right now, but I am improving with the help of my friend, the 800-plus-page “Chicago Manual of Style.” Don’t think that my off-duty writing is going to be all grammatically correct though. I turn my brain off after five, or whenever I’m done working, which a lot of the time can vary! My boss works for a publishing company, so I don’t have as regular a schedule as the other interns. A lot of time I work from home (that’s why I partly live at internet cafes), and I also work some hours on the weekends. It’s pretty sweet, because then I can go to cool restaurants for lunch breaks and sleep in sometimes.
Recently I’ve been brushing up the blog’s look! The new design should go up soon. You’re probably wondering what the name of the blog is, so I’ll give it to you so you can check the current layout (6/29/12) before the new one comes out (??). Don’t be fooled, it may seem a bit home-made judging from the current look, but it’s full of well-written entries about Berlin life & tourism, photographs, and it gets a loooot of traffic (10 years of blogging’s worth!!). So here it is, drumrrrrrollll: www.berlinreified.com (check ittt now so you can see before & afters…and fb like it!)
I haven’t done anything crazy spectacular lately, but I’ve been eating a bunch of scrumptious foods and going on walks, so I guess that’s something (although I don’t think the food and exercise are quite evening out… o.0 )! Most deliciously, I would love to mention the restaurant Transit. OH MY GOD IT WAS SO GUD. I found out about it on unlike.com (d’awesome site so young so fresh so clean). Anyway, back to how AMAZING it was. I went there after working at Sankt Oberholz (where I have been spending a lot of my working hours. *note don’t order Fritz cola they’ll charge you 2 euro and the brownies aren’t good either*). Having realized I had not eaten anything and it was three in the afternoon, I walked down the street and decided to treat myself. I walked in and immediately felt that I have made a lovely choice. The interior had schnazzy decorations, but since it was a nice day (fiiiinallyyy) I opted to sit outside. And what an amazing day it was. The patio was in this nook of buildings with an opening to the clear blue sky. There was chatter, a foosball table and an area with cushions and a barbecue (for night time adventures?). The menu was a check-off list of either small (3 euro) or large (7 euro) dishes. I got two small dishes: “Bali Baby” and “Chicken Little.” The first was “grilled and minced pork wrapped in fresh la lot leaves and herbs in lime sauce” while the second featured “crispy fried chicken skin with pineapple and water chestnuts in tamarind sauce.” I also ordered a “creamy gold” Mango Shake. Then I died of happiness. But seriously. Go check it out! I plan on returning with friends and ordering an assortment of small dishes in order to taste the Thai AND Indonesian rainbow.
WOW. That was a lot of text dedicated to one place but continuing…. After figuring out what had been missing from my life all these years (Bali babies), I headed to yet another internet cafe: Bagel Company. It seemed a bit Americanized (I mean), but I realized I couldn’t go back to Sankt Oberholz because they might think I was trying to live there. I ordered a Club Mate so that I could use the internet (omgz i’m so german guyzz) and sat down until I got kicked out (it was closing, not because of my inappropriate internet activity…what?). I took the Ubahn back home and decided to go for a walk. The sweet tooth returned which could only mean one thing on a hot day: ice-cream!!! Thus, I got myself a scoop of chocolate-brownie deliciousness at Eis Aldemir and walked home.
On the chocolate front: I made the grave mistake of buying myself something better than Nutella. Yeah, I said it. I bought a jar of chocolate-coconut spread from Das Süße Leben and have consumed about 4.5 billion calories in the past three days. Whatever, I’ll go on a run tomorrow. If it’s sunny. But not too sunny. And if I feel like it.
WOW. This post has been almost completely dedicated to food. I guess I’ll leave you with the crowning jewel: Burgermeister. Some claim it’s just talk, but I would disagree. It’s also right across the street. Casual burger in the bed.
Warning – this post may contain more psychological assessments than adventurous musings. Go ahead and enter my mind’s eye if you like. With that, I shall freely proceed with an inspection of the non-touristy aspects of my settlement into Berlin. Oh, and there’s a story. It’s not entertaining.
I’ll begin with a dream, quite cliche, but there’s something about them. The mystery of the mind. Tossed aside in the morning yet essential for functioning. I often have lively dreams, but this one struck me for some odd reason.
It was clouded by a mystical place – a castle of some sort, a type of puzzle retreat. The place was filled with children, both rich and poor, who stayed in the different levels of the dormitories for the summer. The “rats,” who worked in the kitchens and the “others” played together daily; it wasn’t necessarily out of camaraderie, but the children didn’t asked questions; they just followed the leader’s orders. The summer camp leader. He gave the instructions, the go, the mark, and off they went, running in different directions through the maze. The game continued through the night, and it caused me chills and deep pangs of angst in my stomach. I joined the game as the only adult. I was an intern to the place, and I was supposed to help make sure the game went smoothly. But suddenly I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. I was running blind, following my feelings, but taking no control. I was being rewarded for an absent mind. And so I approched the leader, who let me repeat my question various times. How does the game work? What are the rules? What am I supposed to do? What do I tell the children? Why aren’t they asking questions? And then, finally, after suffering long silences and sorrowful looks, he answered. ”The game works because none of the children know how to play it. They each assume that the other knows, and thus it will never end. No one can “win,” but everyone tries not to lose. If you ask questions, you destroy the nature of the game. The very nature that makes it real. You have been here for a long time. It is only recently that you have begun to catalogue your story, to provide explanation. And it is just now that you have awakened to your running. That your consciousness has caught up to your body. You must leave.”
I’m not sure what to make of it. Actually, I have lots of ideas*, one of them floating around the cloud of a recently learned concept: the yuppie. My friend recently introduced me to this fantastic word, and it seems that since then I haven’t stopped seeing it or feeling like I’m living it. Is it something I want? I saw graffiti on a colorfully painted door that said, “I love yuppies,” and then the next day I saw another graffiti painted on the U-bahn stairs that read, “f*ck yuppies.” There’s something about identifying a group of people, and then perhaps giving yourself another label, another circle, another mix crowd and blend. And now I have all these cares and worries related to this “life” that I am living. But I think perhaps it’s a good sort of enlightenment. This is the last free summer, and then I enter the “real world,” so it might as well be a full on practice sesion. And with that, I need to truly think about balance: the recurring struggle of my life. Even now, two weeks in, I notice my tendency to wrap myself up in work, because I see tangible results with immediate benefits. Checklists checked. And I ignore what I really need: healthy food, good rest, social time…
Too bad the concrete sky has buried me in my bed. If it’s one thing I’m hoping for, it’s better weather. Otherwise I might be seeing more days of bread & chocolate spread.
*other ideas focus on the significance of the leader, the rules, and the end of the game.
It’s only been a week and I feel like I have so much to write about! I don’t even know what order I did things, so I’ll guess I shall just recount some highlights:
Unfortunately as I misplaced my Deutsche Bank card I have been living on a bit of a budget for the time being. So although most of my calories have been coming from next-door’s famous One Euro Pizza (which I just found out is actually called Pizza Espresso), I have made a few wonderful discoveries.
One of them was St. Guady Cafe, an internet cafe off of Schönhauser Allee, quite close to Mauer Park. I was originally in the area to pick up some tax documents for my boss, but got distracted by the friendly atmosphere and had to come back the next day to actually pick up the documents. Anyway, the cafe is English-speaker friendly (everyone inside was speaking English). But it wasn’t necessarily aimed at tourists, it had more of an expat vibe, with weekly events like language exchanges and performances. The food was definitely fresh, but not necessarily flavorful (it felt too healthy for me heh). Also, the first day I got a brownie even though I saw it was the German kind; a little part of me always hopes it will magically transform into the fluffy American kind when I take a bite (sigh…). The next day’s chocolate muffin was much better! My only complaint was that at one point there was a band playing whose lead singer sounded like he really needed to clear his throat… So apparently it’s also a indie-folk cafe?
Another cafe that I only visited for a short time was Süßes Schöneberg. A lovely welcoming place near Eisenacher Straße. I had a hot chocolate and a slice of lemon cake. I want to go back, because I didn’t realize that they will make you waffles and other delicious treats if you order off their menu. The owners were also very friendly and asked me if I wanted to sit next to them, but I was cold, so I opted to go inside. They’ll also give you internet access if you ask
This week I visited what is now one of my favorite art galleries up to date! Located in an ex-Bunker ex-hard-core-techno-club/sex party place, Sammlung Boros features amazing contemporary art in many forms: sculpture, installation, light etc. Make sure to go if you’re in the area, and don’t forget to book a ticket, the exhibit can only be seen with a tour – reserved in advance. Both English and German language tours are available. I found the tour to be informative, and the exhibition space (much of it remodeled especially for certain works) allowed interpretation from various perspectives. Some of the works were even interactive and fun! Also, be warned that you may want to stroke, pet, and touch the art! So much great texture and color… Unfortunately, no picture taking was allowed, so here are two internet photographs of some of my favorite spaces at the Bunker:
Sammlung Boros will be closing in about a week in order to install the new exhibition! Sadly I won’t be here when they open again But go check out the current one!
I was lucky enough to live through two amazing festivals this week. The first one was Fête de la Musique, or the Music Festival. On this day musicians and bands play both inside and outside in various parts of the city. Basically, you can just walk around and hear music coming from different directions. Stop by, nod your head for a little bit and go on to the next one, or stay, buy a beer, and join the crazy dancing crowd! I didn’t venture too far from my home, but I still got to see/hear some pretty cool musicians. My favorite was Robot Koch. My friend and I were both quite tired after a long day and some strenuous dancing, so we didn’t go to the after parties around town, instead we had a beer and some middle-eastern food before parting ways.
The second festival was Christopher Street Day, or the gay pride parade! I had never been to a pride parade before, except for one in Iowa City (which although pleasant & proud, is not exactly impressive). It was so amazing. Everyone looked really great and it was the happiest of days. There were so many people, so much music, dancing and hand-holding. What I also found amazing was that the parade passed by so many historical landmarks – it made me think about how unbelievable it was that this was happening in the same place as so many (some horrifying) historical events. We were walking on history, and making it anew! I had such a good time that I didn’t realized that I had walked/danced for miles, and I found myself gorging on dönner and falling asleep at 8 pm!
Allright, that might be too much of a stretch, but I thought I was being adventurous when I jumped on a bus and decided to get off wherever the crowd demanded. Granted, it was the day of a heated soccer game, so I knew I would find something interesting wherever I went. I ended up getting off and following shouting fans through the Tiergarten (which I had never seen before, so that was nice…although I wish the weather had been better) to a closed off street, and when I looked up I realized I could see the Brandenburg Gate! I was on Unter den Linden, Brandenburger Tor one side, Berlin Victor column on the other. I kept going, had to squeeze through crowds and ended up finding myself a nice spot in front of a huge television screen broadcasting the game…which was MOUNTED on the gate. Crazy!
After having absorbed some of that energy, I strolled off to the Holocaust Memorial and enjoyed the sunset. It was a great day.
On Sunday I visited yet another flea market: Kreuzborg Flowmartk. It is much smaller than Mauerpark, but I did like that it wasn’t overwhelming. It is also inside a large garden, which attracts a lot of people, since they cook one meal at each market from their freshly picked ingredients. The market is biweekly. Our entire group bought something that day! I bought a 50 cent pleated skirt. It’s bit crazy looking, but it is Berlin after all!
I finally landed in Berlin on Thursday night after a 9-hour flight (made more bearable by some red wine courtesy of British Airways), a quick stop in increasingly British Olympic London and a rocky flight to Tegel! Greeted by a great family friend, I jumped in the car to begin the journey to my newest home: Kreuzberg. First though, we had to pick up my keys at my landlord’s/new roommate’s workplace – a chill Spanish restaurant/cafe. I got to meet my roommate and her girlfriend face-to-face for the first time ever, and I found both of them to be very welcoming. They also oozed something I shall describe as “zen alternativeness.”
Once ahold of the keys, I was more than ready to make sweet love to my bed, so we heading 0ff to the apartment. It is an amazing building (I still have to take a picture of it) covered in a happy colorful painting of Kreuzberg. Location-wise it is right across from the Schlesisches Tor Bahnhof (aka one euro pizza and burgermeister…hollaaaaa). It is an excellent place to be if you like “hip” (hehe) restaurants/cafes, alternative scenes, art, music and nightlife. Also, there are international people everywhere and things are on the cheaper side (which is super nice since I am trying to learn how to live on a budget).
The next day I woke up quite early in order to get things done – grocery shopping, u-bahn monthly pass, deutsche bank issues, cell phone… Everything went smoothly except for the accidental 40 minute “stroll” where I thought I would eventually stumble across a supermarket. Somehow I went in a circle and ended up back at my apartment (at least I didn’t get lost). Google maps came to the rescue and I headed off once again. At 1pm I met with my roommate to talk about the apartment (everything was chill), and then I went to meet up with my friend Scott from Stanford!
Scott and I headed off to walk around Kreuzberg and catch up, stopping to get the most delicious hot chocolate of my entire life at chocolateria sünde. I ordered the “erdbeer” (strawberry) hot chocolate, which tasted like chocolate had literally been melted and then come down from fluffiness heaven. It was absolutely worth the painful ending that comes to all of us that are lactose intolerant. Also, apparently there’s cupcakes, so I’m definitely heading back soon!
Next we continued to walk around to enjoy the atmosphere and then Scott got hungry again (typical) and thus we headed to Angry Chicken aka amazing messy-saucy-korean-style-fried-chicken-yummyness (even though I don’t generally like chicken I thoroughly enjoyed devouring it with my hands and then trying to wipe the sauce of my cheeks/nose). It was fast and cheap! But don’t get suckered into buying a beer there (do it somewhere else) ’cause that’ll get you (Scott’s a n00b). Also the menu is crazy-cool (especially when you’re ordering):
After more walking around we parted ways to change clothes with the plan to head of to a movie later that night…too bad we both passed out. I slept like 20 hours, but I needed it?
The next day I went on my own little adventure since jet-lag has been causing me to wake up at 6am… a strange development for someone who usually takes pleasure in waking up at noon. Anyway, it was pouring, but nevertheless I persevered and decided to go exploring. I went to look for this Kino at Gortlizer that I had learned about online (supposedly it was cool), but when I found it there was nothing and it was disappointing…but Berlin always pleases and as I was walking back towards the station this magical door popped up out of NOWHERE and of course I entered the mystical alleyway and found myself in a jungle of thrifty clothes, artwork and a barbecue that seemed to be getting beat by the rain.
Following what can only be described as an out of this world experience I decided to head off to Admiralbrücke, a well-known bridge where youngsters and oldsters from all walks of life gather to play, drink and enjoy the view. Unfortunately, no one was there (probably because of the monsoon) but I think it was good to become familiar with it, as I met up with my friend Amy in that location a few days later (that day there were people there — even someone making a wacky music video)!
After being awake myself for like, about 80 hours, Scott finally returned my call informing me that he had woken up and would like to enjoy my company. Thus, we met up and headed to Neukölln for their 48 hour art festival. The festival is comprised of a lot of walking around to the many art studios and galleries around Neukölln. Scott and I walked and saw quite a lot, but I would have to say that my favorite exhibit that day was a sound/light installation. STRUKTUR.LICHT.KLANG Etudes N°1-5 by Jacques-André Dupont, Clément Destephen and Amrei Andrasch was absolutely entrancing. The 17-minute experience immersed your senses as light beams projected onto a wall-mounted-structure comprised of various pyramids. The lights surprised and sometimes even scared me as the rhythms changed alongside sounds and melodies. The installation took place at Loch drei und vierzig.
The festival was a bit exhausting because of the walking around, and I’m not yet used to the Berliner ways of self transportation (my feet huuuuuurt), and so I decided to head home to nap before going out. After a good ol’ nap I hopped on the U-bahn, absorbing the amazing vibes from lively Berliners on Saturday night, and headed to Salon – Zur wilden Renate, an eclectic club, to meet up with Scott and some other Stanford friends who were still here from the Spring quarter study-abroad program. The actual club “house” was my favorite apart – it looks like an abandoned apartment and is full of dark-kitsch decorations, yet still has a laid-back atmosphere and features several couch areas for rest/moochin’ your lover/stranger-friend. The music, however, failed to please that night. I plan on going back though since the club is also well known for its indoor labyrinth….
The next day I made like a Berliner and headed to Mauerpark to enjoy the sun, watch some Karaoke, and lust at everything in the thrift market. Mauerpark is a sort of hipster-dream, and every Sunday becomes extra alive with what has become a popular tradition here – a karaoke pit! There are regulars and newcomers, and everyone cheers for the fun, to the risqué to the somewhat embarassing performers from locals and tourists alike. I like to refer to it as a gladiator pit, because the singing place is located at the bottom of the hill, and everyone looks on from the grassy hill while the Berlin wall stands behind them. Just…I’m obsessed.
Anywhooooo, afterwards I was craving some type of Asian food, so we walked to Susuru, a Japanese resaturant, for some delish Udon. The food was full of flavor – and a nice portion for an equally nice price. I’d say that the decor was also quite satisfactory…modern yet with a suggestion of tradition.
Yesterday was my first day of work, but since I’ve already written a ridiculous amount I think I’ll save that for later. Tschüs!
Oh and ps– I’ve forgotten 99% of my German. It. Sucks.
Hello ye olde bloge! and grrrrreetings to my few and far-between readers. I have returned for summer adventure time, and I’m sure you’re all excited to hear about my scandalous life. Let me bring y’all up to speed. Following my ant exploits in Arizona, I returned to Iowa, packed up my bags, and set off to Berlin for a quarter abroad. It was an amazing experience and more like an educational summer camp rather than actual school. While there I learned some very very basic German, made new friends and traveled quite a bit. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, but the silver lining was that the quarter finished just as the cold started hitting us hard.
After leaving Germany I headed off to Iowa, to what I thought would be my last full winter break in the beautiful midwest (my parents decided to move to Mexico City due to a job opportunity). Although my base of operations has now shifted, I still hold Iowa City dear in my heart, or whatever. I enjoyed visiting with old friends until my time in North America was cut short by a last minute winter break trip to Chile in order to spend time with my grandparents.
Following the break, I returned to Stanford (finally!) feeling refreshed and ready (jk super scared) or doing real academics. It was a lot of hard work, but I enjoyed living with one of my best friends in a pleasant (though somewhat far away) dorm. The quarter ended a bit sadly, as my grandfather died finals week and I had to leave early to be with my family. I spent a week in Chile and then another week (Spring break) in my new
home house in Mexico. I then returned to Stanford for Spring quarter…which also ended a bit sadly due to unforeseen circumstances (I had to take a leave of absence).
I have now been in Mexico City for a while, and I am ready to take on the world. One week from today I will be leaving to go to Berlin for an internship through the Krupp program! I will be doing a variety of different tasks (not quite sure what they are yet) for the blog BerlinReified. I expect some web design, writing, translating, etc., but we shall see!