Friday, November 19, 2010


Lunch today was at a factory that either makes paper, or makes the parts that are used to make paper, or both.  I'm fairly certain it was both actually.  Fairly certain.

Anyway it was bratwurst, slathered in spiced ketchup (currywurst, essentially) served with a tiny portion of cabbage and a generous portion of pommes frites.  You were asked to add your own mayo/curry powder.

If anyone was looking for a typically German meal, that is also very very unhealthy, this is it.

Tonight I'm going back to that jazz club I frequent.  I'm hoping to see someone there that I've seen before.  It hasn't happened yet.  I've only been there 3 times. 

Monday, November 15, 2010


So I've got this tradition of only updating about things a week after they happened.

This is due to a number of reasons:
1.  I am lazy
2.  I have trouble remembering that I have a blog
3.  I really, sincerely, hate blogging.

Not that that last point will affect my diligence, but just to let you people know the sacrifices I make to satisfy my loyal and patient readers.  I understand that being able to live and work in Germany is a privilege and that I should be respectful of those living vicariously through me via the reading of my blog.  However none of this changes the fact that blogging is essentially a chore, no matter how I look at it.

That aside, it is with great jubilation and excitement that I report to you on my experiences in that most beautiful (not physically) of cities, Berlin.

My good friend Nathan Kallus and I hadn't seen each other in about 2 years (3 if you count incorrectly) and since he's working in Copenhagen till January, I thought it would be a good idea if the two of us got to meet up in a suitably hip place.  Berlin, being the hippest point in all of Europe (and possibly the world), was unquestionably the perfect meeting point.  We played Skype tag for a couple of weeks before finally deciding on the first weekend in November as an appropriate time.

So with the arrangements made Nathan and I each headed for Berlin that weekend only to realize that neither of us had bothered to find a place to sleep in Berlin.  Granted this wasn't actually a sudden realization, more of a talk we only decided to have at the very last minute.  Luckily, since Berlin is the greatest city on Earth we found accommodation at a suitably hip hostel deep in the heart of Kreuzberg (the hippest district in all of Berlin).  With our worries about sleeping abated, we immediately sought after a cold beer in Berlin's legendarily seedy bar scene.  We eventually ended up at a great little bar, simply titled 'Bar', kind of like that place in Neukölln that's just called "Ä" but the drinks were more reasonable.

Afterwards we crashed, but not before talking to this chick from London who informed us that Bob Dylan's memoirs made her want to radically changer her life.  Also after 6 days in Berlin she decided that she really wanted to move there.  Nathan thought she was annoying, I didn't really have an opinion.

Saturday we walked around Mitte and Treptow.  I showed Nathan my favorite Soviet Monument (you should all see it!) in Treptower park.  He was impressed by its scope and even admitted to feeling some sympathy for the Soviet troops it commemorates.

The rest of the day can be summed up as, "Nathan we've already been at this store for half an hour and you haven't found anything that you like here, can we go now?" or, "No, I'm tired of translating every single thing that you see in front of you.  Just look at the picture or use context clues or something."  or finally, "Nathan this place has awful döner, trust me I've eaten here before.  Fine you can go in and get one, but you're going to hate it.  No, don't listen to me, I just studied here for 4,5 months and spent a lot of that time in this area trying to find a good cheap lunch."  Actually the day wasn't that bad, it was nice to walk around and catch up.  By now I'm used to people judging me for speaking English in public, but in Berlin that doesn't really mean anything.  I would venture to guess that a large portion of Berlin's population speaks very little to no German so whatever.

Dinner was at a nice, trendy Vietnamese place that had really good food, and not just for Europe either, but like really good Vietnamese food.  It was spicy and flavorful and everything.

Saturday night was crazy.  I met up with my friend Jöran (we met at Grinnell) and he and his friends treated me to a night of Berlin partying, which ended at about 6 in the morning.  I woke up at 10 and didn't feel too hot.  That's not too atypical for Berlin though, so there you go.

Nathan and I had agreed to spend Sunday at the various flea markets in Prenzlauer Berg, because they give you a good sense of Berlin and because apparently Nathan likes stupid junk.  I bought a book and a bowl of pea soup.  It helped with my headache, so did the water.  Also the good Döner I bought at the last minute.

Anyway Berlin has seen some major changes since I was last there.  Not the least of which (mostly the only one I noticed) is that (R)ostkreuz exists no more.  Ostkreuz was an old station on the Ringbahn (the line that circles the entire city) that still existed in its original 1920s form, so much so that locals named in Rostkreuz (which means rust crossing).  Granted, the station desperately needed some work, but it definitely had a lot of old Berlin charm.  It was also an important symbol of East Berlin, one of the precious few still remaining.  Apparently, just a month after I left, they tore the whole thing down and rebuilt it to conform to the bland modern style of most German train stations.  Jöran tells me they want to set it up as a major intercity train station, because Ostbahnhof, Hauptbahnhof, Gesundbrunne, Südkreuz and Zoologischer Bahnhof are apparently not enough.  Also I'm not sure if there are more or less than that, but there is definitely enough.

So in summation, I still really love Berlin.  I would love to live there someday.  Under ideal circumstances I would spend the rest of my twenties and at least half of my thirties there.  It would be like living in New York, except better.   The cosplayers I saw at Alex when I first got in, did nothing to hamper my mood as I emerged victoriously at Eberswalder to order that hilariously constructed hot dog.

Anyway I'm getting tired and not making a lot of sense.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Berlin happened...

And I'm still kaputt from last night/this morning (stayed out till 6, true Berliner style) but I'll update again.

Note that I've basically done the Berlin thing before over at Ich steh auf Berlin! (warning: some entries are very not appropriate for either minors or people who would like to maintain a positive image of me.  please read accordingly) so there won't be too much new information.

One thing I will say is that I got to hang out with some Berliners for the first time in a long time and it felt really good.  Really really good.  Also Kreuzberg is clearly my spiritual home or whatever.