Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 52- turning things around

Art in the Levis print workshop

Bill playing a set in Hasenheide park

So we are exactly 1 month into our stay in Berlin, halfway to the finish line! Admittedly, we had a rough time the first 3 weeks. It all came to a head when we were sitting outside the Reichstag waiting for our appointment for the dome and we decided that we had made a huge, unforeseeable mistake in coming to Berlin at all. I think it's ok to admit that you don't love a place. I don't believe people when they say they loved every single place they visited on their travels, it's unrealistic. We just weren't meshing with Berlin. There was so much buzz in new york about how Berlin was THE place to be at the moment, it was the Brooklyn of Europe. I was just not feeling it. At all. We decided we would leave, go somewhere beachy and warm and away from all these goddamn hippies. So we started to search around that night and sent emails and resolved that "operation ditch Berlin" was a top priority.

But the next day something strange happened. We had a pretty busy day that started at the Levis screen print workshop and ended with us stumbling out of club weekend at 6am. In-between we got lost trying to find a couch surfers meet up, found it too late but stayed for drinks anyway, decided on a whim to go see loco dice and met some nice new friends for the night. It's starting to become a pattern that our wildest nights involve British people. We struck up a conversation with 2 British guys and within 5 minutes they had gone off and come back with beers for our wait. Weekend is def a club for young people. It reminded me of going to filter 14 in NYC when I was 19. It was packed, hot, smokey and people moved with more fervor than I've seen in a long time. That could be because they are all probably 19 and have much more stamina and energy than I have at the ripe old age of 28.

So we left around 6 and I felt wonderful, excited almost. It was like all we needed was one really good night to kick us in the ass and make us start having fun. The next day after we woke up in the afternoon I pulled up my calendar and we filled in every single day for the rest of the month with stuff to do. Bill dj'd a party in the park, we did the museum pass, we went to another couch surfer meet up, celebrated miriams birthday over sushi and a great hidden jazz club. we even GASP went to a beach! There was one hot sunny day and we took the train outside the city to Wannsee which is a lake that had a beach. Being sunburnt never felt so good. I didn't even care, I was so happy to turn my face towards the sun and soak it all up. Today's agenda is a free picnic in a park in Wedding and tomorrow is an open air techno party.

Here's some tips from our awesome week:
Go to the Reichstag building. It's free but you have to make an appointment online and go through a ton of security. The dome is pretty cool, you get a panoramic view of the city and they give you a free audio guide. Actually, all the museums here give you free audio guides which is nice because I'm tired of making things up about the stuff I'm looking at.

View in the dome looking down into the congressional chamber

the museum pass- it's 19€ and gets you into 55 museums in Berlin but you have to use it 3 consecutive days in a row. We did the Neue Museum and saw the bust of Nefertiti, the Pergamum museum which is stunning and the Tecnic museum. The last was my favorite, it's a museum dedicated to technology over the years. Everything from suitcase making to a full train yard with trains from the last century to the present. They have an entire wing dedicated to airplanes, another to ships. It's amazing, takes hours to see it all and I definitely recommend it.

A plane in the Technic Museum

Couch surfers has proved to be an invaluable resource. Whenever we go to a meet up I get a little apprehensive. It's just weird to me to walk up to a bunch of people and say Hi! But as soon as we get there I'm reminded that every single person there is in the same boat we are and we all want to meet each other and hear everyone's stories. And there are stories! I feel like bill and I have the most boring one actually. We met an Indian girl who grew up in south Africa who was a lawyer and quit her career to come volunteer for an NGO here in Berlin. We met a guy from Boston who has traveled pretty much everywhere on this earth by himself and just settled down to intern in Berlin. We met a Brazilian girl who grew up in charleston and decided she was going to move to Paris, hated it, booked a ticket to NYC, cancelled at the last second and is here in Berlin trying to figure out what she wants to do next. A canadian guy who lives in Paris but was on vaca in Berlin for a week before moving to California to start a new job. A Spanish guy who lived in London for 10 years before picking up and moving to Berlin to be a tour guide. and people ask us what we are doing and the answer is "um, we're just hanging out right now" and I think that's totally ok too. I like hearing everyone else's story and the best part about going to a meet up is you may see the same people but most likely it will be all new people every time. New faces, new stories, new inspirations.
The next day it hits 80 and it's sunny we are going back to the beach. It is a lifesaver. And there are ducks on the beach!
We found the best sushi in Berlin. I'm pretty sure the place is just called "Thai cuisine" on Oranienburger strasse. Usually a place that mixes Thai and Japanese together isn't a very good place at all but this was VERY good and really cheap actually, even with the exchange rate.

Sushi with Dave and Miriam

So we are turning things around. I wouldn't go as far to say that Berlin is my favorite place on earth, but its looking better than it has so far. Also, now that our departure date is drawing nearer we have a lot of planning to do for the rest of the trip. Mainly, we need to find a doctor so we can get malaria medicine for India. That will be a whole separate post on the glorious wonders of universal healthcare. I have already experienced this great phenomenon many times from having the party plague in Europe on different occasions and have walked into pharmacies and bought antibiotics over the counter for a fraction of the price I would have paid in the US, but like I said, that's a different post all together......


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