Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stolz und Feiern in Berlin

Over the weekend, Anna and I again ventured beyond the confines of Göttingen, this time to Berlin.  We stayed with Katie, Loren and Simon's friend from Brown currently studying in Berlin, with whom I had stayed several months ago when I was in Berlin the first time.  However, although I had previously spent almost a week in Berlin and stayed for four days this time, I repeated very little (with the exception of the quick peek at the Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag for Anna, who had not been to Berlin before this trip).

We left Friday afternoon almost immediately after class, and spent the three-hour train journey watching the four men sitting across from us become progressively drunker (they went through fourteen half-liter beers while we were on the train with them, and another passenger told us that they had gone through an entire case before we boarded).  Fortunately, they were not too disruptive, and did little other than laugh loudly and clink their pile of glasses around.

Once we did make it to Berlin, we took the U-Bahn over to Katie's apartment.  After a bit of catching up, we headed out to Mustafa's for dinner.  This was the first of many trips over the course of the weekend, and Mustafa's remains the best (vegetarian!) döner kebap I've had in my life.  We brought our dürüm (wraps) back to Katie's apartment to eat, and there we met up with her friend Adam.  The four of us and Katie's roommate, Thomas, then went out to Mind Pirates, a Berlin bar that from the outside looks like an abandoned building but inside is decked out with giant tapestries, found-object chandeliers, and old school science fiction book covers.  After a beer and a bit of exploring there, we moved on to Die Golden Bohnen (The Golden Beans), another bar in the area, this one with back rooms upon back rooms upon back rooms.  The real dance party was about four back rooms deep.  Once it got too sweaty in there, we moved on to the third and final location of the night: Das Hotel, a tiny basement dance club that played American dance music from decades past.  By the time we left it had long been light out, and by the time we actually got into bed it was past six in the morning.  True Berlin style.  On the way home, we encountered a rather crazy man on the U-Bahn platform.  He was wearing pink lacy women's underwear on his head and collecting abandoned beer bottles.  We thought at first this was because he wanted the Pfänder (bottle deposits), but then we saw him pour all of the leftover beer into a glass and begin drinking it.  At about this same point, he struck up a conversation with us.  It was rather one-sided, given his mumbles and our accents, but we managed to establish (somehow) that we were all three named Jessica (pronounced "Yessica") and didn't want any of his beer.  He did give us tic-tacs, however (no worries, they ended up on the platform under our seats as we all very appreciatively "mmm"ed).  We parted amicably when our train arrived, as he waved both arms at us and blew kisses.  All in all, a very Berlin experience.

Consequently, the next morning we woke up in the afternoon.  Fortunately, we were still awake with plenty of time to make it over to the 2011 Berlin Gay Pride Parade.  It was a fantastic experience, and so much fun.  As you look at the pictures, turn on (or at least imagine) a soundtrack of pumping, ear-drum-splitting, raging techno beats and cheering.  It was fierce in every sense of the word.

The pope(s).

"Sex creates beauty."

Berlin Bears.

His underwear had no back.

"We are diversity."

"Is this not my world?"

"Am I not your girl?"

Exactly what it looks like...


So that was but a small sampling of some of the parade-goers.  Once our ear-drums could no longer happily sustain the booming techno and our feet were becoming weary of being repeatedly stepped on by overzealous members of the crushing crowd, we decided to move on and get something to eat.  So we took the U-Bahn back over to Katie's neighborhood, where we settled in the comfortable outside chairs at Tibet Haus for some Momo, Weißbier, and conversation that lasted several hours.  The wonderful thing about German restaurants with outdoor seating is that they provide blankets that can either be used as seat cushions or, as we chose to take advantage of, warm shoulder wraps.  Nothing quite equals eating delicious food outside while cozied up in a big fleece blanket!

Once we had finally wrapped up our conversation and finished our beers, we headed back to Katie's for a quick nap before going out once again, this time to Thomas and Katie's friends' apartment for some drinks and snacks.  It was a small group, with several Americans (that would be us), a few Canadians, some Swedes, and a Norwegian girl.  Much of the conversation revolved around SemiDomesticated, an up-and-coming organization owned and operated by two of the group and with which several of the others collaborate.  SemiDomesticated works to promote artists and designers working in the realm of sustainable design, focusing primarily on vintage items, up-cycling, and re-appropriation of everyday items.  I went to an event of theirs the last time I was in Berlin, and it looks like they are doing some great things.  It was also very interesting for me to see a bit "behind the scenes" of such an artistically-oriented start-up.  In any case, we ended up staying over at their apartment and eating homemade hummus until well past four in the morning.

Going to bed around 5am for the second night in a row meant that we again woke up in the early afternoon.  As it was Sunday, we decided to make some sandwiches and head out to explore Mauerpark and some of the nearby flea markets.

A view over Mauerpark from the hill.

Anna and I had a bit of a photo-shoot in front of the Mauer (wall) itself.

I accidentally head-butted her.  Oops.

There we go.

On the way back to Katie's house after several hours of exploring and people-watching, we found what appeared to be a condom-dispensing machine by the side of the road.  We were mistaken.  It was a sex toy vending machine.  Oh, Berlin.

You'd think they'd have at least one condom option...

Back at Katie's, we chilled out a bit more before grabbing some (more) Mustafa's for dinner and coming back to watch a movie projected on a big, blank wall in her apartment.  We started with Ilha das Flores, a 1989 Brazilian short film.  From there we moved onto the main feature, Charly, a 1968 adaptation of the book Flowers for Algernon.  The movie was fine, but I think in the future I would stick to the book.

The next morning, we actually woke up in the morning!  Anna and I took a stroll over to the Brandenbuger Tor and the Reichstag to fulfill her touristic duties.  Then, after finishing up tourist-time with a walk along the East Side Gallery, we just explored the nearby neighborhoods.  Along the way, we came across the best ice cream I have yet tried in Germany (and some of the best ice cream I've ever had...ever).  Moral of the story?  German ice cream is fantastic when it's not trying to be gelato.  I tried the rhubard and cinnamon tea flavors.  Delicious!  It's also worth noting that Germans appear to love rhubarb-flavored things.  It's everywhere! 

Eventually, it came time for our aimless wandering to end and we made our way back to Katie's apartment to collect our bags and grab one last dürüm from Mustafa's before taking the Bahn over to the Hauptbahnhof to catch our train back to Göttingen.

And you know what?  Berlin was amazing and I would take any chance I get to return, but it was surprisingly nice to come back and have Göttingen really feel like home.

No comments:

Post a Comment