Home.

2 Jul 2014 01:00 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
Been home a few days now, but there's been football and unpacking and homework and this fucking cold. I never really posted much after the first couple days in Berlin, so I'll give a précis for the rest of it. The weather was variably terrible and bad, with a brief foray into pleasant followed by an immediate return of terrible.

June 20 )

June 21 )

June 22 )

June 23 )

June 24 )

June 25 )

June 26 )

June 27 )

June 28 )

I dumped my pictures into dropbox. This link might work; I can't tell because I'm logged in.

Ben posted a bunch of photos on tumblr, and he collected them here. He had a photo pass for Sanssouci, so he got inside pictures, whereas I just got outside ones.

I feel really comfortable in Berlin. I can't get Ben to do much more than say "yeah, it could be fun" when I discuss moving. But that's an entirely different blog post, and this one's taken me an hour to write already.

In Berlin

19 Jun 2014 08:09 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
Our flight was entirely uneventful, and we spent yesterday shopping (groceries, looking at sport jerseys) and resting. Thanks to the early flight departure time (we were awakened for breakfast at the time we usually go to bed), we were super exhausted, so we took a nap in the middle of the afternoon. Then we hung out with [personal profile] kriski and [personal profile] dirtyzucchini until it was time to collapse in exhaustion.

Today Ben and I wandered around the Hauptbahnhof until we found the Hertha fan shop, where I bought a scarf (ARGYLE!), a pin, and an old t-shirt (5€!). Then there was something going on at the platz outside, which turned out to be something to do with volleyball. After that, we were going to take the train down to the area near our hotel to get intel on the surroundings, but I wanted to get out at Hackescher Markt and walk, since that's at the top of the Museum Island and our hotel is just at the bottom. We discovered a market going on, with some handmade stuff for sale (and food), but the only thing we got was orange juice. (Fresh pressed, yum)

Thanks to the construction zone for the castle reconstruction, the plan to just walk down the center of the island didn't work, but we eventually made it. We found a few restaurants and cafes in the area, so getting breakfast won't be too bad for people who eat bread products. (Ben's brother is mildly allergic to gluten, so he only eats a minimal amount of them. Yes, it's a documented IgE response. Skin test.)

After that we took the train toward the Zoo, but I said Oh right, I wanted to stop at the Anhalter Bahnhof, so we got off the train early and walked around there some, then got back on the train to the zoo. We went there because there's a Karstadt (a German department store) Sport there, and they sell the jerseys cheaper. So I got a jersey with Klose on it for 75€ instead of €90+ (I even got a women's jersey, which I've never seen for sale in the US.)

Then we got mango lemonade because we were really thirsty, then we went to meet Kriski and Dirtyzucchini for a street food fair in Kreuzberg. I got empanadas yuuuum, and an ice cream sandwich (with cookies). Then we came home.

I walked 13000 steps today, according to my phone. Up next: internet, then sleeeeeep. Tomorrow we need to leave at 8:15 to meet Ben's parents at the airport.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
In 24 hours, if there are no airline/airport shenanigans, I will be flying from JFK to Amsterdam.

My travel day starts earlier, of course, since we have to get from here to JFK, which flight leaves at noon, so we have to be at the airport around 10 (international travel). We have rides to and from the airport, yay.

It was requested to bring Reese's Cups for our hostesses, so we picked up some king-size (4 cups) packs at Target. When we checked out, the cashier said she wanted to party with us (because a stack of Reese's Cups.) We also got peanut butter M&Ms. (And Goldfish crackers for traveling, and protein bars, and a bathing suit that fits, and some t-shirts for Ben...)

Today I walked to the credit union to make sure my debit card wasn't going to be frozen if I used it over there. Apparently the note someone left when Ben dropped by never made it into the system. So now the card should be OK to use without being flagged for theft. I left around 8:15, and it was already super disgusting out. I was sweaty before I was even to the corner. Ugh. Summer in North Carolina is appalling.

Still a bit nervous about Luna, but D & R said they could come over during the day (most days between the two of them), so if something happens, they can alert the cat sitter early.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
It's the first day of the World Cup, and I am perpetually without cable. Most of the matches will be on ESPN or ESPN2 (cable), but some will be on ABC. I guess I'll be befriending the folks at Italian Pizzeria III (super sketchy storefront, decent NY-style pizza) and/or Fitzgerald's (Irish pub) when I get back from Germany. Or doing what I usually do for the Bundesliga.

I leave for Berlin in 5 days. I have a packing list, and I'm working on a shopping list. I have most everything I need, but I'm almost out of protein bars (excellent airplane/travel snacks/emergency food), and my bathing suit doesn't fit anymore. (It never quite fit, but it was good enough. Not so much anymore.) But I hate buying bathing suits (because ones that fit my top are $75 wtf), and I'm not entirely sure I'd use it (while there are swimming areas in Berlin, I don't know if we'd have time to go to them, though our hotel has a sauna).

I'm worried that Luna will get sick while we're gone. The last 2 times we've been away, she's gotten stress-sick. So we started her on Prozac (which won't have built up enough to be effective before we leave), got a new Feliway plug-in, and have some xanax for her. We also have anti-nausea medication and antibiotics which theoretically will prevent diarrhea.

I really don't want to get a phone call from the cat sitter 3 days into an 11-day trip telling me the cat is sick as hell, you know? Argh. So we're doping her to the gills and hoping.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
I can hardly believe I'm leaving tomorrow :( I've just gotten to know the people in my class, and now we're all going our separate ways. I'm already friends with many of them in Facebook, so we won't *totally* fall out of touch, but ... I'll miss them, you know?

Today was our last formal class. Tomorrow we'll listen to 2 presentations, then decide on something to do. No idea what, but with the variable weather forecast for tomorrow, I'm guessing something like going to a park is right out. Maybe a cafe or something.

After we spent some time reviewing some grammar points, we discussed Otto Dix' 1928 triptych "Grosstadt" (I refuse to spell that with 3 S's) (Metropolis), which depicts life in the 1920s, with the outer panels depicting the dark side, the poor and the war-wounded left to beg, in stark contrast to the Roaring Twenties jazz club in the main panel.

Then we watched the first act of Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (English; has more detail), which was made in 1927 and depicts 24 hours of life in Berlin, starting with a train arriving before dawn and going into late night. It was very odd, avant garde, and is apparently still controversial (because it allowed the style used in propaganda and advertising to develop). The soundtrack/score is very odd, I guess. It reminds me of modern industrial: the opening scene of the train arriving has a heavy beat reminiscent of train engines; the scenes in the factory sound like metal beating. It's rather eigenartig.

And if you want to watch it, you can download it here at internet archive.

Tomorrow morning after I shower, I have to pack everything else up. I'm planning to leave class/whatever around 5 so I don't have to run to catch the bus to the train station. Since I don't know where we're going to end up, I want to leave enough time to get back to the apartment, which can take 30-45 minutes from the other side of the city. Then I'll have time to make sure I'm not forgetting anything, and possibly decide to mail some crap back. (I might be able to mail my school papers for a reasonable price, and possibly my books by "book air mail". Actually, I might be able to do that in the morning, if I drag my lazy ass out of bed early enough. Though I don't really know if it's worth it, other than saving the room (and weight) in my suitcase.) I should also acquire something for dinner before I get on the train.

Anyway. Even though I'm not really tired, I'll probably turn in before too long. I've been pretty wiped lately. I'll organize and arrange some stuff, like my school notes, then probably read some more and hit the sack. I have a really long day tomorrow.

And Ben, don't forget to have Delta send flight status updates to my UK number!
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
Lucky for me, it's been fairly good weather.

Friday after class I went to a lecture on Nazi-era history, which was rather interesting. If I ever need to come up with propaganda for a story, I'm going to steal from Goebbels' playbook. Their propaganda machine was very effective. Terrifyingly.

After that, I went out to dinner with a couple people from my class who were also at the lecture. It was Indian food, and it was tasty. Then we went home.

Saturday I went to the Karneval der Kulturen, a huge street fair in Kreuzberg, which is basically a celebration of multi-kulti Berlin (which is concentrated in Kreuzberg.) They had several stages, and lots of food and tschotchke stands. And beer. Can't have a German street fair without beer. Anyway, I met up with a couple guys from my class, and we hung out a bit, wandered and such, then one had to go, and the other had to go check his email to see what his friend was up to. I hung out with him, his friend, his friend's friend, and his friend's friend's friend (ha), chatting and drinking beer until it turned cold and threatened rain around 8. Then I went home and checked mail and whatnot.

I think drinking a couple beers outside in the warm sun without any water made me dehydrated and icky, so I drank a bunch of water while I chatted with Ben a bit. Then I took a nap, because I was going to meet some folks around midnight to go to a dance club and I wasn't sure I'd be awake long enough. Then I woke up around 11 and said, yeah, I'm too tired.

Yesterday I went to the flea market at the Mauerpark again, where I bought a bike lock for 2,50, so I can lock my suitcase to the train. The weather was so changeable yesterday. I wore my cardigan and carried my hoody, because it was cool when I left. Then the sun came out, and I didn't need my sweater, then the sun went away and I wanted it again. Pain in the butt. Anyway. There was this dude standing out on the sidewalk with some DJ equipment on an ironing board. His beats weren't too bad. I took a short video, but my camera battery was close to out, and I wanted to save my battery for the important picture.

After that I went into the Museumsinsel, where the Marx-Engels-Forum is located. It's a big green park with a statue of Karl and Fred, in full socialist realism "glory", in the middle. (One of the pictures I took is from the same angle as the one on top of wikipedia there.) I was alone, so I couldn't get my picture on Karl's knee. According to the German version of that entry, the statue is going to be moved to the Karl-Liebknecht-Bridge while the U5 is built and archaeological surveys are performed.

(The current administration in Berlin is a red-red coalition, that is, the SPD (social democrats/socialists) and the Left Party (democratic socialists/communists). Out of the 149 seats in the local government, only 13 are FDP, interesting for the fast facts box on the right: the party is 78% male and averages 51 years old (data not available in the English version.) The Free Democrats, aka the free market party, took 15% in the national parliamentary election last year but are steadily losing popularity. Far less popular here in Red Berlin than in the rest of the country. Footnote: I am entirely unsurprised that a former Count (Graf) was party leader for a time.)

Away from that sidetrack... I went shopping at Fassbender & Rausch, a fine chocolatier. (Click the US/UK flag for English.) They had various Berlin landmarks made of chocolate on display. Unfortunately my camera ran totally out of battery as I took a picture of the Brandenburg Gate. I got a decorative souvenir tin full of chocolate, which I haven't opened yet. They had some cute mini lunchboxes and pencil cases with teddy bear designs on them (full of chocolate) but I opted against those. Less useful later.

Then I came home, ate some dinner-like substance (couscous and a slice of cheese) and chatted with A a bit while trying to figure out what to do. My options included going to Matrix, a club which plays R&B, or finding some other people to come to Kaffee Burger with me. I eventually got one person to come with, and another (and her friends) joined us around midnight.

Kaffee Burger is the home of the Russendisko, founded by Wladimir Kaminer, a Russian migrant to East Berlin, in the 70s. Sadly, Russendisko was Saturday night, so we got a soul/funk night instead. The music was hard to dance to. But there was another room with ambient techno playing, and we went over there. Unfortunately, it was the smoking room, and there wasn't really a dance floor. So we sat around and drank some beer and talked and did the seat-dancing thing. Around 2, the others decided they wanted to go dancing over at Dante (where they went Saturday night), so we left. I kind of wanted to join them, but it was late, I was getting tired, and the admission was 10 Euro, and I didn't want to get there and pay my 10 Euro and leave in less than an hour because I was bored/too sober to dance/falling asleep. So I went home, which was probably the better decision, because I dozed off on the train.

Then I came home, hung up my stinky clothes on the laundry thing and went to sleep a little after 3. Not nearly long enough, of course. I woke up at 5, partly because I had to pee, partly because the sun was up. Then I spent the next 4 hours alternatively sleeping or wishing I were asleep. So I got up around 9:15, showered, and put my clothes out on the balcony to air out. I wish I had my sweater, because it's a bit cool, and my arms are cold.

Today, if the weather is nice, I might meet a girl from class in a park for a picnic and some studying, or if it isn't, I'll stay home and be lazy. Read, study some German... clean my room a bit? I need to figure out how to fit all my crap back into my suitcase. -_- (Today's a public holiday, see, so we don't have school.)

I just checked my sweater, and it still smells. Boo. I'll put on a long-sleeve shirt, instead. The sun comes out on occasion, but it's mostly being cloudy.

I'd love to be able to spend a month here every year (I think June or July, though!). You can rent furnished apartments for a month (or two or three...) via the internet, so that's one way to do it. Some can hold multiple people, so splitting a 3-room apartment with a couple people could save cash. Though I don't think I'll be able to afford taking a class again; it's really expensive.

Time to go wash my breakfast dishes, since I have a cup of coffee grounds here.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
- ran into a bunch of annoying Amis and Canadians who were drunk outside the bar (and are at the Institut), then ended up chatting with the Germans they were bothering and met a Chinese guy

- taught one of the young Swiss guys in my class the word "manwhore" (as part of a discussion of swearing in various languages)

- wore sandals to class!

- gave a (somewhat disjointed) presentation on the Geisterbahnhoefe in Berlin, which led into a plug -- by our teacher! -- for the anthology my short story is coming out in this October (she's helping me translate it into something resembling Real German)

- got involved in a discussion of Freudian psychology in class and got to use the word "Penisneid"

- stayed out of the discussion on Sterbehilfe (euthanasia) in class (Euthanasie exists as a word in German, but they don't use it now, according to my teacher, because of the NSDAP associations.)

- saw a lecture on "Degenerate Art" and Nazi propaganda

- got further into Das Paradies am Rande der Stadt, and I have to quote a little for you.
There were only a few things that Kloss hated more than waking up. Seeing a Hitler mustache first thing on waking was among these few things.

It's told in that sort of ironic tone, and it's got a very wry, sardonic cast to it. I'm enjoying it so far, though I'm only on page 33.

- looked at an apartment listing site in Berlin and found a super cute 1200 sqft maisonette in Prenzlauer Berg with a spiral staircase, only 950E/month warm.

- fell in love with the city again. I want to sit on the fountain at Alexanderplatz and close my eyes and feel the city. I want to go lean against the Mauer memorial at Bernauer Strasse, to sit in the Friedrichstrasse train station, to touch the Brandenburg Gate, and feel the city's soul. I want to find the in-between places in the city and join them.

The first time I came to Berlin was for 3 days in May 1997. I knew then that I'd go back. I feel at home here. I wish it were practical to consider moving, but there's the house, the cats, the boy, the other boy, my friends, my family... hell, my job. I have no idea what it would take to become a pharmacist here, other than the TestDaF (probably) and a lot of medical German, plus the German pharmacy laws and drugs... most likely a year-long internship or something, because my degree wouldn't transfer, nor would my licensure, since the rules are fairly different. The only info I've ever been able to find regards transfer of degrees from EU countries, though buried in the legalese toward the end is something about a test of equality for non-EU degrees.

Aside from that, I really don't want to work full time as anything other than a writer, and I'd probably fail a licensure exam if I took one today.

I love this city.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
So. Today was the day selected weeks ago for a trip to Potsdam. The forecast for the day, when I got up this morning, was 11C (ca 50F) and rainy. When I got back, they'd changed the forecast: 8C (45F) and rainy.

So I have a few pictures of Potsdam and Sans Souci, but not many because a) it was windy, b) it was rainy, and c) it was too fucking cold to take my hands out of my pockets. I bought a leporello (those booklets of mini postcards) of the castle, and a couple postcards, which have better pictures than I could have gotten today. Also, for 4,50, I picked up a map of Prussian Berlin, which has a guide to the buildings in the city that stem from Prussian times. Much smaller and more easily packed than the book I saw at Dussmann.

The hems of my jeans are soaked, and I can't really take them off, because my other pants I brought are rather thin, and it's forty three fucking degrees outside, and maybe 60 inside. Germans don't believe in heating.

I need to work on some homework, and Ben wanted to chat some tonight I think. And tonight is the DFB championship game between Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen, which starts at 8 pm I believe. I'd be interested in seeing it, and there's a sports bar up the street (though it's a smoking bar, ugh), but I'm not going back out there unless I have to. Which I don't.

The weather is currently forecast to improve by the end of this coming week. I hope it doesn't change in the meantime.
feuervogel: (do not want)
Thanks to this shite weather which can't make up its mind, I think I'm getting sick. This means I'm not going to be wandering around outside for hours the next couple days, so I can be gesund for my trips to Potsdam Saturday and Leipzig Sunday.

I haven't bought tickets to Leipzig yet; I'm meeting a couple gals from class at 11:30 to go to a travel agency and get some tickets on Connex (which I thought was a bus, but it's really a train). 8 am is gonna be painful DX At least I'm only a few stops away from Potsdamer Platz. I just checked, and if I catch the 7:44 U2, I should make it in time. That means I leave here around 7:35. ;__; But I can nap in the train, probably.

I'm gonna stop by the store and get some Ricola or something. My throat is a bit dry.

Also, it's mindboggling to me that the weather forecast for tomorrow and the enxt day changes every 6 hours. Yesterday morning, today's forecast was for 17 degrees (C), but now it's only 15. And the level of cloud cover changes all the time, and the chance of rain. It's safe to say I'm confused!

Anyway. I have an hour until I need to leave, so I'll use my time to work on my translation. My teacher said she'd be willing to go over it for grammar, though she doesn't promise anything for style.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
Last night I went out, originally to Kreuzberg to meet a gal from class, but she said the bar they were at was in OranienBURGERstrasse, instead of Oranienstrasse, so I ended up going to the other damn end of the city. It's certainly easy to mix them up. I'd been planning to go to a bar called Aufsturz, which has a whole bunch of different beers, and that's where I ended up. I hate going out alone, but I enjoyed my beer (St Bernardus Tripel. Recommended if you like tripels.)

I went to the Berliner Unterwelten tour today, just in time for the noon trip thanks to a quick check of BVG and a dash to the Bahnhof to make a train in 5 minutes. It was really interesting, though you're not allowed to photograph inside. The area was built as an air raid shelter during WW2, then the S-bahn line was built above it. They knew the structure wasn't sound enough to withstand a bomb impact (the ground wasn't very far above it, and the concrete wasn't super thick), but they built it anyway. They put in some impact wave break walls to decrease the force as it traveled from the impact site, though I have no idea how successful it would be.

During the Cold War, it was used as a storage facility for canned goods and such, because they learned during the Blockade of 48-49 that they could suffer easily from a lack of goods. They also stored TP and other such things. The Allies expanded it a bit and firmed up the structure for use during a nuclear attack.

Then we took a short train ride to a neighboring station, which had a very well-planned bomb shelter, with doors to flight tunnels that lined up precisely to the BVG U-bahn-train doors, and airlocks into the shelter itself and decontamination rooms and stored bunk beds ... very well planned, except that people would have nothing to do for two weeks (which is how long they could stay there) except worry about the outside world.

I should write a story about something like that.

Then after that, since I was sort of in the area, I took the U8 up to Bernauer Strasse and walked to the Mauerpark, where I ran into a huge flea market. I wandered through the aisles, and there were so many things, but all I bought were some photo prints of abandoned or ruined buildings (6 for 5 E.) Well, and a veggie burger and a 0,4L cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice. (I really only like OJ if it's fresh. Its taste changes somehow when it's packed.)

I ran into Carlos, a guy from Venezuela who I met at the Stammtisch on Wednesday, and he was with a friend from Venezuela, Anabel. I talked with her a bit while he went off to buy a guitar (?). They were going to the Dali exhibit, and they invited me along, but I had vague other plans, so I declined. (I like Dali. He's very surreal. Maybe I'll go later.)

My other plans involved going to some of the Geisterbahnhoefe and the Gedenkstaette Berliner Mauer. They're expanding the Gedenkstaette, and it's going to take up most of that section of street. I want to see it when they finish. Then I walked up Bernauer Strasse to Nordbahnhof, where there's an exhibition on the Geisterbahnhoefe (that I didn't know about until I got there, actually.) I took some pictures into the station, and they turned out delightfully creepy with the flash (and bad without it).

My main goal for Nordbahnhof had been to take pictures of the stripes with name placards that represent the stations of the trains that used to stop there (back when it was the Stettiner Bahnhof (trains went from there to Stettin/Sczecin), but there's this bloede Neubauten there which destroyed some of them. But some still exist, so I took pictures of them.

Then I walked back to the U6 station by where Ben & I stayed 2 years ago (they changed the name from Zinnowiter Strasse to Naturkundemuseum), took it a few stations, changed to U2, and came home. My feet, ankles, and knees ache, so I'm going to not walk for a while, I think.

Going places alone is kind of melancholy, I think, especially if you're visiting melancholy places. Sometimes that's the feeling I want, though.

I should eat some dinner, too. Thankfully I have some stuff I can cook.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
So, I decided, after I went grocery shopping, to go up to Dussmann, to look for books and CDs. I found a book about the Geisterbahnhoefe, which I can't wait to read, and I decided against getting the 30-Euro, very heavy book on the Berlin train system since 1880. There was a smaller one, but it wasn't as cool and had fewer pictures.

I seem to have developed a thing for trains and train stations. I'm becoming a train-station otaku. WTH. If I end up doing a real life Tetsuko no Tabi, ... actually, that could be awesome, especially if I could get someone to pay me for it.

There were also books you could buy to give yourself a guided tour of the remnants of the Kaiserzeit. I considered it but eventually passed.

Then I went to the CD section. They have a section marked "ClubCulture," which is where they stuck all the techno and trance stuff (though the Rammstein was in the "German rock and pop" section.) Schiller has a new CD out, but I've only been able to find the deluxe edition with DVD ... which won't play on any of my machines. And he's playing a concert here ... the day AFTER I leave :P Anyway, I got 2 of his older CDs that I didn't already have. Then I got one from Unheilig (because I remembered the name and liked the snippets it played when I stuck it under the 'play this' thingy.) I looked at some Wolfsheim, but their CDs were all 18+ Euro, while the old Schiller ones were 9.99.

Not that I can listen to them; I don't have a CD player.

Lastly, I got a book called Das Paradies am Rande der Stadt, which purports to be a dystopian SF tale and was nominated for the German SF prize. We'll see. Hopefully I'll have better luck with my German SF than [personal profile] yhibiki did.

After all that, I went out and decided, since I wasn't too far, to walk up Friedrichstrasse a bit. I ran into Unter den Linden and said, hey, what the hell, I'll walk up to the Brandenburg Gate. So I did. There were a bunch of signs saying that the road was blocked off, so I wondered what was going on. I stopped in a Berlin souvenir shop and bought a t-shirt (olive with a red star and "berlin germany" written on it) and a mini postcard book.

Then I get there and see tons of Polizei. There's a smallish crowd of people protesting for the decriminalisation of marijuana. Then I went through the Gate, and a man asked me if I wanted to ride his sightseeing bus for 5 Euro and get good views. It was an old-fashioned open-top double decker bus, so I had to XD Though it was ass cold on top of the bus when it was moving, though I had a blanket for my lap and zipped up my jacket to the neck.

Then we got back to the Gate, and I was feeling peckish, so I got a Dunkin Donut. It was a spring donut with yellow icing and a ladybug, and the icing had a flavor, but I can't tell you what it was. Not lemon. (perhaps not-lemon, actually.)

I'd seen ads for the Komische Oper playing The Abduction from the Seraglio, so I swung by their ticket office and bought one for Wednesday, for a whole 12 Euro. (Woo, cheap seats.) The ticket lady told me the balcony is a good place to sit anyway, and I have a good view and good acoustics. She also said it was a very modern Inszenierung, and very controversial when they ran it several years ago, and no one under 18 can go see it. (Because it's about sex. A seraglio, after all.)

Then I started walking back to a train station and decided I had to pee, so I swung into a coffee shop and used their bathroom. Then I felt obligated to buy a drink, so I got a chai. It was nice. After that, I came home.

The sun just came out a bit, but it's still not exactly warm. We've still got a hour and a half until sunset. Northern Europe and long summer days are great. The long winter nights really suck.

I don't know what I'm going to do the rest of the day. Maybe I'll go up to Potsdamer Platz and enjoy the sun a bit. Tomorrow I think I'm going to find Berliner Unterwelten and take their Cold War tour (#3). (Who's surprised I'm interested in that one?) Whatever I do, I should eat some leftover pizza for dinner. Though there's no microwave here. I guess I'll eat it cold.

Speaking of cold, I'm going to make sure there are no cats on the balcony and shut my door.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Took a guided tour of some sections of the Wall today. I bought some postcards, so I'll be working on those in the next few days and sending them out. [livejournal.com profile] av3rnus, I found something very ... special for you. XD

Anyway, it's about time to head to class.

Iron Man 2 was AWESOME, though the dub voice for RDJ is Wrong.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
The boat trip was nice this morning. It was a bit cold on the upper level of the boat on the river when the wind came up (which it did, naturally, as we were on a river), but the sun was out and it was beautiful and clear. The only way it could have been more perfect was if it had been 5 degrees (at least) warmer. It's only like 55 degrees out. Brr. It's supposed to be cloudy the next few days, but it's supposed to warm up more. Which is cool.

Class was an interesting discussion of history and whether the German language is forever tainted by the association with the NSDAP, which tangented into discussions of whether Americans discuss slavery in school, as well as the Indians (whom we did our damnedest to exterminate.) (We don't, really.)

I bought a ticket for Iron Man 2, but since [livejournal.com profile] tsubasa asked, I'm not sure it's going to be in English. I guess I'll find out tomorrow! And if it isn't, I'll just go buy a ticket for it at the other massive cineplex which advertises its shows in English (Originalverfassung) and watch it again. I don't even know if a German dub of it exists yet...

The other gals in my class are cool and I like hanging out with them. Two of them are dragging me out to the Stammtisch tonight, which, even though it *says* it starts at 8, doesn't really start until 10. But they promised I just have to have one beer, and that's good enough. I can manage that ;) I'm still jet lagged as hell, though my lack of sleep may be starting to catch up with me. Last night I used my sleep mask, because the curtains aren't very dark, and it gets light really early (like 5:30 am.) It stays light fairly late - it's 7:45 as I type this, but my mental clock thinks it's more like 6:30. Sunset isn't till 8:40. Of course, that means on the other side, you get the damned short winter days.

A few of the gals also want to go to Dresden and Leipzig, so we may look into making a group trip. Maybe tomorrow during the break we can peruse the train schedules, for Dresden at least. Though they may want to do the cultural program things. Don't know.

I'm really damn tired, but I have to stay up another couple hours :P Maybe I'll go find something to eat, though my feet hurt from walking around all day in new shoes, and I kind of like sitting.

I got through all my rss feeds, mostly by saying "mark all as read" by category. I had 264 entries! I haven't even started looking at LJ! And my battery is trying to scare me, unfortunately. Tells me I have 30 minutes left.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
As expected, I was placed in the C1.1 course, which is the highest level they're offering in this session. It's probably a mixture of all the C-level people. There are 9 of us, and 10-15 people in the other sections, so probably like 40 or 50 people total? I'm terrible at that sort of thing.

In my class, there's me, another American, two Swiss guys, a kid (he's 17) from Mexico, a guy from Israel, a woman from Brazil, a woman from Sweden, a woman whose home country I didn't catch, and a couple I'm forgetting. Ah well. Our teacher decided not to give us a textbook (yay), so we're doing most of our work from newspaper articles and that sort of thing. Tonight's homework was to write a letter in response to a classmate's wish using conditional sentences. I got to write a letter to a guy who wants to be successful at university. (The point is to use a variety of conditional constructions, rather than just if you X, then Y.)

Afterward I went over to Alexa, this huge shopping mall on Alexanderplatz, to look for shoes, since I found some cute ones on sale at Galeria, but they weren't in my size :P I found a pair that fit! And was comfortable! And will be less likely to make me turn my ankle on the cobblestones and uneven pavement! (My wooden-soled shoes are really problematic on cobbles. They also hurt after a while. I was hoping it wouldn't be so damn cold all the time. It's also never going to stop raining.) They weren't the first pair I tried, which were also cute, but they were either too tight (in 38) or too long (in 39).

Anyway. I came home eventually, and I met the other gal who's staying here, an Italian named Lily. She's also taking classes at Goethe. We talked a bit, then she got a phone call to go out to a club right now. She invited me along, but I hadn't done my homework yet (heh), so I declined. Maybe next time. I gave her my number, so she can call or text.

Iron Man 2 opens tomorrow, and I'm totally going to catch a showing. You buy tickets for a reserved place, which is kinda weird. But I can swing by there and buy tickets in person, during the break maybe, since the ticket stand only opens 15 minutes before the first show, which is at 2:30. I can do it if I hurry.

Tomorrow I'm taking a boat trip on the Spree, and we meet at 10:00, so I'll leave from here around 9:15, which means I should get up at 7:30 or so.

So I just spent a good bit of time talking to Andrea about when to get up in the morning and how to share the bathroom and looking at old cat pictures. Now I really need to sleep...
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
So I got up after sleeping for close to 11 hours, and I had some muesli for breakfast. Then I poked around on the internet a bit before wandering over to the Goethe Institut for my placement test. Andrea, my flatmate, said it would be just as easy to walk from Alex to the Institut as to change trains, because the U-bhf is so big, it would take me the same amount of time to walk to the other line.

So I left, map in hand, and belatedly realized I hadn't actually looked at the damned thing to figure out which way I was supposed to go. So I wandered around the wrong way, went left when I should have gone right, turned where I didn't need to, but I eventually made it there. Then I took a written test (multiple choice and essay) and did a short oral exam/interview. Tomorrow I'll find out which class I'm in.

There's a culture program, which has daily outings - often two per day, one around 10 AM, the other around 6 pm. And there's a Stammtisch! It sounds like fun, and I've always wanted to go to one. It should be a fun way to get to know the people in my class. (A Stammtisch is a regular, often weekly, gathering of people of a like-minded nature, frequently in a bar or coffee house. The only equivalent I can think of in the US is Drinking Liberally.)

They've got a wide variety of outings, from a riverboat city tour to tours of various districts (P'ler Berg and Kreuzberg) to history tours (the wall and a tour with the theme "fall '89." Sign me up!) and day trips to Potsdam and Sachsenhausen, I also want to fit in a trip to Dresden and one to Leipzig. There are also guided tours of Underground Berlin. There are two I want to take: one goes into the Cold War history and discusses the ghost stations, and the other tours the places where people tunneled under the wall. It may be difficult to work them in, since they run not exactly conveniently to class or the day trips.

Anyway. So I decided to walk back to Alex, better map and directions in hand, and I was walking through the passage next to Galeria Kaufhof when I heard the opening chord of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. I joined the smallish crowd gathered there to watch 4 guys with string instruments playing Mozart. They looked like they were having fun, despite it being ass cold (and windy, and rainy), and I tossed a Euro into their basket. Er, cello case. Whatever.

The way back was much easier and took only 5 minutes.

Then I picked up some groceries and some lunch and headed back, then went back out to see about some house shoes, since I neglected to shove my ballet-style slippers in my suitcase. Fortunately, Woolworth over on the corner sells them for 5E. I also looked at some shoes, since the shoes I brought for wearing in rain are less than comfortable. They're tight across the ball. I keep forgetting that. The Woolworth shoes were cheap, in both senses of the word.

Then I came back again, because it was raining harder and gross out. After a while, I decided to go get dinner at the recommended-by-Lonely-Planet restaurant Maultaschen Manufaktur, which serves mostly Maultaschen, but also Spaetzle. Maultaschen and spatezle are Swabian specialties. I had 2 Maultaschen filled with spinach and mozzarella, with well-browned onions on top, a German potato salad (made with mustard), and a green salad. And a small (0,3L) Hefeweizen. I was rather full.

I didn't feel like whiling away the hours until I went to bed back in the apartment, so I took a bus up to Potsdamer Platz and wandered through the Arkaden, a big shopping mall. I looked at many pairs of shoes, almost bought one, but ultimately did not. Though if it gets warm and stops raining any time soon, I might be tempted by the grey and purple ones.

So now I'm back and getting ready to head to bed. Tomorrow morning I wanted to go check out the book and CD shop by Alexanderplatz, or possibly Galeria Kaufhof (I need some DFB apparel!) before class, which meets at 1:15 (that's 7:15 RDU time.) Though the book shop is open later, and I could go after class.

I should also go sign up for the boat trip, since it's Wednesday, and you have to sign up by the day before. I hope that doesn't mean you have to sign up before 10 am tomorrow; that would be sad.

Right. Time to get some sleep. I wonder if I'll need the benadryl again.

In Berlin

2 May 2010 02:24 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
I arrived! So far I've found the apartment -- it's really nice, actually! The building is really old, and I have no idea what it used to be, but I'm guessing something fancy. There are a lot of creaky stairs to get up here. And I met both cats. Ginger is sweet, and Atilla is HUGE. He sniffed all my stuff and loafed up on the bed. I had a very nice shower.

The cats have an enclosed balcony to sit on, and it's just off my room.The door stays open during the day so they can go in and out.

There's an international supermarket just at the corner, and a Middle Eastern deli between here and the U-bahn station (a falafel wrap for 2,50!) I haven't gone grocery shopping yet, because I don't know where to put my stuff, because my flatmate hasn't come back yet. She won't be here till 6 or 7.

I did manage to sleep on the plane, with the assistance of benadryl. I slept about 3 or 4 hours, I think. I hope I can stay awake until my flatmate gets back! I don't want to nap, because that'll only make my jet lag worse.

The weather keeps changing its mind between sunny and cloudy. At least it's fairly pleasant.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
Holy crap. I have this irrational fear that I'll forget something important. I won't forget my passport; I'm not *that* flighty. I have my list, and I've checked it repeatedly. (I also have written down the locations of the FOUR Lush stores in Berlin, and a couple doctors who take Blue Cross, and some DBank ATMs.)

I'd planned on wearing a light skirt on the plane, since pants have an appalling tendency to bunch up, but it's only supposed to be 68 on Sunday and 60 (and 50% chance of rain) on Monday (if they lose my luggage, I hope they find it in 24 hours or less), and that would be a bit too cold. But I have another skirt or two I could wear instead, so I'll go with one of them (and stick my broomstick skirt in the suitcase.) My black shoes will clash, but you know what? I'm not flying for fashion, here.

I found out my flatmate has 2 cats, Ginger and Atilla. Ginger is friendlier, and will want to be petted. She also has a wired internet connection, which has issues with Macs for some reason, and I have no idea how it'll handle my Linux netbook. I've never tried plugging it in to ethernet. Failing that, there's free wifi at Potsdamer Platz and at the Institut.

I ran around and got a lot of things I needed, but I couldn't find a flipping collapsible travel cup. I looked at Harris Teeter and Kerr Drug! I didn't feel like running out to Target.

I'm excited to be going, but also nervous. I always worry when I'm not home. Also, will I be able to make friends? Will I be miserable like in Oregon and go home and be emo every night (when I should *really* be going out there and having fun instead)? Will the cats go evil while I'm gone? Will I be able to practice tai chi, or will I be too self-conscious to do it in a park? (I assume the flat isn't big enough, though I obviously don't know.)

Tonight is L's birthday, so we're going to swing by her party for an hour or two. I'm really tired; I started off the week by not getting enough sleep, and I've not managed to catch up completely, partly because I keep waking up before my alarm. And I still can't sleep in worth a damn, so if I get to bed at like 11, I'll still wake up around 6. But maybe if I'm wiped enough, I'll be able to sleep some on the plane :P
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
The forecast for Berlin Sunday is 68 and a 20% chance of rain. Monday is 68 and a 50% chance of rain. Tuesday and Wednesday are 60 with a 20% chance of rain. (Tuesday night it may get cold enough to snow, wtf.)

I should pack my raincoat, I think. I hope my hoody is warm enough for these lows in the 30s and 40s... I have a cardigan I'm taking as well. That's the problem with going for such a long time and at the cusp of two seasons.

I also need to figure out what shoes I'm going to take. Good walking shoes, of course (or my Tevas, which I wear every damn where anyway), and my rain shoes. I'd like to take some fun/ky shoes if I go out to a club or something, but I may just settle for "shoes I won't get my toes broken in if someone steps on me." Should I take my cute wedge-heeled sandals? I don't know how often I'd wear them, but I love them so. I'm not taking any of my Vogs, because they're sort of bulky.

I just don't want to get stuck without the right pair of shoes, you know? (Well, maybe you don't.)

So far, I have my clothes packed. I need to get my shoes together and start collecting the various things I need for my carry on (and put some phone numbers into my other phone). I just started charging my new battery, and it makes a noise, which is kind of weird, I guess. I'll take the old battery as a spare, even though I fully expect it to be out of charge when I try to use it later.

Oh, right, I need to buy a plane ticket from Berlin to Vienna...
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
So, I got my address yesterday! It's on Kurfürstenstr, on the eastern end, near a U1 and a U2 station. It's not in Charlottenburg, thankfully, and it's really close to Potsdamer Platz, though it's kind of far from Mitte and the Institut (which I'll probably get to by the U2 to Alexanderplatz, then transfer to the U8 to Weinmeisterpl.) I'm like 3/4 of a mile from Checkpoint Charlie. Shiny!

I saw the address in my email and was like, "Damn, I don't wanna live in Charlottenburg!" because the Ku'damm is the western end of that street, and it's full of boutique shopping (like Prada, Gucci, Boss, you know, all the bourgeois stuff.) But I looked on GMaps, and it's not as bad as I thought.

I need to figure out where to buy a monthly BVG pass. They're 72E, so it'll pay for itself after just over 34 rides (at 2,10 each), or 17 days assuming I only use public transit two times a day. (There's also a 10-am monthly pass, which is 50E and you can only use it between 10 am and 3 am Mon-Fri, which would mean I'd have to buy supplements for weekends. But that doesn't seem to be terribly günstig,* since I'd only have to buy 12 single tickets to make up the difference.)

But I can try my exercise plan, which is take transit to one end of Tiergarten and walk to the other, since I'm also pretty close to Tiergarten.

The Staatsoper is just doing Carmen and L'etoile, neither of which I'm terribly interested in. Oh, there's also L'Elisir d'Amore, which, I dunno. The Deutsche Oper doesn't have anything I'm interested in, either. Maybe I'll just find a classical concert to go to or something.

Berlin isn't a very big city. It's only 350 square miles (though that *has* to be including a lot of the suburbs), and only has 3.4 million people, about 15% of whom are unemployed.

*Expect the amount of Denglisch in my posts to increase over the next few weeks.

Holy shit, you guys, I'm gonna be in Berlin in, like, 5 days!

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