Strolling Around

I’ve been in Berlin for almost a month now, and this is my last week.  Time really has raced by, and I haven’t gotten everything that I need out of this archive yet.  But, that’s why I’ve decided that I’ll be coming back in February to finish up.  Knowing that I’m coming back has kept me from getting upset that I’m leaving on Saturday, because I have come to love Berlin.  In fact, I can easily say that it’s my favorite German city, which is ironic being that – in so many ways – it’s not very German at all (I have to be careful when granting the “favorite city” award, because Marburg, a city with ancient charm – holds a special place in my heart ever since it was my home for a year just over five trips around the sun ago).

I’ve been impressed while walking around Berlin’s city center, with its sprawling government structures, monuments and war memorials.  I’ve taken a couple of strolls down the perpetually-under-construction Unter den Linden, and down Friedrichstrasse, Berlin’s swanky shopping district.  The cheesy Christmas Market (complete with mobile log cabins and fake snow in the shadow of Berlin’s modern, glass, Deutsche Bahn tower) was a weird, yet fun, place to have a Bratwurst and Glühwein.  And I’ve spent nearly $15 to go see a movie (Catching Fire, which was awesome!) in the futuristic Sony Center at Postdamer Platz.

Those places are cool and all, but I really love Berlin for the places like Kreuzberg and Neuekölln.  My bus to the archive goes straight through Kreuzberg, another multicultural, young district of Berlin.  When I leave the archive at 6, and my stomach starts growling, I have to drive through streets lined with temptation:  sushi joints, Italian pizzerias, Indian restaurants, Malaysian street food, kebab stands, schnitzel shops, Chinese takeout…you name it – if you spin a globe and stop it with your finger, chances are there is a restaurant in Kreuzberg that’ll serve food from there.  So, needless to say, on more than one occasion, I haven’t made it home for supper – after my mouth waters for several stations, I can’t take it anymore, and I push the stop button on the bus, hop out, and take my choice.  One night, the pun of the burger joint called “Kreuzburger” tempted me, but I decided to go with Mexican instead.  I’m not sure why I thought German Mexican food would be a good idea since I’m a Mexican food snob, but hey, it was happy hour, so that made up for it.

In fact, since I’ve been here, I’ve only had “typical” German food once – sausage, potatoes (with a bit of salad thrown in for good measure) and beer – doesn’t get much more German than that.

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Guten Appetit!

I’ve already written about my neighborhood, Neuekölln, so I won’t take up more space on it here.  I’m going to miss it, but what I could tell from the 24 hours that I’ve spent in Köln (Cologne, which is where I’m heading on Saturday), it’s pretty diverse as well.  So, maybe not all is lost.

Here are a few more shots of my neighborhood, Neuekölln:

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Heading to the archives. Despite spending 80 Euros on a month pass, I have yet to have a single person check for my ticket.

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An Indian restaurant 25 steps away from my house. I’ve gotten spoiled on good, homemade Indian food, too, so – like Mexican food – I always find myself judging on whether it’s “real” or not. (Yeah, I know: snobfest.) I guess German tolerance for spice is even less than American, so the food lacked the typical Indian kick, BUT the Gulab-Jamun (think, balls of fried dough soaked in syrup!) made up for it!

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The soul cat bar didn’t have any soul on Sundays, though.

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Second hand vinyl shop, with a touch of German graffiti and a dash of the typical half-shredded posters

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Sometimes the graffiti can be pretty good, though.

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I love this: The Rosa Parks Elementary School

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Rosa Parks Elementary School: Play together, Learn together, Live together. A pretty fitting motto in such a diverse neighborhood

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And then right next to the Rosa Parks Elementary School, we have the Tempest Anarchist Library.

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Neuekölln recycling

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One block over, there’s a “free time colony” where people garden and grow things in the middle of the city. But, from the looks of it, they’re pretty selective about who gets in and who gets out.

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