Monday, February 7, 2011

Sun! And Berlin oddities

I've spent the past two days almost strictly spazieren because it's been warm and today there was even some sun!

On Sunday, I went with a couple of my friends to an awesome Brunch place called Entweder Oder in Prenzlauer Berg. Best idea ever. The German conception of brunch basically means a huge platter of fixins and a basket of warm brötchen. So good. Then we walked to the Mauerpark to check out the Flohmarkt, which was cool, but apparently it is cooler in good weather. We took some compulsory pictures of paint, au Ramsey/Herr Dr. Prof. Shahan:

Then, we headed further out, to this cool park near Gesundbrunnen. There is a huge tower that was previously an anti-aircraft tower during the war, according to my friend Dan. It is a super creepy remnant of the war, and the Soviet-style monument on top doesn't make it much cheerier. But, it was a super cool park and an interesting spot. Here's a picture of one side that people use as a climbing wall:

Today I finally went to look at the Gendarmenmarkt for the first time on this trip. Cool, but not as fascinating as some of the more gritty remnants of German history, in my opinion. I met up with my friend Lilly around lunch. We ate Dada Falafel, then proceeded to have one of the most Kafka-esque experiences of my time in Berlin: getting her a replacement for her lost HU Ausweis/Bahn card. Now, this sounds like something that might take a little bit of bureaucratic finagling, but the reality of the situation far exceeded my expectations. For one, the office in question is open two hours a day, two days a week. Second, the official person in question wasn't there at first. She/I kept getting pointed to different rooms within the Hauptgebäude, which would have been fine, except for the appearance of that place. It was almost impossible to navigate, complete with interrogation-like lighting and various Baustelle that made things impassible. A sample:

I seriously felt like the Maus in "Kleine Fabel." Anyway, it was fun in its own way and we survived, ready for an outdoor excursion: Tempelhof! Woo!!

Tempelhof airport closed recently, and now the runway/field is open as a park. This place is so awesome. The building, for one, is huge. It also has a super imposing style that is a stunning example of Nazi-era architecture. The airfield is also amazing because of its sheer size. It is super bizarre to walk through Berlin and suddenly hit such a massive open space, accompanied by an extremely scary-looking building. Plus, there were guys wind-skateboarding. Yes, that exists. Pictures:
(ahh ugly me!)

This entire post sort of makes Berlin seem like a cold, harsh place, but in reality, all of this stuff just gives the city a kind of life and visible history that makes it what it is.

After the spazieren, I proceeded to start working on Berlin Alexanderplatz. It is hard, but doable. I've also come to the point in this trip where I know I won't achieve any more hard core research, so I'm just trying to see as much and learn as much as I can while I'm here. This includes: Berlinische Galerie, Tacheles, Brecht Haus, more parks, more reading, more library fun, etc. I know I'll come back here, but the pressure is still on to really live it.

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