Sunday, May 31, 2009

Karneval der Kulturen

Today we went to the Karneval der Kulturen, the "Carnival of Cultures" in Kreuzberg, the city district with the most diversity. Every year they have this huge parade and a crazy fair to go along with it. The fair is all weekend, with different stands set up with food, alcohol, jewelery, clothes, etc.
The parade is made up of about a hundred different groups, from different countries or different kinds of music, some are sponsored by various organiztions in the city. The parade went for nine hours, to give you an idea of how much stuff there was. Most of the music was electro, and people would jump in behind their favorite floats and just follow them, dancing to the music.
There was so much alcohol everywhere, everyone drinking and dancing, I couldn't believe how many people there were. The newspaper said it is about 850,000 people watching the parade.

The food/drink: You could get a 0,33 Liter beer for 1 or 2 euros, lots of people were drinking mixed drinks (for some reason I think caipirinha is the most popular), and the most common foods were probably Wurst, grilled steaks, crepes, and Indian food, chicken. Michael and I also got Pfannkuchen, which is what non-Berliners call "Berliner," the jelly donuts Kennedy made so famous. :) Here's a picture to the left.

And some people even sorted their recycling. :) haha, not everyone, there were bottles Germany there is a deposit on the bottles, so there were also people going around and collecting the beer bottles, they will earn money when they return them.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


The Tiergarten is this huge park in Berlin where I have been running. On the easternmost side it starts a few blocks from me, at the Brandenburger Tor. From there it goes west a few miles and it is really wide with lots of winding paths.

It used to be the hunting grounds for the royalty living in Berlin (the German word Tier is related to the English word deer but now it means "animal", hence Tiergarten). It became increasingly "tamed" and fenced in until the late 18th century when it became more a park than hunting grounds.

I really like running here because there are so many interesting things hidden throughout the park...tons of various statues, little bridges, benches, flower gardens, ponds, lakes, but most of it is forest. It's not very old forest because of war damage.

Today I noticed that one of the major paths I am running on, which is called Bremer Weg, is named for the city of Bremen, which gave Berlin the trees which line this path in 1950.

One of the other paths is called Fasanenweg, "Pheasant Path", which I think my dad would think is pretty cool. Didn't hear any drumming though...The only wildlife I have seen so far are birds, not even squirrels, which seems strange.

Here is a picture I found of what the park looked like in 1945:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Berlin! Berlin!

So after two long flights we arrive in Germany and I feel right away like I am in the modern world again. Seriously, to come into Frankfurt airport and go to their ultra-modern looking train station and go 10 minutes into downtown Frankfurt, and from there get on a high-speed train to Berlin...I just have the feeling every time that the US is decades behind. The train ride was totally comfortable, I slept more than on the flight, and in less than five hours we were in Berlin, standing outside the apartment.

The building is what is called Plattenbau, cheap apartment bulidings put up in East Germany like building blocks. It has since been renovated, but you can tell from the outside which buildings were constructed like this. Our apartment is on the seventh floor, with no elevator...which is already starting to be a workout in itself. :)

We are living right on Gendarmenmarkt, below. This square has two huge churches, the French and the German Dom, and between them the Konzerthaus.

It is so beautiful. Here is a picture at night, so gorgeous:

And here I am, enjoying a half-liter sized bottle of good German Bier: