Saturday, May 29, 2010

exploring, biking about. this, too, is Berlin :)

NOTE:This summer's blog will be much less the Berlin you see on postcards, and more pictures from across the city, real Berliners out and about.
So one of our priorities was to get bikes. Michael's friend Philipp lent me a women's bike and we got a second one for 70Euro from this really nice Turkish man who has a shop around the corner. He also recommended that we get another, thicker bike lock. We already had one, but he said "Small work, they can cut through anything." Bikes really get stolen here, and I guess if you lock up two bikes together it's more worth it for the theives to cut through the cable. When we told him we're from the US he asked us if bikes don't get stolen there. NOT like here, we also laughed because not so many people bike. It's not like Germany where EVERYONE bikes. He said "the more poverty, the more theft." true....

Biking around today. Below: on the Spree

biking towards Treptower Park

below: Görlitzer Park, more central, pretty dirty, TONS of people, maybe the most diverse park with everyone from Turkish immigrants, families grilling, American tourists, a few African drug dealers, Berliner hippies, artsy people, college students, teenagers, women in headscarves, old man circles, kids on playgrounds, people biking through, roller blading, suntanning...COLORFUL! :)

in Kreuzberg along the canal...some NICE apartments!

below: another apartment building along the canal

café where we had lunch. the two girls sitting next to us were French, everyone else speaking German. Did hear English for the first time today though in this area. Tourists come more starting in June though.

below: lunch. Michael got Maultaschen, which are filled dough pockets, with a vegetarian mixture inside, spinach served on the side. Creamy, buttery, delicious. I got breakfast "Amsterdam", which is two German rolls served with different kinds of cheese, marmelade, nutella, fruit, a hard-boiled egg

but I shouldn't let the sun fool you. It's been pretty chilly!

below: you can see the café where we had lunch along the water I look forward to your comments/questions if you have any!

hier wohne ich.

I still can't believe it...but this is where I live. In an old German apartment building (the Germans say either Altbau or Neubau, meaning pre- or post-WWII. I guess this one must have survived.) Two-room apartment plus bath and kitchen, renovated and amazingly cheap (this is Berlin, after all).

Interesting is that most German kitchens are "Einbauküchen" which means they are not built in really but you can take all the pieces out when you move out. Not many apartments have permanent kitchens. Other oddities: for me it's weird not to have to have screens. You can just open windows, no bugs. And of note: German showers never have attached showerheads. You can always raise/lower the nozzle as you need to, and take it off, which some American showers have I guess. But it's just interesting sometimes what's standard and what's not.

below: staircase
below: entry level. to the left are the stairs. straight through is the courtyard where people keep their bikes and where the garbage/recycling is. Note the great old mosaic tiles on the floor.

below: ours is the second balcony up on the right.

below: the living room also has this great old stove that must have once heat the place. beautiful tiles, the German word is Kachelofen, tiled stove. So glad they left it when they renovated!

random cool things

billboard below means that our neighborhood will be more beautiful with you on a bike :)
below: I took this for my sister Elisabeth.

and I took this for my sister Anna...

Käse und Wurst...mmm...
And this one is for my grandma...TJ Maxx is apparently called T.K. Maxx here, and this one is on Karl-Marx-Street. How amazing. :)

wieder in Berlin! [back in Berlin!]

So, back in Berlin for two months. Two Germanists: reading, jogging, biking, cooking, eating, trying to make themselves work a bit instead of wandering the city day and night. :)

This time we're living in Treptow, south east side of the city, near Neukölln and Kreuzberg, known for cheaper apartments and hence young families, students and immigrants. Above is one of the canals which run through this part of the city. It's gorgeous all along here--joggers, people out with small children, bikers, cafés along the canal, green spaces with people out in the sun, lots of playgrounds.
Below: our street, Heidelberger Strasse
below: the sign marking the beginning of Alt-Treptow, west is the neighborhood of Neukölln, and the wall used to divide the two.
Outside our door is the double-brick line which represents where the Berlin Wall used to stand. The apartment building is in the former west, and used to face the "death strip" between the two walls, on the other side East Berlin. The area has lots of little cafés and restaurants.

below: German Frühstück
typisch: fresh rolls [Brötchen] from the bakery down the street, different kinds of cheese, Wurst, herbed cheese spreads, fruit, an egg and coffee