Thursday, 30 July 2009

Best day ever?

Yesterday we had the best day ever (again). A has fixed our bicycles so the gears and brakes work and we cycled to Badeschiff in Kreuzberg. It should have been no surprise that it was packed with people, but even if swimming was more difficult in the crowded pool, we had fun people watching. People really have crazy tattoos! We cooled off at Freischwimmer, a riverside restaurant and "wasserlounge" next to Badeschiff. You can also rent kayaks and canoes there, which we want to do sometime. Cycling home we stopped in Freidrichshain and I gave A the tour of what he missed when my friend E was visiting. We also found a funny organic/vegetarian/vegan fast-food restaurant called Yoyo and I had my first "currywurst" with fries and A had a Holzfäller Teller, a "pork chop" with fries. It was quite yummy and it was nice to be able to order off the whole menu for a change! We also had a smoothie and a beer, and it all only came to €14. Talk about being a cheap date... When we finally got home we were very dehydrated, happy and had cycled for about 16 kilometres. Well done us!

Picture from Yoyo Foods website

Monday, 27 July 2009

Me ♥ Summer

We slept in – again. Then we packed a stack of magazines and cycled to our neighbouring park and have spent the whole day reading and playing Yatzy. (We bought a deck of cards and a travel edition of Yatzy in Oxfam, happy days!) On Wednesday we plan on going swimming, maybe to the beach at Wannsee, depending on our friends M and D, who will join us. Oh, summer. ♥

Saturday, 25 July 2009

German for 3-year-olds

My reading material is more juvenile than usual. I admit I have read all the Harry Potter books, but that's not juvenile. Currently I am reading a book called "Der Wald" – a book about the forest, for 3-year-olds. But it's excellent material for studying German. My more ambitious project is a Walt Disney "Lustiges Taschenbuch" with Donald Duck's spoof on Gone With the Wind (bought in Mauerpark). 'Die Ducks' have accompanied me to the park, but Der Wald stays in the privacy of my home. But I can recommend these simple books as learning material, it really works! (I suppose I know slightly less German than a native 3 year old...) Check out bulk bookstore Wohlthat, they have several locations throughout Berlin.

Picture from

Friday, 24 July 2009

Sleeping beauties

I could sleep all day. Every day. And stay up all night, the whole night. Paradox. I assume my sleep won't be so sweet if I do nothing all day, so yesterday we did an over 10 kilometer bike ride to Friedrichstrasse (to buy shampoo in Lush) and to go to Lidl to get our favourite toothpaste. We also bought a watermelon and some feta cheese, so I got to fulfill my obsession and make a salad of the two. YUM! Guess what's for dinner again tonight? :) It's easy as pie: chop the watermelon to chunky pieces and slice the feta cheese thinly on the side and HOOVER it up!

I still need to come up with a good plan on how to use up some of my energy today, it's a rainy, sunny, unstable day, so I don't know what to plan. Maybe just watch girly-tv and clean the apartment a bit?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The weekend is over...

My friend N was here for almost a week and I have seen so much more of my new hometown. Our other friend was here too and she stayed with her friend in Kreuzberg, so we saw some of the southern hoods, too. My favourite place was Viktoriapark where we climbed up a steep slope to sit at a monument for something or other, with a few bottles of beer. It was sunset and we had a view of the whole city. We have trotted Kastanienallee up and down many times, and I think I know my way around the shops there now. On Sunday we had the best time in Mauerpark, where we saw cool drum-and-machine-band Trap, and the best beat-boxer I have ever seen, Mc Xander. Yesterday we hopped on a sightseeing boat tour and got a totally different view of all the beautiful buildings along the river Spree. We ate a lot and we drank a lot, at the cost of our beauty sleep. Now I will eat Finnish candy and watch TV for a few days, I think. When I have recovered we will take our new bikes out and explore, and I definitively want to show A the spot in Viktoriapark.

I don't know how to flip the video the right way, obviously the original isn't filmed like this, sorry!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Byrocracy, check - Swimming pool, check

We met with lovely Stefanie who helps lazy or bureaucratically challenged people with registering, setting up bank accounts, insurance and all that. She had made an appointment at the registry office, and we now officially live in Berlin. Then she walked us to the bank and sat through opening a bank account for us - and a separate account for our "kaution", the rent deposit. This means that our rent deposit is on neutral ground if there ever should be an issue between us and our landlord. I want to say I'm sure there won't, but the way things are with our previous landlord in Dublin, I'm losing faith in human kind...

After we did all those grown up things, we walked just a little further on Schlesiche strasse and turned into what looked like block of warehouses. We kept walking and found what we were looking for: the Badeschiff! I went for a swim for the first time in I don't know how long, and it was sooooo nice! As a souvenir I now have a sunburn, stupid me. But it was a great afternoon!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Landlord from hell

I got a text from our old landlord in Dublin. I have been trying to reach him to see when we get our deposit back. He texted me to say, the apartment needs to be cleaned - will we sort it? OH MY GOD, we left the apartment dust and dirt-free. When we moved in, the place was disgusting, so we made sure to leave it nice, even if we really dislike our landlord. I am so offended that he claims that, and I am outraged, because he clearly is trying to get out of paying our deposit in full. And now he's not replying to my texts, where I'm asking him to specify what he thinks needs to be cleaned. I'm fuming. And we really, really need to get that deposit back! We are going to the registry office here tomorrow, then to the bank to open our accounts and to pay our current deposit. Oih.

Our current landlord brought another closet and picked up some stuff today - so now we have finally been able to move things around and them the way we want to. It feels more like home already! We moved the desk into the bedroom, to give A an office. So the living room is mine, now, isn't it? :)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

No bike for the wicked

Since we moved to our new apartment, my sleeping schedule went all out of whack. I was quite happy to get up early (at 10) today to go see a bicycle I've been waiting to see for a few days now. I texted the girl when we left the house, we would be there in 20 minutes. She replied saying the bike is still available. When we had found the street and the right house, map in hand, I get a text saying "sorry, the bike is sold". The f***?! So no bike for me.

Instead we wandered towards Kastanienallee, and went in to a few cute shops. On Kastanienallee we half-accidentally found Morgenrot, a vegetarian/vegan bar-café that serves an awesome buffet breakfast on the weekend. The concept is cool: the buffet costs €4-8, depending on how much money you have. We paid €6 each, since we are both unemployed and will have to worry about running out of money soon...

Friday, 10 July 2009

Not so exciting

Us, that is. Since we found an apartment, we have not been doing anything. We have been sleeping in, getting groceries and watching tv. Apparently the fun does not come to you, you have to go look for it. Well, it's been cool and rainy for a few days, and should be still tomorrow. Maybe we will shape up on Sunday, by at least revisiting our so far Berlin-favourite, Mauerpark. Oh, and we might be meeting up with our Irish friends D and M tomorrow. It's not so bad, after all.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Berlin apartment hunting

Before we moved to Berlin, we were under the impression it would be easy as pie to find an apartment here. We only booked accommodation for three nights, optimistically. When we got here, we sat down at a cafe with free w-lan (wifi), opened our laptops and didn't know what to do. There only seemed to be a few new apartments posted a day, and we had skimmed through them in a half hour. And we didn't have any apartments to go view, even if we tried to reply to adverts. These are the websites we found useful:

People also glue posters on traffic light poles about looking for tenants. Answer as many ads as possible by texting, calling and emailing. Don't be picky, because you never know. It's likely that you will be most disappointed by the best sounding places. We found our apartment based on a one sentence ad without pictures. Texting was most efficient for us. Some language skills are necessary, except perhaps when dealing with Craigslist and Toytown. On Immoscout24 and on Immowelt you can set up searches that alert you when new adverts that match your criteria are added. We didn't find them very helpful, mostly because we were not looking for a one year lease, which is the standard, and we preferred furnished apartments. Craigslist has many scam ads, so beware. Before replying to the ads I googled the email address "in quotation marks", and many of them came up on scam lists.

I hope this helps.

We're here

I have not been able to write, we have had no home and no internet for a week. Now I am sitting in our new apartment, in our living room, using our internet. I could not be happier! It was looking grim; when we arrived, it was HOT and the air was heavy, we both got a cold, our accommodation didn't have internet, there seemed to be no apartments... A's grandmother and grandfather died, both the same week. Our sauna apartment accommodation on Gudvanger Strasse proved funny, but not very practical. The waterbed didn't provide the best sleep. BUT we managed. And now we are listening to German radio in our lovely little aparment in Prenzlauer Berg. I will list my best tips for apartment hunting soon, hope our distress can yield some good. Now we are going for something to eat, and to the organic grocery store across the street for some household stuff. Even shopping for bin bags is so exciting :P
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