Monday, 31 August 2009

Things to do in Berlin for free

Sharing is caring – this is the best Berlin website tip ever: www.gratis-in-berlin.de

Here's a comprehensive list of things to do for free in Berlin. You'll need a bit of German, but you'll manage. We are seriously considering going to the Shaolin Temple open door event next weekend, and maybe check out this gallery opening on Thursday. Can't beat free wine :)

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Markets

We have been planning a bike tour of Tiergarten for ages, but have been putting it off. I stumbled across a listing of markets in Berlin, and found that we could combine many interests at once by going to Tiergarten: cycling, market browsing and picnicking! So hopefully this week we will get around to it.
Here's two good links, the first one is mainly in English:
http://www.berlin.world-guides.com/markets.html
http://www.visitberlin.de/english/berlin-erleben/e_be_shopping_maerkte.php

Our favourite is still Mauerpark, because every Sunday it's an event, not just a flea market. We recently found the Arkonaplatz market, and it's just two minutes from Mauerpark, dead handy! In Friedrichshain the Boxhagener Platz market is not too big, not too small, but perfect for a Sunday stroll. Oh, get the M10 tram from Mauerpark to Warschauer Straße in Friedrichshain and be super-efficient and see all three markets!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The season for eating

Chanterelle pasta in the cute town of Potsdam

It's great be in a country where we can get most of the foods we are used to and miss. In autumn there are so many yummy, fresh things to eat and we have been drooling at every market. Last week we cooked chanterelles in a creamy sauce – heaven. They are a pain to clean, though, it took us an hour or more. We have also been buying blueberries, and used them for a soup to go with our morning porridge. As I write I am munching on a German seasonal treat: plums. I get very jealous reading all my friends' statusupdates on Facebook, they are all in the forrest picking blueberries, lingonberries and mushrooms. At least we get some here too, unlike Ireland! Also corn seems to be in season, it's fresh everywhere. I'm trying to note our best food ideas in a blog called What Can Me Have?, but I haven't been very good lately, because I have tried to apply for jobs and design a portfolio. Oh, and we enrolled to an intensive German class that starts in two weeks!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Swimming around town

It's been a while. A while ago I was stressed over a freelance-job that I was applying for. I never heard back, and figured I asked for too much money. I got a reply two days ago, and myself and a few other candidates were asked to review our prices and to do a masthead, i.e. the logo, for the magazine to help them decide who to pick. So I'm actually working this weekend, and it feels alright. Except for the unbelievably uncomfortable sofa and coffee table situation I'm working at. But finger's crossed! 'A' has been to two job interviews in the past week, so maybe we will get some spending money soon :)

The weather has still been really warm. Last Monday and again on Thursday it was over +30°C so we have explored some new places to go swim. On Monday we cycled to lake Weißensee, in Pankow, it took us about 20 minutes. We were silly and paid 4 euro to go to the sanded beach and café, but we could have swam for free somewhere else around the lake instead. On Thursday we had a failed attempt at meeting our friends at Schlachtensee, near Wannsee, south of Berlin city. It took us about an hour to get there, and it was very hot on the trains, the beach was crowded and we never found our friends. Still, the lake was pretty and had loads of tiny little beaches you could choose from. The water was warm and we were happy. Until we had to get on the crowded train and go home again. Next week we are hoping to get to try Plötzensee, as it is only a cycle ride away from home – no trains, please!

I got an email from my best friend today, she and her boyfriend booked flights to come see us in September. I am so excited! I am already planning what all we can do, where we can shop, eat and drink... And next weekend our old flat-mates will stay with us while they apartment-hunt here in Berlin. Yay, we'll have more friends!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

We do have friends

We've finally developed some kind of a social-life. On Friday we had some wine and a tour de Neukölln with our Irish friends. We drank cheap wine, danced to Funkytown in a funny, tiny club called Flying Sauvage, a former imbiss, i.e. fast food kiosk and cycled A LOT.

Yesterday we were drinking beer and playing mölkky with a gang of Finns on the bank of river Spree, across from Alexanderplatz and Berliner Dom. Surreal, but we had a really fun night.

Obviously we wouldn't miss Mauerpark Flohmarkt today, we've been there every Sunday since we moved to Berlin. 'A' found a rack of studio gadgets he is thrilled over, I bought salmiakki and was just as happy.

The weather has been in the very high twenties for over a week, next week it should cool a little. I think we will sleep a bit better and maybe get around to doing a bit more then. As long as we can go for a swim next week, the weather is perfect!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Kreuzberg


Yesterday we were meeting our Finnish friend on the stairs of the Viktoriapark monument to watch the sun set. We ended up making a whole day of it, while the poor girl was at work. My favourite thing of the day was to cycle along the Kreuzberg canal, it's so green and leafy and the cars and the noise are far, far away. We followed the canal to reach the Türkenmarkt. I wish we could have done a big food shop there! The tomatoes were plump and red, the fruit so cheap... We did get olives and dolmados' that fit into my over-the-shoulder bag. I wanted to see the Berlin airlift, which turned out to be just a monument in a park. At least I now know who the "Rosinenbombers" were. We also found the veggie restaurant I had checked out in our Lonely Planet guide beforehand; Seerose on Mehringdamm. Why are there so few á la carte vegetarian restaurants?! This one was one of those buffet style places, where the otherwise good food got nuked in the microwave oven and was not as nice after that... But cheap and cheerful.

Today we spent leisurely reading and playing Yatzy in the park. Oh, and we found a new nice park in Wedding, called Humboldthain park. There is a big swimming pool and apparently a nice jogging trail, too. Something for Saturday, perhaps?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Perfect cover, but with controversial means

A few months back I blogged about awesome free samples on the Everyday Minerals website. I have been using the samples since, and they will last me at least a few more months. I have to say, they are brilliant. The concealer is amazing under the eye, it covers well and doesn't leave a thick surface, even if I add more layers. The powders are based on titanium dioxide, which works as sunblock, too. Titanium dioxide is a controversial chemical, so I will have to do some more research before I make up my mind about the products for good. I am trying to cut back on chemicals like parabens that are used in almost everything. You can read up on titanium dioxide here.

Picture from the Everyday Minerals website

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Food saves the day

I woke up late again, but with a head ache and feeling of unease. I had replied to an advert looking for a graphic designer and got a reply yesterday. The project would be a 144 page magazine, a complete re-design. I also had to think about how much I would charge and how long a job like that would take me. So I was stressed. It's actually a bit too much, but I feel like I can't turn down opportunities, so I replied. I think the fact that the work is in Ireland and I am in Berlin will be a problem, even if they are looking for someone to work freelance. I sent them work samples, a CV and answers to their questionnaire today, so we'll see what they say next week. If I completely over or under priced myself. I said it would take up to six weeks, which might be too much, too. We'll see...

My dear A made me pancakes with strawberry jam for breakfast, which was so thoughtful and yummy it made me feel better. Then we hopped on our bikes and rolled down to Alexanderplatz for a coffee and to see if we would find a shop that sells FCUK deodorant for him. We didn't, but got some fresh air and a lot of excercise instead. Now we are re-heating the last of the organic beetroot and goat's cheese soup we made yesterday, and I am hungry and super excited – it is delicious! It has the most beautiful, crazy pink colour, and is easy to make, too. Here's how:



Beetroot and goat's cheese soup
A big onion
3 garlic cloves
500g beetroots (one big one)
Equal amount of potato
400ml soaked and boiled soy beans
About 125 g soft goat's cheese (blue cheese works really well too!)
Pepper
Salt (if your cheese isn't salty enough)

Fry onion and garlic until soft, add 1 litre of water (stock cube or salt optional), bring to the boil and add you chopped beetroot. Boil for about 25 minutes. Peel and chop your potatoes while waiting. Add them and boil for another 15-20 minutes, until both are soft. Add beans, spices and the cheese, let it boil and the flavours settle. Serve hot – YUM!

From the Finnish blog Vegemisiä
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