Friday, 30 October 2009

Winter tip

I have signed up for most the newsletters I have run into here in Berlin, and sometimes it pays off. Look what they have done to Badeshiff, the outdoors swimming pool that sits in the Spree, to prepare for winter:

Isn't it beautiful? And inside are (Finnish) saunas, the swimming pool and a bar. It opens tomorrow, 30.10. and until 5.11. the entry fee is 2 for 1 (€12 for three hours).

If you are looking for something to do for Halloween, this sounds really nice; a candle-lit audio presentation of the classic radio play ‘Dracula‘ narrated by Orson Welles at newly opened Café Hilda in Prenzlberg. None of that commercial plastic-pumpkin-crap, thank you very much :)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Happy skin

You really can live for less here in Berlin! For a few years now I have tried to change all my beauty products to natural or organic stuff – and particularly to avoid sodium laureth sulfate (dries the skin) and parabens (carcinogens that then pass into the ecosystem). I got a tip that the chain of Rossman shops has their own certified natural cosmetics range, Alterra. I've testing them for a while now, an eye cream and a moisturiser, but they seem too moisturising for me – my skin won't absorb them completely. Last week, to my surprise, I saw that Lidl too has a range of certified natural skin care called Suhada. I bought the day cream that contains rice and bamboo, €4,99. It smells really aroma-therapeutic and seems to work well for my skin. The range also included soaps, bath products, scrubs and moisturisers.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

An excursion

Yesterday we decided we wanted to be a bit outdoorsy, and so we jumped on the S-bahn and headed to Spandau. We changed for the U7 and got off at the Zitadelle stop to go walk around the old fortress, Spandauer Zitadelle. It was a really nice way to spend an afternoon, the views were nice and the occasional museum was ok. Entrance was €4,50, but it included all the museums and a climb up to the watch tower. Maybe one could just walk the grounds for free? We didn't ask. The most exciting thing we saw there was the bat cellar, a space where the bats naturally come to sleep. It's divided with glass walls and lit with infrared lights, so you can actually see the bats swarming and feeding. And pooping. A little scary, but cool. But no photos – we assumed they might be offended by the flash light :P

From the Zitadelle we walked to the old town of Spandau, and to the local brewery. The brewery had some good beer, but the menu was a bit too fleshy for us. The town itself was quiet and felt like a different part of Germany altogether, even if Spandau is a part of Berlin. It's less than an hour away from central Berlin, so it makes a good little destination for a long stroll and some fresh air.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Schmeckt gut

Restaurant tip of the day: Wuu on Stargarder strasse in Prenzlberg. We planned on going to the "best japanese restaurant in Berlin" with our friends M&M, but with no reservation, they just looked at us like we were crazy. We politely declined the kind offer to eat our meal in an hour, before the table needs to be free again. So we re-traced our steps and went in to an other asian restaurant we passed on our way. A and I ordered sushi and vietnamese shrimp-mango summer rolls for a starter, then we both ate an amazingly flavourful aubergine and tofu dish for mains. For dessert we tride green tea ice cream (creamy and good), while our friends had the stuffed japanese rice dough sweets with fresh fruit. I would go back to Wuu for amazing and imaginative sushi, and for carefully prepared asian dishes any time.

Unfortunately no pictures were taken, because we were very hungry and attacked the food as soon as we saw it...

Photo from

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Good news!

I am happy over something really stupid. My favourite shop has just opened a branch in Berlin (Neukölln)! TK Maxx is a discount store, but with quality, designer and label stuff, like clothes, shoes, kitchenware... They tend to get in a few of this and a few of that, so they never have the same thing on the racks for long. In the States they are called TJ Maxx, I think. In Dublin I used to shop in TK Maxx all the time. I love the thrill of the hunt and the feeling of hope when I go in; "maybe today they'll have what I have always been looking for?".

I immediately felt an urge to go to Neukölln, where, to be honest, I haven't had an urge to go before. TK Maxx is on Karl-Marx-Strasse 92-98, almost directly at the U7 stop Rathaus Neukölln. It was a big, not completely crammed shop (they only opened last Thursday), but buzzing. I really felt like I was back in Dublin for about an hour :) We left with a pair of leather boots for me, Christmas presents for our friends' kids and A's godfather, a really cool woolen sweater for A and one of those small pillows you stick it in the microwave oven and it heats up. And I'll be back!

Sunday, 18 October 2009


Tonight we will be real Germans. We will watch our first episode of Tatort, the most popular German crime/drama TV program, shown on Das Erste channel. Each episode is filmed in a different German city, and apparently a popular Sunday activity is to gather in pubs in the evening to watch the new episode. Tonight's episode seems to be set in Munich. Maybe next week we will watch it in a bar, or maybe we should have a Tatort evening with friends? Maybe we should watch one episode first, it might even be too German for our liking :)

It's a perfect day for just watching TV. I was out on Friday and yesterday, and am really, really tired. Yesterday we went out with Finnish friends and tried the vegan restaurant Hans Wurst, which I have wanted to go to for ages. Later we also found Villa Orange, a bar that I have been trying to find for weeks! I knew which street it is on, but just could not see it there. If you go there, be sure to check out the ladies toilet! It's sooooo cute!

Today we went for our traditional Sunday walk to Mauerpark and met up with our friend R. She got caught in the rain and to get her warmed up, we ended up in a little bar on Kastanienallee that serves a €3 breakfast buffet still at 3pm :) A day with two breakfasts has to be a good day!

Vegan food in Hans Wurst

Friday, 16 October 2009

Russian Sunday with mom

It's been busy; my mom visited last week and on Monday we started a new language course in a new school, with far more homework. My mom was here for four days and it was nice, but exhausting. She hadn't been to Berlin before, so we visited many mandatory tourist attractions and did a lot of walking. I think the nicest thing we did though, was a Russian style Sunday brunch in Pasternak restaurant. The weather was cold and rainy, so we took our time, enjoyed the food and helped ourselves to more and more food. The brunch is a little pricey at €12,40 per person, plus drinks, but it was a very impressive spread and we didn't eat anything else until around 9 o'clock in the evening! I will be going again, for sure. It would also be a lovely place for dinner, I think. I loved the atmosphere, music and interiors, it felt like dining in a Russian novel.

Our new school seems very school-like, with a lot of homework and discipline in the classroom. I hope that means we also learn more. We had to change from Deutsche Akademie to GLS, because DA could only offer us classes between 18-21 at night, which sounds terrible. Also, GLS is on Kastanienallee, which is super-handy for us.

Tonight we are defying the cold and rain and meeting course mates from Deutsche Akademie in Prenzlberg for cocktails. Bahamas, here we come!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

€3 cocktails?!

It is possible – but I maybe only in Berlin? We celebrated a friend's birthday in a tiny Brazilian bar on Torstrasse and had very tasty cocktails; Mango Coladas, Strawberry Coladas, Tequila Sunrises, Mojitos, Caipirinjas... And all were good. Unfortunately they where out of Brazilian tapas', otherwise we would have tried some fried manioc too! Happy hour every day from 17-21!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Places to go, people to see, languages to learn...

We've been taking turns in hangover days and going-out days for the past week, and I think the same might continue. We finished our four week German class last Thursday and went out to celebrate with some classmates. It was a lot of fun and we promised to keep in touch and go out again. Yesterday we celebrated a fellow Finn's birthday by drinking some beer and sangria in F'hain. Tomorrow the plan is to help M&M move, and we have been promised payment in food :) On Wednesday one of the classmates, a super nice spanish girl, has her birthday party and on Thursday my mom is coming for a visit! That's many a good plan. We are also eager to find a new German class since the schedule Deutsche Akademie offer this month won't work for us. Fingers crossed, we get to start in GLS language school on Kastanienallee tomorrow!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Breaking the law, breaking the law...

I forgot to write about what happened to me on Monday. I was on my way to German class and was sooooo tired, soooo sick and a little late, too. When I was buying my U-bahn ticket, a teenage boy sitting next to the ticket machine asked me if I wouldn't buy a day ticket from him instead. I didn't really want to, and said I only needed a one-way ticket and he said I could have the day ticket for one euro. I examined it really closely, and the time stamp matched, and the ticket looked real. So I said ok. I got on the U-bahn and half-way there my cart got checked for tickets. I showed mine, and the inspector froze: "You haven't bought this at the BVG sales point?" he asked. No, I said. "This is a forgery, you will have to get off the train with us at the next stop". Ooooooh shit. So the guys tell me that they should call the police, that using a falsified ticket is very serious. I could be fined with €400. I was almost in tears, and totally speechless, I was so tired and shocked. I think they felt bad for me, the guy tried to stop me from crying and told me they were only going to fine me €40, but that I should never, ever buy a ticket from those kinds of hustlers again. I won't. I recommend that no one else does, either!
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