Wednesday, 28 July 2010

At the "beach"

Is the weather up or down? Coming or going? Personally I've loved it now that the temperatures are lingering in the low +20's and I'm able to enjoy the sun without melting in it. I have not been to the beach once this summer, mostly because when it was hot, it was too hot to move. As a sorry replacement to the real thing, beach-less Friedrichshain offers a variety of beach bars. My latest find is Oranke Orange at a very unexpected location on Karl-Marx-Allee; sun chairs, sand and a little wading pool in the midst of all the pompous socialist architecture. It's not the beach but it's something!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Mom in Berlin

Dinner for three

My mom's visit is a constant roller coaster of feelings for me. One minute I'm incredible annoyed at everything she's ever said, one minute I feel grateful and touched that she's here. Yesterday I got snapped at her for not having been out and hardly seeing any of the city... In fairness, what adult can still live in the same household as their mother, for ten days, without getting even a little pissed off? I've been good - better than I expected.

A month has almost passed and now she's leaving; packing and preparing. I will miss her. We are throwing her a farewell party on Thursday, with drinks at our place and then a dinner at the downstairs restaurant. A few friends already confirmed that they are coming: my mom has met many of our friends here. She wants to bake a cake. I will make watermelon cocktails, I think.

Am I happy or sad? Coming or going? For one thing, I will be very, very grateful to have our apartment to ourselves for a while, last week we were four people sharing it!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Presents and pearls

An assorted baggy of gems from Tukadu on Rosenthaler Strasse should have reached the birthday-girl K already last week. These treasures don't come cheap: I bought pearls for 19 euro and the bag looked a little empty... But will make a gorgeous necklace, maybe, with white wooden pearls and silver stars. I would love to know if she got inspired!

My week as a tourist

It's been busy: I finished my design project last week, then on Saturday my friend M came to visit us for a week, we met up with both her friends and ours, and on Wednesday my mom moved in with us, too.

M left a cool and rainy Berlin today, I walked her to the U-bahn just over an hour ago. I was very proud of myself: I didn't lose my patience once, even if I find it quite straining to have guests stay for so long. We visited Mauerpark on a Sunday, ate pizzas at A Magica, had vodka-rhubarbs in Kptn Müller, introduced everyone to vegan fast-food at Yoyo, popped by our local Friedrichshain brewery, Hops and Barley, ate at our downstairs favourite-restaurant several times, had a lot of ice-cream, drank beer in Viktoriapark at sunset, showed off horror-bar Zyankali, cycled to Treptower Park to check out the Soviet memorial, did a guided tour at Hohenschönhausen Memorial, the former GDR remad prison, and drank Berliner Weiße mit rot in Volkspark Friedrichshain. Not bad. I think I'll have a nap now. Or go to the Humana second hand department store on Frankfurter Tor with my mom :)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A place in the shade

On Friday we finally found ourselves in this shaded little beer garden, on the corner of Gubener straße and Grünberger straße, that we already noticed in spring. Jägerklause is not a cute, picturesque beer garden, but more punky and relaxed (however, there is a play corner for kids), with rock playing in the background and the friendly, tattooed staff sells a handful of different beverages. Mostly Jägerklause is just a great place to escape the sun, have a cold beer and barbecued burgers or sausages (or a vegetarian cheese burger!).


It's insanely hot in Berlin. Like +37°C. It's so hot, that I can't move, eat, walk... or do anything. I should be working and we should both be cleaning and fixing in the flat, but fat chance! It's so hot, that we can't open the windows or the door to the balcony, because that will let the hot air in. Our tomatoes on the balcony need to be watered 2-3 times a day. It's too hot to go to the beach, because that means taking public transport... Remind me next January when it's cold of how much I suffered now!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Slow Berlin breakfasts

I don't really eat breakfast, I never have. In Berlin breakfast has become one of my favourite meals: almost every café and bakery serves wonderful breakfast platters that I love to take my time over on a day off. Yesterday we tried breakfast at our long-time-Friedrichshainer friend's favourite bar, Sando (Proskauer Straße 10). We shared the salmon breakfast plate and a portion of fried eggs with fried potatoes, and had coffee and tea, all for just under €13. The portions were generous, everything was fresh and well made – even perfectly salted, which never happens. The dinner menu wasn't half bad, either. Sando just might become our favourite bar, too.

Today there's no breakfast, no slow start to the day. A is at work and I'm supposed to be working too. I got this little design project thrown my way by an overworked friend (clearly not a Berliner!), and I promised to send the client in Finland stuff by Monday. It's actually pretty great: what should be about 2-3 days work will pay more than my part-time job here pays in a month. That's the dream: live in Berlin and get your job assignments from abroad, where they pay you more...

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Furnishing for free

We had a few cool days that let us breathe easy and get some proper sleep: now the thermometre is slowly creeping towards +30°C again.

Yesterday we really appreciated the cooler +22 when we picked up random furniture, bits and pieces around Berlin. A was very excited to collect a pile of free, redundant chipboards from Neukölln, advertised on Craigslist. Then we steered our rental van towards the west and picked up our three-euro eBay sofa. We felt so bad for how low the price was, we paid five instead. But turns out that if a sofa costs tree euro, it's not going to be in very good condition, surprisingly enough. So now we're spending the day trying to clean it. (We also found the eBay Kleinanzeigen page useful; it's regular for-sale-ads, no bidding involved.) Then we headed north, to Wedding, to empty out Mr Diego's room from the stuff he posted on Freecycle. We had to leave a desk there, that we simply could not squeeze into the van anymore. His bed was quite new and that was the only thing he had to buy himself, so we offered him whatever cash we had on us for it: 10 euro :)

So for €15 (+rental van €29) we got two sofas, a mattress, a futon base, a wardrobe, a bedside table with drawers and a pile of chipboard. Not bad for a days work. And 'yay!' to everyone who's recycling!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Too hot

It's 1 am and it's still +25°C outside, insane! It's too hot to go to bed. Unfortunately painters and landlords are coming early tomorrow. The forecast for tomorrow is luckily a cool +27, so maybe we can sleep tomorrow night :)

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Out of the old, into the new

We left our old, 47 m2, furnished apartment in Prenzlauer Berg nice and clean. We were not tired or very stressed at all: we got an amazing parking spot, had plenty of time and not much to do, it felt like. We picked up a Freecycled fridge from M&M and had a Radler before we went to meet the previous tenant, who would give us the keys to our new home.

When we arrived at the new, 57 m2, empty apartment in F'hain, it was almost three o'clock before we could start unpacking. The van needed to be returned at four. There were only the two of us carrying stuff. Did I say it was +27°C? We ran back and forth between the car and our hallway, where we threw our boxes and knickknacks. My mom rang, she was on her way from the airport. Everything at once, of course! It all went well in the end, and we got to have some moving beers and dinner at our downstairs restaurant. We were also happily surprised that the Robben & Wientjes van only cost us €32 for seven hours (you have to have an EU driver's licence and be registered in Berlin to rent there). The apartment is still a mess, because we are waiting for painters to come and paint over the interesting colour choices the previous tenants had made... Except the yellow hallway and living room. We also have no furniture and nowhere to unpack stuff into :) But I'm very excited about our new home, it will eventually become a very good one.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Procrastinating doesn't pay

It's almost 2am and we are still packing "just our clothes". Then we will have to "just hoover a little" before we're done. And tomorrow we pick up our Robben&Wientjes van at 10, then carry everything down from the fourth floor. The temperature will be at sweet +27°C. I can't wait until the day after tomorrow!
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