Thursday, 24 February 2011

It's already spring somewhere

I'm off to bask in the sunlight and spring (+15-20°C) in Lisbon for the weekend. I have been quite patient and have not complained too much about the winter here in Berlin, because in fairness it has been pretty mild and un-extreme: not too much snow, not too much ice, not too cold, not too rainy. But the recent cold spell (-2-5°C) has me feeling that I've already been here, done this. Time for spring, ok?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Making friends

Kaufbar, in Friedrichshain, where everything is for sale. Their breakfasts are fairly priced and their waffles home-made and delicious.

Yesterday I made a new friend.

I had a coffee at Kaufbar on Gärtnerstraße with bubbly A. We keep meeting at our mutual friends' occasional parties and have always gotten on really well. When she sent me a message on Facebook and we said we'd go for coffee I was really scared that it would be awkward and that we would sit in silence for an hour before thinking of polite excuses to leave. To my surprise we could have chatted away the whole day: films, food, friends-with-babies, jobs, gossip... I hope we get around to meeting up more often! Sometimes it's worth getting out of your comfort zone to make strangers into friends.

And then last night we celebrated K's visa. (She has had to cry, beg, jump through hoops and wait forever to get it. In a year she'll have to go through the same process again. It's difficult to remember how easy things in Germany are for us EU-citizens!) She'd invited the most random mix of people to her flat in Wedding, and we had a great time. I ate a half a bowl of guacamole with carrot sticks, and was overjoyed that K had invited the woman who makes cinnamon rolls again! I also got a lesson in not judging people by their looks: K's new flatmate-to-be was invited – he looks like the biggest, most annoying nerd ever. You know the type of arrogant nerd who is insecure and is rude to make himself feel smart and good? J comes from the former Soviet Union and speaks with a Russian accent and has a lisp. He wears big but un-hip glasses. His dancing was so bad, it wasn't even funny. And he's really nice and interesting and got along with everyone at the party. I can't wait to get to know him better. Slap on the wrists to me for judging people by how they look! Shame on me!

A glimpse of the Berlinale

FriedrichstadtPalast, Mitte
Next week will be a hard working one, again. I'm still hoping to make it to a few more Berlinale things, like a Berlinale Shorts screening (I'm super eager to see Swedish zombie film "Återfödelsen" ("The Unliving") and later I want to take advantage of the Berlinale Kinotag on Sunday the 20th when all films are only €6.

On Friday we saw the Cohen brothers' True Grit at the FriedrichstadPalast. It was a pretty cool venue since it gets converted to a cinema only once a year, for the Berlinale. It seats almost 2000 people so festival atmosphere and buzz are a guarantee. True Grit itself was nothing special: a very true-to-its-genre western with good actors. No Country for Old Men was far better.

After the film we had tapas at the Spanish Barcelona restaurant in Mitte – we bought a voucher for a €14 tapas plate for €7,25 on and were eager to use it. The tapas were really good, but the plate wasn't really enough of a dinner for two... And the atmosphere was slightly lacking, but that might have been because we got there at 6pm, which is pretty early.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Waiting for the Berlinale

It's high season for film freaks: the Berlinale kicks off this Thursday and goes on for ten days and a week later it's the Oscars.

Just tonight I saw Black Swan at Kino International and wouldn't be surprised if Natalie Portman wins the best actress trophy. The next Oscar nominee I'm planning on catching is True Grit – also the opening film of this years Berlinale festival. Berlinale program here. Oscar nominees here.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Crazy pottery and fair t-shirts

I actually wanted to go see crazy tea cups and teapots at the Strychnin Gallery on Boxhagener Straße, but it turned out that the Mad Potter's Tea Party only opens tonight and so they didn't really appreciate us strolling in mid-opening night preparations. R, who's visiting her old home town this weekend, and I were kindly invited to come by tonight instead, when the exhibition is set up and free drinks are served.

So we went for a coffee instead.

When strolling homeward along Simon-Dach-Straße, I noticed a new (?), interesting shop: Simonuno (boring website alert!). I thought it was called "Du bist schön", because that's the biggest text on the shop window. Anyway, they sell Fair Trade and organic t-shirts, hoodies and sneakers for pretty fair prices. The plain t-shirts are €16 and the ones with a print are €26. I see myself buying the cool, Berlin-themed prints as presents, for sure! I always think that Fair Trade and organic cotton feels much softer and nicer than regular cotton, too.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The safest part of town

Friedrichshain must be the safest district in Berlin today: after the enforced emptying of housing project Liebig14 and the eviction of the residents of Liebigstrasse 14 the streets are still crowded with police and all sorts of dramatic crowd controlling vehicles. The official number of police present: 2500. I guess this is a taste of what May 1st will be like!

Read more on the events for instance here.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Gegen Gentrifizierung - leave Liebig 14 be

23.1.2011. Demonstration against the shutting down of Liebig14

We are living in exciting and important times here in Friedrichshain. The inhabitants of Liebig14, one of the oldest housing projects in Berlin – a former squat turned into an autonomous, political and social living collective – are being evicted. There have been protests against the eviction all around Berlin for weeks now, and tomorrow is D-day. I sincerely hope that Liebig14 will get to stay as it is and fight gentrification, monoculturism and discrimination on behalf of all of us.

There might be mayhem in Friedrichshain tomorrow night!

The bicycle is back

Mostly because my monthly pass ran out, I decided that it's time to cycle again. There's no snow, no ice – no excuse anymore. It was pretty fun, but my precious "blue angel" definitively needs some lovin' after a long two months in the basement. As long as the lights work, I guess...
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