Monday, 29 August 2011

Culture at the pool

Yesterday E and I popped by the Screenprint Festival in Stattbad Wedding. It was the second day of the festival and we arrived late, so there wasn't as much enthusiasm floating around as there probably was on Saturday. Some cool posters and printed items were on sale in the shop, we saw a live screen printing exhibit, there were dj's, pizza and drinks. The event will become annual, we were told, so next year we'll try to make it there earlier! While watching the printing at the bottom of the swimming pool and sipping on our (free!) Jägermeister cocktails (who knew Jägermeister can be made into a delicious drink?!) a German girl came up and started talking to us. She told us about other similar events going on and at the S-Bahn station, on our way home, we exchanged phone numbers. So it might be a very artsy and craftsy winter!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Gardens of the world

Yesterday was HOT. Sticky. Berlin summer. Being the realist that I am, I figure it was the last day of summer this year, and wanted to make the most of it. My stupid cough and rib pains haven't completely given way yet, but if I would have staid buried at the bottom of the sofa for the whole duration of this illness, I would have now been stuck there for six weeks. Coincidentally, that's also how long I haven't smoked a single cigarette for!

Anyway, it was too hot to consider cycling to the Gärten der Welt in Marzahn, a trip I've been planning all summer. Instead we went by public transport; a U-Bahn and bus combo.

We spent a couple of hours walking through the different gardens, we had tea and biscuits in the Chinese tea house, we figured out the big labyrinth (eventually) and then laid down on the grass with our books for a while. A really good, summery day.

Maybe I shouldn't have finished it by getting drunk at Jägerklause...


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Suppe & Mucke 2011

It's Suppe & Mucke today – soup stands and live music on five different stages around Sonntagstrasse, Holteistrasse and Gryphiusstrasse. Last years event was in our Kiez and we sampled a lot of free soup, but the weather was rainy so we heard less music. Let's see how it works out today, we're off to pick up E in an hour or so!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Familiarising with the Ostkreuz Kiez

Yesterday we helped move E into her new, big, empty apartment. It took us seven minutes to move her stuff and the furniture we donated downstairs, after another half hour it was all in the hallway of her building. Pretty efficient. We found Will, a man with a van, on Craigslist Berlin who charged €25 per hour for driving and a little lifting. He is from Wales, drives and old fire engine and seemed very sweet.

After inaugurating the apartment with a few post-move beers, we met S and L for delicious Asian tapas at Transit on Sonntagstrasse. When we changed locations to next door bar So Frosch – a slightly creepy, frog-themed, whiskey bar – R and I joined us after a day of touristing. Despite the over-the-top theme it's a nice bar: the service was great, the whiskey list very impressive, the cocktails delicious and the prices fair. I got a bit envious of R and I's smoked salmon sandwiches (€2.10 each) that looked properly English and very fresh. Maybe this will become E's local pub and I'll get another go at a So Frosch cocktail (Bushmills, lime syrup and apple juice; €5) and a sandwich.

We ended up for one more drink at the nearby Tussi Lounge – the corner of Sonntagstrasse and Holteistrasse. If ever a bar could be described as retro style, then this is it. It's very cute, and the funny thing is that it's a hair salon, too, so you can get a blow dry while you sip on your cocktail. We didn't, though!

E sent me a text message this morning saying she survived her first night in her new home, even if it was pretty exciting. I'm glad, but not surprised.

So Frosch
Tussi Lounge

A doctor's visit in Berlin

I've been coughing for over four weeks and have developed a pain somewhere in my ribs, so that EVERYTHING hurts, specially to cough. A week ago, on Monday, I waited for almost an hour at a practice on Rigaer Strasse to see a doctor who barely had time for me. After listening to my lungs he pretty much said it's all ok: I was in and out in three minutes. When my cough still hadn't gotten better after a week and the pain had gotten worse, I gave up and went to the doctor's office again. This time I wasn't confronted with an overcrowded room of sickly, elderly people: besides me there were only two pretty healthy looking women in the waiting room.

When you enter a doctor's office in Berlin, you enter the waiting room and you say a greet the people there with a nonchalant 'Hallo' or 'Tach'. You proceed to the receptionist's desk, where you greet her and present her with your health insurance card – there might be no one at the desk, only a little bowl or basket to put your card into. You might be expected to sit down while being processed and wait for being called up again to pay the administrative fee of €10 (mostly cash only, of course).

Yesterday, when the receptionist finally got around to processing my card, she called me up to her desk and told me very apologetically, that I was there at the wrong time. "Your doctor's hours don't start until after two o'clock, you could come back then?". "Can I not see the other doctor?" "No," she said confused "you have to wait for your own doctor." It was such an idiotic conversation that I decided to leave!

After desperately having trodden around the block, going into another doctor's office with only closed doors and cardiologists, I finally found a doctor in the old Stalinist building of Frankfurter Allee 27 who I was extremely happy with; an older man with not much hair, but a white rim around his head, glasses, kind eyes and a white lab coat. When I entered his office, he shook my hand. His German was pretty easy to understand, maybe he dumbed it down for the foreigner a bit. He put me on a nine day antibiotic regimen, wrote a prescription for painkillers and offered to give me a few days sick leave, which I declined, feeling too guilty about the workload for the coming seven days. But still, hopefully I'm on the mend now!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Bermuda triangle & Pop shopping

E returned to Berlin on Wednesday and I'm feeling a lot stronger, if not completely cured from my cough, so we've been wining and dining around Friedrichshain for the past few days. Also, the very entertaining R and I are visiting Berlin this week, so with them we drank even more.

Like in the Bermuda triangle, we seem to gravitate towards the same little area in Friedrichshain: we end up on Gärtnerstrasse because of Yoyo Foodworld (amazing vegan burgers!), Kaufbar (like having coffee and waffles at your grandmother's) and Szimpla (cheap drinks). We find ourselves on Wühlischstrasse because we eating at Spätzle & Knödel (delicious, heavy German fare) and Datscha (Russian cuisine, vodka and an amazing Sunday brunch) or bringing our guests to Hops & Barley (micro brewery for the beer-geeky tourists). Often we head down Simon-Dach-Strasse to have a vodka with rhubarb juice at Kpnt A.Müller (cosy, cheap drinks), and if Kapten is full the backup plan is that we continue walking south to the RAW Tempel area. This is where we have been bouncing around for the last few days.

Yesterday we broke the pattern by visiting Summer.Pop.Shopping at the Alte Münze in Mitte – a designer shopping event by the same people who organise the Holy.Shit.Shopping Christmas market. My biggest criticism is that the entry is three euro; I find it crazy to charge people to enter a market! Other than that, it was good fun – I came home one cool t-shirt richer, 15 euro poorer.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Sunday stroll

Last night A convinced me that even if I wasn't feeling my best, to leave the house would make me feel a little bit better. He was right, because as we strolled along the Open Air Gallery lane on Oberbaumbrücke, we happened to catch another event happening in Berlin; Aquarella Berlin, floating on the Spree.


Friday, 5 August 2011

Art about waves and art on the bridge

I got to take this really pretty poster home from the office, and I'm so inspired by it that I want to go to Martin-Gropius-Bau to see the whole Hokusai retrospective! Art is in the air: this Sunday is the second Open Air Gallery of the summer and the Oberbaumbrücke closes for traffic and opens for artists, galleries and music, and I'll definitively make my Sunday stroll go over the bridge!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Nice enough for a parental visit

Not to miss any of the sunshine and heat today, we decided we were allowed to eat out again. After work we cycled to Holteistraße, to sit in the calm atmosphere of the garden at Turnhalle. It really is a hidden gem with Moroccan style loungey sofas, bubbling little water fountains and plenty of room. The building itself, a former school gymnasium, is historically protected being a prime example of socialist neoclassical architecture. The atmosphere at Trunhalle is fancier than in your usual Friedrichshain hang out, and so are the prices – by a little. I tried the Kartoffelgnocchi with sun dried tomatoes and parmesan, he had the salmon pizza (€7.50 each) and we were both really pleased with what was brought to us, and it was pretty to look at, too. This is the perfect place for a mini-vacation: it doesn't feel like Berlin, it feels like Potsdam or Portugal, depending on the day! I'd like to come here on the weekend to try the Saturday breakfast buffet (€6.50) or the Sunday brunch buffet (€9.50) next.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Sunshine, my only sunshine

Today has been a sunny and beautiful day. How we've missed those! I'm feeling a lot better, and although I wouldn't say I'm completely well yet, I felt well enough to not want to spend yet another day indoors. At two o'clock I packed my Fisherman's Friends, my ibuprofen and my magazine, dusted the spiders off my cycle saddle (literally) and hopped on the bike in search of brunch and sun.

I ended up on a sunny bench at Datscha, ordered a plate of mixed Russian starters (Kollektiv, €11), a tall glass of rhubarb schorle and waited for A to come join me after work. I didn't have to wait alone: the yucky wasps are flying about like crazy this time of year and they are HUNGRY.

(No real news about A's brother-in-law yet. He's trying to wake up now and the signs are all good, so we're keeping fingers and toes crossed that he wakes up soon, as himself.)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Social starvation. Coughing.

August. Still coughing. It still hurts.

I was supposed to go to work today, but felt really sore. When I called the office and found out that my bosses aren't going to be in the office before Wednesday, I decided to stay home until then, too. Most days I haven't even left the house, and when I have, it's been to go to the pharmacy or the supermarket – and once to go shopping: I got new leggings and a dress at Prachtmädchen and a pair of on sale jeans at Zartbitter. My social interactions have been pathetically few: 
1. We had dinner with S and L at Seth. Excellent, cheap Indian food.
2. I had tapas with the girls, L and A at Tafelgold. Good girl talk, even though I was too tired to participate as much as I normally would – mediocre tapas: too greasy for my taste.
3. My cousin J and his "new" girlfriend were in Berlin and we met up for dinner and a tour-de-Friedrichshain's-bars.

I'm lucky that this has weather-wise been one crappy July – maybe I would have stayed in and watched the rain, sick or healthy? Who knows.

On top of it all we got some really bad news on Saturday morning. A's brother-in-law got into an accident where he hit his head. A's sister found him unconscious a few minutes later and R was rushed to hospital, where he during the next 24-hours had brain surgery twice and was put into a coma. We still don't know what's going to happen, except that R is now stable and out of the coma, just sleeping now.

Heavily self-medicating with Fisherman's Friend and ibuprofen.
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