Sunday, 19 February 2012

Dog sitting - Åke in the house

This guy has been staying with us since last Sunday. It's a long story, but to sum it up: his owner is studying abroad, my friend who was dog sitting turned out to be allergic and we offered to help out for a few days. A few days is now six months instead. We're already completely in love with the little one, and it will break our hearts to give him back!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Canadian pancake breakfast

It's an exciting day because A's band is playing a gig later tonight. He was able to sit still long enough to have breakfast with me, though. Because of a (futile) attempt to get Berlinale tickets we were in Mitte and decided to try the home-made pancakes with maple syrup at Blaues Band. The small portion comes with three giant, soft, dense, fresh, delicious, pancakes and is plenty – A couldn't finish his big portion. Tip: share a triple-decker sandwich and a portion of pancakes, that way you get the best of both worlds!

The Labyrinth - Peristal Singum

I waited for my new friend, A, for a half hour sitting at the bar at Salon zur Wilden Renate. She had gotten lost; her iPhone had her to go somewhere near Rigaer Strasse rather than to Alt-Stralau 70, near the Treptow Park S-Bahn. We are going to visit Peristal Singum, the art project / labyrinth built in connection to Renate. I've heard it's disturbing and cool, and I'm very curious, A's excited. At the bar a girl asks me if I was already in the labyrinth. "I was going to go, but as my friend was going in she saw a girl crying inside the doors, so we didn't want to go anymore," she says.

A arrives and we are sit in front of a fire place, holding giant golden coins, waiting. I finish my small bottle of Pilsner Urquell and get invited to follow a girl wearing a Davy Crockett style coonskin hat. I leave my bag and scarf behind the bar. I keep my winter jacket on – I don't want to get lost in a labyrinth and be cold, too. I'm a bit nervous. She ties a scarf around my head to cover my eyes. She makes sure I have my gold coin as she slowly leads me to the entrance. She speaks softly and tells me to forget my stress and worries and to stay in "there" as long as I want to. "So it's my happy place, then?" I laugh dryly.

After I insert my coin in the door it takes me embarrassingly long to figure out how to actually enter the Peristal Singum. I can't be sure if I'm feeling excited or scared. I hurry my steps. I try to smile to encourage myself. I walk through hallways bedecked with scruffy collages of old wallpaper, painting and pictures and am lead to a hole. I have to kneel down to look into it – but it's dark and it twists in a downward spiral. I realise it's a slide and that I have no choice but to ride it.

I don't want to describe my Peristal Singum experience in detail, as not to ruin it for anyone. After the slide came more dark holes, pits and narrow corridors. I definitively had to push myself. I felt claustrophobic not knowing where the exit was and how long it would take to find it. I wanted out. I crawled through a tunnel and poked my head out and found my friend A. With her excitement and the light from her iPhone we faced the pits, tunnels and the darkness together. When we found the exit all I could think about was the bar and having a shot of vodka, but A wanted to keep exploring all the routes and doorways we didn't try yet. Knowing where the exit was made things easier.

Back at the bar, after a shot of Stolichnaya each, A reckoned it was a pity that she didn't have a chance to be alone in there – she missed the core of the installation: discomfort and endurance.

It costs €10 to enter the labyrinth. Only one person can enter at a time. You can't book a ticket in advance, you just show up and express interest.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Baby, it's cold outside

Although it looked like we might escape it this year, winter arrived to Berlin on last Friday, a week ago, lightly dusting the city with snow. The sun has been shining and temperatures have dropped to -5 and -10°C. Icy,  Siberian winds have forced us to find flattering ways to wear six layers at a time.

Already before Christmas we realised that we had a lot of warm clothes that we could donate to the homeless for winter: A's old winter jacket, big cotton sweaters and countless mittens and woollen socks. Altogether it was two full, big, bags that we lugged to the Motz Kiez Café on Wühlischstraße, near Boxhagener Platz yesterday – finally.

"Das Leben ist Kein U-Bahnhof" is a campaign aimed at collecting winter jackets and donations for the homeless here in Berlin through the website I also recommend reading Exberliner magazine's article on what a scam the clothes collection bins are!

It's colder out there for some than for others.
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