happy september (aka “back to hogwarts” day), friends!
i am relishing this anything-but-lazy saturday morning, planning to tidy a bit, do my first bake along with this year’s great british bake off which just started this week, and finally, some work continuing my german studies. in order to finish the current textbook i’m revising and working through by the time i start again with my lessons, i’ve calculated i have to do one textbook unit every three days… challenge accepted! so it is “back to books” a bit this month for me. anyone else going “back to school” somehow?
continuing speaking about august in berlin experience – catch up on week one here.
week two rolled around.
for as much free time i had the week before to go gallivanting in forests, swimming in lakes, and generally feel carefree being back in berlin after so long, week two brought with it a lot of “crunch-time”, even though i was doing my best to soak up the little things about my increasingly normal daily routine. i soon had a “regular place” on kottbusser damm where i’d always buy my morning croissant or pretzel. a secure daily commute, a more intuitive sense of when the next trains would be. a welcome routine and life was starting to take over after the shock of newness had worn off. taking the dog out and greeting the same fellow dog-walkers with a friendly “guten morgen” every day. dirty feet from the ever dusty paths of the city you only really notice in the summer when your feet aren’t hidden away by boots. my sandals crunching all of the dry leaves on the sidewalk as i walk to the u-bahn.
i spent much of that week studying, writing impossibly difficult worksheets and even an entire oral presentation in german language. my language course had extended hours that week due to a teacher availability issue the week before, and it definitely started to feel like a full-time job. on top of spending the entire morning absorbing concepts, i was spending much of every afternoon at my desk studying and becoming increasingly exhausted. by thursday morning, i could barely drag myself out of bed and felt an exhaustion barely known to me, probably due to all the mental output and brain crunching. five hour study sessions were becoming a way of life instead of just an anomaly.
to clear my mind on my breaks, i spent my breaks walking around sunny weichselplatz, along the landwehrkanal taking photos of the peculiar and very berlin things i saw.
it wasn’t all about nose in the books, however! when that weekend came, i jumped to get out of the house and enjoy the best of summer berlin.
thursday afternoon left me feel free and easy and we headed to kantine am berghain to see an utterly amazing set of alt-techno / post-punk / new-wave icelandic bands, especially fufanu, who put on an incredibly inspiring set to the likes that you only experience maybe once a year or once every couple of years. what a catharsis! it was the kind of show that makes you want to immediately head home and start tinkering with your instruments at midnight, but we just had a couple of berliner beers in the very gemütlich beer garden area on that warm august night. it was one of the high points of the entire month.
after a night out at the freiluftkino (seeing wes anderson’s newest, “isle of the dogs”… with our dog… and a lot of other peoples’ dogs), we had a lovely brunch at our favorite café november and spent much of the rest of the day catching up with an old seattle friend at thai park – a place also long on my berlin summer list.
thai park, or preußenpark , is located in the depths of west berlin, quite off the beaten track. on summer weekends, berlin’s asian community (especially thai and vietnamese) come out to set up their umbrellas, portable stoves and wares and cook some fantastic fresh asian specialties right in front of their hungry customers (berliners in the know) for incredibly reasonable prices. there is so much on offer at thai park! you can find the typical phad thai or phad see ew but also korean dumplings! squid balls! roasted octopus on a stick! i chose a thai park specialty, papaya salad as well as a banana-leaf wrapped coconut confection and a thai iced tea. we stayed late as the sun went down and moved to a nearby inviting beer garden.
man, was i craving a real german biergarten and a large serving of something bavarian! it is truly one of my favorite things. an oversize stein, wooden benches, subtle lighting and a warm summer evening… good company doesn’t hurt, either. that’s truly all i need.
my final full week in berlin, the first week’s bake off, and more about teufelsberg coming very soon! have a great weekend.