phewww. what a month! i didn’t have time to write this past month (save for that one post about traveling with your dog – check it out if you missed it!) because from the beginning of august, i was immersed in a berlin-language study-do all the things whirlwind! i left my inbox almost fully unattended until i couldn’t possibly put things off any longer while we were away for most of august in berlin, i working on my studies and alex starting his next writing project on his pretty portable olivetta lettera (above) he dragged all the way from budejovice in this sweet little kollwitzkiez flat that i termed “the treehouse” because of all the leafy trees on husemanstrasse, you really felt like you were in one!
oh, berlin. the last time i was there (for christmas 2015 – and berlin is NOT a christmas city), i told myself i wouldn’t be back until i could spent a month there studying german. fortunately, only two and a half years later, i was able to do this. why? i suppose because a short visit to berlin just doesn’t really suit me. there isn’t much of a point for me to hop over for a couple days or a long weekend. i really need a long length of time to get into it and do all the things i want to, and this was a perfect opportunity. in a way, it was also serendipitous not to fly anywhere else this summer and stay within a stone’s throw of the czech republic in the case that we had to rush back for immigration-related reasons. (so glad we didn’t! but more on that to come some other day)
alex pointed out that this is the longest we have spent in any one place (where we didn’t live) since scotland in 2012! isn’t that wild? slow travel is definitely my travel-style these days, especially in some place as fascinating as the german capital. when i am in this city, i am fully energized. firing on all cylinders. even a walk with the dog outside for ten minutes could seem like an adventure.
my time there was sort of broken up into phases. in this post i’ll focus only on the first of three.
week one was about getting back into (ie, feeling comfortable with) big city life again. i haven’t lived in a big city for over five years and it was clearly beginning to show! the first day or two my only thoughts revolved upon 1) it is SO LOUD HERE! and 2) the blocks are so gosh darn bigger than i remember with a sprinkle of 3) MY, how people sit so close to each other on public transport!
i walked apprehensively around a new part of neukölln, the southwestern district where my language school was situated, and uncertainly traversed the city blocks. i marveled at how every single classmate of mine at my incredibly laid-back language school seemed to be twenty-eight years old and a couple of them were DJs. (eye roll at this totally berlin cliché)
it was the hottest week of the entire summer, that first full week of august. we napped with no blankets, spread out so no limbs would touch and further induce sweat. we discovered the kollwitzstrasse market and the abundance of beautiful fresh produce and interesting crafts one could find there. i snacked on cold-from-the-refrigerator blackberries, juicy chunks of watermelon as we watched our favorite summer reality tv programs. some afternoons coming back into prenzlauer berg absolutely called for nothing but chilled mineral water to get me through.
i swam at my first berlin lake on the hottest day of summer, at the end of the U3 line at krumme lanke (above) on the edge of the grünewald forest. what i really like about this lake, besides the fact that it’s just beautiful, is that there isn’t just one beach area – as long as you can pull up a piece of real-estate, it belongs to you. i deeply ruminated on the idea of how timeless the lakes of berlin and brandenburg are. no matter what political regime, these lakes have remained a constant place of enjoyment and recreation. a happy place for all people to enjoy. thinking about this brought me a sense of being a part of the living history of the city that early august afternoon.
treading around the shore of the lake, looking up into the sunshine and seeing nothing but waves, sky, trees – that is exactly my idea of bliss. freedom.
we brunched at the darling café below (café november – highly recommended) and acted as though we were not living in the building directly above. we explored all of the prenzlauer berg parks, particularly enjoying the one at the wasserturm (below) sitting with a good book and chatting to children and their grandparents that would come to pet ferdie. i lusted at everything sold in the new-to-me denn’s biomarkt and wished that just one of these days, we could have a store like this in the czech republic. one day.
we explored more of grünewald two days later as well as a jaunt up to teufelsberg, the former cold-war era american spy station set in the heart of west berlin on a man-made world war II hill of rubble in the middle of a forest, abandoned until only recently – an excursion that had long been at the top of my berlin to-do list.
for interested parties, please tell me: would it interest anyone if i wrote a whole post on teufelsberg? i have more i could show and say about it, but it could take over this post if i said any more! edit: here is the post all about my visit there!
more berlin– week two & three soon to come!
today i’m finally back in budejovice enjoying wearing something other than summer clothes – it’s good to be back! hope you’ve had a wonderful august so far.