berlin for berlinale and valentines’ week was a hell of a time. i was a little unsure about returning so soon after my all-too-short weekend getaway last summer somehow rubbed me a little bit in the wrong direction, but the city’s back on my good list now and it seems that valentines’ week was the perfect time to realize that it was just a rough patch we were going through.
as i was being smothered by winter monotony here in south bohemia, five days in the hauptstadt was just the thing to refresh my spirits. although i was looking forward to seeing the city in it’s snowy winter glory, the weather was lovely for february– about the same winter temps i’ve come to accept and enjoy in the pacific northwest.
immediately upon arrival, the first thing i notice is an overabundance of amazing food on offer. even with a quick stroll through alexanderplatz or friedrichstrasse station, there is option upon option of delicious fast eateries: everything from traditional german, to asian everything, to gelato, to turkish– and that’s not counting everything outside the train station. what a sensory overload coming from czechland, where your options are generally traditional czech food or crappy chinese mall food. now, i’m not a stranger to the berlin food scene, but after months of little variety, it was overwhelming to see this much choice! i wanted to eat EVERYTHING. (below, mr. susan ramen)
looking particularly russian, feeling satisfied with my burrito.
tofu & veg pakora from goura pakora (they also have KILLER espresso!)
something that looked like food that i wished was real… at cinemax
i was happy to be among the funny weirdos on the u-bahn and every street having so much to look at. all of the english speaking i heard this time around really didn’t bother me after the shock of my last visit. for the first few days i kept speaking czech and getting really annoyed with myself, and it took a few days, but i finally transitioned to german right before it was time to go. this learning two languages at once thing is not easy for me– how do people pull it off?
besides wandering through various kinos severely sleep-deprived (comes with the film festival goer territory), devouring films, and eating fabulous cuisine, we also found time to tour a WWII era bunker under u-bhf gesundbrunnen in the north of the city with berlin unterwelten tours. they offer 3+ english speaking tours, and to be honest i wasn’t sure which one we were getting, but i was highly satisfied with the 90 minute tour we took. the group was generally small, the guide was highly informative, and delving into the historical innards of berlin seemed like a really great thing to do for a person who’s generally “been there, done that”.
i have no pictures to show as photography was verboten but just imagine a lot of grey concrete walls, toxic glow-in-the-dark paint, and recovered artifacts like rusty helmets and revolvers. nothing says day of love like an underground bunker from the forties.
and check it: i learned something! buildings in berlin with this plaque on the front denote that the building was made with the trümmer, or rubble that lay all over the bombed city following WWII. there was so much rubble laying about the streets, so one idea was to re-purpose it into new buildings. (one in kreuzberg near kottbusser tor, below)
and this has to be shared: YOU TOO can visit uncle tom’s cabin in south berlin! somebody, please go there and tell me that you ascended from the u-bhf station from a shelter meant to look like a cabin.
below, the sweet brick building near anhalter banhof that was a WWI military hospital, turned gestapo office, then a convent until transformed into hostel in the mid-aughts. very comfy beds!
we ended our valentines’ day with a “running” (conveyor-belt) sushi dinner complete with sake and champagne, and then took some funny photos waiting for the bus at alexanderplatz.