Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Whew...what a weekend.
It's kind of atrocious how few pictures I took. But I'll sprinkle some in here.
Friday night a friend came over for dinner and I cooked chicken cordon bleu, haricot vert, and some really overcooked rice. Then we hung out, went out to Kreuzberg...suddenly it was 5am and I was still out, only sans my sweater which was stolen from the corner I dumped it in while I was dancing. Ah, Berlin.
I woke up 2ish hours later so I could wash the dishes from the night before and pack before heading out to catch the train to München (Munich). I was splitting a multi-person weekend ticket with a guy I found through a very handy rideshare/trainshare website. Thus the ticket cost me only 18eur. Huzzah!
The train ride took 8 hours and required several transfers. I made it to Munich at 9:15pm and headed straight to the tent camp I was staying in at the Olympic Riding Stadium, about 20min S-bahn ride outside the city center. There was a rowdy party going on in the main tent but I just passed out, knowing the next day would be a long one.
Oh and it was.
Munich was beautiful and serene in the 6am morning light:

I followed a group of lederhosen and dirndl-clad revelers towards Oktoberfest, passing workers clearing massive piles of trash along the way. Soon enough...

It was overwhelming, and nothing was even open yet. I was starving hungry, so I wandered for a while trying to find food, but nobody was open. So eventually I joined a line in front of one of the beer tents, Löwen Bräu (Lion's Brew):

Once the tent was open, the lion moved its arms a bit, and drank from its stein, and made strange rumbly noises. I met a group of people outside: lots of ozzies, a canadian, and a californian. At 9am, having waited about 2 hours, they opened the doors and everyone pushed and tried their best to trample each other. Being near the front, we soon had a table, and were off. The beermaid brought us a round right away. As well as a huge hunk of bread with melted cheese on it for my empty stomach!!!
Now by a round, I mean we each had one of these:

That's 2L of beer, roughly 68oz or 8.5cups if the online converter I just used is correct.
Keep in mind: 9 IN THE MORNING.
The beermaids carry up to 10-15 of these at once. When the first round was brought, she put them all on the table, then before she would let anyone drink anything she challenged us each in turn to lift the 6 steins all at once, with one hand. I was the only girl who could do it :) I could so be an Oktoberfest beermaid. Not to mention, I finished my stein before any of the men at the table.

Things continued in this fashion, including some delicious traditional German food, until the late afternoon, when the smoke and the noise and the crowd was just too much. I took a break for a few hours, found a quiet cafe on a side street, drank some water. Then headed back into the fray of Theresienwiese, as they call the big area where Oktoberfest is held (named after the bride at the royal wedding which was the first such fest).
One thing I didn't realize about the fest is that outside the tents is just as exciting (though not as beer-y). They have a ton of amusement park rides and games and food stalls etc. I wandered around with a new friend and checked out some of the rides, which were all expensive. Among the ridiculous things we encountered were this fine specimen of German manhood:

And this fine specimen of German womanhood:

Eventually we settled on this ride:

with this ridiculous painting as part of its decorations (a male statue of liberty kissing a female statue of liberty):

and which had us sailing through the air high above Munich and was all kinds of exhilarating. After that we were ready to party again, so we went back to Löwen Bräu and some of our friends were still there at the same table! We soon got back into the beer-ing and the singing and the swaying as the oompa band played such traditional German classics as "Hey Jude." Swaying in time with 1000s of people, waving a 2L stein and singing that song counts among the highlights of my life.
We closed the tent down and after some drama getting a drunk friend home, I headed back to my little tent and fell asleep.
The next morning I got up at a more reasonable hour and met some friends from the day before for a walking tour of Munich. I took loads of pictures of architecture and they're all rather boring, so I'm not posting any here. Learned a bit about the history of the place. Beautiful buildings, lots of culture and history but I have to say for my money Berlin is more interesting.
The tour ended at a bar where you can get bottomless Bavarian stew and a liter of beer for 9eur. I ended up staying there aaaall afternoon getting drunk with ozzies. We made friends with the bartender (Dave aka pleasant dave aka super dave aka psycho dave) who gave us free drinks and took us to a legit pizza place for dinner. Then we went back to the bar. And he was foolish enough to challenge my tackling abilities. A small cut on my head and a scraped-up elbow later and he knew who was boss.
I kind of wish I had headed back to the Oktoberfest tents again but instead I just hung out at the bar for another couple hours, then back to the camp.
The next morning I hopped a rideshare back to Berlin, and five hours later I was home. This was scrawled in the bathroom in Löwen Bräu tent and I think is a good sum-up:

Beer I love you. Bier ich liebe dich.
Bis bald,

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The Weinerei is famous in Berlin. Everyone I talked to before coming told me I had to try it. Last night I finally did.
Here's how it works: You pay a 2EUR deposit for a wine glass, or champagne glass, or really whatever vessel they happen to have lying around. Then you help yourself to wine. As much as you want. Until you leave, or they close, whichever comes first. As they close at 12, which is extremely early for Berlin nightlife, it is usually the latter.
When you leave, you turn in your glass and get 1EUR of the 2 back. Then you pay "what you think you should" for the wine you drank.
Here's what I learned: you can only actually pay what you want if you have exact change. Otherwise they harass you. I needed to break a tenner. I had had three glasses of cheap champagne. To my mind, 3EUR was generous. But the woman said, "That's too less." And the asshole American dude next to me drunkenly slurred, "Thas true. four-a-five is good..." So I accepted the 5EUR note offered to me as change.
Note to self: next time, bring exact change.
Afterwards we went to the Kulturberei, which is a complex of clubs and restaurants in Prenzlauer Berg. When you go out to a club or party, usually it costs a few euros to get in. When you pay at the door, they stamp the inside of your wrist so you can go in and out (this is handy when you don't want to pay for expensive drinks and instead run down to the corner 'Späti' (short for Spätkauf, 'late-buy', they're open 24hrs) for beers which, don't forget, you can drink on the street or anywhere else you please). Thus after a night out I often end up with a few different stamps on my wrists. They don't come off easily either, so at this point I seem always to have a couple faded stamps on my inner wrists. It kinda feels cool. I can see why inner-wrist tattoos are popular. But I get to change mine every night.
Bis bald,

Der Supermarkt

Adventures in grocery shopping...
My U-Bahn (subway) stop is right next to a big mall with a huge basement grocery store called Kaufland (buy-land). It is open until 10. This is quite convenient.
They don't have hand-baskets. Just carts. You have to leave a 1EUR deposit to rent one.
In the produce section, you get to put your selections on a little scale, press the button for the right product (I've bought a lot of "Rispentomaten," continuing my summer tomato obsession) and it will print out a neat little label that they can scan at the register. I didn't know this the first time and received some very theatrical sighs from the cashier when she had to go price my grapes herself.
You can get drinkable wine for 1.5EUR, and teeny little bottles of vodka for the drinker-on-the-go. They sell mayo, mustard, ketchup, horseradish and lord knows what else in toothpaste tubes. You can buy yogurt in buckets so big they have handles. There is only one brand of hamburger bun, and it has a big American flag on the package. 'Bio' (bee-oh) means organic.
I cannot for the life of me find the jam. It must be there somewhere. I know Germans eat jam.
When you pay, you are expected to a) have your own bag, b) buy a canvas tote for 45 cents, or c) pay extra for a plastic bag. I like this system.
I have yet to explore Berlin's many outdoor markets/market halls. I'm sure that will be an experience as well!
Bis bald,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Die Kurznachrichten

Days of the week in German: Sonntag, Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag
So.: Emerged from the club we had been dancing in at 7am. Realized it was the day of the Berlin marathon, so went to go check out the start of it near the Reichstag. Eventually arrived home at 10:30am. Strangely still not tired. Ate breakfast on the balcony, slept for two hours, showered, and did yoga on the roof in the sunshine. In the evening, saw 'Die Unendliche Geschichte' (The Neverending Story) for the first time.
Mo.: Work, work, work...then a conference at Martin Gropius Bau about Bauhaus in the 21st century. In the auditorium they have classic Bauhaus tubular steel chairs in auditorium seating format--that is, in connected rows with fold-down seats. That was pretty neat. The reception after had free food and booze, bonus. Passed out as soon as I got home.
Di.: Work. Dinner at the neighbor's (bruschetta and burgers, an interesting combo). Then out to a party in an old Stasi (Nazi secret police) office building. It was a cool event.
Mi.: Spent the morning at the Modell Bauhaus exhibit at the Martin Gropius Bau learning all about Bauhaus and checking out Christine Hill's "Build Your Own Bauhaus" installation. Plus a small show on Le Corbusier with many of his original wooden models! This afternoon, I'm headed to the preview of Art Forum Berlin, a huge art show along the lines of the Frieze art fair in London.
Bis bald,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Verlassen in West Berlin

On Saturday we went on a roomie adventure. The plan was to explore some abandoned buildings on the highest hill in Berlin, Teufelsberg. To do so, we took the bus through West Berlin, along Kurfürstendamm (or Ku'damm), a long fancy shopping street. It was like being in a completely different city. Ku'damm is so commercial, so shiny and blank and character-less. It was really interesting to see a totally different side to a city that I thought I was really getting to know.
The bus continued west and eventually we passed outside the ring bahn (generally considered the outer limits of the city center) and into a quiet, green suburban area with lots of big mansions called Grunewald (green forest). We got off at the end of the line, then walked through the woods a bit before heading up the hill. Once at the top, we made our way into the broken-down and graffiti-covered building, heading slowly upwards until we reached the roof terrace, on which are two massive geodesic domes covered with ripped white fabric and a tall tower with another dome on top of it, also all covered in ripped white fabric, blowing in the wind. We kept heading up, stopping at every floor of the tower to explore the graffiti and check out the ever-more-terrifying (yet beautiful) views. Eventually we made it to the top dome, which is totally sealed to the outside except for one rectangular opening. The sound quality in there was very echo-y and eerie. We sat and took it in for a while before heading back down. Here are some pics of the place:

Apparently there are a lot of abandoned buildings in Berlin. Eric & Josh got a few of the apartment's accoutrements (including the ladder we use to get to the roof) from an abandoned hospital. They also once threw a party in an abandoned Iraqi embassy, and there's an abandoned amusement park not too far from our place. I can't wait to explore those places too.
Bis bald,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Abendsessen & Sonnenuntergang

Last night I also made my first dinner in the apartment. I've only done limited grocery shopping, but I cobbled together a grilled panini on a baguette, with goat cheese Babybels (!!! a new discovery), sliced tomato, fresh basil (I bought a plant for my windowsill) and thin ham, plus a salad with mixed greens, tomato, kidney beans and chickpeas dressed with olive oil and balsamic. I sat on the balcony to eat and it was very relaxing. Below, my sandwich:

And the sunset views from the roof:

Bis bald,

Jazz usw

usw=und so weiter=etcetera
On Wednesday I went to the weekly live jazz show at a small underground bar (more of a brick bunker really) in Mitte (central Berlin). A friend of mine who goes every week invited me. The guys in the jazz group are so awesome, you can see how much they love just doin their thang. The banjo player was really great, so was the violinist, and the trumpet player cracked me up. It was fun. And I scandalized all the Germans when I drank a beer bigger than my head. Afterwards we went and swing-danced, which I have never done before but always wanted to try. I managed not to fall over, so that was good.
There was also good news at work, a big project in the works, so yesterday we had this big meeting about it and things around the office are a little more busy now (which isn't saying much, haha).
Last night I went to the opening of the Thomas Demand show at the Neue Nationalgalerie. Almost everyone there was extremely well-dressed; it was good people-watching. I love how you can just wander around here with a glass of wine or bottle of beer in your hand. People were mingling outside the gallery just like an outdoor cocktail party. It's not an uncommon sight to see someone walking around with an open beer bottle sticking out of their coat pocket or hopping on the train with beer in hand. In fact in the evenings it almost seems out of place to be on the train without a beer, haha. My kinda town.
Bis bald,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fotos der Wohnung

Moved in yesterday!
Here are some pics of the place.
What you see when you walk in the door (the hallway could use some decorations, haha):

Two views of the kitchen, which has great vintage cabinets in which are hidden a fridge and freezer:

Eric's room/the living room with the balcony beyond:

View from the balcony (it's even nicer at night with the Rathaus all lit up):

What you see when you walk in my room:

The view from my window:

I'm happy to finally be settled!
Bis bald,

Monday, September 14, 2009


Hm, I am going out to meet my grandma at the falafel shop on the corner for a beer, what to wear, what to wear?!? I know! My high-waisted denim short-shorts and denim cutoff vest with boots and no shirt! It's perfect!

This is the old post office. It is adorned with an underwear ad which appears to be depicting a hot scantily-clad crucifixion. Don't ask me:

Brandenburg Gate:

Just a pretty picture:


Holocaust Memorial:

Crazies on stage at Major Lazer:

And one of graffiti, out of many I have taken:

I'll put more on my flickr in future but right now I'm having trouble signing in.
Bis bald,

Ich habe eine Wohnung gefunden!

I heard back from Moritz, the freelance photographer of option 3 below (most of you guessed right!) and he said though he liked me better, a Canadian guy had outbid me. I made a counteroffer, but the Canadian guy upped it again and Moritz accepted. I found this out yesterday morning and was back to square one, so I spent almost the entire day on my computer looking for more places and emailing/calling people about them. I went to see a couple in the early evening before meeting a friend for a movie (Army of Darkness by the way, it was fantastic) and one was right down the street from Moritz's place. Two guys: an Australian film projector (cool profession, eh?) and a Canadian German-English translator, both young and chill. Big balcony, roof access, decent bathroom, big kitchen, and my room is quite large as well. We got along great and an hour or so later they called and offered me the room. It's not quite so nicely decorated as Moritz's but it will be comfortable, not to mention fun, not to mention much cheaper. They love the neighborhood and tell me I have nothing to worry about in that regard. I canceled my extra nights at the hostel and tomorrow is moving day!
I'll post pics soon.
Bis bald,

In Schwimmenden Fett

The title is how the Germans say 'deep fried.' It means literally 'in swimming fat.' At least they're honest.
Incidentally I am writing this from work and German keyboards are just ever so slightly different in frustrating ways. The Y and Z are switched and the use of an apostrophe requires pushing shift, among other things.
Anyway the title is something of a reference to Saturday's dinner at The Bird, an American bar and restaurant known for its burgers. I met with Marco from Stanford, who left yesterday, for his last burger at a place he went to every Friday and Sunday all summer (way to experience the local culture, haha). I had a huuuge patty melt which was messy and delicious and then capped it off with cheesecake and Jameson, Marco's 'traditional' dessert. I have to say the cheesecake might have been the best I ever had, and the whiskey was a nice compliment. As we wandered (or rather waddled) vaguely bar-ward after, I happened to run into a father-son pair who were on my tour, so we went to a Biergarten with them. Then we met some of Marco's work friends at a bar where the walls are lined with bed-like platforms. It was a good chill night.
Bis bald,

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Zum Geburtstag viel Glück!

Yesterday was insane!
I started an all-day walking tour at 10.30am which ended up taking 7 hours. It was great, got a "greatest hits" Berlin overview and met some nice folks to boot.
So I walked all over town and wore out my feet. Then I wore out my feet some more getting lost on the way to see a couple apartments. My rugby teammate came into town and we met at her friend's place for a BBQ which was out on the balcony and super fun. Then we headed out to find WMF Club to see Paul Devro and Major Lazer. We got really really lost. But when we found it Major Lazer was just going on...yay DIPLO! Being rugby players Chris and I pushed to the front, where I shook my booty so awesomely that they pulled me up on stage. Mind you, I was still wearing the same ratty jeans and T-shirt I had done the walking tour in and my feet really should have hurt but...I guess I am just that baller. I did my thang onstage for the entire set, dancing around and pumpin up the crowd while Chris took pics (Pic post coming soon!) It was a majorly lazerly epic birthday celebration :)
Gotta run!
bis bald,

Thursday, September 10, 2009


die Wohnung=apartment
I have seen 4 apartments in the last couple days and am seeing two more tomorrow. I have, however, already found the one I want and have told the landlord/lady I want it. I am just waiting for him/her to decide if I get it. Can you guess which one it is?
Listed in the order I saw them:

OPTION 1: 1 member of a 5-person residential art collective. Big room to myself to which I could do whatever I want. Small and dark bathroom & kitchen, inconvenient location. Basement performance/exhibit space. Creativity & Community.

OPTION 2: Live alone in a small but cool apartment in a somewhat isolated neighborhood. Cool decorations and good dusk-time view of bats swooping around the courtyard.

OPTION 3: Live with a freelance photographer and his cat in a newly renovated apartment with kooky homemade art and vintage furniture. Located in a neighborhood that some think is unsafe and uncultured, but younger people tend to think is hip and underground (I liked what I saw of it). Big sunny bedroom for me and access to the balcony.

OPTION 4: Live with two older people, one of whom seems kinda whacko, and a cat in a sunny room with sloping windows in an attic apartment. Interior decoration questionable at best. Main living space is gloomy. Funny story: the guy who I would be taking over the room from happens to be someone I knew at Stanford! Small world.

Which will it be?!? There are also two more being seen tomorrow, so...stay tuned!
Bis bald,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Zweiten & Dritten Tage

Having slept for most of my first day I resolved to get out and get to know Berlin. This means: I have been walking a helluva lot. Everywhere. For hours at a time. One thing I have learned is that this city is hella spread out. When I look at maps and plan my routes, it always takes waaay longer than I think it is going to to actually walk those routes. I've been using the U-Bahn (subway equivalent) for which my many years of blank NY subway staring has well prepared me, but even so I am not getting around efficiently all the time. I will have to brave the S-bahn at some point I guess. And I'll have to follow the advice of nearly everyone I've talked to and get a bike. Then I'll be a 'real Berliner' apparently. The traffic here is nuts though. I'm kind of terrified of diving into it on a bike.
Speaking of bikes, they are (as you might imagine) absolutely everywhere and the city infrastructure is well prepared for this. There are bike lanes on every street and even bike stoplights at big intersections. the craziest though is that large swaths of sidewalk are designated for bikes only. I had read in a guidebook that these exist, but even so I seem to have trouble avoiding them. I just kind of drift into them without thinking and then someone rings their little bike bell furiously (if it's even possible for one of those things to sound furious) and I have to scoot out of the way , blushing. I guess having lived in NY for so long I have a certain sense of entitlement when it comes to sidewalk space. Going to have to get over that one.
I went into the office for the first time today, just for a couple hours, and it occurred to me that I have only given the barest-bones explanation of what my internship actually is. I don't know if it will help, but check out the company's website, which is unfortunately currently under construction, and watch some of the "productions." Basically they're videos of art pieces, but it's designed to encourage close, prolonged looking.
There are all kinds of exciting applications for this and I'm excited by the possibilities, especially those that play into my long-standing interest in art marketing; that is, how art is marketed to the public.
The apartment search is underway and returning encouraging results. Tomorrow I'll post on the options I'm considering.
Bis bald,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wilkommen in Berlin!

I arrived in Berlin at 7am this morning, having flown from NY via Düsseldorf. The flight was fine, I slept, I ate, I watched The Hangover (again). Communicated with the flight attendants mostly in German, with a couple small hiccups. I've got to learn not to get that deer-in-headlights look when I don't understand something right away. Usually I know intuitively what they mean, but I'm not sure so I end up with this gaping bug-eyed look on my face that makes everyone switch immediately to English. It's embarassing! Still, trying to be optimistic about my ability to function in German. Succeeded in speaking only German with the taxi driver, so that was my little success for the day.
Nervous about finding an apartment, but trying to stay calm, which is never an easy task for me, haha!
After a six-hour nap, hoping I'll be able to sleep tonight. Certainly feel tired enough.
Bis bald,