I think I’m beginning to find my rhythm here. The jet lag feels subdued now, if not completely gone, and I’ve even begun to make [slow] progress on schoolwork. We get up quite early (sometime between 6:50-7:45) and D. and I have breakfast. (Today, I started eating some Turkish yogurt from the maybe-Lebanese grocery store. It was really good! Like Greek yogurt, unsurprisingly.) After a coffee, D. leaves, I piddle for a few minutes (to a few more minutes) and then I start to work. In the afternoon, I go out for a mini-adventure. Yesterday’s was especially nice!
Tiergarten near the zoo
I made it down to the Zoo-garten station by myself, sans map (okay, so it’s a straight shot by metro from here, but small victories are real victories). After walking up to D.’s building just to orient myself, I walked back under the metro bridge and into the Tiergarten. Here is my preface: Berlin is not your typical European city. I suppose since it was so extensively bombed out, buildings are newer, people are edgier/artsier (D. and I were talking about how even the most hipster people in the States would be only moderately hipster here), there’s more graffiti… To the inexperienced eye, all of this looks like “Uh Oh. Sketchballz.” BUT, I am learning that this is simply not the case. Graffiti in Berlin is not necessarily a sign of derelict neighborhoods or dangerous people; this look forms part of the vibe of this city. Okay. Preface over. So, upon walking into Tiergarten and seeing a rather organized tent city, I wondered what it would feel like to keep walking around the park. But, all signs pointed to keep going. Lots of people, young and old, were coming and going. No one seemed en garde, so, as I try to do, I took after the locals and made my way around. I even got to peek in the fence of the zoo to see your everyday urban camel and flamingo.
And then I started to get the itch. For ice cream. I spotted several people around the park with cones and I thought “I must find where they’re coming from. Finally, I got to one of the park bridges and I thought AH-HA! There comes a man with ice cream; I’ll just walk down his side of the bridge. Alas, false hopes. That side of the bridge was exclusively for people with admission to the zoo. Downhearted, I walked back out of the park, with not a drop of chocolate on my shirt to show for it. Then, I saw the train station. It’s big, I thought. They’ll have something. I walked in and saw a coffee shop, a Dunkin’ Donuts and (cue heavenly choirs) a delicious ice cream stand. Two scoops later, I made my way out of the Bahnhöf (station), only to have a group of those “edgy” teens wish me bon appetit. I know I must have been looking pretty touristy at this point, but with my taste buds satisfied, it didn’t really matter.
I met D. at his lab, which has the same wi-fi as UNC, eduroam. This is unbelievably cool. He met me outside and we walked upstairs. There are a few science comics pinned to the door, two dozen empty beer bottles in a bin for recycling (“It’s more relaxed here, but the people in the lab upstairs are the real partiers.”), and big windows offering a nice view of Berlin. While he walked into the room marked “Lasers” (no joke), I sat down to check out Barcelona apartments and I think (dedos cruzados) I have almost found one!
Near the Görlitzer park metro station, ca. 9 pm (?)
Later, his friend H., with a giggle rivaling that of one of my UNC classmates, met us and we made our way down…way down…10 metro stops down…to Görlitzer park. This park was originally part of East Berlin. Now, it’s still full of graffiti, but the hoards of young people hanging out having a beer evidence that it is quite the up-and-coming part of Berlin. This park would be intimidating to your average American tourist, but since I was flanked by two almost-local dudes, once I got over the initial surprise of the edginess, I started to think it was pretty cool (or, as they say “zuper” cool). Where did we end up? Glad you asked. ‘Ta Cabrón, a Mexican restaurant where I got to order in Spanish. Internationalism at it’s finest. I heard stories of H. and D. growing up in Mexico. They talked of taking the cheap buses home or walking. On some days, D. ran out of money because he decided to by a Coke instead of a bus ticket. Carpe Cola? Sharing your stories, your culture, your memories with someone who “gets” them even with you’re thousands of miles away is invaluable.
“You look unenthused.” “I was very enthused. See? I’m smiling”
Looking at it with perspective (and not just the distortion of the camera angle), this was a nifty hangout.
Sunshine. Graffiti. And young people.
So, gratitude for A. for yesterday: A nice lead on a pretty place to stay in Barcelona, words on a page for my article revision, learning to feel more at-ease around the city, a pleasant walk in the park
Academic goals for today: send the contract back to the journal that will publish my first article (!), and edit/write 2-3 single-space pages for Huevos…maybe more. We’ll see.