(Note: The following post describes details from a previous trip, NOT a current trip.)
Monday, September 10th.
I’m DONE with this hostel.
Checkout is a breeze, as is catching the metro to Alexanderplatz – the closest station to the vacation rental at which I’m staying for the rest of my time in Berlin.
It was finding the actual apartment – on a street not too far from Berlin’s city hall – that proves tricky, thanks in part to my lousy sense of direction. By the time I arrive to the flat, I’m almost 45 minutes late and a hot, sweaty mess.
Michael – the guy from whom I’m renting the flat – is surprisingly understanding about my situation (as silly as it is). He explains where everything is in the flat (including laundry! yay!) and gives me some suggestions on what to do and see.
After Michael leaves, I take a bit of time to settle (somewhat). I flick on the TV and listen for a while to a little CNN International (it is fairly comforting to hear the sound of English again, if only for a little while), then set off to meet Jennifer in front of Berlin’s Guggenheim Museum (which, according to Jennifer, isn’t very good – but that’s a matter of opinion, right?).
A brief metro ride and a meandering, roundabout walk eventually gets us to the Berlinische Galerie (Museum of Modern Art, Photography and Architecture).
The first thing we see – in the open space nearest to the entrance – is this installation with five trees hanging upside-down, in two groups, essentially rotating around and around as the trees’ needles and branches fall off (over time).
One of the trees has rubbed up against the wall so much, it’s not only left holes in the wall, but has scraped a brown-stained imprint onto the originally white surface, and scratched the paint right off. Each time it scrapes the wall, the branches groan from the friction – a “cry” of sorts.
There are countless other installations and works – films, newspapers, collage, and more traditional forms. But the museum closes before we can see it all.
Jennifer and I then head over to this chocolatier, called Fassbender & Rausch, which has possibly every sort of candy and chocolate under the sky (including chocolate carvings), packed into one shop.
It’s really hard to decide what to choose! But in the end, I get some thank-you cookies for my host Michael, and some chocolates to have with the “welcome” bottle of wine he’s left for me.
Dinner is at this pizza place Jennifer’s been frequenting since her stay in Berlin, where she’s befriended two brothers from Brazil who work at the restaurant. The pizza’s very good, and the brothers – one of whom happens to be returning home to Brazil in a matter of weeks – are so kind.
On my way home, I finally get a chance to stop at a nearby electronics store to buy a SIM card.
I find the experience extremely frustrating, as the two or three staff members I try to communicate with barely speak English (contrary to what people I know had told me – prior to leaving – about having little difficulty talking to people).
And despite finding a SIM card, the instructions and information is entirely in German. Which, at this point, is about as useful as not having one at all. Sigh.
I return to the flat feeling a bit lonely, but hoping tomorrow’s day of touring around will lift my spirits.