3:30 am on monday morning, in dark, silent suburbia, i sang a little song, improvising words as i went, a song about finally leaving and i think that must be the post truck. it was actually my cab to the aeroport. so i flew.
9 am, friedrichstraße was grey and rainy. i struggled to find food, berlin was only waking, i stumbled into tacheles by accident and later, having finally filled myself with a mango tofu and ein kaffe, danke, the sun came out and i realised the impossibility of the situation. here i am, in berlin, simply because i want to.
later in the evening i found myself at potsdam hauptbanhof after a gloriously slow and nervous s-bahn ride from the city. julia, my couchsurfing host (and old school friend of anine's), greeted me with a hug and two bicycles, i fell in love immediately. the fifteen-minute ride with a precariously perched rucksack went okay, despite the one moment i crashed into an outdoor coffee table. all i could do was laugh (all the bystanding old lady could do was laugh). i was so happy.
julia lived opposite a firestation in an oldish detached house probably once made to house one or two families, now holding six apartments.
the neighbours seemed to be selling tombstones.
the flat was airy, light and colourful, and of course blessed with a rent so low i was half-plotting a move to germany already. we went to the shop, julia made food (which failed miserably - acknowledged on both sides to sheepish laughter, but i cleaned my plate dutifully) and we talked for hours with candles and music, gosh, way to make a friend the first day you meet. it was such a long day.
in the mornings the light was amazing, i could still see fading summer tanlines on my feet when standing in the shower, and water vapour never looked so magical. my sweater was the colour of dictionaries. tuesday. i spilled coffee on the white tablecloth.
i got to borrow julia's bicycle to make the daily journey to the train station easier. at one point i thought i'd dropped the key to the lock on the ground, and we spent some time crawling around with a flashlight, only to find the key was actually in my bag.
potsdam was filled with pretty houses,
random holy places,
amazing political posters,
and of course noteworthy amazing people.
i took the s-bahn to berlin every day. i'd spotted a big sign for a magnum photography exhibition at the c/o, an old post-office-cum-art-gallery, so i went. this photo by jonas bendiksen sticks with me still. later i tried to find something to do around zoologischer garten, but only found luxury shops and a botox boutique, and some burly men carrying liquid cement with old-fashioned yokes on their shoulders.
i decided to go back to potsdam after failed attempts to find food (again). this time i cooked, and it was another evening well spent talking.
on wednesday i saw a whole new berlin, one that didn't have starbucks on every corner.
i took the S7 to alexanderplatz,
experienced my first u-bahn ride,
saw awesome street art in prenzlauer berg,
walked down pappelallee,
had nice tofu,
then hopped the circle line to friedrichshain and walked some more (pausing for a cheesecake latte on the way),
i saw a wall of people eating people,
more amazing street art,
traffic light jugglers,
took silly pictures in a photoautomat,
and finally traipsed through a darkening görlitzer park and oranienstraße.
the cycle back to julia's was strangely nostalgic, in the way chilly autumn evenings tend to be.
on thursday i went to my final destination, neukölln.
lots of things were suddenly in turkish:
or otherwise awesome.
i enjoyed half a conversation in german with the sudanese man who made my lovely falafel, and felt thoroughly proud of myself. for some reason lots of people seemed to want to ask me for directions to places, and i reveled in the thought of not looking too touristy. except all those times i stopped in the middle of the street to clumsily shuffle through my six print-out maps. but i digress.
from neukölln i traveled back to kreuzberg to spend the rest of the evening.
down oranienstraße again
and köpenickerstraße, to see if i could check out the köpi squat.
berlin was done.
friday. i had thought about exploring potsdam before leaving for dresden in the afternoon, but it was raining, and i liked looking out of the window too much.
this nice man said guten tag to me one morning.
julia was coming to dresden too, so we got baguettes for the journey.
but she couldn't wait to start eating it.
dresden. apparently this is germany's oldest skyscraper, now abandoned, and anine's grandfather took part in building it.
i met paul the very fat kitty, who made me sneeze about seventeen times in a row.
in the evening we went to look at art, which at first was a bit suspicious as the place was very remote and it was already dark. but soon the awesomeness of it was revealed, as the galleries were actually situated in an old slaughterhouse, which also seemed to have served as a bunker of sorts during the war. amazing location, very contemporary stuff (almost a bit too contemporary sometimes, there seemed to be lots of blood and boobs and slow-motion waterspitting). schachbrett by one martin werthmann was cool, and i also enjoyed some shortfilms by harald siebler and photographs by colin wilson. and a sculpture made out of cut phonebooks, but i don't remember the name of the lady who did it.
on saturday we went to a fleamarket in dresden.
some items on sale were a bit too painful to look at.
but i got a rainbow polaroid camera, who is now called hans. then i had to say goodbye to julia. baw.
saturday evening held the event for which i had come to dresden in the first place: the fiftieth birthday of mutter der anine.
it was preceded by a tour of a pink castle, which seemed to double as a popular place to get married, as there were about five weddings going on at the same time.
later on at the restaurant; food was plentiful, germans jolly, and gifts interesting.
it's an ancient saxon tradition to present the ageing lady with baked goods of exaggerated anatomy.
a certain father appeared at the party too.
then i fell asleep on the chair.
sunday, final day in germany - no better way to spend it than playing with dinosaurs.
there were ferocious dinosaurs,
ducks riding pterodactyls,
dinosaurs that didn't mind if you drank beer at the same time,
or sat on their head.
the carnivores had lunch.
sausages can be romantic, too.
we finished off with a labyrinth adventure (i got horribly lost) and failed kiteflying in the evening. curry, packing, some more sneezing - another early morning wake-up (4 am, i think it was) and auf wiedersehen deutschland.