Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Friendly greetings from Berlin

Here is the gangway coming out of the airplane. At the end of it the passport was stamped, then the baggage cartel was just beyond that, and then I walked between two bored-looking customs officers, no papers required, and came out into the lobby ten minutes after getting off the plane. This was the shortest customs and immigration procedure ever!

Here is my little apartment. There is a loft above, a kitchen and a bathroom.

Getting around Berlin is pretty convenient, there are streetcars, subway trains, and buses everywhere and they run round the clock. People bring their dogs, beers and bicycles right on the trains.
On Saturday night there was a group of kids carrying some giant speakers having a sort of roaming party, they all came into the train and were dancing and singing on the train. Just a few of them got out at the station, another group was still in the train.
For the downtown tourists, there are all kinds of pedicabs, some of them quite hilarious. First, we have the octopus bike. This thing was unbelievably fast, I don't think I would like to ride this going backward!

Here is a video of the Octobike in action:

If you need to relax... the Cannabike!
And last but not least, the Beer Bike! Yes, really. The keg is on the front and the middle is a bar. These guys were drinking and pedaling and hollering like you wouldn't believe. I hope the driver/bartender was sober.
My first Wurst! I am told that Currywurst is considered to be the oldest "fast food" in Berlin. It's a kind of white sausage, grilled, cut into pieces and served with a curry ketchup sauce. The roll is on the side. It doesn't look beautiful, but it tasted delicious.

The first few days here were windy and cold, but finally there was a beautiful sunny day so I walked around and eventually came to the Mauerpark (Wall Park).  Here are two good info sites: Wikipedia Mauerpark entry, Berlin.de Mauerpark entry. The Berlin Wall ran right through here and it was a place of sadness, but now it's a public park where people come to sit in the sun, swing on the swings, play music or sports and relax.
... and paint graffiti on the remnant of the Berlin Wall, of course.
There is a LOT of graffiti aka "street art" in Berlin, on everything from buildings to train tunnels to roofs. Some of it, like this on the roof of the gorgeous building below, is just the usual trash, but some of the graffiti art is whimsical and fun to see. In the first Mauerpark photo, if you zoom in to the center of the picture, you can see a building-sized wall mural of soccer players in the distance.
More to come!

Note:  This post was backdated; I didn't really see all this on the way home from the airport!

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