Friends in Berlin

Posted on August 9, 2014

We’ve been lucky to have quite a few friends & family members come visit, which is wonderful because we love sharing our new (temporary) home with others. Frank & Louis came to Berlin from Cologne and we met up with them at a lovely Friday night picnic. It was another beautiful Berlin weekend, so we met up at the Tiergarten and strolled through a flohmarkt, the park and discovered one of the cutest biergartens in all of Berlin.

We’ve seen Raimond a handful of times, and were able to spend the weekend with him & Stefan brunching, shopping & sightseeing. My friend Taleah came from New York, and we used her visit as a good reason to be a tourist in our own town too, going to museums, parks and restaurants we hadn’t discovered yet.

Thomas’s sister Susanne came from Essen so we biked all over town, showing her our favorite flohmärkte and parks. And of course, we have Alexandra, Ben & Christian who we see nearly every week. We’ve loved spending Saturday nights at their See House, grilling and enjoying the beautiful Berlin summer weather.

Bunker art

Posted on August 9, 2014

Housed in this old air raid shelter is one of Berlin’s largest private collections of contemporary art. We’ve ridden by it on our bikes dozens of times and only recently realized it was home to an art collection which we’d heard about through friends. Visits to the bunker are by appointment only, so we decided to check it out this weekend.

The bunker was constructed in 1943 to shelter up to 3,000 people during air raids. There are 120 rooms on five floors, and the walls are up to two metres thick. At one point, the bunker became storage for tropical fruit – it was once called the Banana Bunker – and then a hardcore techno and S&M club in the 1990s. It’s now a fascinating space which houses sculpture, installation, painting, drawing, video and photography.

Berlin’s stumbling stones

Posted on July 24, 2014

 

Outside our apartment at Hufelandstraße 31, there is a small brass brick built into the cobblestone entranceway. Our friend Christian told us about the Stolperstein – stumbling stones – across Berlin. They’ve all been lovingly placed to commemorate the millions of victims of the Nazi regime.

Artist Gunter Demnig started the project in the late ‘90s with 50 brass blocks installed throughout Berlin. Since then, it has mushroomed and there are over 30,000 stumbling blocks installed in front of homes & apartment buildings throughout Germany. Each Stolperstein is engraved with the name and details of the person who was killed by the Nazi regime. Demnig relies on local residents, schools, religious & secular organizations to research the victims, and the blocks are all privately funded.

It’s one thing for us to visit memorials to remember those who were killed, but these experiences feel abstract to us. It’s another to stumble upon these blocks and remember day in & day out that these were people who lived amongst us. It’s become a really beautiful way to pay tribute to the victims as we walk the cobblestone streets of this Berlin we’ve come to love.

For more reading about Berlin’s Stolperstein, visit: NPR and Stolpersteine in Berlin.

Ich bin eine Studentin

Posted on July 17, 2014


Berlin, Germany: Each morning I ride my bike from our apartment to Alexanderplatz for German language classes. I love being a student, and I love learning this language. It’s become a lot more enjoyable now that I’m in Berlin (which I’m loving much more than I imagined) and immersed in all things German. While I was enrolled at NYU last year, learning German seemed like work – all the cases, all the genders, all the declinations – scheiße!! But now it doesn’t seem like work at all. Each day I pass a new milestone in my comprehension, and I’m anxious to come home and practice with Thomas for hours. So…ich bin gerade ein Berliner!

Reichstag

Posted on July 13, 2014

Today we made a visit to the Reichstag, the center of Germany’s government. From the dome, we saw the surrounding buildings of the German Bundestag as well as other significant structures making up the Berlin skyline. The exhibition inside did a nice job of detailing the building’s past, its reconstruction after the war and how it’s played an integral role in German history. We realized how much we’ve forgotten from grade school history, so this visit served as a nice jumping off point for more reading and exploration of German history. Oh, and maybe good excuse to partake in the schwarz, rot & gold World Cup festivities.

‘Schland

Posted on July 4, 2014

We’ve combined discovering new areas of Berlin with public viewings of the World Cup. Fortunately, ‘schland has advanced to the quarter-finals so we’ve had a few games to watch. Today’s party was downstairs in our apartment building, spilling out onto the cobblestone streets and filled with friendly neighbors. Our friends Christian, Alexandra & Ben came over to watch, and the game wrapped up with celebration, fireworks and even more excitement for the next game on the 8th.

 

Hufelandstraße 31

Posted on July 1, 2014

Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany: Prenzlauer Berg is situated in the former East, so the area is full of wide parade streets, old Communist monuments and GDR-era buildings. All of this is juxtaposed with pre-war architecture as well: relatively few structures in this neighborhood were destroyed in WWII. So, living here in Prenzlauer Berg is a really interesting mix of German history.

The hardwood floors, 12-foot ceilings and light-filled rooms in this pre-war apartment on Hufelandstraße was a perfect find for us. We’re on a cobblestone street and downstairs are countless cafés, ice cream shops and boutiques. The bike path leads to Volkspark Friedrichshain, Berlin’s oldest public park and great spot for walking, biking and people watching (now that summer & the warm weather has finally arrived). The neighbors are friendly and it’s easy to get around for exploring, sightseeing and discovering. It’s going to be a wonderful summer…

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