I took a bus from Berlin to Munich for the first weekend of Oktoberfest, which actually started September 21st. The night before, I met a vampire from Romania who bedazzled us with card tricks. Dawned in my dirndl, I awoke bright and early to catch the train into the festival, where we waited in a crowd outside the Armbrustschützenzelt tent for a bit before being one of the first waves allowed in. We secured a few tables and waited til noon.
My first liter of beer came right out of the first-tapped barrel of Oktoberfest 2013. The rest is history.
A word of wisdom: EAT. Eat as much as you can, so you may continue to drink coherently. ;]
One stop down from Mexikoplatz. There was always something surreal about coming to this place.
As far from one shore as the other, naked, cold and alive, the feeling that the water and all it’s outlier loneliness might vanish, as if Berlin decided a blue-green gem so close couldn’t be abided by, hung, treading water with me.
I heard Mutter Courage und Ihre Kinder von Bertolt Brecht was playing at the Berliner Ensemble. I got a ticket for 10 Euro, and it was one of the best productions I’ve ever seen.
Brecht holds a specific influence in the direction I’ve taken. I first heard of him in a theatre history class at my high school, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. We learned of epic theatre, and it’s combination of media and theatrical elements. As a storyteller in the 21st century, the increasing significance of technology in communicating ideas was apparent. In middle school, cell phones had just started becoming a thing, by junior year at DA, everyone had one.
I decided to major in journalism at the University of Florida, expanding my skill repertoire to include media. I took German classes, a two-week photojournalism course in Berlin and now, I’ve been living in Germany for six months. Alles ist ein bisschen verrückt (in einem Guten Weg, natürlich).
The show was intense.
I met up with some friends after the show, and Matt and I found lifeguard stands on the sidewalk. Not totally sure what their deal was, but they were fun for a few minutes and we befriended some Polish guys walking by with whom to continue the night’s adventure.
I took a train from Mannheim the Saturday before the Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program began. My host ma picked me up from the station. She told me she had a daughter my age studying abroad in France – she was also a redhead, and I’d be staying in her room. Once I got my luggage up the stairs, all seemed well, until we came to the living room. She said I couldn’t sit on the couches — I laughed, I thought it was a joke… it is different here.
The first day at Brentanostraße 50, I met Matt. He lived just one stop down from me on the S1, at Mexikoplatz. I heard Roger Waters’ the Wall tour was coming to Berlin. (I mean, the Wall!! In Berlin!! Come on.) No one else at the Mensa seemed as keen on it. Matt and I got our tickets and two weeks later were on the U2 headed out toward Olympiastadion.
The show began in a blaze of fire. Our seats were high enough up that we couldn’t distinguish the shadows on Roger Waters’ face, but technology helped out. A wall of screens behind him illuminated him and media messages, in German and English.
A swirl of dark sounds and entangled memories ensued.
The last time I came to Berlin was a year and some months before, but it seemed a very distant, vibrant memory. It was for a photojournalism course, and the first time I decided Berlin was my favorite city (mein Lieblingstadt). It was a brief stay and I had no idea what was in store.
This time was different. I knew more German. I had a handle on the public transport. But the people were different. There were more of them, and everyone’s uncle was somebody. A network of people who want to move the world.
As an introduction to the city and it’s history, we went to the Soviet war memorial and military cemetery in Treptower Park. We took a boat tour down the Spree. We had a welcome dinner at the Botanischer Garden with our host families. That was the night I met Megan, the only other redhead in the program, which was apparently enough to confuse us till the very end. I went with her to a doom metal show, Obelyskkh, and met some German friends, with whom I proceeded to travel from bar to bar with until dawn, when I finally caught the S1 back to my host stay in Zehlendorf. A true Berlin experience.
Sabrina, Jason and I began our Sunday morning with a delicious breakfast Mone prepared for us. Unlike in the U.S., the grocery stores here are all closed on Sundays, so preparation is necessary.
After Frühstück (oder, ‘breakfast’), we took a tram to the Schloss to meet up with other classmates and see the museum, it was closing for the remainder of our time in Mannheim. The museum was pretty much just a sectioned off portion of the palace in which they kept the remaining ornate furniture, rather than desks and chalkboards (yes, our instructors write on actual chalkboards!)
After the ooo’s and the ahh’s at the fanciness dripping from the history of our present University, Ryan, Bryan, Kenny and I caught yet another train to Heidelberg. We were determined to hike to the top of Philosopher’s Walk this time.
“Ein kugel, ein Euro.”
One scoop, one Euro. This familiar phrase sent butterflies of warmth to my ears. I understood without doubt what these four words meant, thanks to my stay last summer in Berlin, when eating ice-cream was at least a once-daily routine. The delectable Hazelnut and Pistachio flavors are just not as prolific back home. We all got ice cream. Natürlich.
We arrived at the train station and crossed the river to the base of the Philosopher’s Walk. The hike started steep, but we mustered through it at a fair pace, climbing higher and higher over Heidelberg.
And then we saw it.
The most epic spinning playground toy ever.
It plays the up-down weight game like a seesaw, but it also spins 360 degrees around.