Saturday, September 24, 2005

Officially a renter!

After spending the morning at the driving range, a flea market and the hospital (visiting a friend), I headed to Wilmersdorf this afternoon to sign my lease! Carl came to provide moral support, to ask the tough questions and explain the German words I didn’t know☺ His help was most appreciated, though my landlady is extremely nice and the contract was pretty straightforward.

The following apartment pictures are pre-Erin (meaning pre-personal touches and mess). But people have been asking about the apartment, so these will give you an idea of what it is like. I move in Wednesday and will email everyone with my address soon (I don’t want to post it on the blog.) The phone line might take a little longer, but the cell phone number you have still works in the meantime.

The roller-blading picture was taken just a block away from my apartment. Tomorrow is the Berlin Marathon but today is the Berlin roller-blade marathon! Really! Though I haven’t seen so many tourists in one city since cherry blossom season in Washington, Berlin is abuzz with pre-marathon fun! More about the marathon tomorrow.

Happy Saturday

Thursday, September 22, 2005


As of lunchtime today, the orientation program was officially over! It has been fun, but it is time to get on with my project and other adventures.

The excitement of the day occurred when I went looking for a sleeper sofa. First of all, the store had clear acrylic toilet seats with gummi bears in them. I don’t even really know what to say about that! It was a fascinating Germany discovery!

The other exciting moment of the day was watching a drug bust across the street from the metro. Two cop cars came screaming up the street, into oncoming traffic and on to the sidewalk. The officers ran out of the cars and helped the 3-4 undercover cops (who were sporting Euro-punk fabulous mohawks) who already had most of the culprits (7-9 of them) on the ground in handcuffs. I was watching the German version of "COPS" on tv the other day and it was so boring-- drunk people and noise complaints mostly. Today was much more fun to watch!

In other news, there is still no coalition government and chancellor (Day #4.) Today a reporter referred to the developing coalitions as a ménage a trois. Ummm, obviously that French word means different things to Americans and Germans!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Big Germany Question Has Been Answered

No, I do not know who will be the next chancellor of Germany. But actually that was not the most pressing question in the capital in recent weeks. The most important question was will Erin become an Ossi (easterner) or a Wessi (westerner)…where will she live!?

I am happy to report that I will be signing a contract for a lovely apartment in Wilmersdorf (in the West) on Saturday! Though Wilmersdorf was not on my initial list of neighborhoods, I feel very at home there. I am just 2 metro stops away from work this fall, 5 minutes away from where I will work this spring, and 5 minutes away from the Ludwig Kirche Platz, a great church/park/fountain surrounded by little shops and cafes.

From the outside, the building is nothing to write home about. Well actually it is pink, which is notable! But it is not exactly the altbau (romantic European city building) I was hoping for. The inside, however, it is nicely furnished, recently renovated, very sunny and has a balcony with flower boxes (personally my favorite feature!) I plan to fill the flower boxes with seasonal decorations, which will in turn make the front of the building look better☺ (Martha Stewart Berlin style!)

So let the party (I mean diligent research on my project) begin!

I will post pictures once I move in next week.


Monday, September 19, 2005

At Least We Aren’t the Only Country with Dysfunctional Elections

24 hours after polls closed in Germany, I can report that there has been an election. That is where the certainty ends. There is neither a new coalition government nor a new chancellor (yet.) This is almost like Florida! Well not quite…

It is normal that a coalition forms in the days following the election, but yesterday’s results were so mixed that forming the coalition will be very difficult. Will there be a “grand coalition” with the 2 main parties? Will the conservatives (red), business liberals (yellow) and the green party (green) forms a “stop light coalition? Will the liberals (black), the business liberals (yellow) and the greens (green) form a “Jamaica flag coalition?” It is anyone’s guess! Unlike in the States, people in Germany voted for a party yesterday. The chancellor is therefore the head of the party with the majority of seats (including the seats of their coalition partner) in the parliament.

I watched the election with a friend in front the parliament building where a large television screen had been set up. The beer was flowing, the brats were cooking and anticipation was in the air☺ It was fun to be with “among the people” as the first exit poll was released. While it was no surprise that the liberals had not done exceedingly well, the crowd was surprised when the conservatives did not pull the big numbers (around 40% of the vote) that they were hoping for. The big winner of the night was the FDP business party, who pulled votes from the conservatives. The newly formed “left party” (a mix of communists and disgruntled liberals) also did well and pulled votes from the liberals.

Like I said, what will happen next is anyone’s guess. The parties have 30 days to present a coalition. One thing is for sure… I will not miss tracking the coalition-building craziness in the papers at 6am every morning for the next month!