Saturday, July 22, 2006

More Cheryl and a Second Special Delivery

The challenge for day three of Cheryl's visit was finding cool and cool activities, as the temperature soared and there is not an air conditioned building in sight. The wonderful solution was the Badeschiff. What is this, you ask? It is a swimming pool made from a cargo hull that is 6 feet deep, about 15 feet wide and maybe 150 feet long. It has been sunk to almost water level in the Spree and is the closest one would ever WANT to come to actually swimming in Berlin's main river. The atmosphere is great! People shower off (the life guard is more concerned about this than guarding lives,) then jump in, grab a seat on the edge of the pool and enjoy. The most comprehensive way to describe the experience is that it is so Berlin! It is in an old industrial complex, it's arty, people look trendy-- lots of fun!

It in evening, we did an evening tour of the Reichstag and the Brandenberg Gate. Seeing the city illuminated at night was something else!

Friday morning, special delivery #2, Torsten from Cologne, arrived. After dropping his bags at my place, the three of us headed east to the Soviet memorial in Treptower Park. What can I say that I haven't said before, it still kinda creeps me out! We also walked along the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery, took a boat tour, walked through the Pergamon Museum and introduced Cheryl to Doener Kebabs.

The plan for the evening was to enjoy another German tradition: a beer garden. I had heard that the Cafe am Neuen See was particularly nice, but didn't exactly know where it was and got the three of us lost in the Tiergarten. Luckily, Matthias is just a phone call away and was able to navigate us out of the woods and over to the Cafe. We did indeed have a great time! Pictures to follow when Cheryl gets back from the rest of her vaca.

What's next this weekend? Who knows! I dropped Cheryl off at the train station this morning at 7:30am. She is on her way to Prague, followed by Ireland and Scotland. Torsten and I enjoyed breakfast on the balcony this morning and are now off for another day of sightseeing.

Happy Saturday

random interesting people spotted at Schlesisches Tor

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Special Delivery

I am most pleased to report that Cheryl, one of my oldest and dearest friends, arrived from Connecticut on Tuesday. We’ve been having so much fun, there has hardly been time for a blog posting.

Determined to help Cheryl stay awake all day on Tuesday, we set off for the Turkish market in Kreuzberg as soon as we dropped her bags at the apartment. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed by the market. I’m glad I went once, but it is not nearly as cool as the Kollowitzplatz market up in Prenzlauerberg. Many of the stands sell the same things and it was too crowded and hot to leisurely stroll. But really who cares what the market was like because Cheryl and I had a great time catching up with each other. Stop #2 was Bergmannstrasse in Kreuzberg. We had dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant in the city and walked up and down the street. I figured that between the jet lag and the heat, Cheryl would be ready to crash after dinner. NOT SO! The Pad Thai gave her a second wind and soon we were off to the Kudamm for a bit of shopping at H&M, Mango and S. Oliver. It was great fun to shop with someone who knew which styles are also in the States at the moment, and which ones were either freaky Berlin or funky European looks!

Jet lag hit a bit harder today and there was not a “Cheryl sighting” until 11am. But that was okay, because I had a chance to work. We got rolling after a “German breakfast.” The first stop of the day was the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. It continues to be one of my favorite museums in Berlin and a must-see for newcomers to the city. Stop #2 was the Gendarmenmarkt, followed by the memorial to the Nazi book burning, UN Buddy Bear exhibit, the city toilette, (I told you I was taking guests there) and finally the Hackeschermarkt area. Just about baking from the heat (as you can tell, I am a major baby when it is hot and nothing is air conditioned,) we then headed back to my place for a bit of a rest. Then it was back to the Kudamm to shop at Zara and to see the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Dinner found us in Prenzlauerberg at the Alsatian restaurant Gugelhof. Cheryl was a trooper during dinner, but the jet lag caught her again and we had a quiet and sleepy subway ride back to the wild and wonderful west.

Cheryl at Gendarmenmarkt

What a uniter I am:-)

A swimming pool in the Spree River, the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag are on the to-do list for tomorrow. With the mercury expected to climb to almost 100 tomorrow, lots of complaining about the heat will also be in line:-)

P.S. For those following the continuing series “Erin vs. the Foreign Service,” the heroine of the story found out tonight that she passed the written test again and will be taking ANOTHER oral assessment this fall;-)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Berlin Institution

Should I have been working on my project and other pressing matters this evening? Heck yeah! But was I? Heck nein!

Instead, I met up with part of the Berlin BUKA gang, played a bit of ping pong and then visited the Prater beer garden for the first time. Prater is an institution—at almost 170 years old, it is Berlin’s oldest beer garden. The relaxed atmosphere was great. People chatted, enjoyed beers and wurst and children played on the giant swing (this part of the city has the highest birthrate in Berlin...we think Germany and maybe even Europe—there are little ones EVERYWHERE!)

Here are some picts!

Nicolai explains why lots of Russians are named Sergei. Everyone is fascinated:-)

the group

Lexy's word to the wise: "Don't get your hair cut short!

there are 4 people in that photo booth!!

Lexy and Emil's pictures... one has been censored at the model's request;-)