I had a quiet weekend for once, which is probably a good thing as have to organise my subjects for Uni, which starts in another week (quake in boots here). It’s a funny existence here on my own, and though wonderful, I do think about everyone at home too. However, I had a lovely dinner out on Friday night which was hilarious- in an English bookshop – a grubby space, two rooms stacked floor to ceiling with second-hand books, comfy old chairs here and there, with a kitchenette and loo inbetween, so you can make tea or help yourself to a beer from the fridge (2 euro, honour system).

 

The first week here, Steffen lent us the Lonely Planet Berlin guide, and Barry left it on the U-bahn. It was a Sunday, so we rang around a few bookshops to see if we could get a replacement, and in this bookshop “Another Country”, the nicest English gent searched for us, but couldn’t find a recent one, and recommended another bookshop. On German Reunification Day, when absolutely everything is closed, I rang in the hopes that it may be open, but the English gent said no, they were closed. I’ve been meaning to get down there and check out the shop, as I have no books with me, and really need a source. When I got to this Aladdins cave, a large woman dressed in black was talking to the American girl at the desk. I got lost in the books, but finally got exactly what I wanted. The American girl mentioned that the bookshop had a dinner every Friday at 9pm for ex-pats or people who like to speak English, all cooked by the woman who owns the shop. Actually, she said, that was the woman (in black) who left just as you arrived, she had gone home to cook for the afternoon.

 

So, back I came at 9, paid my 5 euro and headed down to the basement, also full of books (I hadn’t even found it earlier in the day!), but set up with tables and chairs and a buffet of hot food, mostly vegetarian, but with some turkey and chicken for the meat-eaters too. I found a spot and lined up to get my delish food. In a great flurry, the owner came down the little stairway with the last delivery of food, and headed back up the stairs – at which point, I had a good look at her legs, in navy-blue stockings hmmm. I was sitting with an Italian who has been living here for years (Immunologist working in the famous Charite hospital, but you’d never know – balding with a ponytail, scrappy beard, could be an artist, actor, chef, journo) – anyhow, I was talking about the owner, saying she cooked a great meal, and he laughed saying she was a he in ladies clothing, and sure enough, “she” was the helpful English gent. So perhaps it puts a new spin on the shop’s name – “Another Country”. I had such a fun night, with Allesandro and his friend Andreas, whose girlfriend arrived, and then Kirk, a dishevelled American sat down and invited us all to come and sing at his house. The conversation went hither and yon and they weren’t Italian or German or American or even Irish, all of us were Berlinners.

 

I had planned to leave at 11 or so and join friends in a Student Dance venue, but it was so much fun I didn’t leave until after midnight, and didn’t get to Ballhaus Mitte until almost 1, which is when everyone goes out. There was an enormous queue to get in, which I joined, and it took forever to move. Just as we neared the top, a group of drunk Dutch students crashed the queue, and pushed everyone, making it really uncomfortable (this is really unusual for Berlin, mostly people line up very quietly and in an orderly fashion). Someone pointed out to me that, up to this point we were a couple of hundred students in F.U. doing the Intensive German course, now 1500 Erasmus students have swarmed in this week, and it feels like the nice buzz is gone, and there’s a new hooligan edge. At that point, the bouncers said the club was closed to everyone, and the Police turned up. I half-thought about joining other friends at an Icelandic Elektro night, but it was after 2, so headed home to bed instead. The U-bahn is incredibly safe and used by everyone thru the night, and where I live is as quiet as living in the countryside, literally no traffic at all, so you could sleep with the windows open when the weather was nice enough to do so. Weather here is marginally better than it was the last couple of days (15 degrees day/13 degrees night, compared to 12/3 degrees!), but the sun is shy.

 
I heard there was torrential rain at home. Here, the rain, so far, tends to be persistent, but falls down in a straight line, rather than blowing-the-brolly-inside-out kind of wind and rain. Sept was colder than I’d expected, but apparently normal for here. I had blithely imagined I’d be swimming in the lakes until October (the way it is often possible to swim in Sandycove during the same time period), but I had to buy a hot water bottle and dig out an ancient thermal top to sleep in, as of course, I left my fleecy pj’s and HWB at home, thinking everywhere would be boiling hot. I’d better get used to the cold, it gets a great deal colder.

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