Saturday, September 29, 2012

What Berlin Looks Like...

walking up the stairs to an independent movie theater
strolling past a closed pet store
sipping a cappuccino and reading by the windowsill

waiting for the subway to go home

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thai & Tempelhof

I'm pretty "with it" when it comes to Berlin tourist and hot spots. Not that I could ever know all of Berlin's secret, underground happenings, but the big sites I've most certainly got down. I could give a comprehensive tour of this city in my sleep. So even though I have long been aware of Tempelhof, I'm surprised that until this past weekend I had been pretty immune to its charms.

Sundays for me are generally reserved for one park and one park only: the Thai Park. Have I written about the Thai Park yet? If not, please excuse this egregious oversight on my part. The Thai Park is a wonderful, wonderful place where Thai women set up umbrellas and sell fresh, delicious goodies like papaya salad, pad thai, and mango with sticky rice that you eat while sprawled out on a blanket in a park that happens to be right outside of my apartment building. It's heaven wrapped in a spring roll! A spring roll stuffed with heaven! It's my happy place.

And just like that, she's off track because of food! Back to Tempelhof, which does not have Thai food. But in Tempelhof's defense, the place has pretty much everything else. It's a former airport turned massive park where you can find everything from carnivals to kite flying to soccer games to music festivals. After lounging about and indulging at the Thai Park last Sunday, I agreed to join a couple friends there for a long overdue visit.


The first thing that strikes you is just how massive the spot is. From one end it's tough to make out the other. There's just so much open space without trees or lakes or anything else that the other Berlin parks are full of. And being able to jog, rollerblade, or picnic on a former runway is pretty cool.


The history of the place is pretty interesting, too. Tempelhof has played a really signficant role in some of Berlin's darkest and most complicated eras- built in the 20s, it was re-constructed by the Nazis in the 30s and used to assemble Stuka dive bombers and Focke Wulf FW 190 fighter planes during World War II. Later it was the site of the famous Berlin airlift in 1948-1949. Its main building also used to be one of the 20 biggest buildings on EARTH (thanks, Wikipedia).

Tempelhof Airport was closed in 2008 and has since evolved into one of Berlin's most beloved parks. It's a nice alternative to the more stately Tiergarten and has a somewhat edgier feel (though let's not forget Tiergarten has its fair share of nude sunbathers). Coming up this week in Tempelhof is some kind of freestyle frisbee tournament where people "jam" together on frisbees to music. Or maybe they have to make music with frisbees. Either way, I am happy to have another Berlin staple in my repertoire.

Thai Park: U7 Fehrbelliner Platz/Preussen Park
Tempelhof Park: S41/42 Tempelhof or U6 Tempelhof

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gesehen: Partner Look

I grew up hearing "Partner look!" squeals from my mom and aunt whenever any two people in the family or on the street happened to be wearing something similar. It's two English words, but when put together somehow becomes a German phrase. Just like lots of other English words that pervade German language, particular in the pop culture scene and the professional work environment (yay for me!).  I spotted these two - sisters? twins? equally sized and styled friends? - on my walk home from work yesterday.

p.s. These outfits may seem strange to you, but they are common fare in Berlin. I should start another sequence called "So Berlin" to highlight some of the weirder ones but then I'd probably have to write less about food, and that's just not realistic.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Four Seasons of the Maybachufer

November 2011
February 2012
May 2012
September 2012
I've been waiting eagerly to post this number of one of my favorite spots in town. Now that I just passed the 10 month mark in Berlin, and it has very much started to feel like the onset of fall, it was finally time. Anyone who's visited me in Berlin (and was around on a Tuesday or Friday) knows this spot, too. It's home to - what else - the bi-weekly Turkish market and my favorite Goezleme. Let's just say I left work a little early yesterday to take my Dad who's in town, and snapped my final shot.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Diversity City Turns 775

Berlin turns 775 this year. As part of the celebration, the city has created an open-air exhibit in Mitte called Stadt der Vielfalt, or City of Diversity- a huge walkable map with colorful "pins" each highlighting a different part of Berlin's uniqueness. Each pin holds a story corresponding to its particular neighborhood, like a now famous Turkish-German author's first shared home when she arrived here in the 60s, a world music workshop for children, and a story about how immigrants introduced the potato to Berlin. The exhibit portrays Berlin's history as one of immigration, diversity, and inclusion, while making sure not to ignore past (and present) problems of exclusion, persecution, and discrimination of those who are "different".

I also found my neighborhood... office (and the pond I walk around after lunch every day!)...

...and even a pin about my beloved Thai Park!

Berlin, I love you and your diversity. Happy birthday.

p.s. you don't look a day over 500.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Istanbul Firsts

Merhaba! I've been in Istanbul since Monday for work, and though it's my third time here, I've had a number of "firsts" on this trip.

My first time driving over the Bosporus bridge (before I had only ferried it), crossing from Europe to Asia.

My first Raki, Turkey's most beloved spirit that tastes like Ouzo or Sambuca. I'm not a fan of anise, so after a few sips I switched back to my red wine.

My first experience eating boiled lamb brains. Taste was bland, texture was entirely too mushy for me. They should fry them. Everything tastes better fried!

And to conclude, a much more pleasant eating experience: my first time in a Turkish patisserie. While we shopped around the over-priced store we were given free samples of fresh strawberry and cream filled rolls and chocolate and left with one of those cakes covered in shaved white chocolate you see below. We had to make working on a Saturday more bearable somehow!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ze Veekend

Weekends should always be like this. Full of burritos, curry, helping friends move to nice apartments, meeting friends for coffee, eating in green gardens, lying around in parks, chatting on balconies, and video chatting with family. Hope yours was just as lovely.