Posts filed under 'Travelogues'
I never go to clubs. I hate clubbing, and dressing up, and staying out late, and listening to music I don’t like, surrounded by people I don’t like. So it was with some trepidation last night that I accepted an invitation to a club in Mitte, a very popular neighborhood in Berlin. But since I spend most of my time by myself in the editing room I figured I should maybe talk to some people.
I got to Ballhaus promptly at 9pm, because the buses tend to run on time here. I expected to get there later. So I figured I’d be on my own for a while. I followed some 60 year old women into the place, which made me wonder what I was getting into. Have you ever seen a 60 year old woman in a club in Manhattan? I walked past the coat check room and went right in to the main room, which looks like the place in Fireman’s Ball but with colored lighting and a disco ball. I found this picture on the Ballhaus website.
The black and white part is the “before” picture.
I tried to ask the host (an old man in a tuxedo) if there were any idiot Americans like me there yet. Of course he didn’t speak English but he pointed to my coat (a big puffy LL Bean one) and indicated that I needed to go back and check it.
Fine, checking coats. I can handle that. I’ve managed that in the U.S. without talking to anyone, I can do that in Berlin too. I gave my coat to the even older gentleman behind the counter, collected my ticket, and gave him a generous 50 cent tip. I walked away having successfully faced another challenge in a foreign land. But just as I reached the door I heard the man calling me. Shit. It took a lot of gesturing on his part and a lot of blank looks on my part before some of those elderly ladies pointed to the sign above the counter that said 1 euro. I settled the issue with a 2 euro coin (despite being worth $2.43 at the current exchange rate those 2 euro coins don’t really seem like money) and made my way back in.
The host found someone who spoke English and he said they were expecting some British people, but no Americans. He directed me to the bar, where I ordered a Corona and didn’t understand when the waiter asked me if I wanted a lime. And I accidentally gave him a 2 Euro tip for a 3 Euro beer. Eventually the well-known American actress who is starring in the movie I’m working on showed up. I hadn’t met her before so I introduced myself and we talked for a while about character arcs and stuff. Eventually everyone else showed up. Half of the group were actors in the movie and it was strange to see them after spending all week watching them on my computer. A table near the dance floor was procured, and we headed down there. OLD PEOPLE WERE DANCING!!!! And there were young people too. But nobody was wearing tight black pants. I almost felt hip.
The dance floor was packed pretty much all night. I danced a little, but I’m old and out of shape. I can’t go all night like I used to. There was an 50ish bearded man who danced by himself most of the night. He kept approaching women trying to get them to dance and finally the above-mentioned actress danced with him. I don’t think he had any idea who she was, but he definitely enjoyed himself.
We’re definitely going back next week.
January 29th, 2006
So I haven’t been able to talk to Penny on our webcams because she’s never home, but for now I thought I’d do some old fashioned blogging.
Since I have nothing to do on the weekends and I start to go a little crazy if I just stay home watching The Daily Show (thank you Internet!) I decided to do some sightseeing. The only place I knew in Berlin was Checkpoint Charlie.
For those of you who a) are too young to remember the Wall and b) haven’t seen Ross McElwee and Marilyn Levine’s movie Something to Do with the Wall then Checkpoint Charlie probably means nothing to you. Well, I was 9 when the Wall came down but I remember Peter Jennings telling me it was important.
It looked like they were having a good time taking it down anyway. But I did see Something to Do with the Wall and I think I remember that Checkpoint Charlie was kind of the geographic center of the movie. Anyway, I heard that it was still there, so it seemed like something to see.
I think Checkpoint Charlie was named after an American soldier named Charlie who was killed trying to cross over from the East. There’s big picture of him in a touching memorial.
I don’t know what he was doing in the East. Probably busting some Commie ass. I didn’t take that picture. It’s from a postcard.
I took a picture of this thing thinking I was photographing history, but I found out later on the Internet that it was rebuilt in 2000 so they could sucker people like me into taking 2 subway trains halfway across the city
to see some fake checkpoint that doesn’t even mean anything to me.
Next time I’m staying home to watch CNN International.
I liked this sign though.
I thought I did that weeks ago.
January 29th, 2006
I have arrived in Berlin and my computer made it out of customs. Here are a few pictures I’ve taken since I got here.
This is Heathrow Airport. I stopped here on my way to Berlin for a few hours just to see what all the fuss was about. According to BBC World News (one of two reliably English-language TV channels in Berlin, which means it’s on a lot in my apartment) it’s the busiest airport in the world, and they’re spending eleventy billion pounds to make it even bigger. Good thing, because I could hardly get through the crowds.
Actually, they were all at the duty free shops. Duty free actually means something in Europe. It’is like 16%. Which makes you realize how great they have it in New Hampshire. I didn’t have any pounds so I couldn’t take advantage of the lack of duty, although I did feel liberated just browsing.
This is the entrance to my partment. The left side of my keyboard was damaged during shipping so sometimes letters don’t work. That’s why I spelled it "partment." Not because that’s German for apartment bcause it’s not (that time the e didn’t work). According to my pocket dictionary
The word is Wohnung. As in mein wohnung ist schäbig.
Which means my apartment is shabby.
Which it is. But it’s not terrible. There are things I like about it. Like the kitchen.
Looking at this you might ask yourself "where’s the fridge?" Well check out this piece of magic:
Yeah, it looks like a cabinet!!!! In the States that sort of design extravagance is reserved for the very wealthy/trendy. But Europe has been civilized much longer than the U.S. (sorry Native Americans). Watch what else looks like a cabinet:
Yes, the cutest little dishwasher you ever saw. I haven’t had a dishwasher for the past 7 years. I use this one every chance I get because I won’t have one in New York until after I make my first million.
This is my bed and the towering bureau next to it.
Except for the handcrafted table
and the designer couch (see above) all the furniture is from Ikea. The bed has a habit of collapsing on one side while I’m sleeping which means I have to spend the rest of the night on the other side of the bed afraid to venture back because the whole thing could go at any minute.
This isn’t my apartment building, but mine is behind it and looks just like it. S let’s pretend it is mine. You’ll never know the difference. And it’s something like 0 degrees Celcius outside, which makes me think it’s even colder than it is. So I’m not going outside to get a real picture. That dark spot in the sky is a bird. They have those in Berlin too.
January 21st, 2006