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29 November 2011

One More Berlin Weekend

Days 84-86: Friday-Sunday, 12-14 August 2011
Having just had some currywurst, I rushed across the city again to meet up with a group of couchsurfers getting Thai food in the park. It was in the southwest of the city, Kleistpark. There, many women (I think they were all women) laid out picnic setups with lots of home made goodies - noodles, rice balls, sesame sugar balls, spicy cabbage salad, and so on. And anyone can just go there and buy some food from any of them.

I met several couchsurfers there, several from Italy, but I spent much of the time talking with Courtney, from New Zealand, and Joana from Brazil.

About half an our into our afternoon picnic in the park, some extremely dark and ominous rain clouds appeared, and soon it began to pour heavy rain. The entire group ran for cover underneath some of the tent shelters. We then went to Hermannplatz, where there was another meetup going on at a bar. There, I grabbed a beer and met more people, including a guy from Philadelphia named Zach or something. The rain had stopped, leaving an optimistically post-apocalyptic cityscape as I left the meetup.

I met Patricia, Philipp, and Stephanie and company for a nighttime flea market by Warschauer Straße. There, I was introduced to Katja and two other friends. The flea market was pretty cool, despite the fact that they wouldn't allow me to bring in my water bottle, so I just left it by the doorway and picked it back up when I left. At the market, Stephanie bought a bikini as a gift for the birthday celebrant Enno, and I ended up buying a pair of Deutschland "Kanye West" glasses for €1.

There were 7 of us, and we all somehow decided to cram into a photobooth and take pictures. Then, hungry, we proceeded to a nearby kebab shop, where I tried halumi (fried cheese in flat bread with salad and sauce). We then stopped by a späti to get some beers for the road.

We went to a birthday party, for Enno, an acquaintance of Stephanie. The party was at Enno's friend's apartment, in a great location on the canal by Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg. The apartment was 2 levels, with big bedrooms for each guy living there (and the guys living there were artists or musicians)! Oh, Berlin is so affordable! I won't have anything close to such a good deal in London…

At 2:30am, on the way home, we stopped by another kebab shop for a delicious Turkish pizza. Steph got some sort of pudding since she just wanted dessert.

I had been planning to go to Hamburg this weekend, but it didn't really work out. So I stayed in Berlin.

On Saturday, I slept in, as can be expected. I explored the city a bit on my own, but mostly just rode the U-Bahn around. I went to Friedrichstraße, then over to Geniesenaustraße/Mehringdamm, and I was to meet Felix and friends after his work for drinks. We were somewhere in Schöneberg, Crellestraße, and there I walked around for like 40 minutes, because no one else was there yet. I discovered a good kebab shop and had a delicious chicken döner, which I ate as I wandered the streets.

I met Felix, Esther, and some of their friends at a bar called Toronto (or something else Canadian). Steph and Lydia joined us. And the plan was for some of us to go clubbing. There was an indie rock-themed club near Rosa-Luxembourg-Platz. We went there, grabbing a shot of Jägermeister at a nearby liquor store before going in. Lydia was to be Esther, since Esther's name was on the guest list. The club was pretty cool, located in what looked like an old theater or factory from the outside (but the hallways inside seemed much like an American high school). The music really was mostly indie rock, music that I love but it was not exactly the best to dance to in a nightclub setting.

I returned home with Felix and Lutz around 5:30am.

On Sunday, it rained. I stayed in until the evening. Then I went to Mustafas Gemüse Kebab, a very popular döner stand at Mehringdamm, next to Curry 36. I waited in the rain for at least 15 minutes until I finally got to order my chicken kebab. And it was amazing! The grilled vegetables, the combinations of all 3 sauces, the extra crunchy toasted bread, the fresh salad, the juicy slices of chicken roasted with bell peppers and onions, the flavorful cheese, and the squeeze of lemon to top it all off created the most delicious döner I have ever eaten! It was definitely worth the ordeal of waiting in the rain.

I ate my döner while admiring a spectacular sunset over the canal by Hallesches Tor. The sky danced with swaths of pink and purple. My taste buds soaked up the flavors of the sandwich very gladly.

I was walking toward Kreuzberg, because I had planned to meet another couchsurfing friend, Sascha. He was the guy who hosted me when I traveled to Portland, Oregon. Now he's living back in Munich and was visiting Berlin for the weekend. After walking around for a while (taking up the sights of Kreuzberg), I finally got word from him and met him at the Ankerklause right on the canal. He was with his brother and his friend Mona.

We chatted and caught up for a bit. But they all seemed tired, and so was I, so we called it a night.

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