This'll Be a Long One
As I sit listening to the strains of Family Guy in German (not as funny as the original, I'll tell ya), I'm feeling a little longing for home. All is well, though; a little homesickness is to be expected. (The voice on the tv shrieks "Luke Perry ist schwul?")
I've been passing the time working, going to museums, and sometimes venturing outside the city limits to see the ruins of former DDR towns. These ventures have been very interesting, educational, and sometimes frustrating, as I find out that the famed Deutsche Bahn, supposedly the most efficient and punctual rail system in Europe, is not so ideal. We went, last weekend, to a small town about an hour outside Berlin called Brandenburg an der Havel. We sort of structure our lives around the advice of the writers of Lonely Planet guidebooks (a shameless plug but well-deserved) and the lack of information about Brandenburg should've been a sign. However, lovers of desolate Soviet wastelands that we are, we thought we'd take a day trip there. As a town, it's sort of beautiful in a dusty way, a grimy way; there were truly, really cobwebs flying from everything; from signposts, from the corners of buildings, from cars. It was a sign, I think, of abandonment. The streets were nearly empty, and though there were pretty churches, it wasn't very picturesque, all in all. It was obvious that everyone had moved to the West or the city as soon as they could when the wall came down. But, for the most part, it was very quaint and pretty, despite the remnants of a former Russian presence. Well, this can't be called a "remnant", really. It's a little too big.
This tower was on top of a hill and offered a view of the whole town. We didn't go up in it. It seemed, somehow, out of place amidst the town's red brick architecture and generally pastoral attitude. And then, returning to Berlin from humble Brandenburg, we weren't able to simply the board the train, due to a collision on the tracks, so we had to stand around with about a hundred and fifty surly Germans who didn't know any more than we did about how to get where we are all going. After about an hour and a half of waiting, a single bus pulled up to save us, which seemed a little meager. We got on it, amidst a lot less pushing than I was expecting, considering the circumstances. The only benefit of this ersatzverkehr was that we were able to see much more of the countryside than we would have otherwise. All in all, it was tiring and frustrating but maybe...and only just maybe...redeemed itself with pretty scenery.
Speaking of pretty scenery... I feel obligated to include this, for the viewers at home.
It's the Reichstag! Berlin debates and legislates here! I stayed far away from the throngs of tourists! And I went to the museum...
The longer I'm here, the more I am discovering that Berlin is hiding in her vast expanse a multitude of museums and galleries, some so hidden that the only trace of them is a bell at ground level. They are really quite wonderful. Touring these galleries, I'm beginning to see the Berlin that I thought I would find when I arrived here; the modern art, the minimalism and brilliantly ironic design, the freakish photography and video art that leaves me staring for literally minutes at a time (I know, that doesn't seem like a long time, but...it just is). Even the metro stations hang striking, sometimes disturbing art on their greasy, blackened walls. Particularly compelling is this series by Turkish artist Nezaket Ekici, housed in the U2 station at Alexanderplatz.
The pictures don't do justice to the surreal moment one finds oneself in when one is simply waiting for the train and begins to wonder, what are these pictures doing here? Are they ads? No. They are art.
But I'll close this rather long and rambling episode with a bit of art made by Bradley.
What's that, you ask? That's a dinner that he made for us while I was teaching English to a small but loud group of kindergarteners on Monday. It's couscous with a little cinnamon, wraps full of fresh veggies and bierwurst and cheese, and some amazingly fluffy meatballs full of walnuts, onions, cinnamon and coriander. It was a very lovely dinner.
And so, until next time. I'm happy that I get to share, thanks to the wonder of the internet, of which I am still suspicious. It makes me feel a little closer to home.