Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vee Lavv Berlinnn!

Anybody remember that old "Berlinnium" song? No? Well me and Disco Shawn do. Anyway, it keeps going through my head as I walk around the socialistically-wide streets of the fascinating, lovely East Berlin neighborhood of Friedrichshain. At the main subway station, Frankfurter Tor, you emerge onto an intersection straight out of Moscow: wide streets criss-crossed by streetcar tracks, surrounded by monumentalist post-war architecture. However, the massive buildings are now filled on their ground floors with funky restaurants and bars, and covered with graffiti, and the side streets are crowded with even more shops and bars, and lined with trees. All of this apparently wasn't here, you know, 20 or so years ago, when this was a different country separated from the rest of the city by a frickin wall, which, by the way, is just completely bonkers.

Rewind to my arrival yesterday. Direct flights to just about anywhere in Europe on my schedule of late June to early August were crazy expensive, and after much searching I found a super cheap (about $480) fare on Air Canada from New York, although it's via Toronto on the way out (and Montreal on the way back). So, on Tuesday afternoon, I went from La Guardia to Toronto, sat there for a few hours, then flew to Frankfurt, where I arrived Wednesday around noon, and then spent way too much money on a train ticket to Frankfurt (note to self or anyone else coming to Germany: buy your train tickets in advance even if you're worried about late flights causing you to miss the original train because prices will likely double if you're buying them that day). Round about the time I had to change trains in Hannover yesterday afternoon, I was starting to be in a real sleep-deprivation fog, and just stumbled onto whatever train seemed to be the right one, and somehow made it to Berlin on time, where I was met by the local DJs and Bootie/MUYB emprisarios Morgoth, Dr. Waumiau, and Pozzy, who proceeded to hand me a gigantic bottle of beer right there in the Berlin train station. Turns out drinking beer in, say, train stations, or on the metro train, is not a problem, although in my sleep-deprived state I couldn't help but get jumpy and hide the beer when we came in view of some police.

I'm staying with Pozzy and his apartment seems a typical old East Berlin style unit, beautiful tall ceilings and foot-thick walls with double-height windows. At the moment we're getting ready to head out to see some of the sights, although the cloudy, spitty weather means the big TV tower (that you see pictured above in a photo I did not take) is off the agenda.

First gigs are tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday, and we're not exactly sure how they'll be, with the weather iffy and various other events like the Berlin gay pride festivities going on at the same time, but the Friday event is at the old Templehof airport, which is kind of insane.

Also: Berlin does a phenomenal breakfast. We went out to just a regular old cafe and ordered the scrambled eggs for 4.50 euros, and I expected a little tiny plate of eggs and maybe a piece of bread; what showed up on the table was a gargantuan platter of eggs mixed with feta cheese, a huge tasty salad, and a giant basket of 5 different kinds of bread. Apparently Berlin's weekend brunch buffets are something to behold, another reason to love this city, which I already do, even though I speak like 4 words of the language.

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