The Central Train Station in Berlin taken during Summer 2009.
If you all are familiar with N’Sync, then you must be scrunching your faces in pain at the lame reference I just made to one of their biggest hits when I was an obsessed 13-year-old. (The real song is entitled “Bye Bye Bye” for those of you who are not familiar with one of the best boy bands of my generation.)
I make this lame reference because that is really what I’ve been doing: buying an insane amount of things I and my apartment need. Kitchenware, kitchen utensils, random plastic bins for recycling, slippers, a towel, contact solution, a Swiffer (this and the contact solution are my proudest purchases to date) and many, other useful things that also include sheets, blankets and pillows.
The most exciting things I’ve done so far are eating out and going out to a bar. I know they may seem like typical outings, but the food and drink culture of any country is extremely interesting to me. Let’s be honest: even the food and drink culture of a region within a country is fascinating!
Berlin has proven to be a very tasty city. While I was in Munich, I was very loathe to eat out at an Asian restaurant. I had only done so three times: once at a Chinese restaurant and twice at the same Indian restaurant. The Indian restaurant was absolutely delicious and was recommended by a close friend, who had studied in Munich two years prior. The Chinese restaurant was based off of online reviews. That restaurant was not delicious. It was bland.
However, since arriving in Berlin not even a week ago, I’ve sampled a Thai and Vietnamese place, both of which were absolutely amazing. Mmmmm. Both places are called an Imbiss, which according to Leo (an online dictionary I often use. see: dict.leo.org), means a snack bar or diner. These are mediocre translations because an Imbiss is really the middle ground between a street vendor/food stand and a restaurant (which you could get from the translation but I really don’t feel like the translation itself could really embody what an Imbiss is. At least, what these two specific places were really all about). One could easily order to-go or sit down and enjoy the meal for a good hour. They are lovely places and places I will indeed visit more often during my time here in Berlin.
The bar was interesting because it was themed. A friend of mine who studied in Potsdam for a semester and is now back in Berlin explained that Berlin bars tend to be themed. This one was ping pong-themed. What exactly did these cool cats do? There’s a huge group of people around a ping pong table and they all walk counter-clockwise. Each person hits the ping pong ball to the other side and someone hits it back. Because the next person hitting is someone different each time, you have to be sure to be in rhythm with everyone else. Of course, if you miss the ball, hit it off the table or against the net, then you’re out. I only did it once. I was out on my first try.
I leave you with an article about the Draft in Germany. It offers a very insightful, yet short dissection of how Germans view the Draft as necessary to upholding their democratic system.