Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 71: Outdoors and Leica

Lately, I've been feeling pretty good about my "German-ness". Either I look comfortable enough to be local, or the fact that I don't carry around a map is a good sign, or I look nice enough to approach... whatever the reason, I have been asked directions, almost on a daily basis, for the past week or so. A gentleman at our tram stop asked if his Bahn ticket would work for the tram too. Yes! A couple of young ladies (after asking if we speak English.... they sounded East European), asked how to get to Alexanderplatz from a Bahn station. Another woman stopped on her bicycle, on one of my morning walks, and she asked if she was headed in the right direction for Hackescher Markt. Another couple stopped me in the park, on another walk, and asked where they could take their little girl to play (the park we were standing in front of was locked, so they were looking for another one). Another woman asked if she could get to Friedrichstrasse from this platform, I was able to tell her, no, head to the other side of the platform. A gentleman stopped Chris and me, one morning, asking if he could get to Unter den Linden by foot. We showed him where he was on the map and how to take a Bahn if he wanted. He asked if she should take a taxi and we said, no, either walk or simple Bahn ride.

Most approached me in German. Some, I was able to answer back in stilted words and pointing, others I had us switch to English before being able to help. I was only NOT able to help one woman. A little ol' lady asking... I don't know. She wasn't able to switch into English, and I tried to help... but she just walked away. Sorry! But, I love how I'm the new information person!

A few weeks ago, Venice had the idea of getting the "My Book About Me" book by Dr. Seuss. The kids have these books back in the U.S. but she thought it would be fun to fill them out with a "Berlin" frame of mind. The book asks questions like, "How many forks are in your house?" "How many windows?" "How many steps to the mailbox?" And so on. So, doing a book here would be different than the book they have in the U.S. I agreed to buy the extra copies (paperback, however) for the kids.

Today, we made a point to do some of the activities before it's too late. Answering questions that required us to go outside (otherwise they would never breathe fresh air!) So, we walked to the nearest tree, mailbox, market and counted our steps all the way.

Counting steps around town.

The sun showed itself and it is a dry day. And the leaves, I still can't get enough of them! We must stay outside a bit longer! I suggested we go to the nearby park (near the Kaiser markt where we counted steps) and we were treated to more eye-feasting sights (and a farmers market with good smells... hmmm cooking sausages).

Park photos.

I sat on the bench with other moms (although their kids were either nursing or shoveling sand as best as a toddler can). Meanwhile, my kids start gathering up all the leaves into a giant pile so they can jump into it. Xander worked up a sweat, they were working so hard! One toddler was fascinated, but not brave enough to jump in the pile. He did, however, add two leaves to the pile (one at a time).

Venice adding to the pile before a jump.

Xander adding to the pile before a jump.

My view.

As the sun lowered in the sky, it was time to leave. After a brief time at home, we headed to the tram stop. We noticed the construction sign that was there, indicating that the M1 will not be running as usual for the rest of the time we're here. It will be running similarly to the 12. So, what does this mean for us? We can't get to Hackescher Markt by tram. At least not easily. Good thing we've completed most of our shopping there, so we don't really have any reason to go back. The main reason we'd need to get there is to transfer, it was a good place to transfer (and for Venice to get her favourite Bubble Tea). So, for two more weeks, we'll just have to transfer at another Bahn station. We're getting pretty good at the transit system, this should be no problem! And, at least this time, we saw the sign, were able to understand it, and we're not in a hurry, so no worries on us having to take a different route.

We're headed to a museum to meet Chris. But as we get to the Friedrichstrasse station, we find out (from texts) that Chris is approaching the same station (he's coming from work). After several frantic texts, we do NOT get on a train that's in the station and we find each other. Now that we'll wait for the next train, Chris has time for a coffee and the kids get a snack (even though they both said they weren't hungry when we were leaving the apartment... a donut or pretzel from the stand sounds way better than what I offered at home...)

Caffeinated and fed, headed to the C/O Berlin at Amerika Haus to see the visiting Leica exhibit. "Eyes Wide Open!" is celebrating 100 years of Leica photography. It was a great exhibit (although a few photos that were disturbing to the kids). I really enjoyed the history of the camera and how it changed the "visual exploration of reality by amateurs, artists and photojournalists." Amazing how all but a handful of images for this trip have been done on an iPhone. Would the creator of the first 35 mm Leica prototype, Oskar Barnack, believe it? Thanks to Keith for suggesting this exhibit.

The Leica exhibit (I didn't take any photos inside)

By now it's pretty late. Most restaurants will be filled up and we don't have any reservations anywhere. Plus, we're on a side of town we're not used to walking through, so we don't know what good restaurants are around. However, we're in a part of town that has a lot of fast food choices. A lot of sausage stands, pizza places, etc. So, we just walk until we come across Jim Block, a burger joint. We see open tables, so we head on in.

Jim Block is a fun sort of place. When we order (this is an "order at the counter" place, not a "sit and we'll wait on you" kind of place), instead of asking our name or giving us an order number, we are assigned a place in Berlin. We get Hauptbahnhof. We hear other street names being called while we wait. Kind of fun! And while we wait, we can enjoy the dance beats the DJ is playing (yes, a DJ was playing thumping dance music for us to enjoy while we are eating burgers... it was difficult to NOT eat to the beat).

We haven't been to this part of town at night before. So it's cool to see the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with its lights on. The electric blue lights shining through the windows are pretty cool and create a modern "stained-glass" effect. Unfortunately, the bell-tower is under scaffolding so we only get a hint as to how that looks.

Time for home and bed!

Tonight's last bit is everyone having fun with the lights at Jim Block. They were lights that were flickering. You couldn't any flickering until you started waving your hands around (like the video below) or flinging your pommes frites around (which the kids did as well).

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