Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April update

I thought I'd be writing a lot sooner, but the past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic. Tomorrow I celebrate my first month as a Berliner, and I don't have any complaints so far, although I'm not stupid enough to start counting chickens or currywursts just yet.

I moved into a new gaff last Wednesday, living with a guy and two girls - David, Gaby and Wiebke. They're all very nice. It seems to be a sort of family vibe - any time anyone cooks they offer to include you in the pot, and one of the girls baked a cake last night as well, so it's a real homey type of place.

The location is great. Smack in the centre of the city, the east of course, and you can walk anywhere you need to. Although two tram lines start from just outside the house, and the U-bahn goes right by as well so there's no need to walk anywhere really.
The address if you want to send any postcards or teabags or anything (don't worry, I'm not holding my breath), is (removed, for safety reasons. The internet's big and bad. Who knows what freaks are reading this - send me an email if you want the address to send a postcard).

It's just €175 per month including all bills (water, bins, electricity, gas, and damn fast internet). No deposit needed either, and no, the place isn't a dump. Two bathrooms, a kitchen and my room's about 20 square metres. The only problem is the stairs. It's on the fourth floor, and all the ceilings are mad high, so you're fucked by the time you get to the top.

I started learning German in college a couple of weeks ago. €110 for a five week course, three and a half hours a day, with a shitload of homework then afterwards. I also started at B+ level, which I quickly realised was too advanced for me. All the others in the class are living here at least 18 months, although I understood more last week compared to the first week, when I hadn't a clue what was going on.
You'd wanna see the other crowd in the class. It's like the United Nations in there. There's a Colombian guy who seems to have a healthy respect for the Irish due to a certain organisation... Apart from him, there are girls from Guatemala, Poland, two from Russia (one from Siberia), Japan, Mongolia and China, and a few fellas from Yemen, Ukraine, Nigeria and Spain. I'm the only English speaking person which is great.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, Berlin is feckin' great. As soon as I arrived I felt at home. I realise that sounds strange, but it's true. The atmos is pretty relaxed. You can drink on the streets or in the trains on the way to the pub, and nobody bats an eyelid. Most people seem to do it, and yet I haven't seen any sign of agro, or anyone falling around the way you'd expect.
There are no posers anywhere and nobody seems to give a shit what you look like or sound like. People are surprisingly friendly too - more friendly I'd say than people in Dublin - but I've heard Berlin is nothing like the rest of Germany. The rest of Germany thinks Berlin is full of wasters.

One of the places I looked at to live probably best sums up the whole place. There was graffitti all the way up the stairs, and the room had broken windows. It was pretty cool. I would have taken it only there was no shower or proper washing facilities. The other guy was a former squatter until they tightened up on the whole squatting thing a few years after the wall came down. Anyway, he used to wash his hair in the kitchen sink. I asked him what he "did" (the way you do), and he told me he was a wind-surfer. He jumps off mountains and things and goes surfing the wind. Apparently he doesn't have a job and didn't consider the notion of getting one. Fair fucks I say.

The bread is worth moving here for alone. My favourite so far is the Kürbiskernbrot. Jaysus it's lovely! Made from pumpkin seeds and some other shit. The beer is damn nice too. You can get five litres of Fransiskaner in the supermarket for €7.

I've actually been pretty good though - haven't been going mad on the beer or anything like that. Been too busy sorting everything out and trying to get organised with the oul' German. The sooner I get the language the better, and the sooner I can relax.

I had my first spot of public nudity within the first couple of weeks - jumping into an open air hot tub at a medieval fair. The number of women outnumbered the men, so it was ok. I had had a few drinks too to help me get over the initial heeby jeebies, but once I was in the water it was actually pretty good. There were some medieval people there giving massages at the same time. Germany's great!

Stuff is pretty cheap too. My monthy ticket for the transport network is just €70. That covers everything, trains, buses etc. and when the U-bahn stops at 3.30 am the night-time service kicks in. It's seems to me to be the same as the normal service, but then I presume there's a reason the powers that be differentiate between the two...

I got my first parking ticket yesterday, so I reckon that's something to be proud of! Makes me feel like a real Berliner!

Right, that's enough for now. There's plenty more I could write but I know from previous experience that there's only so much shite a reader can consume in one go...

Bis später!
Ciarán