Monday, December 8, 2008

Berlin take 2

So far we have only been to Berlin and Paris in either July or December. While both cities are astonishing in themselves, the weather is extreme. But what's the use whinging about the weather? We went to Berlin this weekend to find an apartment.

Berlin is comprised of 12 boroughs which are made up of dozens of smaller neighborhoods. Ryan's future job will be in the extreme southeast (Adlershof). So our first dilemma was either choosing a place close to Ryan's work but out of the action, or going in town along a train route that would give him quicker access to work. This is important as it can take over an hour on the S-bahn (Schnell bahn or "fast train") to get across massive Berlin.

The first two apartments we viewed were in Koepenick, in the southeast and sandwiched between the intersection of the Spree and Dahme rivers and a huge park with a lake called "Mueggelsee." One apartment was dodgey, but the other one was right by a foot bridge into the old medieval part of town. It had a stellar view and the old town is quite adorable. We walked through the local Christkindlmarkt for some mulled wine and bratwurst lunch.

Then we attempted to head back to town center (Friedrichshain to be exact) but got on the wrong tram and missed our next open house. We walked as fast as we could, hoping to catch some stragglers at the flat, but it was locked up. Upon walking the street we decided it was a good thing we missed that appointment. There was some sort of strange pirate fortress (see photo) which was cool, but also the sidewalks and buildings were coated in graffiti, dog shit, and dead rats. That may have been good enough for us 6 months ago, but now we're moving up in the world!

We saw three more apartments in Friedrichshain, one of which was perfect. It was a roof apartment on a quiet square. It was cozy and well-appointed, and the walls weren't stark white which is quite unusual for Germany. We were excited to apply for it, but alas we found out this morning that its already taken! So now we'll mull over one of the Friedrichshain apartments we saw which is new, or the one with the view in Koepenick. Decisions, decisions.

In related news, we spent the whole weekend conversing in German and did pretty well between the two of us. There were definitely awkward moments. At our first apartment the lady sat us down to talk about the application process. She mentioned that she needs a "Schufe." She knew less English than we do German, and tried to describe it to no avail. We got to the point of randomly substituting German words we know that sound like it "Schule?" Ryan asked. Later we learned she meant "credit check" but spent the rest of the weekend saying "Schule? Schuhe? Hausschuhe?" (School? Shoes? Slippers?) Yes, we're pretty entertaining.

On the train ride home I recalled moving out of my dorm freshman year. Ryan and I had been dating about a month and I called him practically hysterical because I couldn't find anymore boxes and I'd spent all day packing. He came over and helped and must've thought I was completely insane. I reminded him of this and asked "When you saw me in my house dress with my hair in all directions, did you plot then to marry me and make me move every 4-6 months?"
"Yes," he replied, "for I am a sadist."

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