Hello again friends. This gets harder and harder to write the longer I go in between posts. The time keeps disappearing, I have no idea how. I’ve been up to a few things. I moved to a new apartment for a few days. It’s on the 5th floor, no elevator. God did I regret bringing 100lbs of stuff with me when I had to climb those stairs. Luckily a friend helped me out and carried one of the bags. It’s a nice little place in Schöneberg Berlin. The window opens up to a courtyard where the sounds of the song birds reverberates off the walls.
The nice thing about this place is that it’s 10 minutes away from my school instead of 40. I have a little extra time in the morning to get ready. I’ve gotten together with a couple other friends to look for a more permanent place, but nothing much has come of it just yet. I did, however, finally get my anmeldung and bank account, so I’m officially a resident of Berlin! I’ve got an appointment next month to see about my visa, so fingers crossed for that!
I wanted to talk about some things I find strange about living in Germany. Well maybe not strange in their own right, but for someone coming from another part of the world, it’s a little strange to me. First thing I’ve noticed are radiators! They’re everywhere! Pretty much every place I’ve seen is heated by radiators. (There’s one right under the window in my room in the pic above) Remarking on this might sound strange to some but, coming from the US, I’m used to central heat everywhere. I’ve never really seen radiators like this before.
Some of the motorcycles here are pretty strange too, though these are rare. What’s really strange are the mail delivery bicycles:
They have these power assisted bikes that they’ll ride around on the sidewalks with and deliver mail from the big boxes attached to them. Speaking of sidewalks, walking around Berlin you’ll often see little metal squares in the ground next to houses. I never really hit me what they were marking until I stopped and read a pair of them:
They mark the homes of people who were murdered by the Nazis; when they were dragged from their homes and when they were exterminated. It’s kind of shocking and makes it real for you. It’s not some imaginary thing that happened in a far away place. It happened to these people, here, at this place.
Despite Berlin being so big, most places close around 9. Almost nothing is open on Sunday except for a handful of cafes, so you have to make sure to do your shopping beforehand. If you’re out late and want a snack, your best bet is a spätkauf, or spätie as my friends and I call them. They’re little late night shops that have snacks and beer…but mainly beer.
The weather has been hit or miss lately. Some days it’s really nice, on others it’s cold and rainy. I took a trip to a park this past week when it was nice. I went to a place called Südgelände Nature Park. It used to be a railroad yard, but it’s now an open park where people are encouraged to come and spray paint the walls. There’s a cool dichotomy going on in the park. Nature has reclaimed the old rail tracks so you get this nice contrast of the industrial with the natural.
In keeping with the railroad theme, later that week I went to go check out Güterbahnhof Pankow. It’s an old train yard/repair station in the north of Berlin. The weather was nice and I was alone, and this place sounded pretty easy to get into. I took the (still running) train up to the station and saw it immediately next to the tracks. My directions told me to walk over the bridge and turn left, at which point I’d find the entrance. I was a little nervous because this was in broad daylight and there was a large swath of ground out in the open that I had to traverse in order to get to the buildings. During this time I was completely exposed and in plain sight to anyone walking across the bridge. There were no signs saying the place was closed to trespassing, and I wasn’t dressed like a hooligan, so I figured people would see me with my camera around my neck and (rightly) assume I was just there to take pictures.
Above is the giant turn table of sorts that would turn the trains and angle them to go into their stations. Below it is completely flooded, but it didn’t look too deep, judging by all the trash floating around. There’s actually a school of gold fish living in the water. Someone must have released them into the water a long time ago since older field reports I read on this place mention them.
Even thought it was broad daylight, walking around was a little nerve wracking. I was also on the lookout for hobos, other explorers, or anyone there who might not have good intentions with regards to random visitors. Luckily I didn’t encounter anyone else. I also had to pay attention to were I was stepping because sometimes there were plates covering up holes in the ground, and I tried to stay away from parts of the building that didn’t look too structurally sound. It looks like some idiots set fire to this place at one point since some of the roof was burned away. Every couple of minutes a train would race past the abandoned station, creating a deafening roar for a few seconds. If I was trying to be sneaky and move across a patch of ground with broken glass, I would have waited to time it with the train. After exploring around for about an hour, I casually strolled out of the yard, back over the bridge, and onto the train back into the city.
Things have quieted down a little bit since a couple of my friends are out of the country at the moment. I’m going out in the meantime trying to make more, so I expect things to pick up steam again shortly. Speaking of which, it’s now early evening on Friday. I’ve got to go clean up and see what tonight will bring.
(See you soon!)