Posted by: jackterrett | April 13, 2010

Week Six: Döner and Tracksuits

After a taxing three day workweek, I took off early Thursday afternoon, hopped on the train to Gatwick, and had my first EasyJet experience (no assigned seats, just a free-for-all!) direct to Berlin Schönefeld.  As soon as I arrived on German soil, I was greeted by Dan and a very hairy Donny (complete with beard and majestic mane – truly embodying the Berlin bear) and a half-litre of Hefeweizen was immediately thrust into my yearning, outstretched hand.  So excited to taste the elixir of German life, I downed it quickly and was, again, immediately greeted by a second beer whipped out of Donny’s backpack – this time Dunkel (dark beer).  I had arrived in heaven!  We hopped on a bus, and then the U-bahn, in search of a bar to celebrate my arrival in style.  Understandably, I hurried to finish my second drink so as to be all ready for the Berlin bar experience.  But, to my mixture of dismay and awe, Donny pulled out a third container of Dutch courage from his Mary Poppins bag.  What luck!  The three of us hit the streets with Hefeweizen in hand and confidence in our step…only to find Berlin strangely deserted for midnight on a Thursday.  Nevertheless, we found a placid sports bar in Westphalweg, where we proceeded to celebrate more, watch the Masters Golf, and make friends with a Berliner with an affiliation to Chicago named Wolfgang.  Later on that night, we made our way back to Donny’s place of residence – a seventh floor room of a Studentenwohnheim with beautiful easterly views over Berlin’s skyline.

The next morning we were made aware of Donny’s east-facing dorm room – a bright and unyielding wake-up call.  Despite that fact, we got up slowly, went for a run around the local “hobo village” (garden allotments that have become miniature homes), and headed out for a walk around town.  The previous day, prior to my arrival, Donny and Dan had purchased some sexy looking track-suits for just over 10 Euros: they had wanted to look like true Germans…well, East Germans…or Bosnians…or basically the general Eastern European youth look.  Once I saw how svelt the two of them looked, I insisted on getting a tracksuit too, so we headed off to ‘Woolworth’ – the store that sells everything…for cheap.  Understandably, I ran home to change into my new purchase, which was followed by a photo-shoot indoor and outdoor (next to a well-chosen urban wasteland shot covered in graffiti – see above!).  Now that we all looked like true East Berliners, we departed to engage in a true German sport: Miniature Golf!  We took it extremely seriously (although not as seriously as the man who worked there – he made a point of teaching us how to play the game, hold the club, and kept showing us how each course should be played for maximum effect!) and after a solid two hours, Dan emerged victorious, while Donny and I wrapped it up with a dead tie!  We walked home with our heads held high and satisfaction in our hearts.  Once back at Donny’s zimmer, we met up with another Midd student in Berlin, Jenny Lindsey, and had dinner: pasta and, of course, WURST!!!  Now that our stomachs were as full as our post-mini golf egos, we took to the town once again.  We journeyed all over the city (not before stopping off at the local ‘Spät Kauf’ to stock up on beverages and supplies) and took many photos (check Facebook).  The fun was only momentarily suspended when I almost got run over by a maniac driving a Mini – fortunately for me, Donny saved my life by making a selfless dive to push me out the way.  Thankfully, neither of us were hurt, but even more shockingly, Jenny managed to capture the moment on camera (look above).  To finish off the night (and recover from our traumatic experience), we made our way to Donny and Jenny’s favourite eatery in all of Berlin: Mustafa’s.  This fine street vendor served popular Turkish cuisine items called Döner and Durum (chicken, sauces, potatoes, veggies, and numerous other delicious items in either a wrap or toasted bread).  I totally understand why Donny goes there at least once a day!

Not surprisingly, the next day (Saturday) was also a slow start.  Under a cloudy sky and increasing rain, we headed over to Jenny’s apartment (a fancy apartment in Alexanderplatz, in the centre of the city) for breakfast.  We then travelled to explore a famous landmark in Berlin that neither Dan and I had seen yet: the Olympic stadium (famous for the 1936 Olympic Games, Adolf Hitler, and Jesse Owens).  Unfortunately we arrived at a time when the stadium was full and inaccessible – a Bundesliga football match between Hertha BSC (Berlin’s team) and Stuttgart.  The sound from outside the stadium was deafening and as we were not allowed in, we wandered around the stadium and stopped at an outdoor café which was showing the match on a TV…almost as good as being inside (at least the sound matched up!).  Before heading back to the city proper, we did a few stretches and warm-ups to look like true athletes (oh yes, we were still wearing our tracksuits of course).  By the way, Stuttgart won 1:0, boo!  That afternoon/evening we explored the Holocaust Memorial, a remarkable structure of 17,000 blocks of varying height (the trick: the floor is undulating and is much deeper at the centre).  We had dinner at Burgermeister (the “best burgers in Berlin” that I mentioned when I was staying with Stanis back in February) and then boldly planned to stay up all night (both Dan and I had flights home at 7am Sunday morning, which required a 5am departure time…oh, and we were flying out from separate airports on opposite sides of the city).  We started this marathon effort confidently with trips to several bars and more Hefeweizen, but as we tired, we all agreed to finish up the early hours of the morning watching episodes of South Park and the Modern Family back at Jenny’s apartment.  Nevertheless, we made it to 4am (albeit with a few short snoozes), said our farewells, and headed our separate ways, ambitiously navigating the U-bahn and Schönefeld airport all by myself.  I made it home to England fairly effortlessly (sleeping all the way…) and thought I’d recuperate with a 2 hour nap in the afternoon…that turned into 6.  But I was still able to get a full night’s sleep despite that small mishap.  After that weekend, I needed it!

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Responses

  1. great summary. Very detailed.


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