We have been in Germany for one week.
The people here are typically German – tall, blond, blue eyes, thick accents. They wake up at 6am, work hard all day, and go home at 6pm. Everything shuts down then…forget about eating dinner after about 8 o’clock. And about eating, I hope we don’t get tired of sausage and potatoes, because that’s about all there is here. Everything is orderly and runs on schedule…everyone sticks to the rules. Very German.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Ha, just what I expected from Germany.”
Well you can just forget about everything I just wrote, because Berlin is nothing like that.
In fact, it’s mostly the opposite.
The schedules are strange, usually opening for seven or eight hours Monday and Wednesday (and open around 10, not 6), and a different set of eight hours on Tuesday and Thursday. Lots of people aren’t even working on Fridays (or at all) right now, because it’s August and it’s vacation time. Many places are closed on weekends. The parks and terrace cafes are crowded all day, and there are tons of people wandering around, watching rollerblading races and street musicians, eating ice cream (LOTS of ice cream), bratwurst with mustard, and getting onto the Tram with a half-open beer in one hand and three more in their pockets for later.
It’s actually been difficult to find “traditional” German cuisine here because everything is international. Your choices range from Turkish to Thai, Vietnamese to Viennese, Italian to Indian. There are tons of vegetarian options (a rarity in Spain), plenty of fruit shops, food to sit down and enjoy, food to go, and of course – tons of currywurst.
We’ve spent the last week doing the same thing every day – waking up, eating breakfast, and heading out to find an apartment. It’s been a hassle, to say the least. Because we want a flat of our own, we have to deal with real estate agencies – imagine filling out a contract in German. We have to call the agency, then call the flat owner (but only at certain times), then we have to make an appointment to see the flat, where we will probably have to meet at a different place and then go to the flat together, in spite of the fact that we have the address of the aforementioned desired flat.
Still, we’re learning rapidly. We’ve changed hostels three times (as we keep prolonging our stay, they have no rooms for us), and I was able to call and make a reservation (over the phone!) with a woman that spoke no English. We’ve seen every neighborhood there is to see, gotten lost numerous times, and had several bathroom emergencies (since you have to pay everywhere to use the toilet and sometimes it’s as high as 1.10, we try to hold it and inevitably end up regretting it)…and we’ve still only covered about 10% of Berlin.
We’re still without a flat, but we have some options and are holding out for one tomorrow which we think will be it. We’re also jobless, but I had an interview on Wednesday with one of the biggest tourism companies in Berlin, so at least there are options. We’re also lucky that Berlin is as cheap as it is – we usually eat our meals for under $10 total (both of us), and this morning we had Sunday all-you-can-eat brunch for 2.50. Not bad!
It’s still overwhelming and we are both so exhausted that we’re mostly functioning on autopilot until we have our own bed and a quiet room. Right now, we’re just narrowing things down, making choices, figuring out what we like and what we want to do for the next two or three years here.
Oh, and there are pictures, but that will have to wait a little while!