Berlin is awesome! We spent our first full week here settling in, but also took a day trip to the charming city of Leipzig.
Monday 1/7: Craig spent the entire day inside, working, and I ventured into the centre of Moabit to do a bit of shopping and get a haircut. Apart from that, it was a quiet one.
Tuesday 2/7: Craig was also overdue for a haircut, so I bullied him into town for one. However, he got his reward: the secondhand shop next door boasted a wide range of board games and we picked up two of our favorites (Thurn and Taxis and Jaipur) in great condition and for a good price.
In the afternoon I met up with a Spanish girl called Christina for a language exchange; we sat on the balcony and sweltered. Later Craig and I played our first game of Jaipur and spent the evening relaxing on the couch.
Wednesday 3/7: After a solid morning of work, Craig and I detached Frankie and Mark’s bikes from their tangle of locks, and cycled to Wedding; Craig wanted to visit an electronics store to buy a keyboard. Unfortunately he didn’t find what he was looking for and had to buy it online.
We stopped at the library on the way home, and as we were leaving we got caught in a sudden heavy rain shower; it was hilarious! Back at the house, we played Thurn and Taxis and had dinner out on the balcony — yay for summer!
Thursday 4/7: Since we still had one more travel day left on our German Rail Passes from ACP Rail, we decided to add one more city to our Indie Germany trip: Leipzig. Sadly, we could only give it a day, but Steffi from the tourism office did her best to make sure we saw all the highlights.
We met her in her office in the late morning, after a 90-minute trip from our place to the centre of Leipzig, and she gave us all sorts of information and advice, then took us up to the Panorama viewing platform for a great view of the city.
Craig and I needed to eat before our tour, so we headed to the Auerbachs Keller, made famous in Goethe’s Faust. The two statues flanking the steps down to the cellar commemorate this connection, with Faust and the devil on one side, and a group of drunk students on the other.
The tour was excellent; half walking tour, half bus trip — we both really enjoyed it, though we were ready for a coffee by the time it finished. We had one in a small square, watching adults feed the pigeons and children chase them.
Our next stop was the Bach Museum, which was great — lots of interactive exhibits and an excellent audio guide. The audio guide at the Stasi museum (where we went after that) was also good, but the tracks were a little long and we’d arrived quite close to closing time. We decided that we just had time to visit the zoo before it, too, closed — in hindsight, we were wrong. However, we did enjoy our little boat trip in the Gondwanaland enclosure, even if we didn’t see many animals and had to be herded out of the enclosure by staff at closing time.
Luckily, we’d been told that we could wander the rest of the zoo at our leisure, so we followed the circular path and finally left about half an hour after it had closed. Seems like it really does warrant more time than we’d given it.
Steffi had recommended we visit KarLi (a street filled with bars and small shops) for its great atmosphere, so we caught two trams to get there and wandered along for a while, trying to choose a bar to have a beer in. In the end, though, we just had a sausage from a stall and headed back to the main station to catch our train — though not before trying the famous Leipziger Lerche, a tasty marzipan-filled tart that looks a bit like a birds’ nest.
Friday 5/7: After our busy day the day before, I could have done with a rest, but no… I went out in the morning and did a fair bit of shopping, then spent the afternoon cleaning the house in preparation for the small party we were having. We know a fair few people in Berlin, and several of them had been able to come over at short notice: our friend Claudia (who we met while hiking in Scotland); Norm (an ex-workmate); Jessica and Dani from GlobetrotterGirls; and Adam introduced us to his boyfriend Alex. We had a really lovely evening out on the balcony, getting to know some people and catching up with others.
Saturday 6/7: I often find it surprising how busy we are during the week, and sometimes a day off is very welcome. We both slept in, and spent most of the day lazing around — though Craig did bring me breakfast in bed and do a bit of work in the morning. In the evening, it was still so hot that I thought a nice chilled soup would be the perfect dinner — and I found a great salmorejo recipe on Lauren’s site. It was delicious!
Sunday 7/7: Neither of us felt inspired to do much for most of the day — the warm weather has a slightly soporific effect and we were quite comfortable reading our books and playing computer games. Craig experimented with cooking bulgur wheat to go with our lunchtime stirfry — we’re certainly on to a winner with that one!