Handschuhen in April? Sind Sie verrückt? and other Berlin oddities


Don’t let the blue sky fool you. It was 5 degrees at noon yesterday, and windy

Ich bin jetzt in Berlin (don’t worry, the whole post won’t be in die wunderbare Sprache von Goethe (I’m just thinking in German right now, which – with the beer I’m drinking – makes my brain even more mushy than usual).



Memorial to the murdered jews of Europe, a sobering ensemble of grey blocks on uneven ground, with an underground information center stating the names of 3 millions holocaust victims

As you may or may not know, I’ve had to re-organize this gap year I’m in due to my knee ligaments turning into cauliflower (that’s the way the radiologist described them, so I’m going to assume it’s a new technical term they didn’t teach us at med school), after a ski injury. Part of this reorganization and new-found love-hatred relationship with my crutches meant I couldn’t go to Senegal for a project any more, and decided to go to Berlin to practice my German, something I would have had to do anyway, normally later in the year, as I’m going to start working (“for real”) as a doctor (which still sounds very strange) in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, come fall.


So, to say it in a few words (which means you might have skipped that whole intro, too bad), I’m in Berlin for 2 months, still half-handicapped, with “intensiv Deutschkurse”, and still some time on my own to discover the city. Really, as rehabilitation goes, I could be worse.

Up to know (I’ve been here 3 days only, so I’ll report back once I actually have done something in Berlin), I’ve mostly been settling it, starting classes, dusting up my old German (that I haven’t used in…too many years to start counting at this hour of the day, the beer isn’t helping either), and walking/limping (walping?) around the city, looking for gloves, which I made the mistake not to pack, because I was too bloody optimistic to think I might have any use of gloves in May/June. Even if I’ve already been in Germany, Holland, even Sweden later in the year, and I know how cold it can be. I supposed I packed without my brain (which is how I do a lot of things, it turns out).


Sunday Karaoke at the Mauerpark – so many people listening to bad singing, isn’t it great?

Only no matter where you go, from the main stores, big brands, to the “1euro shops” and flee-markets, nobody has gloves any more. Because in Berlin, even the flee market organizes its merchandise into summer and winter stock. So you get the “is this woman mad” glare at the 1 euro shop when you ask for gloves: you’re in Germany, for God’s sake, you’re supposed to be organized!

Anyway, haven’t found any gloves. Have found about a dozen of bioshops, small breweries, nice cafes, “spätis” (cornerstores that sell beer- most importantly- and other stuff), alternative art spaces, main-stream-pseudo-alternative art spaces, but no gloves.


Post about Berlin would never be complete without a picture of the wall

And I have been to the giant open air Karaoke on sundays on Mauerpark (where, at the time I was there, people had chosen the Macarena, and had accomplished the difficult goal of singing of key to a song that has almost no melody),  I’ve cycled through the Tiergarten – the main park – I’ve been to see “Topography of the Terrors”, an exhibition center about Berlin and the Nazi dictatorship, all of this for free. I supposed that is what strikes me the most, at this early stage, about this city: so much of it is free to enjoy, in the open air, at disposal. So much of its history has marked the landscape, the buildings, the alleys.
It is fascinating, and vibrant, and I’m already in love. If I could just find a way for my hands not to freeze to death, it would be the perfect city.



Remains of the wall and futuristic architecture, in Potsdamer Platz


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