After a relatively early night (I got home around 3h00, got to sleep around 4h00), I woke up relatively early (10h00) and puttered around. I answered some long-ignored emails, did a bit of cleaning, and helped a new roommate move in and get settled into the apartment.
Around 14h00 or so, a friend of mine (the same one that gave me the guided shopping tour of Prenzlauer Berg last Wednesday) told me that he was in my neighborhood, so I hopped in the shower and we went for a walk together. The Turkish Market was open today, so we headed in that direction and walked through the market. I really should’ve bought some stuff for the house, as I had barely anything to eat there, but we were walking and it was easily 33°C in the shade, so I didn’t want to schlep around bags of over-warm dairy products and softening vegetables for the rest of the afternoon.
It was so sunny and hot, that we felt dehydrated just from the effort of walking through the market (“Shopping!” swoon), so we sat down at Ankerklause (“The Anchor Cell / Hut”) by the Kottbusser Damm bridge and had some drinks. I had an Alsterwasser, which I later realized was another word for Radler (i.e., a shandy, or a beer-soft drink blend), while my friend had a grapefruit-schorle (juice mixed with bubbly water). We were a bit hungry, too, so we ordered a summer-soup of yogurt and lime juice with hunks of fresh fruit in it, along with a plate of fried calamari with garlic mayo. Very tasty, I must say. Ankerklause is clearly more of a breakfast place, though, as there was an entire page of the menu devoted to various versions of the breakfast plate.
From there, we wandered along the canal to the east until we got to a biergarten at the intersection of two canals called Burg am See. This biergarten is popular with the local Turkish population, so I had an opportunity to show off my newly-learned Turkish by declaring to my friend that the sign at the door included the words “food” (yiyecek) and drink (içecek). He was kind enough to be impressed at my minor feat.
We bought some drinks, and then wandered around the patio and eventually snuck our way out onto the greens near the water and under the huge trees. I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to leave the grounds with their glasses in hand, but nobody stopped us. We spent a good hour or so people-watching and talking about the cities we’ve lived in, and then we started to head back to the Turkish Market to meet another friend of his. On the way, we noticed that there is a tendency for beefy Turkish men to sit along the canal with their shirts off, and it seems to be at least as much about display as it is about comfort.
From the Turkish Market, I left my buddy to hang out with his other friend (a former roommate, I think) and I headed back home to try and be a bit more productive. I managed to catch up on my blogging and send out a few more emails, and then got a call from a classmate of mine from Chicago, who was visiting Berlin with his girlfriend. We decided to meet at my subway station and then head out for dinner and drinks. I had been thinking of going to see the FoundSound [LINK] people spin at Watergate, so I put on my club-appropriate clothing and headed out to meet my friends.
I waited for them on Hermannplatz, wondering to myself if I would be harassed again like I was last Wednesday. There was no funny business this time, although I was perhaps less prominent, as I didn’t pace the length of the square, instead sitting on a bench and waiting. When my friends showed up, we jumped back into the U-Bahn and headed to Kottbusser Tor. From there, we walked up to Oranienstrasse, the main drag of the Kreuzberg “alternative” scene, which has now become packed with bars and restaurants in the way Oberkampf is in Paris.
After doing a sort of tour of the street and looking at the various restaurants, we settled on an Indian place that had a fair selection of vegetarian options and sat down. Our timing was perfect, as what had been drizzle turned into a complete rainstorm the moment we got our table. Even better, the rain had finished by the time we paid the bill.
When we were ordering food, I made a point of asking for my Bengalore Lamb very hot, saying, “Sehr, sehr scharf, bitte.” He nodded with the sort of indulgent condescension that I recognized as the “whatever, you can’t handle spicy” attitude, so I then said “Mexicanisher sharf, bitte” (“Mexican-style spicy, please”). The waiter found this endlessly amusing, and the ongoing joke for the rest of the meal was that anything he brought to the table was announced as “Mexican-style”: beer, yogurt, samosas, whatever. At least the lamb was good and spicy.
After dinner, we wandered over to Molotov Cocktail for a drink, where we got their signature drink. Indeed, it came in a clear bottle, with an alcohol-soaked sugar cube that the waitress lit on fire. Aside from the pyrotechnic gimmicks, though, the drink was pretty good. At 9€, however, it’s not something I’ll order often.
From there, we decided to celebrate the lack of open container laws in Berlin by buying beer from a pizza shop and wandering the streets with beers in hand. I walked them back to the subway stop and saw them to their train, and then headed up to the U1 line to make my way to Watergate.
When I got to the club, there was a massive line. Admittedly, it was already 1h30 and the lineup always tends to get long at this time, but it was about twice as long as I had ever seen it. Again, the summer season makes going out in Berlin more cumbersome than usual. If I had been going to see one particular headliner, I would’ve just decided to go for another beer somewhere else and then return around 4h00, but the FoundSound DJs (Someone Else, Miskate and Ben Parris) were all spinning on the lower floor of the club, presumably each taking up a few hours of the night. If I came back around 4h00, I probably would’ve missed 2 of the 3 DJs.
So I put myself in line and decided to tough it out. It was 2h00 by then, so I decided to wait until 2h30 and see how much closer I was to the door. In the meanwhile, there was a quartet of Spaniards in front of me that were debating with each other the likelihood of getting into the club. Considering they were relatively young, all male, and drinking beers in the lineup, their chances were pretty low. When they turned to ask me what the cover charge for the door, I told them in Spanish, and then followed up with a series of suggestions: pretend that you’re two pairs, rather than a group; stop talking when you get near the front of the line; finish your beers before you’re in sight of the bouncer.
By then, it was 2h30 and we weren’t even at the halfway-point of the lineup. Quite frankly, I can see the FoundSound folks back in Chicago, and I still have 4 more weekends in Berlin to go out, so I decided to call it a night and cut my losses. I bought a totally unnecessary döner kebab, hopped on the train, and headed home.