Considering how late I had gotten to bed the night before, I was actually pretty surprised that I got up before noon. At around 11h30, I hauled myself out of bed and got showered and cleaned up. The roommate with the password to the WiFi setup still wasn’t home, so I did a bit of avant-blogging (i.e., writing my blog post in a .doc file) and then I decided to go for a walk.
I remember from my last visit to Berlin that I had really loved the Tiergarten (literally, “Animal Garden,” or “zoo,” but really a massive park similar to NYC’s Central Park). So off I went for a walk. The weather was really lovely—sunny, but not too hot—so I actually traversed the entirety of the park from one end to the other and back again, without realizing just how far I had walked (nearly 3 km in each direction).
When I got back to the eastern end of the park, I noticed that there was some sort of large public event going on at the Brandenburg gate. As I approached, I saw a bunch of beer tents (of course) and food stands, so I approached the first one that looked pretty “authentic” and got a Currywurst. Unlike the one I had had last night, this was one great. The sausage was delicious on its own, the ketchup was spiced with curry powder, and the whole thing had a generous dose of curry powder on top of it. The currywurst came with a little roll of bread (rather dry), which had a little paper US flag stuck in it. That’s odd.
As I walked westward along the street away from the Brandenburg Gate, I saw—between the food and beer stands—little information booths that advertised vacations in different US states, exchanges and training in the US, and so on. Hmm.
While I was buying this fantastic combination of garlic bread, tomatoes, green onions and garlic sausage, I was a German family walk buy with an “Obama for America” balloon attached to their kid’s stroller. OK, what the fuck?
So I start walking back to the Brandenburg Gate and quickly notice a large pixel-screen mounted nearby, showing what appeared to be a Harlem-Renaissance-influenced ballet troupe performing to an operatic arrangement of Black Spirituals. Well, clearly something is up.
I passed through the Brandenburg Gate and found the same stage that had appeared on the pixel-screen. At this point, they were in between acts, and a young-looking host was interviewing a few people on the stage. They were in the middle of interviewing a man who spoke German with an American accent, who was talking about “warm relations” with Germany and the usual kind of empty diplomatic talk. At one point, he said “You know, we have an election coming up in the USA, which might change things drastically,” which elicited a huge torrent of applause from the crowd. As it turns out, this was the ambassador of the US Embassy, which had just opened a new, shiny location in Berlin today. Well, that explains the US-philia on the streets (at first, I had thought that it was a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Berlin airlift), but not the Obama balloons and buttons and bumper stickers, and so on.
As I made my way around the few booths on the western side of the Brandenburg Gate, I finally saw it. The “Democrats Abroad” organization had a booth, and they were selling Obama balloons and buttons as a fund-raiser. Not only were Berliners supportive of Obama, they were willing to pay 1€ / balloon to prove it. Goodness.
Now full of food and beer (including this delicious green beer that involves Berlin white beer and woodruff), I made the journey back to my apartment. I had plans on working on my blog and unpacking and finally getting a lot of things organized, but I had underestimated the effect that 6+ hours walking in the sun can do to you. By the time I got home, I was dead tired, so I flopped myself into bed, relishing the fact that I could opt to sleep when I wanted to.