dimanche, juillet 06, 2008

The Long Walk

Since I had gone to bed so early last night, My eyes pretty much popped open at 8am and there was nothing I could do to shut them. I tossed around for a while, and then got up and quietly showered and put on some walking clothes.

I decided that today would be the day I visit the Türkischer Markt (“Turkish Market”), which is supposed to be the biggest and cheapest green market in Berlin. What I didn’t realize at that moment was that I had misheard my roommate: the Turkish market is open on Tuesdays and Fridays, never Sundays.

So off I go, blithely walking up Kottbusserdamm from Hermannplatz (which is where I am), thinking that I will be soon surrounded by stout Turkish grandmothers, yelling at each other over the price of olives. I was certainly pleased to discover a number of cafés, bakeries and restaurants that were open on a Sunday morning for the morning-after crew. A lot of them had sandwich-boards on the street that said “Frühstuck: Klein: 3€, Grosse: 5€” or something like that. In other words, you can get a small or a big breakfast, although the signs never said what came with the standard Frühstuck.

I made it to the Landwehrkanal (a canal cut out from the river Spree, presumably for transport once upon a time), where the Turkish market was supposed to be. All I saw were runners and cyclists, so I kept walking, thinking that I had misheard the directions (rather than the dates). I made it to the Kottbusser Tor station, then turned around and returned to the canal, reasoning that I could walk along the canal until I hit the market or an U-Bahn station—whatever comes first.

On the way, I took a stab at setting up the voice mail on my cell phone (the previous tenant of the room I was subletting left me an extra SIM card he had lying around). I was actually pretty surprised with my ability to understand the pre-recorded voice; I only wish everyone in Berlin spoke so clearly and slowly.

After an admittedly very pleasant walk along the canal, I got on at a nearby U-Bahn station and made my home. With a bit of help from my roommate, I set about getting myself on their WiFi network, and then set about doing some blogging. It was at that point that I looked up the Turkish market on the web and realized that I had the wrong day.

Later in the evening, I decided to take a sunset walk in the Tiergarten, but first I needed some food. Having failed to get groceries that day (all chain grocery stores were closed, too), I set off to a nearby Turkish imbiss / grill that looked promising. The place was called Guney Grill, and they had a healthy cluster of clients. I got the döner kebap, which is really similar to a Greek gyros, although you should never say that to either a Turk or a Greek person. Anyway, it involved shaved meat from The Magic Meat Stick (i.e., that rotating wand of lamb and/or beef), vegetables, red (harissa) or white (tzatziki) sauce, and all wrapped in a rather thick kind of flatbread.

The döner kebaps they had here were fantastic. I’ve had my share of these in Paris, and none of them had this thick flatbread with a crispy (almost fried) crust, freshly pickled cabbage, sharp onions, and flavorful meat. I totally wolfed down the huge portion, which only cost me 3€ (including a drink). I could get (too) used to this!

I headed off to the Tiergarten for a post-prandial constitutional (thanks for the verbiage, DJ!), where I wandered again for a good couple of hours. As night began to fall, it got relentlessly humid, almost “we are in the rainforest” humid, so I headed into the downtown area and found an U-Bahn stop. By the time I got back out at Hermannplatz, it was raining and cold.

While I was relieved that the temperature had dropped a bit (I can’t sleep in the heat), I wasn’t looking forward to running home in sandals. So, I took a break by ducking into the McDonald’s in front of the station, with the intention of ordering something small as an excuse to sit there for a while.

That is, until I saw the “Gourmet Chicken Sweet Chili” on the menu (it was written in English). I don’t know what I was thinking; I wasn’t even hungry. But, following my new-ish tradition of having one reluctant McDonald’s meal in every country, I ordered it. How did it taste? Like a relatively decent breaded chicken sandwich, totally ruined by cheap sweet & sour sauce. Seriously, I recognized the sauce that oozed all over my hands as the same “duck sauce” that would come with every order our family made at Lotus Gardens in London, Ontario. It was horrible.

So, having survived that ordeal and feeling a bit worse for it, I dashed out the door and ran as fast as I could in the rain. I made it back to my place a bit wet, peeled of my damp clothes, and continued my glamorous blogging. At some point (I don’t remember when), sleep overcame me and I lurched to my bed.

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