This morning I stood on the field of Olympic Stadium in Germany. This is the stadium where I saw Hertha and Schalke play on Saturday. It’s also the stadium that hosted six games for the 2006 World Cup and the final between Italy and France.
My time in Berlin is unreal, it seems.
I haven’t updated the past couple of days, so here we go. I’ll start from Monday:
Lara and I woke up and walked around Prenzlauerberg, trying to find a story for her. We took pictures of graffiti and shops and laughed about people staring at us because it was hot outside and she wore shorts and I wore a dress. That’s not the fashion here. We explored a tea room, a fruit stand and a bookstore, which I liked the best. It had a good atmosphere and calm music. Who knew J.K. Rowling’s first name was Joanne? Books in the U.S. don’t use her first, from what I can remember. Her middle name? Kathleen. I guess I’m not the exuberant Harry Potter fan.
(They have these “autofoto” booths all over Berlin.)
While we were walking, a guy asked if we were cold and we said no. We talked a bit about Prenzlauerberg, and he asked if we had gone out to any bars or clubs. We said no but we wanted to, and when I asked if there were any around, he said yes and that he would go with us and gave us his number. We took it, walked around the corner, and threw it away. Fail on Tony’s behalf.
But then we had our fail when we toodled around Alexanderplatz and took pictures. I saw several guys who looked our age kicking around a soccer ball by a building. We walked over, and they actually turned out to be middle schoolers. We asked what they were doing and where they were from, and they would giggle to each other before every answer. From what we could tell, they were waiting on a teacher and go to school in Germany but didn’t want us to take any photos. Fail.
(In the Alexanderplatz fountain, a homeless/drunk guy was sitting in a grocery cart, singing and mumbling. We didn’t try to talk to him. Lara is the person on the right in white.)
Anyway, early Monday was mostly bonding time for Lara and I. At 4 p.m. Franka Bruns, a freelance photojournalist who graduated from Ohio University, spoke with us about the life of photography in Berlin. She has worked for AP and covers daily assignments, a lot of politics. Berlin journalism, especially AP, seems to be doing pretty well and also seems to be relatively open. She did talk about the non-stop life of being on call, but I think that’s the sign of a good journalist everywhere, the adrenaline rush of being on an assignment. I asked several questions, and she was really helpful. The group then headed to a Thai restaurant around the corner from our hotel, and I enjoyed a huge bowl of Pho.
After dinner, I met up with Ian, a guy who graduated from college in Tennessee and worked in Nuremberg for a bit. He’s now in Berlin, trying to find a job and making music. He’s going to start his Ph.D. in Texas on ethnomusicology in the fall, I think. It’s crazy the variety of people who have moved to Berlin. He showed me the spot where he creates music in Tacheles, an old squatter building that is floors full of graffiti, artists and musicians of all types. It’s become pretty famous, and now they ask for donations from tourists and have signs up that say “no fotos” in certain rooms. (This is Ian above, in his Tacheles room.)
After that, I came back to the hotel and attempted to start a blog but headed to bed.
On Tuesday, the group set out on a bike tour of Berlin for several hours. At first, everyone seemed slightly nervous about being on bikes for so long, but it was excellent. My bike was named Pippin and had a squeaky toy Pluto in addition to a bell. It was fun 🙂 Our tour guide was a really nice guy from Tampa. He showed us the longest still-standing stretch of the Berlin Wall, the Soviet War Memorial and Kreuzberg, where I stayed the first day here. (In this photo, Blakely is drawing Germany and telling us how Berlin was first split.)
We stopped to look at two bears that are kept in the city (as mascots) and heard shouts and honking a few streets over. Some taxi drivers were protesting, so we grabbed a few photos. Yay spot news. The woman in the middle is talking through a megaphone, announcing something. The group began cheering. We’re still not sure what was going on. The bike tour was fantastic, and I recommend it to anyone who visits.
The group headed back to the hotel to shower and change for a musical play called Qi-eine Palast-Phantasie at the Friedrichstadtpalast, which is really hard to explain. It had dancing, singing, acrobatics, ice skating, comic relief and even magic. Freeman said in his blog, “The show will be like Berlin meets Las Vegas meets New York with a little bit of Cirque Du Soleil thrown in.” It was incredible and made me want to act and dance again. Oh, the stage. A handful of us ate pizza at a restaurant down the street from the theatre and then crashed pretty soon after we returned to the hotel.
This brings us back to this morning and my excellent adventure. I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and got on the tram at 8 a.m. with other people going to work. I felt like I was truly working in Berlin! I met with Torsten Hahmann, who works for the Berlin Football Association. Today was an under 16 game between France and Germany, and I was able to walk all around the stadium with him and take pictures on the field. I was allowed in the press room and even snacked a bit. Good times. It’s hard to believe what opportunities I’m running into, but I’m excited. (Here, I took this picture while sitting in the stands with Torsten, watching the game. Goooo Germany – the guys in white.)
Tomorrow we meet with an editor at Der Spiegel, Freeman says Germany’s equivalent of Time. I’m really looking forward to that.
I feel like this blog has been less detailed lately, but I hope it’s still entertaining.