A hard day(s)’ night

CC thoughts

Work hard and play harder has been our motto, it seems, for the past few days, which is why I haven’t had time (or motivation) to post my adventures. But adventures they have been.

Last time I updated, I left you hanging at the beginning of our girls’ night. It had its successes and failures. I jotted down the names and addresses of two dance places from a guide book, and we set out. We had to take the tram and subway, and once we finally got there, we walked into “King Kong Club,” with only about five people there. That wasn’t going to work, so we left in the spirit of find place #2.

Apparently, I wrote down the wrong address, which sent us wandering around that part of Berlin for some time. We finally decided to take a taxi close to home (which only cost four Euros, that was nice) and ended up at Hackeshr Market, which is near the Irish pub, and decided to go there. As we crossed the street, we were handed a flyer to the club we just tried to find. So bizarre. We stood in line at the club and got tired and went to the Irish pub anyway, which was packed. We walked to the back of the bar to find seating and ended up at a table near four military guys. As a part of our “girls’ night” pact, I was helping them scope out guys, so I made eyes at the table until one finally came over. The other three joined, and we had some good conversation. They were from Hamburg. We found out the one who first came over was married, which I thought was funny – the married guy and the girl with a boyfriend brought the groups together for our friends. They were nice, and we finally headed back to the hotel around 3 a.m.

The next morning, Kevin, Lara and I went to a huge festival at the Brandenburg Gate. It was a celebration of 60 years since the fall of East Germany. I swear half of Berlin was there, and it was like a gigantic spring festival I see in Sharpsburg all the time (minus clogging and antiques), but it was great – food, music, rock walls for kids and huge stages. (Here, Kevin is doing some kind of “trust” game where the dressed up women lower him into a chair. It was pretty weird…) We stayed for a bit and then left so I could do an interview for my Soundslides project. The subject was really slow about e-mailing me, and when I returned to the hotel, he still hadn’t e-mailed the address or directions to me – he was as vague as could be in the first place about me interviewing him. The Web site about this hospitality place for travels had a photo online, which showed the apartment right off a U-Bahn stop, so I memorized the buildings and headed out. I got to the right place, stood outside the door, then couldn’t find the right button to buzz myself in. So then I trekked back to the hotel and sunk into desperation. I e-mailed Ian again, urgently asking if I could profile him. I’m so thankful he said yes. A large group of us ate Thai, which took forever. They forgot to even put in an order for my wonton soup, so I was the last person sitting there eating.

That night, Abigail, Kevin and I went with Lara to her subject’s apartment and then out to a “drum and bass” dance club. He was really nice. Brian is from Tampa and went to University of Miami, but when he studied abroad in Spain, he decided not to go back to the U.S. but move to Berlin. He is trying to get into a university here and now tutors German students in English. He took us to this underground club – way out in an abandoned warehouse in Kreuzberg – where there were about five rooms separated by curtains, and each had this funky, grungy electronic music. In what we called the “hardcore” room, it was pitch black and had a crazy projection on the wall. It was so loud in there, I could feel the music moving the hair on my arms. We spent most of the night dancing in that room! One of the Hamburg guys from the night before tagged along, and he was really nice. Because there aren’t any words and the music bleeds from one song to another, you don’t realize how much time passes. At one point, I walked out of the room at 4 a.m. to get some air, and the sun was already up – it rises pretty early here. So I walked back in, and we were some of the last dancers to leave the floor at 6 a.m., bringing us back to the hotel around 7 a.m. That was one crazy fun night. I’ve got to find a place like that in Athens. Ha.

Somehow, around 11 a.m. Sunday (because the sun was burning through the windows and the birds were really loud – we always leave our windows open), Lara and I were able to get up and grab some breakfast. We spent most of the morning doing laundry just down the street, which was fun. You know me, I’m too proud to ask for help, so I just threw my clothes in and pushed a few buttons. It worked out just fine, but I did have a minute-long panic attack when I thought I may have put bleach detergent in my load of color clothes instead of regular detergent. I asked a guy who spoke German, and it was OK.

I felt really excited when some Americans (yes, they looked iconically American) walked in and tried to figure it out and asked for help when they heard me speak English. They were from Pennsylvania on a study abroad trip, and we talked for a few minutes. Lara and I went back to our neighborhood Doner Kebap place and got a schnitzel kebap, which was tasty. The rest of the day fades away a bit into uneventfulness … Lara and I napped to catch up on sleep. Abigail, Kevin, Lara and I ate at an Indian restaurant on our street, which was divine. We all had a buffet, and the waiter treated us to a sample of some mango drink. I hadn’t had real Indian food in several years, it seems, so that was a treat.

Later that night several girls went out to a bar. Abigail, Kevin, Lara and I wanted to go but left a bit later, so one of the trams stopped running before we could ride it. We decided to stick closer to the hotel and wanted to go to a roof bar, but it was gay night (which made Kevin uncomfortable), and the guy at the door was a real jerk. He made fun of how young we looked and kept picking on us for being Americans. All I can say is, his shirt said, “Bangcocker.” Pff. And the guys walking in were ridiculously flamboyant – two of the guys looked like they were going for Robert Pattinson’s hair in “Twilight.” Crazy.

Anyway, we decided to return to our second home in Berlin – the Irish pub. Of course, once we got there, it was closed early on a Sunday. So now that it was two hours later, we trudged home in defeat, craving snacks. Even our nearby “late” store was closed. We went to bed.

Yesterday morning, I woke up with the business mindset. This was the day to get all my work done. Ian and I had a noon appointment, so I arrived a bit early and took some cool photos around the subway, including one of a girl who was playing the violin on one. It’s cool to watch the sequence of photos and framing as the door closes. I spent the afternoon annoying Ian (as I would say) – I took pictures of him playing his keyboard and editing at his small studio in Tacheles, an old squatter building full of graffiti, artists and musicians. It’s a staple in Berlin.

We then headed down the street to the same bit of river we sat by the first time we met, and I took a few photos of him “resting.” We then took a few pictures in his small apartment and stopped at a restaurant for lunch. It was great to get to know him more, and I was confident I had good audio and photos to work with. I was able to really use my 50 mm for the first time, which made me happy. I took 350 photos of him. Whew.

When I got back to the hotel, I got to work on the audio. Professor Freeman realized he had a bit of extra money and took us all out to dinner at a place called Delores, which was kind of like Moe’s. I had been craving Mexican, but I still haven’t had my cheese dip. That’s on my to-do list for when I get home. The chicken quesadilla was excellent. Freeman had an optional activity open – go to Dr. Pong, but many of us wanted to do our projects. Once several people started talking about the Tuesday deadline and how they wanted to go to a six-hour concentration camp tour today, he decided to push back the deadline to noon on Wednesday. Most of us celebrated by going to Dr. Pong.

Dr. Pong is a hole-in-the-wall hangout with one ping pong table and a bar, where locals play round robin style, circling around the table. When you miss, you’re out, and it keeps going until you end up with two people. Those two play to five points, and the winner hits the table with the paddle three times, and everyone joins back in again. It was pretty cool, and it’s great to watch. When there are about three or four people left, they have to run around the table to get to their turn in time, which creates a nice wind tunnel effect. (Freeman posted a video on his blog – berlinblog2009.blogspot.com if you want to see.)

Abigail, Lara and I danced, too, and took some weird photos under a blue lightbulb near the bathrooms. There was one creeper we called “crazy eyes” who would stare at all the girls with really big eyes and then get in our faces and talk in German. Even when we’d obviously lean away or walk away or ask him to speak in English, he would just keep leering and talking. He was either drunk or out of his mind or both. Several times, Freeman would rescue us by just walking up and getting right in the middle. He was a great dad figure last night and a lot of fun. We grabbed a tram back near the hotel, and Freeman made a “that’s what she said” joke after I did, which made the night complete. We stopped by a late night store, and everyone but me grabbed some ice cream. Lara also bought a can of “hemp juice,” which we thought was hilarious. She and I split it earlier today, and it tasted like an energy drink. Weird.

Most of the group went out to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp. A few of us (Abigail and Lara included) stayed in the hotel today to do our projects. I’m completely finished – Soundslide, five standalones from the trip and a brief story from the Soundslide project – which makes me feel grand. I’ll try to post those at some point. Freeman is also compiling all of our projects onto a Web site, which I’ll link.

Tonight we head to a nice dinner in the TV Tower, which is a huge building that can basically be seen all over Berlin. The restaurant in the ball near the top rotates and makes me think of my trips to the Peachtree Plaza (Westin) building in Atlanta with my mom when I was younger. I want to take some cool pictures there, so I hope it stops raining today.

I apologize for not having photos of some of the fun events (dancing, bars), but sometimes it’s better to live life in person than through a lens. I plan to take more “fun” photos during the next few days, now that my work is done.

I also promise to update more this time, but there are only a few days left! It’s hard to believe.
-C

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