Our last weekend adventure was to the grand capital. The impetus of the trip was to attend the opening of Cairoscape - an art show our friend Iman was exhibiting at, but we hardly needed an excuse to visit one of our favorite places. Brian also joined Iman's European adventure, and spent the weekend before with us in Köln, which meant we actually got to spend some quality time with him, touring our stomping grounds, record shopping at Kompakt, and eating a few kölsch culinary specialties.
Our last trip to Berlin was at Christmas, which was a nice quiet time to visit. We spent most of our trip that time and this time skipping over tourist destinations (we've been to all of them before) and instead exploring the neighborhoods that have changed so drastically since our previous trips. This time, though, the changes seemed a little too impressed with themselves. I'm not kidding when I say that English was more common than German in almost every little store or cafe we went into; and imagine our surprise when getting coffee we were bombarded by an "American Voter Registration Assistance Campaign." What country were we in? Everything just felt a little too Americanized. I guess though I did have to capitalize on that feeling - perhaps just to be ironic. One of our favorite sights is the Reichstag, but we've never been visited at night, so Sunday seemed like the perfect night to do it. Well, we had an hour to kill and after trying to find a nice non-touristy spot to rest by the Brandenburg Gate (something that doesn't exist) we had to settle with the Starbucks on Pariser Platz. It certainly didn't quite feel right.
Other highlights of the trip included a journey to Hard Wax Records, where I tried to be just like nerdy music German boys with a pile of randomly chosen records to listen to and attempt to entertain me while Chris was shopping (and I did get a few head nods at my selection, so I guess I must have been doing something right). Between Kompakt and Hard Wax, I have done my share of record store visiting for the next few months. We also got to meet up with our friend Anton, who graduated the UW with me and has a post-doc in Berlin. We had much fun comparing funny German stories and trading recommendations about US television series we have found ourselves hooked on since we moved here. And we thoroughly enjoyed the great and incredibly cheap food. It really is true that the cost of living in Berlin is much cheaper than the rest of Germany (as long as you stay away from the Brandenburg Gates, that is).
More pictures from Brian's visit in Köln (thanks to Hannes) and Berlin are here.