It has been my desire for quite some time now, to have a relaxing, fun-filled Sunday like we would at home. Today, with the best company a woman could ask for, I got my wish. First things first, we rented bikes from our hostel. After driving around the city yesterday, and having been stuck in a traffic jam the day before, we found we missed cycling and our ability to stop anywhere and take photos. While we're really happy to have a car, this city is best seen by bicycle.
I had a brief moment of terror when trying out our new bike—it didn't feel right. It was an uncomfortable cruiser with coaster brakes, something I've never used before. Not being able to spin the pedals backwards was unnerving. But, thanks to Tyler's encouragement (You've cycled nearly 18,000 kilometers to get here! You're a great cyclist. Just get on and go, you'll figure it out!) I quickly got over my panic and we went riding into Berlin.
Our first stop was a little restaurant recommended by Felix's friend called Morena Bar. It was so nice that it even made me feel nostalgic for my previous job as a barista. Though I loved my work, I quickly decided it was far better to be here visiting, rather than trying to remember which largenonfatdecafsugarfreepeppermintmochalatte went with which order, and then proceeding to mop the floor, and then getting off work with a shirt stained with coffee grounds.
But I still loved the shiny espresso maker, and all the cups stacked on top. The vases of flowers, the jazzy music on the stereo, the colorful tiled walls, and the room of happy people enjoying their weekend morning.
We all ordered different meals; each one was beautifully laid out and garnished with Peruvian cape gooseberries and their papery leaves. I ordered the Fruit Plate which came with fresh fruit salad, lots of vanilla quark (like yogurt), and crusty bread with butter, honey, and jam. It was even served with a small fruit smoothie!
After a lingering breakfast, sipping the last of the almond latte I ordered, we set out for an idyllic afternoon.
We rode over to a flea market, where we combed the stalls and met Nadine's friend, with whom she had studied at University. Tyler caught the thrifting bug sorting through books ("It's like a treasure hunt!") and we both decided there would be more garage sales and flea markets in our future when we return home.
We came away from the market with a few English books, Nadine with a cute red purse and silly paper spectacles, and Felix with a box of martini glasses which he strapped to the back of his rented bicycle and secured with the cable lock.
Our next stop was Checkpoint Charlie, one of the many Berlin Wall memorials in the city. I was glad we went to the one we did yesterday, because this one was very touristy.
Tyler pressed a 2-euro-cent coin for his brother, Gabriel, and we took a quick look around before deciding to move on.
Next up was the Brandenberger Tor. A quick stop was all we needed to say we'd seen it, and check it off of our sight-seeing to-do list.
After the Tor, we saw the controversial Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe also known as the Holocaust Memorial. The site is controversial because… what does a maze of grey columns have to do with the holocaust? Also, the company that produced the anti-grafitti substance to cover all the columns was notorious for persecuting jews back in WWII… So, all in all, kind of cool, kind of not.
In the Memorial's information center, our afternoon was injected with a big dose of heavy and depressing as we read, again, about the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis.
Out in the brilliant sunlight once again, we zipped over to the Reichstag building, where the German Empire's parliament used to meet. After a minute or so looking at the building, we joked saying, "well we can check that off our list!".
It was nice to see the sites, but mostly it was fun to bike around Berlin with our friends!
Once we'd seen what we were supposed to, Nadine brought up the next item in our agenda for the afternoon: Relaxation. After a late lunch of more addictive currywurst, we walked to a park to enjoy the last bit of sunlight before the sky would be filled with grey clouds.
We met a little doggie who was whimpering, craving attention…
And a little girl with her fingers up her nose.
What a wonderful day.