Tatort, German History, and gute Laune

Quite a bit has happened between my last post and now. I need to start taking notes on the things I do during the day so I don’t forget what I’ve done. I lose track of what day it is too easily and then have to look back at pictures I’ve taken to remind myself what I did on which day.

Sunday was the first excursion through API, and it was to Lübbenau, which is quite far southeast from Berlin. An interesting fact about this town is that all the major signs are written both in German and in another language that was once the main language in this area. I’m not sure what it was called, but it is somehow related to Slavic languages.

Welcome to Lübbenau sign in the train station, written in the two languages

I met up with Adam, Jessie, and Claudio at the Bahnhof (train station) in Ostkreuz, and from there, we took an RE to Lübbenau (RE = regional train). That train ride was about an hour long, so my total travel time (since I live so far southwest from literally anything) was about an hour and 45 minutes. Upon arriving in Lübbenau, we headed straight to the Spreewald kayak place. The Spree is a river that runs through Berlin and also through parts of Lübbenau. The are we kayaked through was full of little canals that you could kayak down. Unfortunately, we couldn’t explore all the canals because we had lunch reservations at a restaurant along the Spree. While kayaking through the Spree and to our restaurant, we entertained ourselves by playing “bumper kayaks” and tried to make the other person’s kayak turn backwards. (I’ll just say that I’m really good at turning my kayak back around now.)

For lunch, we stopped at a restaurant along the Spree, and the food there was very traditional for the area. There was lots of fish and potatoes on the menu. I ordered fish because I figured I should try something local. This turned out to be a very good idea, and my meal was quite delicious. I had three different types of fish (don’t ask me what kinds) in a creamy, buttery sauce and potatoes. We also ordered a local dessert called Plins which is basically the Lübbenau version of a pancake, but rolled like a crepe and with cinnamon sugar inside. It was, once again, a very good idea and was very tasty. After eating, we hopped back in our kayaks and kayaked back to where we started. Then we walked around the city of Lübbenau for a bit, but it was rather warm, and we didn’t want to hang out in the sun all afternoon, so we went back to the train station shortly thereafter. We took the RE back to Ostkreuz, and then we all went our own way back home.

A glimpse of the castle in Lübbenau

Upon returning home, I was greeted by my host parents and given a dinner of Milchreis, which is basically German rice pudding that they eat with some fresh fruit, cinnamon, and applesauce. It was delicious. We had an “American” dinner because we ate in in front of the TV because Tatort was on. Tatort has been a super well-known and well-loved show in Germany since the 1970’s. It’s a crime tv show, and each episode takes place in a different city in Germany, so the dialect, architecture, and culture is different each week. In each episode, the local police have to solve a homicide (usually), and the episodes are more like a mini movie than a tv show because they’re ~90 minutes long. I’d never watched an episode of Tatort before, but next Sunday, I will definitely join my host parents in watching it.

Monday was a regular day. I started my day with Unterricht (class), went to a cute little Italian restaurant for lunch (I ate some delicious pasta), and then went off to a museum with two of my friends. Now, this museum wasn’t a regular museum – this was the 90’s Museum. It was not at all what I expected when my friend, Clara, suggested going to it. I thought it would be full of different clothing items and posters and other nicknacks from the 90’s, but it was not like that at all. This museum markets itself as a multimedia museum, and it definitely was just that. It focuses on the young adult/youth culture in the 90’s, specifically in the techno scene.

The front of the building is very normal looking, but the inside is anything but

The first room was a huge amphitheater-like room, with a video playing on the screen that wrapped all the way around the room. This video gave us an overview on life in the 90’s in Berlin, giving us information about culture, art, politics, housing, etc.

In the next room, a bunch of video screens were set up in a circle, and you could go around and watch the videos that were playing. Each video was from a different individual and they talked about their experience in Berlin during the 90’s. This was really interesting because the individual’s opinion over Berlin was very dependent on whether they lived in East or West Berlin. Those from West Berlin had much more positive feelings about Berlin than those from East Berlin.

The following room talked about the Berlin Wall and the meaning of it for the Germans. It talked about the individuals that died trying to cross the wall and the freedom of expression that the West Berliners had to graffiti stuff on the Wall. The exhibit here was a mock Wall, and prior visitors had taken tape and “graffiti”-ed on this mock Berlin Wall.

“We are all Berliners in God’s eyes”

The next room was focused on the techno scene. The different parts of the room featured different popular techno clubs from this time. Often techno clubs were set up in abandoned buildings, so there was a heavy industrial vibe there. The final room was full of mirrors on all sides, and in the middle was a music player shaped like a record player. There were buttons to press, and each button coordinated with a specific techno song from the years 1989-2003 (I think?). We jammed to the songs for a bit, and then headed to the gift shop part of the museum, where I bought two cute magnets.

That evening was spent eating dinner and watching the news with my host parents.

On Tuesday, I had Unterricht, like always, and for lunch, I got döner with some friends. We ate lunch in the shade next to the train station because it was ungodly hot inside the buildings. After lunch, my Nachmittags (afternoon) group went to the Deutsche Historisches Museum, where we were given a tour of the highights from German history. The tour was interesting, as it covered old, old, old German history, but also touched on more recent stuff (DDR & BRD).

The sticker from the museum

After the museum, I participated in the classic German tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) with some friends at a nearby cafe. We sat outside the cafe, eating our cake and drinking our coffee and talking about all sorts of things. Conversations between my friends and I are always interesting because there are so many cultural differences to understand and so many questions to ask. It’s been one of my favorite parts of the whole experience so far.

Once I got home, I did my homework and treated myself to the newest episode of The Bachelorette.

Today started like all my days here – with Unterricht. Due to the excessive heat outside and the Germans’ lack of AC, the inside of my classroom was stuffy and hot. By the time we had our Pause, I was so thankful for the 30 minutes of not being in that room. By lunchtime, I was sweaty and a little bit hangry. I grabbed food from the Bahnhof (train station) – pad thai – and ate in the courtyard of HU building with some friends. I had about two hours of free time because my Nachmittags group wasn’t meeting until 2:40. Once it hit 2:40, we meet at Hackescher Markt and headed to Hackescher Hof, where we were going to the Hackescher Hof Kino (movie theater). We watched a film called Berlin Babylon, which was unfortunately extremely boring. According to the google search I did before the movie, Berin Babylon is a documentary about the reconstruction of Berlin during the 90’s, which I took to mean reconstruction in a broader sense. Leider nicht (unfortunately not). This film was quite literally about reconstruction, as in the rebuilding of buildings. It was so full of technical architecture language and imagery, that it was hard to follow. I ended up taking a little nap during the movie, so I really hope we aren’t asked any questions about it tomorrow in our seminar.

After the movie, I went with some friends to a cute little cafe/bar we found around the corner. It’s called Cafe Cinema, which is an adorable little cafe/bar where the outdoor seating is in a cool looking alley.

Part of the ally in which this cafe/bar is located

We spent probably 2-3 hours there in total. We had a few more friends come and join us during that time. The atmosphere there was nice and friendly and had gute Laune (good vibes). It was a fun place to sit and hang out at, and there was never a shortage of things to talk about or people to people-watch.

This weekend, I will be traveling to Dresden, so stay tuned for that!

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