Five Totally Random Reasons to Love Berlin

Apparently, you can’t just “kinda like” Berlin. You have to take sides. You love it? Great. You hate it? Great! Just don’t act so indecisive!

Well, in that case, after having spent four months in this city, I choose to love Berlin – and here’s why:

  1. Public transportation. It’s nothing like where Ari lives. I mean, of course, people still complain, but really, it’s awesome. During rush hours, trams come every 3-10 minutes, depending on the line. I usually take one that only comes every 10 minutes – yes, it’s a bit less popular, but guess what, it also means I still get a seat during rush hour! The other thing about trams and some subway lines is that they run even in the middle of the night – no “I have to get this tram, it’s the last one, else I’ll have to get a cab” in Berlin!
  2. “Späti culture”. Spätis are small shops that sell a variety of stuff you may or may not need in the middle of the night – snacks, alcohol, energy drinks, quick meals. They’re basically open whenever, so if for some reason you suddenly want pizza at 4 a.m., chances are you will not walk more than a hundred yards or so until you find some.
  3. The subway cars. They’re adorably yellow and cute and look like a relic from another century, which I guess they are…berlinsubway
  4. Bars. There are so many bars here that have incredible character. A few weeks ago, I went to a bar called “Konrad Tönz”, which is set up like a 70s living room, complete with an old black-and-white TV and the terrible awesome wallpaper designs. The week before, I found a Russian gem of a bar, complete with a vodka menu (and one option to “only order in emergencies – very strong”) and snacks cooked by “Mama”. I can’t wait to see what else there is!
  5. Brunch. It’s totally possible to go have delicious big breakfasts on Sunday mornings (or afternoons, if you prefer) and not spend more than seven or eight euros. I’ve done this a few times and I’m officially in love with Berlin’s brunch culture, and kind of hoping I’ll be able to do a piece on my favourite brunch places soon.

These are not the top five reasons to love this city, really. They’re just the first five things that came to my mind. I’m sure there’s more, so stay tuned for a possible sequel – and feel free to comment and add your own reasons to love Berlin! 🙂

Advertisements

Approaching- Outbound Trains in 100 minutes

Dear M Outbound train,

After three months of relying on you daily to get me into the city once, twice, sometimes even three or four times a day, I have had enough! I tried to be understanding, you know. Be OK with the fact that the next outbound train might be announced to arrive in 5 minutes but still takes half an hour nonetheless. Accept the fact that trains are being skipped and the few that do make it into the station are helplessly overcrowded, badly enough so that I fear to miss my stop because I cannot get out in time. I tried to make my peace with the fact that a two-car-train is being randomly disconnected at a station, which I only realize after my part of the tram continues as a different line and all that is left for me to do is watch the first part continue en route to home. Oh, you announced that? Over the speakers that are not working? Why, thanks! I tried to take the random assortment of people with a great deal of humor because, after all, that is part of the San Francisco feel. You gotta learn to love the junkies and old ladies clipping their toe nails and isn’t it great that people don’t even question the big puddles on the seat next to them anymore? Could be pee, could be water, definitely is not sperm, cause that can be found in that used condom in the corner. Excuse me Miss, does your bag really need its own seat while the old lady here has to stand? Inhalling the scents of a homeless person while being stuck in the tunnel for fifteen minutes without any explanation of why that is happening. But that’s fine because two guys who are clearly high on something offer free real-life entertainment.
No, I am getting tired and I am longing for a car. Or a bike. So, here are my final words for you, I thought of them the other day while waiting at the station for 45 minutes, then being pushed into the tram only to be told five minutes later that the inbound M line I was on would spontaneously be changed into an outbound L line, which forced me to switch trams again and miss my salsa lesson:

Seems like just yesterday
that you failed me again
you used to drive so frequently
you used to be on time
your seats comfy and clean
is now a distant dream
Of the unbreakable, of nothin’ goin’ wrong
Now I can’t breathe
No, I can’t sleep
I’m barely hanging on

Here I am, once again
I’m torn into pieces
Can’t deny it, can’t pretend
Just thought you’d get me home
Broken up, deep inside
But you won’t get to see the tears I cry
because you never run

After long days in school
I just want to go home
You could help me make that true
For once in my life
Now all that’s left to me
Is hoping the next day will be
So different, that you might be on time
‘Cause I can’t breathe
till I feel the breeze
of you runnin’ into the statiooooon

Here I am, once again
I’m torn into pieces
Can’t deny it, can’t pretend
public transport in the city sucks
Broken up, deep inside
But you won’t get to see the tears I cry
because you never run

Swallow me then spit me out
from an overcrowded tram car
Waiting for you became a norm
No, I don’t cry on the outside
Anymore…
Anymore…

Here I am, once again
I’m torn into pieces
Can’t deny it, can’t pretend
just thought you could do better
Broken up, deep inside
But you won’t get to see the tears I cry
because you never run

Here I am, once again
I’m torn into pieces
Can’t deny it, can’t pretend
Just thought you were the one
Broken up, deep inside
But you won’t get to see the tears I cry
I hate you M train!

(thanks Kelly Clarkson!)

photo

DIY- Brand Shoes

So, for my Advertising class, I was supposed to create a Brand Book- pick 25 brands that are some of my personal favorites and somehow portray them in a creative way. After two weeks of tossing and turning around at night, I finally found the solution: Brand shoes are the new brand books!! Wanna learn how to make these awesome DIY brand flats??

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s really easy and SO much fun. All you need is:

  • a brush, preferably a larger one- $2
  • Mod Podge. I chose the glossy kind because I really like the after- effect it has when all dried up. Any craft store in the US should carry it. Also, it lasts FOREVER, so buy a small bottle- $5-6
  • Shoes. Any type works but your cut outs will stick best on shoes (fake) leather or plastic material. Also, heels will take longer to be taped obviously, since they have a greater surface.
  • Collage material. Comic books, newspaper, magazine pages- everything works. Since mine are brand themed, I had to print my snippets. Printed stuff works but make sure to use photocopy paper or go to a copy shop and ask for a type of paper that gets as close to comic book paper as possible
  • Paper tissues ready by hand and something to cover the workspace
  • ScissorsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Time: 4 hrs. Mine took three, since I was working with flats and the collage pieces were rather big. Heels might take longer. This video might be additionally helpful in getting the idea.

Get started:

Cut out your paper snippets. Choose the size and the shape based on the type of shoe you use and your own preference. Cover the inside of the shoe with a plastic bag or paper to avoid glue running into the insides. Also cover your floor/table, Pod Modge IS going to drip on it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter that, GO CRAZY! You are the master of desaster, go crazy with paper and glue. I was so nervous to mess it up (it was a class assignment, mind you), that I retraced the shape of the shoe on a sheet of paper and layed out the pieces there, just to have a rough idea on how it is going to look and which ones I should glue down first. That helped a lot.
During the glueing process, you might be horrified. I was. It looked like an absolute mess with the glue getting everywhere. Paper tissues help removing it from the soles and the edges that you wanna keep free from paper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the bigger pieces are glued down, you can use a precision knife or scissors to cut out little collage pieces that would fill potential empty spaces. Scissors will do the job just fine too though.
Once you’re satisfied with the way the shoe looks, cover everything in a thin layer of Pod Modge. It’s gonna look horribly white and you’ll think it’s never going to work out…trust me, it will dry. And you’ll be happy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Let the shoes dry overnight. Then, add a second layer of Pod Modge and leave them for a day or two. After that, they’re ready to be worn. Go get yourself the attention you deserve!
The great thing is that you can apply that principle to anything really- shoes, bags, wallets, water bottles..the opportunities are endless! Sounds intriguing? Hells yeah!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Now, let’s hope my Professor is as open for creative solutions as I hope he’ll be….

Cheers and get going!

Ari