Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Oct. 4th, 2009

I know it's been far too long since I've updated, and I'm ashamed to say it's been equally long since I've checked in to see how any of my friends here have been doing. When my Internet failed at home, I thought I'd soon remedy the situation by throwing money at it...and it was then that I found out my financial situation was a lot less rosey than I had previously assumed. Bills kept coming in and in the end, the money I'd set aside for the purchase of a laptop had to be used on maintenance charges on the flat instead. It turned out the painters had miscalculated their original quote at the beginning of the year, and us flat owners each had to cough up an extra bit of cash or they would walk off the job. Unfortunately this means that two months on, I'm still without a connection. I'm typing this entry up on my phone, but it's far from ideal.

Anyhow, I got back from a short stay in Berlin two days ago, and I felt like jotting down a few words on the subject. It was my third visit to the city in recent years, and I feel like I'm getting to know it pretty well. This is in part due to my travelling companion M., who never leaves home without an itinerary worked out to the last detail. To my mind, this can be both a blessing and a curse: it's good to have some sort of plan of what to see and how to get to what you want to go and see, but...I don't like to be ruled by plans. As far as I'm concerned, they should be more like guidelines, to be deviated from if and when circumstances (and my mood) change. M., unfortunately, doesn't agree; and so, after four or five days, I could barely bring myself to be civil to him. I remember rebelling on the fourth day, saying I didn't care what programme he had planned for the day, I was gonna go shopping...and then getting really stroppy when his response was that if I really really wanted to, perhaps I could, if we timed it right, and if he could tweak our itinerary just so, possibly maybe have half an hour in KaDeWe at the end of the day. He's suggested I take him to see New York next time, but if he thinks I'm taking him across the pond, he's got another think coming. It's bad enough being miserable on my own continent, thank you very much; I don't need the same hassle on another.

Other than that, we got along fine (well, we have been friends for like 15 years or something), and I did get to see some interesting parts of the city where I hadn't been before, like Tempelhof, the old airport that closed last year. They're doing guided tours round it now, and our guide, an old man who had spent all his working days there, took us to see all the nooks and crannies. The stories he told were amazing, full of personal detail and very informative.

We also, on this occasion, paid a visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. I wasn't sure I wanted to go at first, but I'm glad I did. No matter how much you think you know about Nazi atrocities, no history lesson can ever quite make you imagine what it must have been like than to see the desolate place where some of these took place. Also, I was surprised to learn that after the war, the Soviets took over the camp and ran it as a facility for their undesirables for a number of years, and people continued to live and die there under appalling conditions. All this, of course, was swept under the carpet during the period of the GDR.

Speaking of which, I really enjoyed going round the tiny DDR museum (which hadn't been included in M.'s itinerary initially, but I threw another hissy fit)...the mind boggles how people could put up with a regime that couldn't even provide them with a decent cup of coffee and forced them to wear nothing but man-made fibres for forty years before they lost patience and tore down the Wall...And then there was a very interesting exhibition on the Bauhaus in the Martin-Gropius-Bau that we saw.

But the brilliant thing about Berlin, to me, is the vibrancy of the place. Even when it's grey and wet like it was last week, the place feels alive, and welcoming. The people are nice and friendly, and the food they serve is tasty and wholesome and (compared to Dutch prices), cheap. Yeah, I like Berlin; but next visit, I'm going on my own.



( 18 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
Oct. 4th, 2009 10:46 am (UTC)
Hello! I was happy to see your handle pop up today! I did suspect you still had computer/cash-flow problems, so I didn't think you'd abandoned us or anything. Hope things wll sort themselves out for you, soon. :-)

As for me, I'm quite well; things are looking up on my end. Just a little bit too busy. :-)

Ah. I agree with you when it comes to plans. Good to have, but they should be flexible. And, I have to say that I hope your friend tries to listen to your input.

Yes, the DDR thing is... I don't have words right now, actually. But I like Germany, and would like to go back to Berlin one day (have only been there once).
Oct. 4th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
Hiya! Good to hear from you, too!

Hopefully, I'll be able to sort my pc problems out soon; I've got the week off and have sort of decided to try and use the time to tinker with it. Fingers crossed I can get it to work again!
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:04 pm (UTC)
You know I was, honestly, wondering how and where you were about an hour before you posted this.

Lovely to hear from you - and don't worry if you can't reply to this comment, either!

I'm with you on having a 'to do list' of suggestions for any holiday, rather than the hour by hour itinerary, he'd have driven me mad too.
Oct. 4th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
The problem with people who make hour-by-hour itineraries is, I've discovered on this trip, that they don't respond well to the slightest upset of their plans. M. was devastated when we arrived at one the places of interest he'd wanted to see one morning and found it was closed. It ruined his entire day...well, that and my less than helpful remark that he ought to have checked the opening hours online before drawing up his plans.

Hello V.; I'm glad you're here. In the last few months, I've thought about you and S2C every time I saw the Isle of Man appear behind the weather reporter on TV.
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear about the financial poopyness. I hope it resolves soon.

It's hard to find a truly compatible travel companion. Like you, I like a general plan and spontaneous deviations. I've learned also that I need to travel with someone who doesn't need to be joined at the hip. Sometimes you go your way and I go mine, and that's all good.

I recently turned down an opportunity to go to Berlin. I was going to travel there with a Jewish group. The itinerary was three days of Jewish sites in Berlin, then a week in Israel. I will join them in Israel, but I finally realized I can't take the risk to my psyche of going to Germany. Too much historical and emotional baggage. (You may know most of my family was murdered in camps and ghettos). But I CAN compartmentalize. And I'm glad to hear it's turning into a welcoming place for you.

Oct. 4th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
The financial poopyness will resolve itself as soon as I learn to live within my means...which leads me to believe it won't be any time soon. Although I am trying: I've only bought 3 pairs of shoes since July...

I understand your reasons for not visiting Germany right now, and you are not alone. Some of my Jewish friends have expressed similar reservations to me in the past, and it was partly out of respect for their feelings that I felt a bit unsure of whether to go on the excursion to Sachsenhausen.

Although it can never compare, when the guide we had at Tempelhof told us of his experiences in the air raid shelters while the Allied bombs were going off in the streets above, I couldn't help but think how they deserved everything they got, considering they had bombed my father's city of Rotterdam 5 years before, and killed half his family in that unprovoked act of aggression.
Oct. 4th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
Good to hear from you again!

You still coming over for DM in Dec?
Oct. 4th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Try and stop me! I was meaning to speak to you about that soon.
Oct. 4th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm here when you're ready.
Oct. 4th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I'm glad you are safely home. Here's hoping that the financial worries get cleared up soon.
Oct. 5th, 2009 08:34 am (UTC)
Hello there, married lady! I'm sorry I missed (the report of) your wedding, but I have read snippets of your journal since that happy day that tell me that marriage agrees with the both of you, and I'm so happy for you guys!

As to my money worries, theey're nothing major: I'll just have to economise, is all. Right now, getting my old pc up and running again tzkes priority over everything else, because I do miss you all.
Oct. 5th, 2009 08:04 am (UTC)
Glad to see you around, I've been on and off - mostly off LJ for awhile now but trying to get back into it a bit and check on everybody.

You made this sound like an interesting trip, somewhere else I never really thought about going but should.
I can't remember the last time I flew anywhere and that's a crying shame considering I still work for the blasted airline. It is hard finding a good travel partner though, there's a few I've vowed never to travel with again... homesick after a day. Psh! lol

Take care and I hope at least your pc problems are fixable soon.
Oct. 5th, 2009 08:51 am (UTC)
If I were working for an airline (and living in the US), Berlin wouldn't be my first choice for a destination either, but now that I've planted the seed...You could do a lot worse. Like I said, it's quite a friendly place, safe, easy to get around in and full of culture...I'm sure you and Saffy would enjoy it

Good to hear from you, and good to hear you're coming back to LJ. You have been something of a stranger, but then, I should talk!
Oct. 5th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
It's good to hear that you're okay, even though your internet is rubbish and gives you woe.
Oct. 7th, 2009 07:13 am (UTC)
Hopefully, I'll be able to sort out my Internet access this week; though it seems it's a different problem everytime I try to log on, and as soon as I think I'm on top of one, another rears its ugly head.
Oct. 6th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
Hello! Yes to everything everyone else has said regarding traveling and hearing from you.
Oct. 7th, 2009 07:15 am (UTC)
Thank you. I trust you're well?
Oct. 7th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
I am. I have a new addition at the house, my 17 YO nephew has moved in with us. Other than that, not much has been happening.
( 18 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow