How was your weekend?
Mine didn’t start well.
I thought I had German classes all weekend but it seems the class cycle started last weekend before I got here, This is the trouble with signing up for classes months ago on a foreign website when the times and dates aren’t completely clear. Fortunately, I didn’t pay for the class but unfortunately this is a class geared at expats and I was really hoping to meet some interesting people who had also just arrived in Berlin! Of course, I also wanted to learn some German. It’s not all about my social life. Just mostly…
This school doesn’t have another beginner group class until the end of May, which will do me no good, so I opted for a series of private lessons that start today. One could ask what German lessons will do to benefit me when I’m only in the country for 6 weeks. How much can I learn? And is it that important?
The answers are, probably not a lot but yeah, it’s important. I’ve done a lot of international travel in the past decade and yet I only speak English and some well accented Spanish that usually just serves to get me into trouble. That’s it. I can say hello, thank you and goodbye in a bunch other languages, which has gotten me most of the way around the world, but the rest of the time I’ve gotten by with charades and English. It works but I grow weary of traveling and relying on the world to speak to me in English. It feels arrogant.
That said, it’s shockingly easy to get around Berlin without speaking a speck of German. Almost everyone is bilingual. But I want to invest in this country while I’m here. It feels like the right thing to do and having a smidgen of another language at my disposal can only be a good thing. So, German classes today.
Anyway, after my failed German class attempt on Saturday, I spent the rest of the day just chilling out and not doing much. Sunday, however, was all about the flea market in Mauerpark, which is what you do if you’re a traveler in Berlin on Sunday.
It’s like a cross between a flea market, an antique mall, a craft fair and a farmer’s market selling art, antiques, bicycles, honey, furniture, japanese okonomiyaki, beer steins, light fixtures, tea cups, Korean bulgogi, bracelets, postcards… pretty much if it exists in the world, you can find it at Mauerpark.
I love that you can never tell what people might purchase. Although maybe his wife bought it and this is the flea market equivalent of holding her purse while she goes to the bathroom.
The flea market had a badass food court with so many options that it took me an hour to decide what to try first. I decided to start with Berlin’s street food classic, currywurst
Chopped up sausage covered in tomatoey onion sauce and sprinkled with curry powder. This one was the real deal, which you can tell from the sauce. The second rate stands use ketchup. And I loved it. But it’s my first sample and I wanna try a few more versions before I talk about it any further.
I also tried this Turkish roll up with arugula, tomatoes and salty goat cheese.
I don’t even know what they call it. I just pointed, handed him money, said “danke!” and took it. It was toasty warm and incredibly delicious. Berlin has a huge Turkish population so Turkish food is the second most common option anywhere.
I got to Mauerpark in the late morning but it was still too early for the Berliners, who love to stay up all night. The morning was pretty quiet with a few groups of people sitting in the park
And then it got really busy when the live music started up. This is an amphitheater cut into the hill with giant stone step/seats
And these guys called The Trouble Notes were playing some kind of gypsy fusion electronica
They were really great. They played a classical piece and Smells like Teen Spirit in the same set. How can you not love that? I think they’re playing somewhere in town next week and I may try to catch them again.
Mauerpark has lots of space so it kind of turned into a battle of the bands with a German group playing disco dance music down the way and a sand pit where an afrocaribbean percussion beach band set up. Those guys brought their own disco ball and hung it in the tree above them. Mad respect for that.
I spent the whole day just hanging out, listening to music and people watching. It was awesome not to have anywhere else I needed to be.
Maybe this flea market is a touristy destination? It’s hard to tell from the crowd who lives here and who’s visiting. But I’d highly recommend that travelers check out Mauerpark on a Sunday. You can never go wrong with free music in a park and no open container laws.