Diary of an Expat, Part 19
Weather again, encounters with interesting people, Burgeramt
So, this is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge. As contractually obligated, I am going to present one (1) interesting story, two (2) gripes about Berlin and one (1) review. Yeah. Yeah.

Unless I have some extremely pressing reason not to be doing so, I get around the fair city of Berlin by walking everywhere. To avoid transfers, I generally walk to larger train stations rather than taking the metro there — half the time, considering how close everything is, this is faster anyway.

I carry around a book when I'm walking; sometimes random fiction, sometimes something I've written and am proofreading. Berlin is well-lit (perhaps too well-lit, the light pollution is something fierce here), so it's easy enough to do that. People generally don't bother you when you have your head down reading something, which is fortunate because Berlin is full of people who will bother you. Mostly, I think, they want money. Sometimes not.

I was stopped by a nicely dressed young woman down on the corner of Rosenthaler Strasse and Oranienburger Strasse — I'd just got back from walking a friend down to the Hackescher Markt train station. She spoke very quick German at me, and because I was in a good mood — bright-eyed and bushy-tailed — I stopped to answer, rather than continuing on my way.

"Leider — ich sprechen nur ein klein bisschen deutsch...", I said. ("Sorry, I only speak a little German.")

"Englisch?"

I nodded. "Ja, ein bisschen." It's best, I find, not to admit to speaking too much of anything, because the next step is always being asked for something (generally money).

She perked up. "You are want to have a little fun?"

This is when we find our narrator suddenly taken aback, and in that state of bemusement it took me a moment or two to come up with a "Nein, danke" and to start back on my way. I was in a good mood the whole time, smiling broadly, and I probably gave her the impression that I was weighing her offer against some vast host of other plans I had for the evening.

In reality, let's say that I have mixed feelings on prostitution. It's actually the first time I've been propositioned, because I don't tend to live in large cities where that's common (in Berlin, a "license-and-regulate" city, my impression is that street prostitution is relatively rare, although there's a great big rotating billboard advertising escort services on Torstrasse...). I think time, probably, you develop scripts to help you navigate that. Caught off guard, it takes a moment to recover and go back to your reading...

Suffice it to say that's not the one (1) review I promised.

Berlin's weather last week was relatively pleasant, for winter — clear skies, anyhow, and not too cold. This week it has been miserable, but miserable in an aggravating way. Grey skies, in moderation. Drizzle, in moderation. Wind, in moderation. Where I live, we had five minutes of snow today, separated in one minute chunks over a period of an hour or so. It's very noncommittal, and it makes you want to shake your fist at the sky and ask come on, really?.

If there is an upside, it's that the site I check Berlin's weather carried a warning today. They meant to say "Die Warnung wird voraussichtlich verlängert": "The warning is expected to be extended." They left out the "D" in "die," however. "Ie" in some Dutch dialects is a masculine third-person singular, and it is this usage that Google Translate perplexingly gloms onto to render the ominous caution "Warning, he is expected to be extended."

Das ist was sie sagte, oder?

The other irritating thing about Germany is that I have spilled water in my keyboard, rendering it nonfunctional at the moment (it may get better? fingers crossed) and because the keyboard is integral to the upper case I would have to order an entire new upper case for my Macbook. I'm inclined to just buy a new one, because I have used the living hell out of this beast, but I would have to special order a US keyboard and that torques me off a bit. That means ordering direct from Apple, and that means giving my financial information to people again. Very unhappy.

But whatever. In the main, everything is going well.

I had dinner tonight at Burgeramt in Neukölln (address 'n stuff), in a neighborhood absolutely lousy with burger joints, most of them puns. My friend recommended this to me, and I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was able to grab us a table, which at 6PM on a Saturday isn't always a given.

The decor is interesting; American-chic with a smattering of the street art Berliners love so much. The music is pretty similar; neither's anything to write home about, but anyway the restaurant is comfortable enough and the staff is friendly. I told our waitress that we were Canadian, for reasons that presently escape me, but she'd spent some time in Montreal so it was a bonding experience.

So now about the burgers. I had a guacamole bacon burger, firstly because it was recommended by my friend and secondly because neither guacamole nor bacon are things I really expect out of the Germans. These were, nonetheless, the highlights of the burger. Both of them were done quite well.

The burger itself, although well done, was not done well. If you have been to the American chain "Jack in the Box," it basically tasted like that. It's not a terrible thing, by any means, but the meat is really the most important part of the burger and it's important that it have some sort of character. This was definitely edible and the condiments saved it, but that was a bit of a disappointment.

Three demigourmet burgers, a huge plate of fries (stay away from the ketchup bottle, because it's godawful, and the mustard bottle because mayonnaise lurks in its yellow bosom) and a glass of beer will set you back €14. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.



PS even though I told the waitress he was Canadian my friend still found me some amazing peanut butter. oh man, peanut butter
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