Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stuffed Vegan Goodness

I met up with another vegan mutual friend today. It is safe to say that we totally stuffed ourselves with good vegan food. Sadly, the place that we really wanted to try, Vöner, is closed until July 2nd while the owners are on vacation. Because of this, we had to improvise and get dessert first at Cupcake. There was only one vegan option, and it was a banana-something-or-other, but it was really good anyway.  I am not usually a big fan of buttercream frosting, but the one on this cupcake was a bit different and surprisingly tasty.

After getting our cupcakes, we figured that we ought to have a real meal. This was solved by hopping onto the S-Bahn and taking a quick trip to Kreuzberg 
and Lausitzer Platz. This area is rather fun because there are several vegan-friendly places pretty close together. 

We ate at Cafe V, which is pseudo-vegetarian. (They serve fish, which seems like a contradiction to me.) Regardless, they still had 8 or so vegan options in the menu.  It was really hard to decide, but my friend got a pizza with tomato and seitan sauce and rucola on top. I ended up getting the stuffed tomatoes (rice, herbs, and possibly bell peppers) with a curry sauce.

We had a really nice time getting to know each other better and sharing the experiences that we have had in Berlin thus far.  We even switched over and talked in German for most of our time at Cafe V.  It is always nice to talk in German with people who do not go to my language school, and it was good practice for both of us since English is our first language anyway.

Even though we were very full after our meal, we could not help but visit the Eis Salon that is diagonally across the way from Cafe V.  This place is neat because they have just as many vegan options as options with diary.  Plus, some of the vegan options are actually soy ice cream and not just sorbet.  We had chocolate soy eis and raspberry sorbet, respectively.  Both flavors were delicious.  Good thing the Eis Salon is not too close to where I live, or else I would be visiting more often! Next time that I visit, I am definitely going to check if the waffle cones or chocolate sauce are vegan.  Hopefully, I will be able to have either a cone or a nice sundae.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

If you are going to get sick at least do it right.

That's correct. A lack of action on here can be explained by me being sick or under the weather for a large portion of the past week. I actually think that two different things hit me at about the same time. Maybe three. It started by my allergies acting up, then I lost my voice on Sunday. I blame it on allergies and too much good conversation the night before. (Who would have thought hours of good conversation could be a bad thing?) Monday I strongly want to suspect that I had a low fever of some sort. My host mum seems to think it was weather related from it being so hot for so long. Plus, I had no energy, ached all over, and kept switching between chills and feeling warm. Needless to say, I slept 13/14 hours that day. Then the stuffy nose turned into congestion and my voice was out of whack for a few days, lots of coughing, etc. I drank lots of water, vit enhanced juice, and some tea stuff. Not to mention I ate ricola drops like they were candy for a few days. Hopefully an experience I will not have to repeat again.

In positiver news, I went on the bar tour organized by the school. It was rather interesting, in both good and bad ways. It was the first evening that I went out since getting sick. The area that we toured was Neuköln, which is the southern section of Kreuzberg, I think. Apparently this area has new bars popping up almost every week or two. We went to a total of 4 or 5.  The decorating of two left a bit to be desired, though the others were fun. The first one was more of a cafe and almost cute in an antique-y mini chandelier sort of way. We had a large group of students (15 perhaps?), so that made for an interesting dynamic. I might have known 1/3 of the people.  Getting to speak a bunch of German is always fun, and I even found a student who had read some Borchert. Me, being the dork I am, got insanely excited by this since Borchert is my favorite German author. He had only read 'Nachts schlafen die Ratten doch' (The rats sleep at nicht). It is a good story, but post-WWII in content, and thus a bit depressing, especially since it deals with how lying is sometimes necessary and more appropriate than the truth. I got into a rather enjoyable argument with one of the guides who said that all of Borchert's Kurzgeschichte (short stories) are depressing.

We ended up being out pretty late, and Neuköln is quite a bit away from where I live.  I am not sure what time we left the final bar, but the two people who I left with were practically falling asleep. We had a slight mishap of being vaguely lost on the way back to a subway station, mainly because we had originally started to go the wrong way, which I realized and turned us around. But then they thought we were walking to far, and I didn't know where I was going. I wasn't totally sure, but I had a pretty good idea of where there ought to be a stop. They finally asked someone passing by, and I was right. Ha. For once. The little lesson I learned was to make sure that the guides you very good directions and not just 'oh, exit the bar, turn left, walk on __ street.' Turns out we needed far better directions than that. Ah well. Getting home at 5 am isn't too terrible considering I had to walk home the last 15 mins because I did not want to wait 25 mins for the street tram. Plus, it was cold outside!

So that was a fun little outing, but not too terribly exciting. This week I have internship interviews, which ought to be interesting.  Translating the German version of the phrase keeping one's fingers crossed always makes me giggle. Ich drücke die Daumen.  It literally means you are pressing/holding down the thumbs. German is so cute sometimes.

PS. I forget to talk about how I swear I saw a German actor on Thursday! Silly me to forget to share it. So, I really like the film The Edukators: Die Fetten Jarhen Sind Vorbei (the years of plenty are over). It is really interesting in how it discusses activism and what happens when your ideals change or you get older. Plus, there are some criticisms of over-consumerism that I really agree with. But anyways, of the two young men in the film, Daniel Brühl is the actor that anyone watching recent German films will known. The other actor, Stipe Erceg is not very well known at all and is part Kroatien or something. He was the one I thought I saw.

It was so random. I had gone home because the Deutschland/Kroatien Spiel was proving to be so disappointing. Figuring that I ought to do something productive, I went to a laundromat and do the laundry I've been putting off. I was on Danziger Strasse when I saw what looked like him talking animatedly on a cell. Natürlich I did a double take. I couldn't believe it. Doing laundry I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I checked pictures when I got back home. I am pretty sure it was him since his facial features are rather distinct.  I have heard of people making such sightings before but never thought it would happen to me.  Guess it is a good think I couldn't manage to watch the whole Spiel after all.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Night at the Opera

I've been doing a lot of things this week with after-school activities (seeing a German film and Schloss Charlottenburg, for example).  Yesterday I also went to the market 8 mins away from my flat. It was so cool. Much bigger than I thought it was. I only spent 10 Euro, and I got a whole bunch of produce for this week: 2 bunches radishes, 6 apples, 6 nectarines, 500g strawberries, and a couple stalks of rhubarb. Not too bad at all. 

 However, none of these things can compare to what I did last night.  I went to see a ballet at the Deutsche Oper based on a series of operas by Wagner. The series consists of four operas, and when the full Ring um den Ring is performed you are supposed to span it out over several days, or so I was told.  So how the ballet was done was really interesting. There was a narrator for parts of it and a piano player live on the edge of the stage. The music (including vocals in parts) had been prerecorded.  It was a very interesting mixture. It took a while to get used to the modern style of the ballet, but the music was good throughout. Plus, all of the dancers were amazingly fit (yes, of course they would be, but I was still impressed).  My two favorite parts were the Ride of the Valkyries because those dancers were just really neat (The Valkyries were these fierce women goddesses who picked up the souls of solders who die in battle.)  My second favorite was when Siegfried finds Brunhilde, wakes her up, and they fall in love.  It was beautifully done and made you want to sigh afterwards. Fine, I'll say it. It was the romantic in me that wanted to get all mushy and melty.

All in all, the ballet lasted 4 1/2 hours. Long, I know, but amazingly good. The second half was even better because the student with whom I went knew the plot-line.  He was able to explain a lot of stuff to me during the half hour intermission.  I had read the myths once but when I was a lot younger, so I didn't really recall any details. This ballet was definitely one where you had to have a background understanding of the material to fully grasp what was going on and the symbolism.  Of course, I could appreciate some of the elements before I was debriefed, but I wasn't blown out of the water until after intermission when I learned the plot-lines.

All in all it was a very enlightening and fun experience, and, if my friend wants to drag me to another Wager production of some sort again, I wouldn't mind it at all.  I'll just have to make sure to get the synopsis first thing.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How to Hurt Everywhere

I went on a bike tour today of an area 40 mins or so outside of Berlin. Münchenberg or something. Brecht (German author, communist) had a summer home in the area that we saw. I was with a group of 3 other people from the school. I managed to survive despite not riding a bike since my time in Heidelberg two years ago. I only fell off twice, and that was when we were going down on a really steep path in the forest. I am dirty all over and ought to take a shower before sleeping.

I will sleep soundly tonight. Why, you ask? We rode for 50 kms. For those of you not up on your metric conversions, that is 31 miles. 31 freaking miles. I bet around 20 km of that was uphill. My legs are totally kaputt at the moment. I took a few pictures, but I am too kaputt to put them on my computer. I will be so sore tomorrow that is for sure.