Monday, February 20, 2012

long weekend in Berlin

really this post should be called "Shannon and Fionn's gastronomic adventures" since most of this weekend was about food, or more importantly, all the delicious things you can find in Berlin to eat.

Fionn had a long weekend and since the Irish Fest was also going on in Savannah this weekend and I had been moping around all week being sad I couldn't go, he suggested we go to Berlin and have some fun. I was really excited by the idea-I have loved Berlin ever since my very first visit there way back in 2009 when German Peter adopted me for Christmas. I loved it even more after subsequent visits, and the icing on the Berliner (get it? i'm cheesy hehe) was living there during my internship and of course meeting Fionn and falling in luuurve...well you get the picture. I still have a lot of really good friends there too, like the lovely Chelsea (who's the sweetest person to be around and always makes me smile) and of course German Peter and all of his friends, who're all super awesome and have done so much for me over the years, especially showing me just how great Germans and German culture can be. So yeah...I love Berlin and my friends there, so I was practically bouncing up and down on Friday when we boarded the ICE train bound for Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

We found a really cheap hostel/hotel in Charlottenburg, coincidentally just a few houses down from my old apartment. That was actually really cool, and it was great walking down the streets and past my old flat and remembering when we first met and when we were dating. Plus we knew all the restaurants around there and were happy to go back and hit them up!

Friday night we walked around a little before grabbing some dinner at the Taj Mahal, this awesome Indian resto around the corner from my old flat. Such awesome food! Later that evening we met Peter and his friends downtown for some drinks. It was so great to see Peter again! I'm so glad we've been able to see each other as often as we have post-Besançon. Tommy was also there, along with two girls he works with (one from Marburg, how funny) and even Martin showed up a little while after that. We moved to another bar and met Robert and settled in for some beers and conversation. It was so so so great getting to see all my German friends. They are all so funny and they crack me up reminding me of all the crazy American slang I've taught them. Fionn was like, "stop teaching them this stuff! No one says that!" But I beg to differ! :)

It was so nice to see friends again. Since I got to Bavaria it's been difficult to get out and really make friends, and it was just awesome to go somewhere and people know you and they're happy to see you. It was a small thing, but it really meant a lot to me and made me really happy. We stayed out late, later than we expected, but it was so worth it.

My friends were all friendly and welcoming to Fionn, but the two girls with Tommy got into a big discussion with me about my reasons behind getting married young. Which, I didn't really mind at first, but as the conversation went on I started to feel more and more like they viewed me as some kind of space alien haha. They just made it seem like such a negative thing, which kind of hurt my feelings. Admittedly, getting married before 30 is very un-European, but we're Americans and it's not unheard of or freakish in our culture. It doesn't mean we're naive or ignorant or crazy or baby's just a decision we made because we were serious about our relationship. And it's not like we're teenagers, we're practically mid-20s! I guess it just got under my skin because they seemed very judgmental about it, like it changed their opinion of me because of it. I just wanted to be like, I'm still me! Being married doesn't make me uncool or useless! I probably shouldn't have taken it so personally, it was just a stranger's opinion. Despite that little hiccup it was a pretty great night, and it really made me happy to get the see Peter and Robert and Tommy again.

Saturday we had breakfast at our favorite café from our Berlin dating days, Windback Café. It's so awesome having breakfast for two people for 7€ total :) Afterward we browsed some flea markets near Tiergarten and then did some shopping near Alexanderplatz. I got some cute new shoes and Fionn found a hat and we stumbled upon this awesome burrito place called Dolores. It was billed as California burritos, and it lived up to its name. That was the first Mexican/Tex-Mex place in Germany I've ever been to where the food actually tasted right. The guac was awesome, the cheese was Monterrey Jack and not some Emmenthaler/Gouda/Swiss abomination, there was real salsa and corn tortillas and the portions were huge for only 5€. We were so excited haha. Everything was great and the place was packed at 3pm. Good sign, right? If you're in the area, check it out on Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 7. It's not authentic Mexican, but if you're looking for some American Mexican type stuff this is the place. Even my discerning Californian gave it a thumbs up! :)

From there we walked around for ages and did some shopping and window browsing and people watching. That night we continued out culinary adventures at Rice Queen at Danziger Straße 13 in Prenzlauer Berg, which is an awesome Thai place with super reasonable prices. We had fancy drinks, awesome entrees (I had peanut chicken, Fionn had the special) a dessert of fried sweet rice and banana fritters and even coffee all for €22. Not to mention the waitstaff were very nice and helpful. Another awesome P-berg find...

We met Chelsea and some of her friends for drinks and got to catch up with her. That was super fun! Unfortunately it was hard to find a place with enough space since everyone was out partying for Carnival, but we made do. It was so fun seeing her! She's so cute.

Sunday we headed to Mauer Park to scope out the crazy flea market and of course eat all the unique Turkish street food. haha it's lucky Fionn and I met in Berlin so we could exploit our mutual love of trying new foods. maybe that was the spark? ;) I actually remember the first weekend we met we visited the Kreuzberg Kulturfest and ate all sorts of weird stuff and I thought, "I like this guy, he's not afraid to try things." So I guess this past weekend of food adventures was perfect for us.

Speaking of food, we hit up a French place nearby for lunch called Gugelhof, it was pretty good with a nice brunch menu. Fionn tried the blood sausage (among other things) which won an award for the best in Europe a few years ago. I tried it (with some prodding from Fionn) and even though the idea of it revolted me, it was actually good. I stayed on the boring side and had polenta quiche with some brunchy sides.

We'd planned on museums after that but they were so full thanks to the cold and rainy weather we nixed the idea and walked around looking at stuff instead. We had planned to meet Chelsea again but that fell through. I probably should've called Peter, but he was studying for exams so I didn't want to pester him. So we enjoyed rainy Berlin just the two of us :)

To cap off our Berlin weekend we had some Spanish food at a resto near my old flat, called El Gato Azul. Tasty tapas. Then we went to a cafe called Friends & Friends for dessert where we had these super awesome Japanese rice cakes with green tea filling inside. They were so good, I was sad there were only 3 (haha i'm such a fat kid). It was kind of funny because the wait staff sat down two tables over to eat their dinner while we were having our dessert, complete with wine and laughing and talking...which is fine but it continued way past when we finished and they strategically avoided our unsubtle stares to try to get their attention. haha wow...the things you get away when you don't work for tips, huh? :P eventually...and i mean, EVENTUALLY, one of the waitresses got up and slowly got around to getting our bill.

So was our weekend! It was really fun. Awesome food, fun times in a big city, winter weather that was much warmer than our own frigid Bavaria, and getting to see some of my favorite friends cheered me up immensely. Such a good weekend :) I was a bit sad to go home so soon, but since Fionn has long training coming up I'll probably make another trek up to Berlin so I'm not in the house all alone. Maybe I'll get a burrito while I'm there ;)

couldn't resist a souveneir with one of the first German slang words I learned- "Alter, das ist Voll Assi!" Thanks, Peter :)

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