Auf Wiedersehen

Time flies by when you're having fun. Two months are up, it's time to go home. My last week in Berlin was inevitably tinted with my impending departure, and I thought that this meant that the time had come to try and do all things left on my list. Maybe I could finally go to that little Italian cafe by my house where the old Berliners sit outside on the sidewalk, drinking espressos and eating fresh pastas. Maybe I should finally travel to another city in Germany. Maybe I should go to that museum or gallery or park or the hundred other places that I just haven't seem to made it to yet. Or, as a friend said, maybe I should finally try that pizza that smells so good at Dirty Harry's.

In truth, though, my last week wasn't a frenzy of activity; instead, I went to nearly all the same places I've gone to during my time here. I met friends at the Wohnzimmer bar in Prenzlauer Berg for one last beer. I ate that good currywurst at the farmer's market. I took an espresso at the same cafe in Mitte, not because it is entirely tasty, but because the tables, chairs, and umbrellas are all particularly nice. A point was reached where I no longer was visiting Berlin but living here--which makes it all the harder to leave.

But this last week wasn't all old news. I visited an abandoned amusement park with Eve, and we road the still-operational park train, viewing fallen dinosaurs, dilapidated rides, and a motionless Ferris wheel, all while traveling in and out of dark forest and over swamps. I kept waiting for Scooby Doo and the gang to pop out and unmask the train conductor. Although, I don't think the somewhat pathetic, old amusement park is a typical Berlin attraction.

And neither is the garish beer garden that we visited afterwards. There I finally found the typical Germans that my language textbook was always talking about: Hans from the slaughterhouse, who has recently lost his job, or Klaudia, who has recently separately from Hans (but a different Hans), and works at the train station. These Germans ate their Wursts, while some others ate their value meals from Burger King, the main restaurant in the beer garden; they also drank little bottles of schnapps and beer from plastic cups. Although we were still in Berlin, it didn't feel that way. And it was great. A Berlin beyond Berlin.

So, in the end, what do I think of Berlin? Wunderbar.

The city is by no means perfect, suffering from many of the same problems as any major metropolis, and I was frequently bested late at night by the otherwise phenomenal transportation system; however, Berlin is unbelievably livable, offering a quality of life that far exceeds most cities in America.

Yet, what also made this trip so enjoyable was the people. I enjoyed introducing the city to my family, taking my sister to the Magnet Club in Kreuzberg for her birthday to see Destroyer. And one of my best weeks here was with Maddie; together we faced the task of ordering pastries from the old, West Berliners, who had no time for my poorly spoken German–obviously, though, Apple Pastry, the chiding and chastising were worth it. In other pastry news, I will never forget my early, early morning croissant with Eve, which was quite possibly the best croissant I've ever had, and Eve might even agree, and she's French, so she knows what she's talking about.

And then there is Mai, who was always pissing, made a damn fine tortilla, and maybe likes beer more than I do. Maybe. On a rainy night in Berlin, which were so many, we took refuge in Cafe Cinema, doing homework and, natürlich, drinking beer. Our conversation that evening was "very nice," and somehow, at the end of it all, I inadvertently made off with the menu, finding it in my bag the next day. And because of all of this, because of the time I've spent in this city and the time I've spent with friends, old and new, when I get off the plane tomorrow and look into my bag back in Philadelphia, I know that I'll find that I've also made off with a little bit of Berlin.