Well, last Thursday was interesting at the office. It seems that Potsdamer Platz is the prime meeting points for demonstrators, and there was a strike of high school students. Yes, high school students on strike. These pictures are taken from windows in our office. The first picture is especially funny because of the double-decker tour bus with tourists watching the demonstration.
Saturday was a busy day! In the morning I walked around the neighborhood a little, taking pictures, including a stop by the street market to stock up on fresh vegetables.
Then my roommate and I went to the first of two competitions that comprise the German Olympic Trials for gymnastics. It was her first time attending a gymnastics meet and my first time attending a German one! Notable differences: (1) the announcer could be pretty casual in his chatter; sometimes it was more like TV commentary; (2) the audience was very sizeable and attentive, but nowhere near as boisterous as Amercan audiences; I really had to tone my cheering down.
Here is my favorite German gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina. I like to refer to her as the last Soviet gymnast. She competed for the Soviet Union in the late ’80s and early ’90s, including the 1991 World Championships team and the 1992 Unified Team in the Barcelona Olympics. Then she competed for Uzbekistan until her preschool-age son was diagnosed with leukemia. She moved to Germany to get treatment for him and has become a citizen and now represents Germany internationally. She’ll be 33 in June, and she’s still a medal contender for the 2008 Olympics, especially on vault!
After the meet, I rode on my rented bicycle down to Kreuzberg, a very colorful neighborhood that was once a poor and very isolated part of West Berlin due to the way the Berlin Wall ran, to meet up with some of the associates from my firm for the evening. We had a great time, first visiting this bar on the River Spree:
Then eating ice cream. This was my first “spaghetti eis” since 1994. Apparently, it’s very odd to order it in 2008:
Then visiting this really cool pool that’s right in the river. I’ll have to go back when it’s warm enough to swim:
Then riding our bikes from bridge to bridge and taking sunset pictures:
And finally we settled down for drinks and fries in the neighborhood of Friedrichshain:
On Sunday, I got together with some German gymnastics fans for dinner and drinks. This is a nice bar on the river right by the Museum Island, where they’ve created something of a beach atmosphere:
I’m going to Wroclaw, Poland (formerly known as Breslau in English and still known as Breslau in German) this weekend, and I expect to get tons of great pictures. It’s supposed to be “the new Krakow.” Basically, it’s a beautiful Polish city that hasn’t been inundated with tourists yet. Stay tuned for my next installment, early next week!