That’s another Mr Scruff mix for you, once again via the most excellent soundcloud. We’re celebrating the fact that I’ve chalked up another Berlin first today and taken my first bike ride in the city. On actual roads! Ok, we didn’t go very far, but I was immensely excited by the whole thing once I got over my nerves and initial wobbles. And once I lowered the seat….which meant I could actually get on the thing. Sadly I don’t have a picture to show you how big it was, so you’ll just have to imagine me trying to jump on and get going. If I can get a pic another day, I will.
I was led on this great adventure by the fabulous Claire, who not only saved me by lending me her flat at my time of crisis, but has also supplied books to read and advice about where to find the best cupcakes in Berlin and is a great cake baker herself if I can judge by her banana cake. Our destination: Treptower Park and the Soviet monument that I’d been told about by two people in such quick succession that even such a sieve brain as myself could hardly fail to remember it. It was absolutely worth the journey. It’s massive and beautiful in a stark kind of way, the vast statues loom over you and it’s meticulously clean and well-kept. There’s a definite grandeur to it, but it absolutely defies your ability to maintain any sense of scale.
You enter between two gigantic red things (which Claire opined might be stylised anvils) in front of which are gigantic soldiers on bent knee.
Then you wander down one side or other past central grass squares with iron wreathes in the middle and white blocks with bas reliefs to either side. The oracle Claire informs me that on one side the blocks are inscribed in German, on the other in Russian, but with the same message. You head towards an inconceivably big statue of another soldier type with a truly large sword who’s up on top of lots of steps and a white pedestal. So far so good, but once you make it up there you peer in a little door and see a rather gorgeous mosaic which clearly commemorates something important, although we can’t work out what. We also can’t work out why it’s hidden inside the pedestal, but we like it anyway. For some mysterious reason I don’t have any pictures of the big man, big sword and little room, but I do have the view from the top. Well sort of, it’s not a great picture to be honest, I’ll do better another day.
We stayed up there for quite some time, soaking up the spring sunshine and chatting away about nothing in particular, and I consider it a Wednesday morning very well spent. On our way back to hers, I mused quietly whether my legs would chastise me later for the unaccustomed activities but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Following Claire on her convenient spare bike was much easier and more fun than I imagined, it was a beautiful day and great to be doing some exercise and getting somewhere so quickly. After I had to leave her I must confess to feeling distressingly….well, pedestrian. That’s an odd feeling for someone who has always revelled in trotting around cities on foot.
So, there’s something to add to the Berlin list: get a bike and get better at riding one. The list now looks like this
get a job
get a German phone number and some kind of pay-as-you-go set up. And I learnt that the vodafone German for PAYG is Call-Ya. That’s almost as good as Handy=mobile phone.
find a place to live
get my Anmeldung, or registration of address
open a bank account
get a tax number Well almost. The form is submitted, just waiting for the post now.
- organise health insurance – getting pretty urgent now
- live an organised life where I keep receipts for tax purpose, learn how to bill in German and be an actual real life teacher. Work in progress!
- get a sofa bed for book reading and visitor comfort
- get a bike