Photo Potpourri – Week 13

Thursday (6/6) was our 3 month Berliniversary!
It was also the day our traveler’s visas would have expired had we not secured our residence permits.  Due to a series of semi-unfortunate events, I had to wait until the last minute to make the dreaded trip to the Ausländerbehörde (the foreigner’s office) and apply for a long-term visa.  The stories on forums and blogs online about the Ausländerbehörde are terrifying; I read many tales of long wait times, confusing requirements, non-English speaking employees, general woe & despair, etc…  Last Sunday night I was so anxious about going the next morning that I barely slept.  I guess I got lucky because the whole experience didn’t end up being too awful.  I did have to make two attempts before securing my visa, but the wait time was relatively short and the employees were very nice.  Maybe now that I am completely legal (I think) in Germany I will try to sum up the whole process in a blog post in the future.
With that trial overcome I can now move onto today’s potpourri which, as usual, features parks, beer & food!

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1. The purple color in this ice cream is almost as awesome as the flavor that comes from the ube or purple yam.  Ube flavored desserts are hugely popular in Asia and Polynesia.  It has a deliciously smooth, buttery flavor that reminds me of taro.  This scoop came from an ice cream shop up the street from the Südstern U-bahn station.

2. We finally made it over to Görlitzer Park, one of the most popular parks in Berlin.  It was a fun spot to eat a picnic dinner and people watch.

3. Now onto another park – Mauerpark!  We met up with an expat meet-up group here for some BBQ’ing last weekend.  The weather was beautiful, the park was bustling, and the karaoke was rocking!  This is a picture of the crowd filling the “stands” watching brave karaoke singers belt out tunes for the entire park to hear.  Maybe someday Alex and I will have the courage (probably the liquid kind) to get up there!

4. The Berlin Craft Beer Festival was also last weekend in Friedrichshain!  It was small but there were some great breweries & brews we had never tasted before.  Naturally, there were tons of Americans there enjoying some non-pilsners while they could.

5. These meat pies from Hellogoodpie were awesome!  To be honest, I only tasted the filling (I’m not a big fan of pie crust) but Alex ate the whole thing and we both loved it.

6. More ice cream!  This time I tried a chocolate + pandan combo.  Pandan is another staple of Southeast Asian desserts and it has a great kind of nutty, fatty flavor.  I am really loving living so close to this awesome ice cream shop!  Now I just need to figure out the name of the store…

In other news: Next week we will be in Bulgaria!  I am very, very excited to get away for a bit and enjoy the beach.  Pictures & more will follow, of course!  See you soon. 🙂

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Photo Potpourri – Week 10

We are busy here in Berlin.
In between starting German classes 5 days x week, learning basic programming, household chores/feeding the Big Hog, and trying to fit in some gym time, there’s not much space left in my day for bloggin’.  So I apologize if I go a little M.I.A. for the next few weeks!
However, we did take some time off from serious pursuits last weekend to hang with old & new friends.  There was a programming conference in town last week which gave Alex the perfect opportunity to meet new people and talk about his true love (coding) at the same time!  We met some really cool nerds, found some new hangouts spots, and – in true Berlin fashion – stayed out ’til the sun came up.
Another highlight of the weekend was our first American-style German football game!  It felt like a high school or middle school game, but it was still super fun.  Between the smaller-than-average field, pre-teen cheerleaders, streakers, and the World Cup-style announcing (“FUUUUMMMBBBBLLLEEEE!!!”), nothing was quite ‘American’ but it was definitely unique.  The most authentic thing about the game was the dismal weather – it was cold & rainy, just like any Monday Night Football game in November!
Here are some very misc. photos from the past few weeks, including a couple I rescued from Alex’s phone (aka where photos go to die).

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1. Throwback to May 1st (known as May Day) which is somewhat similar to Labor Day in the States but with more rioting and Molotov cocktails.  From our apartment we watched a few thousand riot cops and protestors parade down our street.  Apparently the May Day protests used to be much more raucous and violent but are now more of a party/rally about whatever people have beef with: anti-capitalism, pro-communism, immigration rights, peace in Korea, etc.

2. It’s rare that we shell out the cash for a nice cocktail so I made sure to soak up every Don Draper moment of this Old Fashioned from Würgeengel in Kreuzberg.  Würgeengel is a really cool spot – good mood lighting, red walls, intimate table settings.

3. American football!  We headed over to the stadium at Mauerpark to watch the Berlin Adler do their best at tossing the ol’ pig skin.  Even though the gameplay was a little lackluster, we had a blast eating hot dogs, drinking beer, and cheering for the home team (who obliterated the other team).

4. This is just a random picture of the sign in Alexanderplatz that, appropriately, was taken by Alex.  No story here, I just liked it. 🙂

5. Our awesome friend and former Maid of Honor mailed us a care package full of American goodies!  And a hilarious note explaining each pick.

6. Included in the care package was this super cool necklace featuring a map of the Washington DC area where we used to live!  I love it.

7. Another throwback from a few weeks ago when we were chillin’ at a Starbucks, searching Ebay for bikes*, and realized we were across from Checkpoint Charlie (white building on the right).  The surrounding area is always bustling with tourists visiting the museum and spending all of their Euros at the souvenir shops.

*Note: Yes, this means that we now own bikes.  Which also means that I now ride said bike almost every day.  Me.  I am still a little scared of bikes but the convenience is winning me over.