The Policy Centre that Berlin has Become

One of the delightful and impressive surprises of life back in Berlin has been the extent to which Berlin has become important to Europe and the world politically. There are many manifestations of that importance in buildings that house government and the various organizations around it, but also the number of special interest representatives etc….

Bilingual Kids

When I was a kid, Berlin was a German-speaking city in my experience. Sure, tens of thousands of Turks were living in the city already, but residential segregation meant that we rarely came into contact with them. But there was one family, the As, who were living a multilingual life that has been a model…

Groundhopping IV

Ingm and I returned to the site of our first ground hopping adventure in Berlin, the Karl-Liebknecht-Stadion in Babelsberg, just outside of Berlin toward Potsdam. This time it was a rainy, cold day, making for a very different atmosphere than during our previous visit in September. But, despite the miserable weather, 1,200 people showed up…

There is so much… culture with friends

One of the great delights of the stay in Berlin is having a chance to see some friends much more than we have in past years. Obviously, that includes some old schoolmates of mine. But it also includes longtime family friends, some of whom offer a particular angle on cultural events in Berlin. ABA and…

Groundhopping III

In preparation for my first visit to Union Berlin’s Alte Försterei, the stadium that was literally built by fans, I’ve been listening diligently to the excellent Union podcast, Textilvergehen, and following reporting about the club. When I read that Union would have a test match against a storied lower-division club in a nearby stadium, I…

Groundhopping II

It has been a while that we went to see a football match. Now, Ingm and I relied on the season’s tickets of some Füchse teammates of mine to see Hertha take on perennial powerhouse BVB Dortmund. One of the attractions here clearly is Berlin’s Olympic stadium. Yes, fascist and always with the sour aftertaste…

You Can Say You to Me

Just like French, German has two forms of the second person singular, Du and Sie. When I was a kid, rules were very clear. Virtually all adults were addressed formally, only relatives were Du. Likewise, almost all adults siezt (yes, there are verbs for both the forms) each other. The most extreme example is surely my…

Craft Beer

Beer has featured before on this blog. Recently, when I was buying coffee beans at was has become my favourite roaster, Tres Cabezas, I gave in to temptation and stopped in at a craft brewery in the über-hipster neighbourhood around Boxhagener Platz, Boxi. Since arriving in Berlin, I don’t think I’ve had a Canadian-style craft…

There are so many… Stolpersteine

One of the many signs of the terrible past in Berlin are the Stolpersteine, tripping stones. As you can see in the photo, these are engraved brass stones to replace the typical paving stones that can be found on Berlin sidewalks. The tripping stone is engraved with the name of a victim of National Socialist…

Geeking out on Berlin Trains

Okay, time for another confessional. Yes, I realize that we used to sneer at people interested in trains when we were kids (this was an interest associated with West Germany for us, since we didn’t have much occasion to observe/ride trains in West Berlin. Even worse were the dads that had basements dedicated to model…

Brocken and Quedlinburg

During the break between the terms, we went to visit the Brocken. That is probably Germany’s most famous medium-sized mountain. It’s famous for hosting the biggest witches’ gathering on May 1, Walpurgisnacht. It was also right on the East-West German border. As a tourist destination it has the additional draw of UNESOC world heritage site,…

Riding to the End of the Line: Bernau

I have already written about why I’ve been wanting to ride some of the downtown S-Bahn lines to their terminus. Next up, the S2 to Bernau, North-Northeast of the city.   Unlike our trip to Strausberg, however, Bernau seems much less remote. The route from downtown goes through Pankow, a part of Berlin that was…