Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fun Weekend in Berlin

Today is May 1st. It is Labor Day here in Germany and much of Europe. In Berlin it is mostly used an excuse for radicals or punks to get together and cause some trouble throwing bottles or setting cars on fire... all in the name of the "working man". What it means for me is that I get the day off! YEA!

What else it means is that I finally have some time to sit down and blog a bit about what happened last weekend. It was near perfect for me and perhaps I can relive it myself by sharing it with others.

We started out the weekend on Friday night with a perfect (for me) idea which was to go see a movie. N. and I are scuba divers and gravitate to every movie that has underwater scenes. That night's movie was "Fool's Gold" which reunited Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson of "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" in a search for sunken Spanish treasure.

Even with the considerable talent base from Matthew and Kate, this is an action-adventure-romance-comedy that didn't have enough adventure, romance or comedy to make it work. Both characters look great dressed - or rather undressed - for diving which is a certain plus, and they really have some chemistry on screen. But the problem lies with either the director or the writer here... I can't pin point which. The movie actually drags in areas, getting bogged down in lengthy explanations of how the treasure managed to get to this area, and why the lovers just KNEW it would be found in this particular spot. Worse yet was all that scripting was simply confusing, leading the viewer down several different avenues which never panned out.

Interesting fact is the handling of the stereotypes in the flick. There are two gay men who are overbearing "mother types" which are portrayed positively. While at the same time all of the African-Americans are shown as gangsta types, wielding guns and generally being bad guys.

Should you go see it? Are you expecting something great? If so, stay clear. If you are willing to plunk down your money and get a few hours of light entertainment, you will get what you pay for.

The film was shot in Australia, giving me yet another reason to visit... the blue-water scenes are exquisite! As for me, I'm ready to get my gear on and start searching for me some TREASURE!

Saturday we got up early and separated for some sport. N. took off with her Father for a nice jog around the Schlactensee. I hopped on my bicycle and enjoyed a 27 km (17 mile) trip through the city. I took in a little bit of Wilmersdorf, Charlottenburg and eventually Mitte before heading back home. It was fantastic! The sun was out, the sky was as blue as could be, the air was clear the temperatures were mild, and I was on top of the world!

After a quick shower we took off on Mimi to Winterfeld Markt at Winterfeldplatz in Schoeneberg. They have a little bit of everything - fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers, bread, pastries, clothing, domestic accessories. You want it, they've got it. There are lots of Turkish fruit stands, places that sell only various types and styles of olives, fresh fish in every variety, and hundreds of different cheeses and sausages! We usually have to make sure that we are carrying at least 40 EUR (62 USD) because it is interesting how quickly the money is dropped. Five here, ten there, and soon you have a bag full of specialist cheese and fresh fruits. I got some cheese stuff which looked very interesting and turned out to be addicting. It is hard to tell exactly what the recipe is, but I think it is cream cheese flavored with ginger with whole pieces of candied ginger mixed within... OH MY!! I don't need bread baby, just give me a knife!

Soon after we got home FIL gave us a call and wondered if I was ready to head off to the antique car show. Here they call them old timers and they were lovely! I grew up exploring these kinds of shows and I can walk around all day looking at the cars. For me it is really fun to see some American cars. This show had some mid-sixties Mustangs, a 56 pink Cadillac, two 57 Chevy's, and even an AMC PACER!! (We used to call them "Pregnant Rollerskates" when they were new in the 70's - geeze - not something you would see at an American car show no matter HOW old they are!) There were LOTS of old MG's, and a few Aston Martins from the Brits. But the show was about 50% German cars and motorcycles, very old BMW's, Mercedes, Opals, and a group of Kafers (VW Beetles to you and me) were lined up at the entrance. The French were represented by their old Citroens, but not much else, I don't think I saw a single Renault. While I was in seventh heaven, N's family was tired and bored after only two hours. Oh well, next year I'll go alone or just with the FIL and stay all day. Flicker set

After a little relaxation (and a short nap) we met up with N.'s parents again for a German rite of Spring... eating Beelitzer Spargel (white asparagus grown in an area close to Berlin named Beelitz). This needs to be prepared with a lemon hollandaise sauce and new potatoes for a complete meal. N's family also includes a meat of some sort and this year it was veal steak breaded and fried... lovely! Toppping the meal off was some lovely German white wine. Perfect!

We got home and I curled up in front of the TV for two episodes of Battlestar Galactica back to back... I've become hooked. About a week before that night I had bought the entire first season and have been going through them quickly. On Tuesday I ordered the rest of the available seasons (2 & 3) and one of the movies... ugh, hooked!

Sunday I stayed in bed happily dreaming while N. took off for her run. When she got back we did some house work (damn, is this crap NEVER DONE?) and then took a two hour nap. Man, I love Sundays with a nice nap! Then we got up and ran out of the house to meet up with a good friend and her new baby in Volkspark Friedrichshain. (Damn, I forgot a camera... sucks) This park is HUGE and in the middle of the city. It is packed with lakes, ponds and fountains as well as several different playgrounds. In the center of the park is a huge hill which has a storied past. It was an anti-aircraft bunker at one time. When the war was over they busted it up and then covered it over with about 40 tons more of bomb rubble from the city making a large hill which is now completely green with trees and grasses. I think that there are supposed to be two such hills but I never saw the other one. Like I said, this park is HUGE!

We had a lovely afternoon chatting with AJ and getting to know her little moon (a joke on her baby's name) much better. The park was FILLED with people out to enjoy the first nice weekend of the year. Volkspark Friedrichshain is smack in the middle of an area of Berlin that the new families gravitate towards. For every adult in the park there were at least two kids. Some of those kids were in strollers, but a great majority were running around happily enjoying the sun and warm temperatures.

After a few hours we took off for home to get ready for a shortened work week. When we got back to the apartment we looked at each other and noticed that we had both gotten a bit of sun. Nice! We were also horribly tired... what a weekend! It wore us out! Maybe we need a day off on Monday.


G in Berlin said...

Maybe we will check out the Volkspark on Saturday... I'm always ready to explore new spielplatzen for the kids...

Diane Mandy said...

Battlestar Galactica, eh? I was hooked on it as a kid, now your causing me to think about investing n some new dvds!