A few years ago, I started having some trouble with my tailbone. Apparently started around the time that J was born, when we spent a lot of time bouncing him on a yoga ball, but basically when I have to sit on a chair for hours at a stretch, my tailbone starts to hurt, and the longer I sit, the worse it gets. So 10 hours on a plane isn’t my idea of fun. After about six hours, it’s just basically agony.
I also had to sprint to make my connection, hustling quickly through customs in Frankfurt. Was told the wrong gate by the agent, so I ran halfway through the terminal, then had to run back the other way to just barely make my connection.
All in all, things were sort of as good as they could be, but I wouldn’t want to have to make this trip particularly often. 😛
Arrived midday yesterday, but the hotel room wasn’t ready, so I called up the guy I’m visiting (consulting for his company over the next few days) and we went to get coffee. Walked through East Berlin – it’s a very Oakland-like place, where the transitions between “nice” and “not nice” are abrupt – and got the best latte I’d ever had at a place called “No Fire No Glory”.
After coffee, I went back to the hotel and zonked out for a few hours. First time I’d slept in about 35 hours at that point, and I don’t have any idea how some people work shifts this long in any situation without fairly rapidly losing their minds. Had dinner at a place called “Umami”, which is weird because it was fairly obviously a Vietnamese place. Good, not spectacular. Walked over to a club made up of shipping containers, where we got a drink, talked a bit more, listened to some music. Lots of people smoking here, which I’d almost forgotten is still a thing people do.
Went back to the hotel, got to sleep around midnight, and woke up at 4. Was fully awake for about 2 hours, then back to sleep, woke up again at 11.
Headed over to Mauerpark, where there was a big park, a flea market, some food. Got a bratwurst, which got currywursted, ’cause I think the guy didn’t understand what I was saying. Which was fine – it was tasty, just not what I tried to order. Also got some fresh-squeezed orange juice, which was nice. Stopped off in the park and listened to a pair of drummers that were really good – had a very odd bass drum setup – sort of like a marching band drum mounted sideways, and the pedal was attached to the frame & hit the drum from the bottom-up. Guy had his pedal hooked up with something like the 2nd pedal in a double-bass setup. Weird. But it was neat – one drummer played sitting down (with the bass drum), had a snare, a weird stand w/ 6 cymbals on it, and a bunch of differently-pitched cowbells on the other, and a snare. The other guy played the *top* of the bass drum, what looked like 4 bongo drum heads without any kind of bodies, and two other low toms.
They made a lot of noise, and it was a lot of fun to watch. I tossed a couple Euro into their collection jar (an overturned djembe), and then decided to walk back to the hotel. Which was a bit of a dumb idea, because I didn’t actually know how to get back, other than a quick glance at a map before I’d left. I also knew that I was staying at the Leonardo, but there are apparently *two* Leonardo hotels in Berlin, and I didn’t know how to describe to someone where the one I was was vs. the other. But I knew the general direction I was going, and I knew where the giant radio tower was relative to the hotel, and figured I’d seen a few landmarks the day before so maybe I could find my way around.
If I had cell phone/data, it’d be no problem, but I’d forgotten what it was like trying to navigate around a new space without that as a crutch. Took about 40 minutes, but I made it back. It was nice to walk around and just see what the city is like. There’s a lot of graffiti – some of it is good – high quality art that people have invested a lot of time into, but a lot of it is just shitty vandalism that really brings down the atmosphere and makes things feel junky.
There are also a lot of interesting parks for kids. Stuff that wouldn’t fly in the much-too-coddled US environment. Stuff where concrete sections have built-in trampolines. Yeah, if you do something dumb, you’ll break a leg. If you *don’t* do something dumb, you’ll have a blast. Tons of families out and about. Made me miss my family, even though it’s only been a day and a half. This will be the longest I’ve been away from them in a long time, and the longest I’ve ever been away from K.
After Mauerpark, went back to the hotel, and met up with Anton. We went on a boat tour of the Spree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spree), and got to see a bunch of buildings from the river, basically a lot of juxaposition of old & new, which in East Germany is a lot weirder than in many places, I think. After that, cabbed over to Checkpoint Charlie (the touristiest of the places I’ve been so far), then over a bit more to get a kebab & some coffee. Walked back to the hotel, and here I am.
I’ve got an awful cough, which is kind of suck. Will be meeting up with Anton and Wibe, who’s coming in to town, for dinner. Strange – I met up with Wibe for coffee a few months ago in Oakland, and met Anton for the first time a month and a half ago, and now we’re all in Berlin having dinner. Also had a number of “small world” moments talking with Anton, just because since he’s a Finn, he knows a lot of the Finns in the mobile game scene. I don’t know many of them directly, but there were a lot of second-hand connections.
Tomorrow, we head over to Szczecin for a couple of days, then back here Tuesday night, and heading back home Wednesday morning. Can’t wait to get back to the family, but it’s been an interesting trip so far to be sure. Will post some pics when I get them off my phone (something weird is happening w/ iCloud ATM).