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December 16th, 2015

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 09:51 pm
After a summer that was pretty lacking in joy, Kerry decided that we both needed a holiday. Since there were ridiculously cheap flights available to Berlin in mid-November, they booked us tickets along with Lindsey, who was visiting from New York, and we had a three-day break squeezing in as much as possible in the time available, which turned out to be quite a lot!

The night we arrived we had dinner at Cafe Cinema in Rosenthaler Strasse, mostly because it was near the hostel and we were tired enough to pick the first place that looked reasonable. Through the door at the back, there was a courtyard, which lead through walls upon walls of amazing graffiti, and a giant metal robot sculpture, that might or might not have moved if we had managed to find some change to feed it with. Then, beyond the courtyard a dilapidated-looking set of stairs led through a stairwell with walls, floors, and ceiling covered in street are. On each floor was converted warehouse block containing art galleries. The one we spent longest in had a collection of work by Albanian and Kosovar artists, including a piece representing a map of Europe, with the sea replaced by words from every European anthem, and an incredible imitation of Caravaggio's Incredulity of St Thomas, with the characters being modern, middle-aged eastern European men in tracksuits and scruffy shirts inspecting the wound in the side of a taller, thinner man opening his white shirt.

The next day we spent walking around the centre of the city, found a Korean place for lunch, and I discovered that I do indeed like kimchi. I'd heard a lot about it, and it ticks a lot of food boxes for me - cabbage-based, spicy, fermented - so I'm pleased I finally discovered it was as good as I expected. They had great tables there too - converted workbenches, with the middle having a large dip in them filled with LEGO, which Kerry took great delight in photographing. The bowls and chopsticks were brass too, and made a glorious ringing sound whenever they touched.

After the day walking around, and an abortive attempt to find tickets for a performance of Spring Awakening, Kerry saw a tattoo parlour, and decided to get a couple of tattoos they'd been thinking about for a while - a semicolon to mark that their life story hasn't ended, even though they wanted it to for a time, and an equality sign. The artist was a guy called Bhoman at KAYON, who started out as a scenery painter. His work was amazing, some fabulous, huge-scale paintings, and his tattoo work was as good as any I've ever seen. It seemed a bit like his talents were under-used on such simple pieces, but Kerry was really happy with the results, and he was great company, chatting to us both through the whole thing for a good couple of hours.

The next day, Kerry went to climb the Fernsehturm, and I went along for the walk. On the way we stopped at an anti-war cafe, and spoke to the volunteer running it about the events they ran. I was interested in finding anyone involved in Freifunk, and he pointed me at c-base, the home of the CCC, which nicely set up my plans for the evening.

One morning I spent on my own, wandering around Prenzlauer Berg, where I came across a hackerspace sponsored by a prosthetics manufacturer, Ottobock. It was great just being able to wander in, look around at the 3d printers and woodshop and laser cutters, and generally marvel at the possibilities. It wasn't until later that I realised that there is a subscription to pay to use the place, but even with that, it's an incredibly impressive range of stuff available.

It's now approaching midnight, so I'll leave writing about the VoKu that wasn't, and c-base, and going out dancing until tomorrow, and post this as it stands. I might also link some of the places we went to, as they were well worth a return visit, with a bit more planning to make sure they're open and that I catch any exciting events.