Saturday, 17 January 2015

A new year and a Saturday off

I usually loathe January, but we're halfway through now and I am relatively unscathed. Ich habe den Kopf voll (there's a lot on my mind), meaning I've had less time to dwell on things that don't pose an immediate, concrete challenge, which usually leads to the traditional January Sads. You can have that tip for free.

My biggest wish in 2015 is for a sense of settlement. This month I am living in Friedrichshain; in the Boxhagener Kiez, to be precise. It is the fourth place I have lived in Berlin. It's the most vibrant living experience so far, and definitely the one most in line with my perception of the city before I moved here. I do miss how subdued my corner of Wedding was, and am glad I'll be living in a fairly quiet area as of February (more on that in a minute!). But naturally, I can't not appreciate living in this most coveted area of the city.

Back to the sense of settlement. Wishes on their own don't do shit, of course; you have to actually be proactive. I stressed, I hustled, and I made it to some room viewings. Now, if you've never been to a room viewing - especially in a place like Berlin - it's like dating, but a hundred times more daunting. Not only do you need to make a good first impression so that the potential flatmate(s) will like you, you also have to hope they can see themselves living with you. Pretty forward for someone you just met! Even worse, you know the competition is fierce, so it's really about the same amount of pressure as a job interview even though everyone is acting like it's totally casual.
In total, I attended three such viewings. The people who had respectively invited me were nice, and we had things in common, but I guess I was lacking that je ne sais quoi compared to other applicants. If I am honest with myself, I think I came off as a little too reticent.

But, third time's a charm; in February I will have a long-term place to live in Schöneberg. My future flatmate and I had tea and hit it off right away, chatting non-stop for two hours (in German!). She is vegan too, which for obvious reasons makes everything awesome.
We met for brunch today at Playing With Eels, a curiously named bookshop/café in Kreuzberg. It was 13€ for me, as a non-student. The selection was pretty impressive. My first instinct was to go for the sweeter stuff, but instead the Germans around me were opting for the savoury first - Brötchen, of course, along with tofu, various bean salads, and some pastries. I stocked up well on those before having the chocolate sauce and muesli, along with some sort of fruit crumble. I can't afford to go for brunch regularly, but it was a lovely place.

After that, I went up to Wedding to pick up some boxes I had left behind due to time constraints. I'd been a bit anxious about doing this, because I didn't really how the logistics would go. I taped up the boxes - filled with things like coat hangers, lamps, duvet covers and other stuff I am not making use of at the moment - and carried them down four flights of stairs. I called a taxi, explained the situation, and it was fine. In the end, it cost just under 20€ to go from Wedding to Friedrichshain.

Even though I do find it extremely difficult to relax at the moment, I take the time to appreciate the small things. I received a care package from home with sweets, tea, and socks. And of course, my sister was in Berlin last week. Did the tourist trail again and, among other places, finally checked out Let It Be. It's a vegan crêpe place in Neukölln, cosy as it gets, as you can see below. (Oh, and I hadn't realised how much I had been missing crêpes; in Rimouski I would visit Le Crêpe Chignon at least once a week.) Each crêpe is named after a musician or actor. I only tried a savoury one - the Erykah Badu, with chickpeas and chutney - and it was very tasty. I'll be back to try a sweet one soon.

Still underwhelmed by winter. It's barely cold enough to wear a hat (I tried, felt like I was in a sauna), and it is definitely not too cold to sit outside and have a drink. If things don't begin to freeze by the middle of February, can we call it spring already?

Also, this is my 100th post. See you on the other side!