Wednesday, 1 October 2014

New friends, new food, Neukölln

Recently, I've been feeling very much as if I'm in a waiting room. The past week or two has been filled with panic and socio-cultural misunderstandings, and I haven't exactly been feeling my best. So, I thought it would be nice to take a look at the people I've met and the food I've enjoyed recently. And a lot of this has happened to take place in Neukölln - specifically in the areas around Sonnenallee (former East/West intersection and also a hilariously styled film) and Karl-Marx-Straße (the name speaks for itself).

First off, I met up with Natalye, a writer who settled here a few years ago from California. She showed me Sfizy, Europe's first all-vegan pizzeria. I had a Hawaiian "chicken" (tempeh) pizza, which was great. Sfizy offers a lot of different Italian dishes, including calzones, which I am excited to try someday.
After that, she took me to the Schillerkiez, a small neighbourhood at the westernmost end of Werbellinstraße. We got delicious sorbets from Mos Eisley and took a short walk to Tempelhofer Freiheit, Berlin's resident airport-turned-park, where the sun was just setting. 

When I finally visited Tempelhof, I still found it hard to believe that someone once thought it would be a brilliant idea to put an airport in the middle of a city, that an airport could be on your doorstep. But once you're there, you realise what a very special place it is. The field is massive - apparently it takes 45 minutes to walk from one end to the other. There's a fenced off area for dogs to play in. There is a cute allotment area. People are riding bikes and doing all sorts of sports on the still-intact runways. It's also historically significant, of course, as it is where the Airlift took place (when the Allied superpowers flew in supplies to West Berlin during a Soviet blockade). Even when I pass it on its southern edge on the Ringbahn, with the Fernsehturm in the distance, I feel this sudden jolt, like this is the spirit of Berlin.

By the serendipity that is already characterising my life here, I came across someone with whom I had three mutual friends - Becca! We both went to the same university, but didn't know each other then. She is now working as a chef here and is passionate about arts in mental health. We checked out Café Vux, a vegan Brazilian-themed café. One remarkable thing about Vux is that it is great to sit outside. The cobbled street - which had recently been rained on - is very quiet, and actually reminded me a little of England, what with its church and a view of a "high street" in the distance. It was an oasis just off the edge of urbanity.
We also popped into Dr Pogo. It's a small vegan co-op whose stock includes cola bottle sweets. I don't know how often I'll go back and support it as I am not living close by, but if I'm in the area I will be sure to check it out again.

Today I moved into my new place, which I will of course make a post about in the near future. There are a couple of other factors in the making that are signifying new beginnings. Bring on October!