Why you should never smile at strangers...

Berlin Travel Blog

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My house in Teltow
So I finally got back into the city yesterday afternoon. I've had a bunch of setbacks getting there. I was supposed to go in last wednesday, but the bike I was supposed to use was way too big for me and needs adjusting, and by the time I'd figured that out it was too late. Then on Saturday I was super excited because I had free tickets to this concert called "Energy in the Park" with some other au pairs from my program. I got all ready, met up with the au pairs, got all the way out to the concert venue, and almost passed out in line. I have no idea what was wrong; maybe the heat, or dehydration or a combination of both. But either way I had to call my host family to pick me up before the concert even started. I spent the rest of the day sleeping or feeling like death.
My quick as lightning picture of Brandenburg Gate
On Monday I was determined to get back in, so I decided, bike or no bike, I was going. I started by the Brandenburg Gate and from there walked around Tiergarten, which is a huge park in the middle of the city. I just kind of wandered around by myself for a few hours, taking pictures and exploring. It was so beautiful and secluded from the rest of the city and I only felt minorly awkward and touristy taking pictures. I've noticed that I have this weird fear of being thought of as a tourist. Which is absolutely ridiculous because a. I really want to take pictures so I just have to suck it up, and b. I kind of AM a tourist right now. And so are most people around me, so it doesn't really matter what I do. Nevertheless almost all my pictures are of the park where nobody could see my touristy ways, except one quick one I took of the Brandenburg Gate.
Cute pond in Tiergarten
I snapped it then ran, haha. I'm so cool.

I have still not succeeded in my quest for kebabs, which I am very upset about. I'm sure they are out there, but they are not by Tiergarten, much to my chagrin. However I did get to stop by this cute little cafe on Neue See. I got some lunch (with some beer of course) and sat watching the water. It's so cute because there are these little rowboats you can take out on the lake! As soon as I find someone else to row the boat with me I'm totally doing that. It was kind of liberating sitting by myself enjoying a leisurely lunch. The only problem I had was that I ordered pizza, which is always messy to eat. It's different when you're laughing with someone else about how difficult it is to eat something and how silly you look.
When you're just laughing by yourself you tend to look a little crazy. But either way I had a good laugh out of it.

After lunch I started walking back from the park along the water. I was just rounding a corner when this man on a bike came around it the other way. I was so surprised I did the two things you should never do; make eye contact and smile. Let me clarify, the smile was not really a friendly smile more of the relief that he hadn't run my over on his bike. Apparently this is an invitation to something completely different because the man was like "oy susse" which means, "oh sweet." This may sound nice out of context but it was definitely more skeezy than anything. So he biked away and I just giggled to myself because he was at least 35 and creepy.
I sat and watched the ducks here awhile
About a minute later I could hear someone next to me and, lo and behold, the creepy bike-man had turned around to meet up with me. He then proceeded to ask me, in german, if I'd like to go for a walk with him around the park. I was like, "uhhh no I have to go" (subtext, no thanks I'd prefer not to get axe-murdered or raped today but thanks for asking). I pretty much ran out of there. I'm sure he was harmless, but it still made me laugh.

I think, besides getting into the city, my next favorite thing I've done here so far has been the cookouts with my host family and their friends. I really love these because there is always lots of great food (mostly meat) and plenty of wine, beer, and great conversation. Granted the parts that are in German I can't always understand but I've found that I really love to listen and at least attempt to follow conversations.
I think it's spelled Siegessaule
Their friends are always so nice and encouraging about my German. And it's fun to watch my host parents interact with other adults, because I usually only see them with their children or me. We had two cookouts last weekend and each time I really enjoyed myself. I hope by hearing all this German some if it will sink in, and soon. The better I am at it, the more I'll be able to communicate with Soeren, the little boy. Right now I'm getting along great with the baby because she doesn't need to understand me, but it's very difficult with Soeren. He gets upset when I don't understand him and I can't blame him. If I were nearly 4 years old I'd be pissed if the person who was taking care of me didn't understand what I was saying. He's a very gregarious little kid and I just can't follow what he says most of the time. I'm just hoping it won't take me too long to really understand him so he'll like me more. I guess he doesn't dislike me but he's definitely scared of my strange language.

Ok I must run, but I'll try to update soon!
steph928 says:
i know exactly what you mean about being a tourist! i have the same fear when i'm abroad. i so badly want to blend in and not stick out! but it seems like you did a fine job blending in. loving your blog so far!
Posted on: Jul 31, 2009
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Rowboats on Neuen See
I've been here for a week in Teltow and I'm still not exactly sure how big it is. From what I can gather, the family I'm with lives on the outskirts of Teltow (which is the outskirts of Berlin). I thought it was a tiny suburb but I think I may have been mistaken. Today my host mother drove me to the Volkschule, to sign up for German classes and I got to see a little more of the town. Although much smaller than a city it definitely has a lot of stuff in it, including a disco! And I thought most of the town was within walking distance but I was definitely wrong about that. I suppose I could walk around but to get to the edge of town would take a long time.
The huge field behind the neighborhood
However in my little part of town, which is all I really know about (since I don't drive here), it is much smaller and quieter. My host family's house overlooks a large garden and backyard. There are also huge fields behind it, which means I can go exploring more. The other day I took Aldo, the dog, for a walk, and cut through some fields. I ended up in a little residential part of town with a few cute shops (including a wine store!) and a little pond. It was totally cute and I think I'll go there more when I'm out. Oh, and definitely buy some wine from the wine shop because that's just a necessity! My area of Teltow is so quiet, except for on the weekends when the children are out playing. It's also mostly quiet around the house during the day because I'm either alone with the baby, or with Tanja and the baby.
These flowers are everywhere
And she sleeps most of the time so we try to keep it that way. Aldo is there too but he never makes any noise, just kind of lays around all day, so he doesn't count. I've been reading a lot since I've been here, which is enjoyable, but I can't wait for September when German classes start and I can be out for at least a few hours.

I finally got into Berlin on Friday and got to explore the city a little. Plus I met up with another Au Pair from my program, which I can't even begin to describe how excited I was about. It's great to be able to talk to someone who is going through the same adjustment as me and can understand. We got coffee and crepes at a little cafe along the river, and just talked for awhile. Then we attempted to flag down our waiter for the check for the next half hour! I swear there were a bunch of people working, but only this one guy who was allowed to tell us the bill and he disappeared! We finally did get our checks but we had our hands in the air going "entschuldigung.
My best friend, Aldo
.. excuse me..." for a long time. After that I wandered around the city for a few hours, trying to get myself acquainted with it. Berlin is a very interesting city, which is vague I realize, but I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's not specifically pretty or ugly. It has really gorgeous parts. There are some really beautiful old structures alongside stunning new architecture. A lot of what I saw was bustling with activity and lines out the door, but then I'd go two blocks and the streets would be deserted and looked run down. Of course I can't make a final decision on the city because granted I saw a lot of East Berlin and only a little West, but that's my analysis thus far. And it's also a lot bigger than I expected. I guess I always assume every European city will be medium sized like Vienna, where you can walk everywhere. But here just walking a small section of the city takes a long time. Being here definitely makes me miss Vienna, my favorite city in the world. I got pizza from a stand and it was definitely not as good. My next goal is to compare kebabs, because I've heard they're the best here and I am nothing if not a kebab connoisseur. However, I saw some of the funniest people in the city. There was a man who came around the corner alternating between flexing his muscles and smiling at himself in the mirror reflection of the shop window. I swear he was one step away from blurting out "how YOU doing" to himself. Then, while I was walking to the U-bahn (the metro) I was passed by a legit scooter gang. There were about 6 grown men on scooters in a group, which amused me to no end. I hope they were off to defend their scooter turf against some neighboring scooter gang. I'm really hoping that while I'm here I'll see a scooter rumble. After the scooters passed I saw a man on a bike dressed in the most neon I've ever seen on a person. Even his hair was neon yellow! So the moral of the story is that I can't wait to be able to get back into the city soon and do some more exploring/people watching.
My house in Teltow
My house in Teltow
My quick as lightning picture of B…
My quick as lightning picture of …
Cute pond in Tiergarten
Cute pond in Tiergarten
I sat and watched the ducks here a…
I sat and watched the ducks here …
I think its spelled Siegessaule
I think it's spelled Siegessaule
Rowboats on Neuen See
Rowboats on Neuen See
The huge field behind the neighbor…
The huge field behind the neighbo…
These flowers are everywhere
These flowers are everywhere
My best friend, Aldo
My best friend, Aldo
Berlin
photo by: CFD