My neighborhood in photos

Courtesy of my trusty little point-and-shoot, here’s an aesthetic tour of my immediate surroundings. Click on any photo to enlarge:

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Prenzlauer Berg

No revelations here for anyone halfway familiar with the neighborhood, but Deutsche Welle’s got a story up on the changing face of Prenzlauer Berg. Check it out if you like.

Greenery and such

Of all the cities I’ve been to, I’d be hard-pressed to think of one with better outdoor spaces than Berlin. Aside from the hundreds of cafes and bars that line the city’s sidewalks, the river “beaches,” and the two lakes, there are quite a few public parks. And some of them are simply massive. Unfortunately, there are only really four months or so out of the year during which they’re usable, and it’s probably raining most of that time anyway, leaving us with something like 40 days (and a dozen weekend days) — in a good year.

Thankfully, today was one of those days, and so I visited two of the massive parks. In the morning, I went for a run through the Volkspark Friedrichshain, the city’s oldest public park, conveniently located a few blocks from my apartment. It’s got two mountainlets with jogging paths winding gently around them, in addition to loads of fountains, streams, fields, and about a dozen mammoth bronze Communist-era monuments. It’s a damn good place to get hopelessly lost — I made sure to test it out for this purpose.

In the afternoon, I biked across a large swath of the city to the Tempelhofer Park, the city’s largest park. Until 2008, it was one of the city’s two airports, with an illustrious history: It was once one of Europe’s three busiest airports (whose main building was among the tallest buildings in the world), and it was the site of the Berlin airlifts during the Cold War. In 2010, two years after its closure, it reopened as a park. It still very much looks like an airport, with all the runways still intact. It’s a paradise for joggers and bikers, and especially for kite-fliers, dozens of whom take advantage of its treelessness every warm day. Here’s a glance at a tiny fraction of it: Read more of this post

My new ‘hood

Last year, I lived in Kreuzberg, an “up-and-coming” neighborhood of Berlin that’s up-and-coming in the same sense that the Village in New York is up-and-coming: It’s artsy and alternative, but its hip reputation has already made it the most expensive neighborhood in Berlin, and people there complain endlessly of the changes it’s undergone. Of course, it’s still cheap and grungy by American standards; it’s just that Berliners are working off a truly cheap, grungy baseline.

My new neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg, by contrast, has shed all pretensions of cheapness and grunginess. Formerly part of East Berlin, the neighborhood was an alternative mecca for a while before gentrifying rapidly and earning a reputation as Berlin’s stroller capital. But again, let’s keep this in proportion: Park Slope it ain’t. It’s still full of graffiti, young people, bars with 2 and 3 euro beers, und so weiter. My exploration of the neighborhood so far consists of a short excursion to buy a SIM card and some groceries, so it’s too soon for me to pass judgment. It’s also too soon for me to give you a decent sense of my neighborhood in photos, since I’ve taken five so far. But I’ll share them nonetheless:

The view from my window, overlooking Metzer Straße. (As with all photos, click to enlarge.)

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