We stayed in Berlin for three days after the Brazil-Croatia game, but yet it is probably the city I saw the least of because I holed myself up in the hotel room for two of those days working on a dissertation chapter. (Which I handed in - woo hoo!! This is the final-first-draft version of an analysis that I've been working on forever and which I completely hate at this point, but apparently I have to hand this thing in or no one will ever know what I've done.)
Right outside our hotel window was a courtyard that functioned as a playground for a nursery school all day long, so my dissertation work was accompanied by the joyful shouts of screaming German children. They had built a platform around the big tree in the center of the courtyard and the kids literally ran around and around and around it for hours. And then, just to make sure we were really enjoying all the noise, one morning they decided to fix the platform at 7:30 in the morning with a chainsaw. Followed by hours of screaming children. I really should have gone to find a cafe to work in, but my battery power isn't what it used to be and neither is my wallet (to pay for the coffees to justify my staying in a cafe for hours), so I just closed the windows and kept working. It seemed to work though, since I got the thing done.
My working, sadly, left J to wander around the city without me and he spent his time at the Pergamon Museum (because he's J and loves stuff like that) and wandering around the Fan Fest that they set up at the Brandenberg Gate.
But I did allow myself to leave the hotel at night.
After my first day of work, we met up with our friend Christiana, who lives in Berlin. (We know her from when she did a semester of research in Baltimore, and shared an office with me and J.) It was so great to see her, and really nice to be able to meet up with someone who lives there and knows where to go. She introduced us to a cute neighborhood called Kreuzberg, where we met up at a bar, sat outside and had really amazing pizza, and watched Germany beat Poland. (I didn't bring my camera, so no pictures.)
After the second day of work, I met up with J and Lostgal to watch some of the games at the Fan Fest at the Brandenberg Gate (so see, I did a little bit of sightseeing!). On the giant screen in front of the gate, we watched England play... someone. Too many games, too few brain cells to remember them all! But I do remember that it was a fun atmosphere. I have to say that I had been a little apprehensive about the crowds and potentially crazy soccer fans, but everything was pretty controlled and all the fans were really easy going. I guess I was expecting something really tiring like a Preakness infield party with drunkenness and fights breaking out, but it was more like a hippie folk festival in terms of people's friendliness and good moods and general consideration for everyone around them.
After the first game of the evening, we wandered over to a nearby neighborhood (which I forget the name of, but is famous, and I really should have just looked it up) to try to see the new modern art museum for an hour or so. But it took us longer to get there than we thought, and by then we would be missing the Sweden-Paraguay game and since it was the World Cup, well, the art museum lost out. Still, it was a cool area to wander around in, with all the really modern (and famous but I don't know by who) architecture.
So no art, but we did get to see the game. Which means of course, more fan photos.
And I leave you with this bizarre sign that we were sitting near. I wonder if Hyundai knew that their ad would be placed on such an awkward structure. It was really freaking me out to keep seeing this guy staring down at us with his face impaled with a street lamp. Creepy. I think the ad says something like "too high for you?", to which my answer would have to be yes. Whatever that might mean.
And then on the third day in Berlin, I didn't do any work so I have more pictures to show! Of the wall! I will save them for the next post!