Friday, June 22, 2012


Today was my last proper day in Berlin. Naturally, I tried to get as much out of it as I possible could. For one thing, I had breakfast at Curry 36. The type of sausage I ordered today came with mustard instead of the usual curry sauce. Heinz mustard is dead to me. It is nothing but a neon yellow imposter.

After learning the true meaning of mustard, I spent the rest of the morning packing up until 12, when Mister Minsch opens. Mister Minsch is a small cake shop that I kept hearing good reviews of and kept not having time to visit, despite living only 7 minutes away. Finally, I got to give it a try. It did not disappoint. The choco-choco cake, a dense chocolate confection layered with the thickest and richest frosting I've ever tasted, made me wish I'd never heard of the cafe. Now, I know what I'll be missing.

With a slice of cacao bliss stowed in my belly, I scampered off to St. Mary's Church in Alexanderplatz for a free midday organ concert. I had expected to sit in the pews and just listen. Instead, the organ player invited the handful of attendants upstairs with her to sit in front of the organ and listen to it and her as she explained a bit about how it works. I had no idea how complicated an instrument an organ is. Not only does the player have to work pedals and three keyboards, but she must also push and pull knobs to control which sets of pipes are in use. The organist demonstrated the significance of these knobs time and time again. First, she played a quick piece using only the flute-like pipes. Then, she played a bit with the "brass" pipes. They actually have a piece of metal inside of them which vibrates while being played, adding a buzz to the regular toot. After demonstrating its range and a few other oddities about the nearly 300 year old machine, the organist performed a modern piece. I don't know how to describe it apart from thrilling. It started with just the flutes and built more and more until the music was pouring down on me like a thunderstorm, complete with thunder. For the final stretch, she pulled a knob that started up the Zimbelsterne, tiny stars on the organ that spun and struck chimes with their spokes. I almost wanted to laugh. The organ had spinning rims for goodness sake, but the 4 meter tall growling pipes kept me sober. I don't care that the rest of the audience was 55 or older. I made the right choice with that trip.

Perhaps the best part of the day was that I did not once need to use a map. Mister Minsch is on Yorckstra├če in Kreuzberg. St. Marienkirche is on Alexanderplatz. Finding my way back after wandering around various shops in the afternoon was a piece of cake. In short, for practically the first time in my life, I know my way around a city. Now, I have to leave it. I'm amazed by how much I want to stay. It isn't the people I've met; they've been nice, but they won't be life long friends. It isn't the Goethe Institute; as much as I enjoyed it, boot camp is boot camp. It's the city itself, the patchwork metropolis I've come to love. Grammatically correct or not, I'm glad to say:

Ich bin ein Berliner.

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