Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Busy in Berlin

By Ellen

We've been waiting for it for weeks and finally its seems that the sun is really coming out in Berlin now. Of course it's always after just buying a heap of jumpers and a big coat that the sun decides to instantly end the unusual long European winter that was going on!

Painting the Altes Museum in Berlin
With the gorgeous change in weather we now find ourselves picnic-ing daily in Berlin's MASSIVE city parks. Equipped with chocolate coated biscuits and a flask of tea, we settle in a grassy spot for the afternoon so that Alex can paint something and I basce in the sun like a roasting lizard.

Every morning we attend language classes (which I forced Alex to join with me). For 4 hours our crazy old German teacher attempts to teach 1 Japanese, 1 Mongolia, 1 Korean, 1 Frenchy and us 2 Aussies how to say things like "the cup is on the table", "the mouse is in the fridge" and "the bed is in the bedroom" - great conversation starters for bars, only problem is from there we can't continue the conversation because we've exhausted all our German and all we can do is continent to point out the position of simple objects. The best part of class is when our teacher leads off on to completely random tangents (happens often) and tells us in German about how the story of Hansel and Gretle portrays why witches were burnt to death or explains to us all the different beers and sausages we have to try. Then he teaches us the key German words from the story. Awesome!! So yes everyday Alex and I go to school with our textbooks, packed sandwiches, pens, highlighters and then we sit down and argue with each other about what's's like a normal day in highschool. 

 We have lived in Berlin for almost 5 weeks now. We lived for 2 weeks in Neukoln (south-east Berlin position wise but was part of West Berlin) which is the newest Surryhills of Berlin. Because the city keeps expanding, the "in" suburb keeps changing as suburbs are forced to undergo gentrification. Gentrification is the most hated word in Berlin, commonly referred to or written in the street as 'gentri-fuck-cation'. Because of historically cheap rent in Berlin, foreigners from all over have flocked to this amazing city. Quite rapidly the central city area filled and in recent years has begun to expand. Those suburbs historically lying on the outskirts, like Neukoln, were home for the poor and minorities. These groups could only afford to live in these suburbs and now for a couple generations have built lives there. Due to the influx of foreigners pushing city expansion, rent all over Berlin has been driven through the roof. Outlying suburbs like Neukoln are no longer on the outskirts and those who have always lived there can no longer as theses suburbs are done-up so that tourist prices can be set. 

 A great example is the area around Tempelhofer Flughafen in Neukoln. Tempelhof Flughafen was once a working airport on the southern outskirts of Berlin. At this time Neukoln was considered the 'pits' of Berlin (this is even how my dad remembers it). It was a rough, nasty area. The apartment blocks around the area had cheap rent if you could endure the daily noise of the airport. Those who were poor probably thought they were lucky enough to even settle there and build a life. The airport has now been converted into a massive inner city park and some of the most expensive apartments now surround it. Those who lived there before definitely can't afford it any more. 
How Berlin was divided by the wall.

 We then moved to Wedding (north-west Berlin and part of the former West Berlin). Another rough outskirts city undergoing gentrification. However there is one vitally important aspect of living in a Turkish concentrated area - unlimited supply of baklava!!!

I admit I am a little behind with our reporting (yes it's my fault because I promised Alex I would write the next entry) so more photos and reports of our adventures coming ASAP.


  1. I love being educated by your experiences. Trust the good weather continues. SO proud Alex is painting/drawing etc I love your blog love Margaret/mum xx

  2. Liebe Ellen
    Vielen Dank für ein weiteres interessantes Blog. Ich hoffe, Sie können diese nach Ihrer harten Arbeit an der Schule Deutsch zu übersetzen. Haben Sie schon Museumsinsel noch, wo man sich all die griechischen Statuen als eine 7-jährige und all den anderen alten Lieblingsplätze kicherte?
    Freuen Sie sich auf mehr von Ihnen und Alex Geschichten.
    Ein weiterer mum / Pauline

    ps ich betrogen und benutzt google!

  3. I too have been enjoying your blog before passing them on to mum and dad.
    Berlin is one of my favourite cities; make sure you see the Jewish Museum; it was enthralling.