Well, our favorite didn’t work out because it was too small for guests and I would have had to explain to the tax office what our clothes and bed and washing machine and kitchen and dining area were doing in something officially declared office space. But the worst part was still to come: I fell head over heels in love with a street in Charlottenburg, Leonhardtstraße, which must be the greatest place to live. On a hot day last week people were outside playing with water hoses, joking with passers-by. Great cafés and restaurants and little shops. Five minutes from the S-Bahn. We spent a delightful evening there. And then to our incredible delight we found an apartment advertised in the paper on that street. 4 rooms. Over 4 m high stucco ceilings. On the first floor, the “belle etage”. Including the incredible “Beliner Zimmer” where maids used to live, in a low ceilinged room, now used for a washing machine. A shower. A kitchen with a gas stove, with a designed look. Wood floors. A gorgeous balcony onto a leafy, friendly sidewalk, with a playground up the street. For (wait for it) under 1000 euros, including everything. Simply unbelievable. We hadn’t seen anything that even came close at any price. Most of the places were ugly, over-renovated, just plain weird. We’d looked at 25 apartments or so. But then, in Leonhardtstr., there was this couple who had the appointment before us, with a very sweet little child. They’d flown in for a day or two to find a flat.
Heck, I would have given it to them, too.
But my heart is broken.
We’re both completely and utterly exhausted. Time for a vacation.
Anyway, we’re moving to Potsdam, a big flat on the third floor in a quiet street close to one of the train stations and just around the corner from Sanssouci. Helmut has really lovely colleagues living in Potsdam and Babelsberg. The lakes are great. Potsdam is attractive, and in fact may be an easier place for me to find work. A lot of research going on out here, the kinds of things I’m interested in, too. But it’s a three-quarters of an hour train ride from Helmut’s place of work, and (let’s face it) I really wanted to move to Berlin. Friedrichshain. Leonhardtstraße.
One week is way too short to find a place to live.
Graffitti has many faces here. Should Helmut be here? He loves it. Yesterday we had a huge “small” breakfast for 4 euros in a really funky café with nice music and people sitting around playing board games, where we opened our office and sat for hours, getting our appointments set up. We looked at about 6 apartments, but none came even close to the one we like. The new ones are weird, bathrooms too big and complicated, one room being declared 2 rooms because it serves two functions. The one we like has very little storage space, so we’re brainstorming ways to make it work. A real challenge. Makes it interesting. We have, however, come to the bitter realization that it’s not good for hosting prolonged visitors. After all, no matter what you do, it’s all one open space.
We’re looking for a new place to live and work. Today we saw the first place that was love at first sight. It’s in Friedrichshain, which is hopping, not too far from where Helmut works, and we can get to by subway. The place itself is a split-level apartment out back. The graffiti outside on Samariterstraße is awesome. Some shops have their whole front graffitied, and this isn’t just a bit of spraying, masters of the can are at work. The whole area is being developed, but I think graffiti belongs here and will be back. Anyway, the place we looked at would be my office downstairs, and we’d sleep upstairs. An industrial-style staircase leads upstairs. A small area out front to put some big planters for a bit of a patio. A small terrace upstairs. Very open living. We’d have a guest bed on a hung ceiling that we could build in, with a ladder leading up. No walls. Like a factory floor. What do you think?
I didn’t really mind who won, as none of my favorite players were involved. I tended towards Spain because the Barca players have such longstanding friendships, which I think is really cool, and I think it’s very sexy when men can sense what other guys around them are about to do. Go ahead and groan. Helmut was saying noticeably more women are turning into football fans. Well, yes, we like watching men, don’t we, and perhaps more women are willing to admit it these days. I really like intelligent and strategic play, and was deeply impressed by Spain’s midfield in the game against Germany. But it’s pretty easy to see who Helmut was for. It’s down to all his years of sailing up there with youth groups, for starters. Oh, I love the Dutch, too. As I say, I didn’t really mind one way or the other.
We watched the match for third place in “Café Schau ma moi” (which means “well, we’ll see” in Bavarian), the smallest beergarden in Munich, a courtyard with just two or three little tables and a barbecue, us leaning and looking over the wall, feeling completely at home. Today we watched Spain and Netherlands foul each other endlessly and needlessly sitting lakeside at the Strandbar on the Ammersee at Stegen, not far from where we sail. We decided to leave them to their dirty tricks at half-time, and drove off into the beautiful sunset, catching the end through the radio, with snippets of news wafting in from everywhere.
Overall the World Cup was a marvellous feast. Thanks, Schland, respect, Thomas Müller, and grosses bisous to all of the players for your incredible perfomance!
Jack Johnson has a new “feeling good” record out, “To the Sea“, which sounds just right at these temperatures. I stumbled upon it because of the Eisbach thing. In a friendly interview he explains where his music comes from (his influences range from a family friend singing Cat Stevens to learning the Minor Threat songbook) and what went into the song “You and your heart” (would you believe Jimi Hendrix?).
Watch you when you say
What you are and when you blame
Everyone, you broken king
Watch you change the frame or
Watch you when you take your aim
At the sum of everything
But you and your heart
Shouldn’t feel so far apart
You can choose what you take
Why d’you gotta break and make it feel so hard
You lay there in the street
Like broken glass reflecting pieces of the sun
But you’re not the flame
You got the people passing by
Because you know what you don’t like
It’s just so easy, it’s just so easy
You draw so many lines in the sand
Lost the fingernails on your hands
How you gonna scratch any backs?
Better hope the tide will take our lines away
Take all our lines
Learning English? Add “I” to make “I watch you…” Leaving out words is called “ellipsis“.
Chris requested a post on surfing in Munich yesterday. He’s heard of the Eisbach, the “ice creek” canal alongside the Isar River, and its “Welle” near Haus der Kunst, in the English Garden. Lie by the banks of the Eisbach in the sun and it’s a narrow channel indeed, but jump in and it’s a wild stream (pictures). There are several waves and waterfalls you can see from the air, but the bridge at Prinzregentenstraße (red arow) is where the action is. That’s where Walter Strasser built planks into the Eisbach some 30 years ago to create a standing wave. At first the surfers used a tow rope attached to the bridge to waterboard. Then they discovered that there was no tension on the rope, and they could actually ride the wave hands-free, and Isar River surfing was born.
Bathing is prohibited, and you immedately know why when you jump in and give yourself up to the current. It’s absolutely delicious on a hot day, and very popular no matter what the rules say. My brothers Chris and Larry once went in at New Years’, those crazy guys. As for the wave, none of the surfers have ever been seriously injured. It’s the bathers who sometimes drown.
So the debate about how to handle the surfers has gone on for years. The City of Munich long wanted to legalize surfing, but the park and the creek belong to the State of Bavaria, who refused to bear the risk. However, last year the City and the State agreed to exchange parcels of land, so that the 80 sqm around the wave recently (18 May) became City property. A documentary film, Keep Surfing (don’t miss the gorgeous trailer!), released on 20 May, reviews the history and culture of this wild heart of Munich.
Brazilian tourists explain the difference between river and ocean surfing: On a river, the wave comes from the front. And surfers talk about the “arena” that this little inland paradise creates for the surfer:
PS: Coming to Munich this summer? Bathing in the Eisbach is actually officially allowed, and very much recommended :), in the Eisbach section that flows through the park around the swimming pool at Maria Einsiedel, the most beautiful place to go swimming in Munich.