In the summer of 1995 I had the good fortune to travel to Europe to study taiji for a week and then to spend a week in East Berlin. What more might a young man want than to do than to explore the world in good health and happiness!
In Strasbourg, I practiced taiji with my fellow New Yorkers in an international festival celebrating Yangjia Michuan Taijiquan, taught by fourth generation master Wang Yen-nien. Then I traveled to the heart of old East Berlin. Will post pictures when I find them 🙂
East Berlin notes, Summer 1995
Visit the Berlin Zoo
Cash on hand and 80 dollars in traveler’s checks
Buy – Eurail Pass
– Film roll
Shop – Cheese
Places of Importance to visit:
S. Hackeschen Market (train H,2,3,4)
3 Frieden Strausse
Stu Zoologischer Garten
Unter den Linden
Sans Souci (without sorrow)
J. F. Dulles Allee
Oranienburge Strafze (Connects Cine?)
– Seems to lead to … Cafe and Plost Alley
East Berlin on a Thursday Night (1995)
I drank some wine, made a late lunch in the apartment, and went to S. Hackeschen Market. Should I have had a coffee? Am now in a bar on Oranienburge Strafze. What beautiful waitresses the German girls are – One is very butch. But that’s OK, what counts is attitude.
The bar seems to be called Kino Blowup. Could it be that they also show films here? Butch just cranked up the music – not going to be easy to communicate here. I have been told to watch out for the women of the night, who are neither subtle nor without experience. I will keep my attention elsewhere.
Whew – just made eye contact with the blond woman at the bar who is really cute. Careful – night’s early.
I could fall in love very easily in Berlin. People seem to be open, and intent on life. There is not a lot of excess attitude. The girls are very sexy in a natural way. Not that I am really out to be super social. But the women do not put up stiff barriers to talking, either. Former East Berliners (Essies) are regular folk. They have experienced a lifetime under communism and are still tentative about themselves and their new lifestyles. They are sweet, and almost naive.
I like them. I like being in Berlin.
Krombacher is a good (light) beer. Later I must try Budweiser, the noted Czech beer. Butch girl is the DJ. She is spinning some big beat sounds. Bose speakers pump it out.
The girl behind the bar, with short blond hair, very short, and a small nose ring has grabbed my attention. She bops around well to the music. I think she has a body like (redacted) – small – sweet. I’m going to ask her about Budweiser.
In response he says “It’s Czechoslovakian”, not German. But very good. When I ask her for a glass she nods, professionally and nicely.
Bartenders pour beer in Berlin so that the head comes out really large, then they slowly add more beer to the glass only as the foam settles. I was told this was a European thing – and here it is. There is no rush to get the beer over to the presumed drinker. It’s not like “Serve ‘em up and get ‘em drunk. ASAP”. There is style and care in the process. A very hand-crafted experience. A special touch. I appreciate this.
The dark skin girl (also with a nose ring) says to the bar girl “How late are you open to?” “Until 4:00” She second girl is sweetn too – has on an olive green T shirt with a balloon police car vehicle. It is funny… Bright Blue, white and red, cartoonish.
Maybe they are lovers. They are friendly and the place is fun. “Kino Blowup”. With cast metal sculptures and thin tall-back metal chairs.
Also, centered on the wall to the left of the bar, is a large conspicuously vagina-like sculpture. On the other side of the bar a thin long-necked statue of a man that seems to fly off the floor.
It is odd that people come into the bar carrying baskets of things to sell, hawking their wares. A respectable looking man (Peter Framptonish) arrives with a basket of good looking breads and pastries and croissants, walking around and selling them. It is perfectly accepted, more than that it is appreciated. His breads and snacks are good, his way is friendly and his prices, from the reaction, are reasonable. It’s an old world thing. In “the states” he would be infringing on the bar’s territory and be tossed to the street.
People drink beer with red (berry) syrup here. Have seen at least three people order it. I ask the bartender about it and she says, kidding. “It’s for children. Sweet syrup” she says, softly. Am I understanding her? I smile and nod. I must learn some German or French, so that I can connect better.
And the DJ keeps the place rocking.