My friend Kathrin’s apartment stairway emptied out onto a bright sunny street packed with people. I didn’t notice from the 4th floor window how lively it was and how many people were out and around hanging out in Cafes.
Other then the number of people, the first thing I noticed was the smells of various colognes. The people walking by were sort of “preppy”, well dressed, and I instantly caught several wafts of nice smells. Fresh spicy, mixed citrus, sweet florals… man Berlin smells great today.
I set up my blackberry to start recording notes. As I walked along I started to take note that it would clearly be out of place for me to talk to myself walking down this street so I decided that I would set the record button then manage to secretly utter words here and there into the microphone of my headset as I walked. “Architect office……. street sign…… median for roadwork…. rubbish bin…….trash…..auguststrasse street sign.”
I continued down the street with a keen observers eye, and now taking note of all the smells around as well.
The apartment-lined street opened up to a cross street where there was a U-bahn station, Rosa Luxembourg. As I continued on, there were many cafes open to the street. There were also cobblestone walkways and bicycles. Mostly luxury and high end cars lined the streets. Mercedes, Smart Cars…. Volkswagons. I started making my way into a more office-like area with approximately 3-4 story buildings containing shops, art galleries, and Architect offices. There was a gym with people working out on treadmills overlooking a second story of a building above a japanese restaurant that had tabled neatly in a row lining the sidewalk of the street. Trams transported people down towards the Alexander Platz center.
As I continued on, the art galleries became more frequent on Auguststrasse. I was nearing the contemporary galley that I had set out for, KW Gallery, which was participating in Berlin Art Week 2012. An egyptian video installation artist had an exhibition on. I skipped looking for the address and simply wandered on down the street until eventually, while taking pictures of interesting posters with graffiti, I found myself staring right at the letters KW, and the archway entrance to the gallery.
I walked through a cafe courtyard, and into the KW building. I paid the entrance fee at reception, collected various Berlin art brochures and magazines to practice my german, then made my way into this massive room that was like a giant indoor sandbox. A very abstract Egyptian movie was playing in Arabic with English subtitles. I watched for some time then wandered up to the second floor through starkly painted white and grey stairwells to another film, this time of creepy marionettes which discussed various Islam and Christianity and war scenes from ancient history. The background was very detailed and set up like a puppetshow. Very contemporary. The top floor was four different video projections of kids building something with blocks, one was various desert scenes and many of them included cows or other things likely quite common.
I wandered out of the gallery past the courtyard cafe filled with impeccably dressed Germans wearing posh sunglasses and drinking swartzen kaffees (black coffees). I continued on past various apartment buildings and a convenience store with newstands spread out across the sidewalk selling Die Zeit, and various other “Deutsche” Newspapers and made my way from Gross-Hamburger Strasse. I headed past many people out for a sunday afternoon on town and into Hesher Market. I walked by a completely packed Hagen Dazz patio and wandered in to check prices. Unable to justify the luxury price with a backpacker budget, I wandered out again.
I walked out past the street performers and cyclers and weekend shoppers and made my way back to Oranienburger Strasse to go find a little cafe halfway back to Kathrin’s flat to compose my writing piece. I had spent several various days wandering the Mitte area since arriving in Berlin, and was it was gaining a familiar feel. I leave Berlin again in two days, but I will be back again.