Friday, September 28, 2012

Bike of the Week: Number 18

The "Bike of the Week" has mostly been...

Fancy a dip?

...chillin' out by the Spree.

Monday, September 24, 2012

German Idioms related to "Stooopid People"

I'm rather fond of these German idioms used to describe dumb people. Maybe because of the images they conjure up in my mind or maybe because they are a little different from the English equivalents.

Next time you are practicing your German why not throw in one of these to the mix to earn some Brownie points? My problem is that I can ONLY speak in idioms because I haven't learnt anything else in the language yet!

Anyway - here is my list of stooopid idioms:

Cartoon by Cartertoons

"Dumm wie Bohnenstroh sein" 
As dumb as a bundle of bean straw
(thick as two short planks)

"Sie hat nicht alle Tassen im Schrank"
She doesn't have all her cups in the cupboard
(she's not all there)

Die dümmsten Bauern ernten die dicksten Kartoffeln
The most stupid farmers harvest the biggest potatoes 
(dumb people are often very lucky)

Das Ei will klüger sein als die Henne
The egg wants to be smarter than the hen

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bike of the Week: Number 17

We love the contrast between...

Modern art?

...the "Bike of the Week" and the red door.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

German Idioms related to "The Little Boys Room"

Every language has interesting ways to describe the act of going to the toilet or "popping to the loo" as we say in the UK. In fact, bathroom idioms are part of everyday life not just in English but in German too. 

Here are a few German language expressions that I have found related to the WC. If you know of any more I would be very interested to hear them.  

Cartoon by Hule

"Wo der König allein hingeht" 
Where the king goes alone

"Sie sind ebenso schmutzig wie Toilettenpapier"
You're just as dirty as toilet paper

"Das stille Örtchen"
The quiet place (the toilet)

"Wo der Kaiser zu Fuß hingeht"
Where the Kaiser goes on foot

I imagine a king every time I go to the loo now. It makes the whole "process" a lot more fun :P  

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Pratergarten: Drink and Be Merry!

You can't and probably shouldn't live in Germany for long without experiencing the Biergarten (beer garden) culture. Hummmm...It's only taken me six months! The only experience I have ever had of this type of drinking 'arrangement' was in Madrid a couple of years ago at the famous Plaza de Toros de las Ventas (Madrid largest bullring) where they used to host an annual Oktoberfest-style "Feria de La Cerveza". I don't remember the whole event clearly but I do remember lots of German beer, sausages, long tables and German Oom-pah music. I also woke up with an over-sized beer glass in my house the next day so I must have had a good time!

I had the opportunity recently to experience something closer to the real deal at the PraterGarten in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. I've now been to the Pratergarten twice, once in the evening and once in the daytime. Both times it was fairly quiet (due to my choice of unsociable drinking times!) but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The beer is maybe a little over-priced compared to other bars in the area but you are paying for the location. I think it is also fairly 'touristy' too and it attracts a more international crowd more than locals.    

The Pratergarten dates back to 1837 when beer was first served at the location and in 1852 it became a place of all-round leisure activities. It became a well established performance venue hosting theater, ballroom and political events. 

The Biergarten itself is an impressive size with lots of wooden trestle tables set out in rows (fairly typical biergarten stuff I suppose). There is a stage area which I assume they use from time to time for bands or live entertainment although I didn't see it in use. There are a few self-service bars where you buy beer, sausages and pretzels and also a more formal restaurant area.  

The history of the German Biergarten is an interesting one and merits it's own dedicated blog (watch this space). Of course, we are all familiar with the most famous beer-related celebration of them all, Oktoberfest in Munich. I don't have enough money or stamina right now to visit Munich so the Pratergarten will just have to do for now. 

Do you have a favourite Beer Garden in Berlin?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bike of the Week: Number 16

No, the "Bike of the Week" is...


...not in Asia. It's in Kreuzberg.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bike of the Week: Number 15

This "Bike of the Week" is...

You laughing at me?

...trying to blend into the backrground.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Parks in Berlin: Mauerpark

Mauerpark, in the district of Prenzlauer Berg, is one of the most popular parks in Berlin. 'Mauer', which means 'wall' in German, is a reference to the fact that the park made up part of the 'death strip'  during the times of the Berlin Wall. The park itself is an ok place just to hang out and relax with friends but there are lots of other reasons to visit, especially on a Sunday. 

I've been to the park three times. In fact, this weekend a friend was visiting me from Spain so we decided to go there for a look around. There are many regular flea markets in Berlin and the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark has to be the most famous. It takes place every Sunday and has everything you would expect of a good flea market. 

You can buy anything from designer clothing and jewellery, used bikes, second-hand clothes and shoes, posters, tools, toys and household goods, even, for some reason, a surprising amount of decorative door knobs! The market is always teeming with activity and aside from the usual offerings there are plenty of bars and food stands where you can grab a beer, a currywurst, burgers, pretzels, refreshments and more. 

Not only can you do some bargain-hunting in the flea market or relax on the grassy area with a pic-pic, but there is normally some kind of organised entertainment going on including live bands and street performers.  You can't go to the park on a Sunday without catching a bit of the famous Bearpit Karaoke Show which has been taking place on Sunday afternoons since 2009. It draws huge crowds to the stone circular stage area within the park and thousands of people head there to listen to the brave performers singing karaoke classics. 

If you sing really well, the crowd goes wild. I'm not sure what the reaction would be if you don't sing well but I've heard there is a certain amount of boo-ing involved. I don't know if I'm ready for that kind of public criticism just yet so instead of getting up to give it my all, I sat on the hill with a beer and enjoyed the music! 

We had the pleasure of listening to a few performances including a very well sung rendition of Creep by Radiohead and an impressive Frank Sinatra impersonation. Both of which received very enthusiastic responses from the audience. 

So, if you can't think of anything to do next Sunday and you are in the mood for getting out of your pyjamas and heading into Berlin, keep Mauerpark in mind. Beware though, if you plan on playing frisbee, watch out for excited dogs! We decided to play on Sunday and within two minutes a dog came pounding up and stole our frisbee. He seemed very happy with his find at least for the two seconds he played with it before biting the plastic in two and destroying any flying capability it may have had. Note to self for my next trip to Mauerpark - Either A) buy a better quality 'dog-proof' frisbee or B) just take beer!  

The flea market takes place in Mauerpark every Sunday between 8am and 6pm (although in my experience it's better to go in the morning). The Karaoke starts at around 3pm but there is usually some kind of entertainment going on all day at the stage area.