keys to the place

Got me the keys to the new pad.

Now I just need a lightbulb or five. And fixtures in which to screw ’em. Not a light in the whole place…just bare wires…typical for Germany.

I was lucky the place came with a stove and a kitchens sink. In Germany, the old ‘everything-but’ saying goes: you get nothing, not even the kitchen sink.

The irony of that luck is that I already have a stove and a kitchen sink. Now I am the proud owner of two sinks and two electric stoves…but all I really want is a gas stove.

A stove that makes a wok hot. Warm woks aren’t much good.

I also need to call and get the power turned back on. I found out from the real-estate company rep on the walk through that the last renter was evicted by the police for not paying his rent.

Also my mailbox has no door on it. Another thing the last tenant took with him apparently. But hey, he left me a sink, a stove and like four pans.

More than some people get when they move in.

So despite all the randy things I said about the place in my blogs…I actually really like the place now having seen it again without forty people crowded in the place.

Maybe it ain’t the Ritz…not even the La Quinta…but it’s sunny, warm and not as small as it could be.

I looked at one place without even a bath or shower. I’m serious. No Bath or Shower. And those fuckers wanted 1500 EU provision!

The living/bed/office room is pretty big and the kitchen is at least big enough for my skinny ass…and both have big windows with smaller windows above that you can tilt open.

I’m not sure I’ve ever put it in a blog how much I love German windows–but I love German windows.

Americans couldn’t make a decent window to save their damn lives (or thier heating bills), let alone that most of the places I ever lived in the states were older buildings with windows from the turn of the 20th century. Gaps like the Grand Canyon. Wind blowing through like the Royal Gorge.

Not German windows. Almost everywhere I’ve ever lived here they had replaced the old windows with the high tech double glass, heat-saving windows that Germany does so well. Windows you can open wide to the side, or tilt open at the top.

And even the old windows are better in Germany…the key is that Germans do something very basic that makes all the difference with leaky windows.

Germans, unlike Americans, scrape off the old paint before layering on a new coat of color. They take the time to strip, sand and seal the old windows, so they don’t get these massive gaps between the sill and the frame when they shut the window like is almost ubiquitous in old American houses.

Oh, and Germans actually clean their windows. Cleaning your windows is like required by the state or something. Probably. I’m just guessing on that.

Anyway…enough about windows and pains.

My new digs got atmosphere, too.

Just looking out a window over red tiled rooftops…as many of you may know, I’m a sucker for red-tiled, antenna-fixed, chimney-stacked rooftops…fills me full of joy. Got it. Free with the price of rent.

Out my window, down five floors below is the back loading-dock of Turkish super market where pallets of vegetables are stacked, and guys come zipping back with dollies to pick them up, yelling back inside that “I’m coming. I got the peppers. Just wait a goddamn second!”

Apparently the peppers are in high demand.

Also, even my starewell is  cool. Got a old wooden balustrade with finished wooden steps.

And according to what one can tell from the doors, my neighbors appear to be a funny bunch.

Don’t ring the doorbell,” reads a sign on one of the doors, over the doorbell.

Another has stickers with every leftist political party that perhaps ever existed in Germany.

Across the landing a sticker on the door reads, “Smokers are welcome.”

The names one the buzzers are almost exclusively non German. Martinez, Ndema, Zinawistowich, Ratachantawan, Lee, Renault (not actual names, but similar).

The windows on the landings are rippled glass with colored glass around the outside and chicken wire in the open windows (to keep chickens out?)

But perhaps the thing I am most excited about is just the neighborhood itself. I have spent a lot of time in my years in Berlin wandering around this cobblestoned hood. I had a friend many years ago that lived around the corner. And from the Turkish market on the canal bank down the street, the Rabbit Park two blocks away, the Baushaus home improvement market and the Electronic Warehouse shop both around the corner, to the many bars, cafes and shops sprinkled around the neighborhood, not to mention some of the finest graffiti in the city, I have visited this part of town a lot.

Doing a little internet research, too, I found out that I have Germany’s oldest cinema, Moviemento, just across the street from me. An independent theater that plays a different film every hour of the day, instead of one or two over and over again. Never been there before, but I’m sure to check that out soon.

Also, wandering around the neighborhood last weekend I found to my utmost joy that there is not one, but TWO actual Lao restaurants down a few blocks away…and I hadn’t even known there was one Lao restaurant in all of Berlin until then. That , of course, sealed the deal for me.

Nuts. I can get Beer Lao…in Berlin. Double nuts.

Not to mention the Spanish Tapas, Italian this and that, Turkish everything, Lebanese, Syrian, Sudanese, African of all sorts, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, an American coffee shop, and maybe even some German around here somewhere.

It’s just plain and simple, a liveable neighborhood.

Hell…yesterday morning after I got the keys, as I was scurrying off to work and crossing Hermann Square, below which I had to catch my Subway, I found the market day just setting up…so I stopped at a stand manned by a Turkish lady and bought 5 cigarbörek and one big spinach börek for the price of just 3 Euro 50 and had me enough food for the whole 10 hour day at work.

Immaculate.

Anyway…I’m expecting visitors: YOU people. Come visit and you have a reservation on my fine wood floor.

At the very least, I’ll cook you some spicey, peppery Asian food with a basket full of sticy rice, that I promise you’ll never forget.

Just as soon as I get moved in and the power on.

Here’s some more pics.

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About Andrew Flohr-Spence

Something about the sound and the word. Was a singer/bassist for five years, a German major for five, an English teacher in Germany for another five, then a journalism major in Denver for 5 more, and now I'm back in Berlin (for a while, I intend).
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