2015/08/30 – DU MUSS DEIN Ă„NDERN LEBEN

Sundays are slow days in Berlin. Pretty much everything is closed, not to mention the majority of people roaming the streets are sulking after a night out on the town. After all, Berlin is world-renowned to having one of the best nightlife scenes – from the Berghain, to the long-lost Bar 25… As places become more and more commercialized, new places keep popping up as a means to retain the the cultural non-conformist attitude that Berlin is so dearly loved for. When there’s an eternal cue into the Berghain, now there’s a Sisyphos. When rooftop bars in hotels are charging 10+ euros for a coctail, then Klunkerkranich is there to save the day.

The biggest surprise of the day was checking out Klunkerkranich… you take an elevator inside the Neukolln Arkaden up to the fifth floor of the parking structure. As the doors open, it seems as if you’re basically inside a normal parking lot…. but then you walk up to the top floor and BAM! You find yourself in an oasis of urban farming, retro beats, and an epic view. These little hidden wonders are what makes Berlin so special… it’s a challenge to keep things quiet otherwise they become too mainstream, but it seems that the entire city fuels itself as being completely anti-establishment….

They actually made a documentary called “Du Muss Dein Andern Leben” (you must live your changes) which talks about how this commune got together to do some amazing urban projects like the klunkerkranich… Here’s the location’s website: http://www.klunkerkranich.de/

2015/08/29 – Spazieren Gehen

Gelaufen

Woke up this morning feeling like it was going to be a perfect day. At 7 am, the sun lit up my room and I was hooked. I needed to get out of bed and roam around.

This is perhaps the one thing I missed the most about my time living in Colombia: leaving the house without any clear purpose and just walking in any direction you saw fit. Bogota, despite its obvious natural beauty and tree-lined streets, is not designed for the pedestrian. As a pedestrian, you’re forced to fight your way to cross the street, let alone keep your eyes to the ground to avoid falling into any one of the billion potholes that infest the city. The few people that do make it out on the streets avoid eye contact at all costs as a means to protect themselves from being robbed, kidnapped or murdered (or so I’ve been told). And forget about taking out your phone on the street; that would be the equivalent of “dar Papaya” (the act of being foolish on the street). The result is a city that is “antipatica” at the ground level.

So today was a nice breath of fresh air in comparison. I left my house and started walking in the direction of the city center. With the blau himmel above me and a good set of german tunes on my phone, walking was a blast. I arrived at AnkerKlause, the little bar that i met my former classmates from Bauhaus. On the corner of my eye, however, i saw that there was a flea market running along the course of the river. It seemed interesting, so I headed in that richtung. Apparently the Mayfachufer Flohmarkt one of the more famous flea markets, and you can find pretty much everything…. so in the case of everything, I needed a bike. With a few more months til winter really hits, i thought it would be a good idea to make the purchase. So that’s how the day evolved: purchasing a bike.

I didn’t find anyone selling bikes over at the Mayfachufer Flohmarkt…. but without dispair I grabbed my phone and searched for different flea markets in the area. There seemed to be a cool flea market called RAW up in Fredriechshein… it wasnt tooooo far away; so i started strolling away from my original plan. When I got there, it was closed… Schade. But without any stress, there was another one at Boxhagener Platz.

Once I got there, it did not seem like a typical flea market. Streets were cut off, and there were three stages set up at the ends of the streets. All around the plaza there was food (thuringer bratwursts galore)and music, and games… so at that point in time that I was hooked. The warm weather, the blue sky, listening to a german reggae band. I looked around and absolutely everyone was having a great time. And it felt like this was something that was just so normal here. To feel comfortable and safe.

Alas, I did not find the bike I was looking for, but at least it was a great great day spent productively outdoors.

2015/08/28 – Duolingo

2015-08-28 - Duolingo

Ugh, Deutsch ist schwer. Heute habe ich den ganzen tag Deutsch geubt, und jetzt es ist nicht genug. Ich finde Duolingo toll zu spielen, aber die ergebnisse sind nicht schnell genug!

Perhaps im butchering the language, but it’s a start. Its been a few weeks since completing the “tree” in duolingo, but im still only 48% fluent, according to them.

Practice makes perfect right?

2015/08/27 – Reconnecting

2015-08-27  - Reconnecting

The day seemed to fall into all fields of getting connected – from the mundane (buying transformers to match the european current system) to the intangible (reconnecting with long-lost friendships that somehow made their way and ended up in Berlin as well).

There’s something special about this place, that keeps people here and permits them to build their future. You can sense the energy of the place everywhere you walk. It’s that idea of connectivity that has been on my mind today: berlin connects the old with the new; the young with the old, the established with the innovative.

2015/08/26 – Tempelhof/Neukolln

2015-08-26 - Tempelhof

Arrival in Berlin – Afternoon/Night 1. Arriving was fairly simple, it surprises me that Tegel Airport is not connected by S-Bahn or U-Bahn, being that it is so close to the city. Perhaps they are waiting for Schoenfeld to finally be open to the public. It’s really confusing.

From airport to Neukolln, my temporary residence… a rising, gentrifying neighborhood… previously seen as a terrible place to live due to its proximity to Berlin’s ‘other’ airport: Tempelhof. Now that Tempelhof has been converted into Berlin’s largest park (355 ha in comparison to Tiergarten’s 250 ha); the area has surged in the real estate market and flats are hard to come by.

Tempelhof airport park is one of the coolest parks in the world – one can literally run up and down the preserved tarmac, and at night the entire airport is unlit, making it look like a vast ocean of nothingness surrounded by the skyline in the background. It’s one of those wierd legacies that no other place in the world has but Berlin.

2015/08/25 – Flight Rant

2015-08-25 - Flight Rant

Perhaps I have bad luck, but every time I fly with American Airlines, I seem to have the need to write a letter complaining to them why their service is so awful.

So here it is:

Dear AA:

I am writing with great concern with regards to your services in Colombia. Recently, I purchased a plane ticket from Bogota to Dallas and from Dallas-to Berlin utilizing AAdvantage Rewards. The first flight cost me 17,500 miles (+ 80. 40 USD) and the second 30,000 miles (+38.10 USD).

Prior to my flight, on Friday August 21, I called the American Airlines hotline in Bogota to inquire what the best route would be to take my luggage from Bogota to Berlin. The attendant on the phone argued that it would be best to take three pieces of luggage (at a cost of 150,00 USD) rather than paying a fine of 100 USD for any excess luggage. I took her advice and proceeded to pack three items instead of two.

Upon my arrival at the airport, the attendant at the check-in counter checked me in. I was carrying three pieces of luggage, one extra from the permissible amount. I paid the fine, as expected. She further helped me send my bags directly to Frankfurt so that I would not have to encounter any problems in Dallas with my ticketed luggage. I thanked her for this at the time.

Once in Dallas, my flight was scheduled to leave at 3:25 in the afternoon. It was pushed back to 5:00 pm. Once we boarded, the captain communicated to us that the aircraft was experiencing a technical difficulty and we remained on the tarmac for another couple of hours. What started being an 8-hour layover, changed to a 12-hour layover. This affected my connecting flight from Frankfurt to Berlin.

Upon arrival to Frankfurt, there was an attendant ready with my new flight to Berlin. Instead of leaving at 10:50 am as scheduled (we arrived in Frankfurt at 11:30 in the morning), my new flight was scheduled to depart at 5:25 in the evening. Another 5-6 hour wait, great. She gave me a lunch voucher and mentioned to me to pick up my new ticket at the AirBerlin ticket counter (my flight was a shared with Air Berlin).

So what happened was that the attendant that helped me in Bogota only charged my excess baggage up until Frankfurt. That meant that when I got to the Air Berlin counter, they were required to charge me again for my extra bag. According to Air Berlin regulations, I was actually only entitled to one piece of luggage, and since I was carrying three, each additional piece of luggage was to cost me an additional 95 Euros. I explained to her that I had already paid the excess baggage, but the attendant adamantly said that she needed the receipt that showed that I had already paid. When I passed her the receipt, the American Arilines attendant in Colombia had only charged me my excess up until Frankfurt. This did not make sense.

I proceeded to the American Airlines booth at Frankfurt airport to verify if this was a mistake from American Airlines’ side. There was nobody there, but they did leave a telephone number to contact in case there was any problem. I called at around 2:00 pm to voice my complaint to customer service.

I voiced my complaint that I was paying more than triple of my original flight ticket purchase for my luggage, and that I was being charged again for the miscommunication from Bogota all the way to Berlin. The attendant at the counter in Bogota failed to charge my bags all the way to Berlin, and concealed the information that she had only charged my bags to Frankfurt. Upon speaking with the customer service employee from AA, she suggested that I should pay the 190 Euros to guarantee my bags arriving in Berlin, take photographs of both receipts, and send it via email to customer relations and file a claim for reimbursement. She said if my claim was valid, I would get reimbused within 7-10 days. Based on this information she provided me, I proceeded to pay the 190 Euros, and my bags arrived in good condition in Berlin.

This is the second time my family has experienced problems utilizing American Airlines through Bogota in the past two months. I strongly suggest that AA trains their operatives to avoid these kinds of problems in the future. I thought that by utilizing my AAdvantage Rewards flight was a way to save money, but in retrospect it turned out to be a complete nightmare.