Berlin Fri March 9

Why did I write February before? The first blog post was written as February, but I started this trip rather tired, plus that I didn’t have good shoes. When you walk a lot, as you

Why did I write February before? The first blog post was written as February, but I started this trip rather tired, plus that I didn’t have good shoes. When you walk a lot, as you do when hitchhiking, you need good shoes. Don’t care what the cost is, this is a pretty cheap way of going around 😉 Every other blog post was written “March”, and that matches my memory as well. I remember April 30 for example, how I was sitting in a car in Turkey thinking about what I would have done if in Uppsala, and Turkey was after two months. So I’ll change the posts. The good thing with this being in March, is that the dates are the same! In fact, I can even relax for two days to get the right dates exactly 😉 Anyway, back to Berlin 15 years minus two days ago:

I didn’t want to take any chances so I got up really early to be in time for my meeting at Freie Universität. Until now I had paid tributes to the rustic charm of East Berlin; to how this abundance of worn-out buildings gave ordinary people space to rent cheaply and occupy and find room for their lives and creativity. But when I tried to warm and wash myself in this old DDR-shower I started to understand why they tore down the Berlin wall. I decided to have something bizarre for breakfast. I pointed at the largest sandwich in the shop and got a big chunk of cold fried pork with ketchup. It wasn’t tasty at first, but the more I ate of it the more I came to appreciate it.

Freie Universität is situated in the South-West of Berlin, in an area full of large villas with gardens. It was completely different from East Berlin.

The departments of the university were spread out over a large area, so I went off the subway station at the main entrance and walked randomly into the library of the law department to ask for directions. The librarian looked in an old book and gave me an address. It was two subway stops to the East, so I went back to the subway and went there. When I found the building I was surprised to see it surrounded by a wall and with a microphone in which to ask permission to enter. And there was a sign saying: “Grosse sozialistische Libysch-Arabische Volksjamahiria Volksbüro – Berlin”.

A man came out of the building and informed me that I was at the Libyan embassy and that he had no idea where the Japanese department was. Why does life has to be so bizarre?

I took the subway back one stop and asked someone who looked like a student. “The only place I know is the Erasmus office; I am going there now”. Oh, perfect! They must know how to handle confused foreigners I thought and joined her. After minutes of walking the girl admitted that she was lost. How professional of me to follow an Italian exchange student! I went to a post with signs pointing in different directions, looked stupid for a while and then asked a woman if she knew how to get to the Japanese department.

“Oh, so you are interested in the Japanese department! What about the Japanese department are you interested in?”

“Um … going there”

“Oh, I see, you want to go there. Just take to the right at the next junction, then right again, then left then right left right right left”

I went into all kinds of buildings that looked university-like but I found nothing and now it was already 12 am, which was the time of our appointment. Damn! Damn! Damn! Eventually I found a computer in the student restaurant house and there I found directions. I guess I should have looked this up the night before …

The Japanese department was – like most departments seemed to – situated in an old beautiful building. The walls of the staircase were lined with pictures of Japanese youths in Harajuku with extreme make-ups. Professor Königsberg was already locking his office to go out when I came. But as soon as he saw me he unlocked it and invited me in for some excellent green tea. We spent a good half-hour looking at the game and he was very fascinated and promised to buy a copy as soon as it was on the market.

Later I got to meet with Professor Blechinger-Talcott who was equally enthusiastic and urged me to come back and arrange gaming sessions for the students once they were back from spring break.

They were both so positive and friendly that I got a good boost of self-coincidence. The sun was nice and hot as I walked back trough the beautiful surroundings of Freie Universität and I felt that nothing could ruin this day.

Not even that I walked in the wrong direction from Schönhauser Allee and got an extra hour of involuntary walk. It was 4 am when I came back to the flat and I was too short of time to go and do my laundry. That was a pity since Skatar had told me that the laundry at Rosenthaler Platz had a man that dressed up in a white smoking helped you operate the machines and then sold you beer in his bar while you were waiting for your clothes. Instead I washed the clothes in the DDR-shower. It was also for pecuniary reasons: at this time I still thought that my bank charged me a fortune every time I withdrew money abroad (which they don’t). To boost my night budget even more I emptied Skatar’s collection of refundable bottles and got an astonishing 8 euros!

When he came home from work he didn’t notice that 8 euros worth of bottles were missing from his apartment. We went out for dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby. After a huge and delicious portion of spaghetti carbonara we met up with some friends at a bar where the Swedish waitress gave a special discount for Swedish guests – I paid nothing.

Then we went to the “furniture factory”, a club that was – as its name indicated – situated in an old furniture factory. It was a great club but I don’t know how to describe it really. But one interesting feature was that part of the old factory was still intact and seemingly untouched since the day the factory closed down. The whole place smelled of dust. At 5:30 they woke me up from the chair in front of a big screen TV where I had slept for most of the night. Damn, I didn’t know they were open till that late. I guess I won’t be at the highway too early tomorrow.

Will I make it to Praha tomorrow? Or Dresden? The excitement. I’ll copy-paste that on Wednesday, to get days matching, so that in the end, every post is exactly 15 years after this happened 🙂

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