I had a great birthday. Even though no one here knew it was my big day, I got so many sweet messages–and even a blog post dedicated to wishing me a happy birthday, with farts and singing orange aliens, nonetheless–from friends and family back home that it really felt like I wasn’t so far away after all. I really cannot express how wonderful that was. Thank you so much.
So, Berlin! We took a train there, and after his family picked us up at the brand new train station, we headed straight to Kreuzberg, the Turkish district in Berlin, to go to Hasir’s for Döner, Rob’s ABSOLUTE favorite food. He asked me to hold his Döner for a second while he we to get napkins, I snuck a bite:
On Saturday, we spent the day with his mom and her boyfriend (Gert), then in the evening, it was birthday party time! Rob’s grandparents and an aunt and a cousin, along with his sister (Katy), her boyfriend (Stanley), and our niece, came over for dinner. We had yummy brats, hackbraten, homemade potato salad, and veggies. We sat in their basement, which is furnished like a bar: nice corner table that seats 10 comfortably, a great music system and lots of CDs, a bar, and a dart board game. After dinner, Katy, Stanley, Rob, and I played darts. We played several games of 501 (you try to get to 0 points from 501 points) and cricket (hit each number between 15 and 20 three times, then hit the bullseye three times too), and man! I suck at darts! The only game that I came close to winning in, I was standing pretty close. Oh well, it was fun! :)
Helping Jocy open her birthday presents
In the middle of a very competitive game of darts.
(Sorry for the darkness!)
Katy has fun while Stanly focuses on hitting the bull’s eye.
They were both playing air guitar,
but Mutti stopped just in time for me to take a picture!
On Sunday, we went to Marzahn, the district where Rob used to live. It is this whole neighborhood of apartment complexes, complete with every kind of store you’d need, several schools (well, they aren’t there anymore, but Rob pointed out the field where his elementary school used to be), and a youth sport hall. I would say there are easily apartments for 3,000 families, and that’s a safe estimate. I’ve never seen anything like it in America, but there has to be places like this in big cities, like New York. I mean, NO HOUSES. I guess that has to be done in big cities: Since you can’t build out, build up, waaay up, to accommodate all the people. Besides all that, it was really awesome to get to visit Marzahn, this place I’ve heard Rob talk about for as long as I can remember. Very cool. :) So here is Rob, in front of his old apartment. It’s the one over his left shoulder with the blue lettering on it.
On Monday, before we went to the train station, we were planning to go to Hasir’s again, but because of the riots in Kreuzberg the day before, we decided not to. So it was straight to the train station. Unfortunately our train ride from Berlin to Giessen was not as simple.
The ICE (Inter-City Express) that we were on was experiencing some technical difficulty, so it wasn’t able to go as fast as it should (ICEs are normally able to go very fast). That put us 45 minutes behind schedule. We didn’t have a specific connecting train, as our tickets allowed us to catch the next train to Giessen from Kassel (good thing!), so all we had to do was find the next train to Giessen.
Unfortunately, we misunderstood a page over the loudspeaker, ran to track 9 where we thought our train was being redirected to, only to get there and see it pull up back over at track 2 where we were originally. Dead sprint up the looooong ramp, over the other tracks, me carrying a backpack and Rob the little rolling suitcase, only to hear the conductor’s whistle when Rob was about 50 meters away. That whistle means “no more getting on the train.” We had to wait another hour for the next train to Giessen, so a trip that was supposed to take 4 hours ended up taking 7. We bought ourselves Döners at our favorite place on our way back to our apartment to make ourselves feel better. :)