Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Berlin1. Everything is So Hazy

I called my parents from the airport. Saying goodbyes. My mom asked, "Do you know any German?"
Then she taught me how to say, "Ich liebe Dich"
I repeated after her several times. Then asked, "Mom, what the... why are you teaching me this. Do you want me to actually use it?"
My mom learned German as second language when she was a highschool student in Korea. She forgot most of it, except how to say Ich liebe Dich. Oh and basic conversations. I better learn basic phrases before I visit again next year. I felt like an idiot, staying true to the North American stereotype: "When we visit other countries, we don't learn their languages, we speak English. If they don't understand, we speak English louder" 

My flight was cancelled. I was suppose to stop over at New Jersey, but there was some bad weather warnings. I learned later that the plane's top fell off or something. Or is that just a rumour... I was panicked at first. I already booked for hostel and everything! How long am I stuck in the airport? I did not sleep at all the night before because I was finishing an important illustration job. So all I wanted was to sit in the plane and sleep. Instead, I was on the airport phone, impatiently waiting for the next available flight. I spent all day in the airport, but ended up arriving in Berlin only an hour later than I planned. I couldn't really complain, because I think the new flight is the more expensive ticket. It stops over Frankfurt instead of New Jersey. Stopping over at US is a huge pain in the ass. I hate going through US security check.

Plus, Pearson Airport has free wifi everywhere! Hallelujah! I quickly planned my trip. I didn't have much time to plan this trip because I've been so busy with work, school and personal life. I usually plan everything to the bitter end when I travel. I know it's much cooler to just go and spontaneously explore. But to me, planning is also a part of it and I take great pleasure in it. And I'm not a cool person, no.

During long hours of flight (10 hours, I think? My memory fails me already), of course they served me nothing I could eat. If I ask for a vegan meal, they become very pissy. "you are suppose to order that before hand." Um, how am I suppose to order when there is no option of choosing when you book a ticket online?! But who cares, I knew that already. So I brought a bag of chia seeds, almonds and bunena chips. I think I'm not suppose to bring any seeds to another continent. My apologies for doing so, but I needed to survive. Chia seeds are those seeds that you make chia pets out of. Full of omega 3 fatty acids. Ancient Aztec runners used to eat them instead of meals while going on long marathons (eh... probably because they were poor). I mixed them up in liquid - juice and water - and ate them for meals. Does it sound sad? YES. But it's better than airplane meals even if I wasn't a vegan. I used to deliberately avoid airplane meals even when I wasn't a vegan. They always made me sick.

As I got closer to Berlin, I felt excitement. Even riding a bus to my hostel with very heavy luggages was exciting. I recognized landmarks 'Unter den Linden', Ampelmann shop, etc. etc. Although I didn't have time to plan much, I did my prep work of memorizing basic map, reading German history books, blogs and reading three travel books on Berlin: The Rough Guide, Rick Steve's and some travel book in Korean. Does it sound like an overkill? Yup. That's how I like to roll. I even planned to learn basic German before I go, but just didn't have time. "The Rough Guide" on Berlin was not very good. I should've gotten "Lonely Planet." The bus stopped in front of my hostel, and my heart was pumping fast. What a charming area! 

I stayed at Circus Hostel. I got a single room with shared bathroom. It looked like a prison cell. It was dark, damp and smelled of cigarettes. How do I know what a real prison cell looks like? I've visited one before when I was acting in a drama club in highschool. We visited this trouble girls' (I guess) juvenile prison and did a performance for them. I remember their rooms. Small, simple and everything was cemented to the ground. The hostel room was like that. I immediately wanted to get out, but I knew that, just like anything, I'd get used to it. Besides, I was to move to ensuite room 3 days later. I vowed myself I won't stay in hostels once I turn 30, but I fucked up, dudes. I fucked up severely. At least I'm staying in single rooms. That counts for something, right?

After spending a day in airports and airplanes, I was exhausted and feeling gross. I slept 3 hours in past 3 days, that's not good at all. Being an illustrator, I often pull all nighters. I thought I was used to weird sleep schedules, but my body can only take so much beating. But it was a morning in Berlin, and I couldn't (and shouldn't) just waste time sleeping. I took a long hot shower and um, washed my shirts. I didn't even have time to do laundry before I left. (I had some deadlines, and I never say no. I was very grateful for such a fun job) I became that weird person who does laundries in hostel showers. Thankfully, there was no one around. My favourite shirt was not smelly no more. In my sleep-deprived delirium, I packed very little and impractically. It brings us to... 
Hyein's Impractical Packing 101!!!:
 Petticoat/tutu. Everyone needs a tutu! It seems ridiculous to pack this stuff, but I should be thankful that I only packed ONE tutu. I really really wanted to bring my black petticoat along as well. This one could be bundled very small, so I picked this one.
Bloomers. Form over function, dude. Form over function... I live it. I actually don't know why the hell I brought this. It was too cold to actually rock this one.

Anyways, I finally got out of my sad prison and get to pick up my Pictoplasma pass. It was a bracelet. It was very tight for me and uncomfortable. For someone who doesn't wear jeweleries... it felt weird to have it on at all times. I tried to take it off, but it won't come off. Like it or not, I was stuck with it for the next 4 days. 
I don't like it so tight (that's what he said??)
On my way to pick up the pass.

Old crumbling building. Registration/art installation.

Friendly people at the registration table. 

At the registration, there was this old, crumbling building. Artists painted monsters in the theme of 'Monster Factory.' It was such a neat idea. I want to do that with my friends too! 

As a part of Pictoplasma, 24 galleries participated in Character Walk. They are gallery shows in the theme of characters in the Mitte area. I went to the Pictarot reading. Illustrators painted each card of the tarot deck. I waited for a very long time. I asked people standing in front of the line and asked how long they've been waiting. They told me 1 hour. Upon hearing that, I gave up and left. I went for the reading few days later. It was a bad reading, I cannot remember what the reader said. My apologies, but I could do a tarot reading better than her.

I went on to check out McBess, one of my favourite illustrators. He seemed to be a nice guy. He smiled and nodded. I was too scared to talk to him. Well, I'm scared to talk to anybody. Story of my life. What I wanted to tell him: "Dude, your art ROCKS!!!"

Before leaving for Berlin, I have searched and selected all the vegan places I was going to eat. I wanted to try these vegan fastfood places that Berlin's so full of. On the first day, I decided to try Yoyo Foodworld. I remember riding 4 hour subway ride in New York in the middle of the night (the subway broke down) to go to a vegan fastfood place called Food Swings (If you have a chance to go to NY, please try their amazing food. And pistachio milkshake! Vegan or not, their pistachio milkshake is out-of-this-world). Oh I have such fond memories of Food Swing's food. I had a similar feeling, walking along the unfamiliar streets of Friedrichshain (around Frankfurter Tor U-Bahn station). Do people travel far to eat food? I suddenly felt like an idiot.

Cute gallery +  studio. I recognized his work, but too scared to talk to him.

I saw that they have vegan food there. I made a mental note to check it out someday, but simply did not have time.

I took a photo of it because 'Hain' is how my name is pronounced. And an owl! The store was full of such cute things. I wanted to go inside, but was too tired. 

Yoyo Foodworld

Really really really good Tiramisu. Very light too!

Mango Lassi

The interior looks better in the photograph, but it was actually a little crummy. Eh... I guess I should say, 'punk rock' instead of 'crummy'

Gigantic pizza. Tuna vegan pizza


The pizza arrived and I was god smacked. I think I paid about 7 euros. I just got to Berlin, so I thought, 'Okay, it's Europe, so everything's expensive.' I was expecting a slice or two of pizza. Oh no. It was a whole giant pizza. Um, did they seriously expect me to eat it all? I ate one slice and packed the rest for dinner. The pizza was gross, I'm sorry... 

Berlin Subway. You can walk from the head to tail! Everything's connected openly. It's everyday to Berliners, exciting snake ride to foreigners like me! I'm sorry for the phrase 'snake ride'
I came back to my hostel. I spent the rest of the evening working and emailing potential clients. And...? I seriously do not remember. Everything is a blur. During the entire duration of the trip, people asked me if I was drunk. No, I do not drink. Sleep drunk, I think. 


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  2. What an exciting blog read. I felt both your pain and frustration over the sleep deprivation / lack of vegan airplane food, as well as you joy and excitement of discovering food places and of course, Pictoplasma. Berlin looks neato.

    Either way, looks like you had an awesome adventure! Hehe, snake ride.