Let me tell you a story about the birds and the bees. They’re everywhere in Berlin, and I’m not talking about summertime love. The birds are friendly little dinosaurs, fair enough, but I wish I’d known about their counterparts ahead of time. Not because I fear the pain (though let’s be honest, I’m no Mr. Miyagi when they hover near my eyes), but because the last two times I was stung my foot swelled up too big to fit in a shoe and it would be nice to know if that sort of thing is likely to happen again. Perhaps I’ll find out soon! Things bees like: potted plants, tasty treats, and me. If there’s a billboard menu within 20 meters you can be sure to find one.
TERRIBLE CORRECTION ON 8/6/14: They’re wasps, not bees. Good news for potential allergic reaction, bad news with regard to their ability to inflict pain.
In other news, my new roommate was kind enough to loan me her old bike, an essential element in the Berlin experience. After digging it out of the cellar and wiping off years of dust, we inflated the tires and lowered the seat using an Allen Key (no easy-adjust handle here; “Germans like tools”). Now every morning I play Mario Kart at the traffic light. As the countdown goes from orange to green I find myself engulfed in a peloton and suddenly realize I’m in the wrong turn lane. (Lanes? For bikes? Genius, but an extra obstacle for the uninitiated.) “All right!” quickly becomes “Aaiieee.” I’m probably a full week away from making it from Neukölln to Weinmeisterstraße without stopping to consult a map, but it’s not an unpleasant way to orient myself in the city.
If you haven’t heard me rave about Berlin already, that’s for another day. So far it lives up to my high expectations and I couldn’t be happier to be here.