Jan 12 2009 5:23 am

you're a slum dog, millionaire

The snow crunches and aches under my feet and echoes alone in the frozen air.  The morning sun is low in the south shooting rays of light nearly horizontally making long shadows across the icy street.  My breath issues forth in rolling clouds of vapor and I hear my breathing distinctly.  It’s a fine northern morning in this fine northern city.


The sun won’t get much higher as it arcs across the southern sky; noon feels more like 4pm. 


The public transport here is very good.  This city is huge and the trains run everywhere.  They squeak and bump around turns and accelerate from the platform at an unnerving rate.  My German is nonexistent but luckily everyone speaks nearly perfect English.  I bumble around with “danke schon” and “bitte” and “sprechen zie Englisch?”  Of course, I do also have Todd and his girlfriend Rosie to help me navigate.  Todd and I were friends in Bloomington.  He showed me how to lift weights.  He’s way better at it than me.  


On Saturday I went to Todd and Rosie’s apartment where Todd made distinctly non-German tacos.  We drank 0.69 Euro half liter bottles of Diebels Alt and Budvar Pils and Berliner Pils.  Beer is cheap here.  We repaired to a neighborhood bar and had tall glasses of Svijany Kellerpils from the Czech Republic.  Then we struck out for Oranienburger Strasse and the Aufsturz beer bar where we imbibed some fine half liters of Andechser Doppelbock, a highly sought after beer in the states.  It was very good.  Rich, malty, sweetness but not cloying and finishing a bit acidic and tart.  We also had some Schlenkerla Marzen.  I’m heading to two beer stores today in hopes of laying in some less widely distributed Bamberg rauchbiers.  


We were propositioned by many prostitutes on Oranienburger Strasse.  It was very cold and the whores looked miserable.    


Last night I met up with Todd and Rosie at Brewbaker, just off the Bellevue stop on the S-Bahn.  This is supposedly the best brewpub in Berlin.  It’s a cool building, located directly under the train tracks, with an arcing brick ceiling and a cozy yet polished German feel.  They only had three house beers on tap, which is typical for most bars here.  Their pils was good but not great, the hop bitterness lingered a bit.  The Kellerbier was good as well, a bit more interesting as they are tough to find in the states, but not that much different from the pils.  It was darker, more along the lines of a Czech pils than a German pils, but other than that, nothing caught my attention.  Their third beer, a rauchbier, was by far my favorite, and Todd’s as well.  A tangy smokiness balanced on a sturdy, healthy malt character, finishing with a nice acidic tang.  I had a few of these.  They went well with the decidedly German waterbuffalo sauerbraten and potato dumplings.  Oh yes, we started with bread and a big ball of pig fat and onions to spread on it.  It was good.  And my cholesterol is high. 


Then, to make an already great day even better, we returned to Todd and Rosie’s apartment to watch, yes, the Eagles game.  Live.  On the North American Sports Network.  Eagles are looking good.  I’m not trying to look too far ahead, but I think they can handle the Cardinals.  And I think Pittsburgh can handle the Ravens (though less handily).  What would that leave?  AN ALL PENNSYLVANIA SUPERBOWL.


The workshop starts tomorrow.  My talk is on Wednesday.  Wish me luck. 


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