Friday, December 17, 2010

Berlin day 1

After an exhausting journey that included a grueling 4 hour layover at Heathrow and a stumbling, snowy late-night slog via bus and U-bahn from the airport, Nadia and I finally made it to our hotel room, which is spare and clean in that particularly German way.

We slept through breakfast, finally leaving the hotel at noon today. It snowed most of the day, so we chose indoor, Nadia-friendly venues for the most part - the Alexa shopping center at Alexanderplatz (where we found some comfortable chairs to read - Nadia read Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb and I read a Berlin guidebook), the Fernsehturm (where I gawked at the snowy 360 degree view of Berlin view while Nadia read Fool's Errand), and the KaDeWe department store (the largest in Europe), where we were so overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place that we had to replenish ourselves with bean soup (me) and Fool's Errand (Nadia).

It's the season for Weihnachtsmaerkte, and we inspected the one at Alexanderplatz (that's Nadia in the photo), one of many I plan to visit in the search for nifty handmade presents. And Gluehwein - plenty of Gluehwein (hot mulled wine) to ward off the winter chill!

Books read on the journey so far:
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Two teens who have never met lead each other on a romantic scavenger hunt through NYC during the holiday season.This was a light and charming read, but it lacked the heart of Nick and Norah's Ultimate Playlist, being an uneasy mix of teenage earnestness and slapsticky rom/com (culminating in Dash and Lily getting thrown in jail). It starts really well but just gets more and more unlikely. I kept seeing it as a cute movie (a 2010, teen version of When Harry Met Sally). Left ARC on the LAX/London plane.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Caitlyn, an 11-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome, tries to deal with the death of her older brother, the sadness of her dad, and the bewildering world of people and their emotions. It's written from Caitlyn's point of view, which worked fine for me - but I have to say that this wasn't a book I loved. Parts of it felt very grown-uppy and contrived, such as the search for Closure. It won the the National Book Award and may very well win the Newbery, so feel free to take my reaction to it with a grain of salt. Left ARC on the London/Berlin plane.

Tomorrow we tackle the Charlottenburg Palace, Kollwitzplatz, and much, much more!


  1. Nadia looks very Euro-hip. Whatever will she do when she finishes with her Robin Hobbs?

  2. I've heard lots of good buzz about Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.
    I wonder who will find your ARC?

    Looks very wintry in this picture! We just had snow, but none of it stuck. It was the first time I've seen snow coming down in about 15 years.

  3. Nadia prides herself on looking Berlin-ish, while my colorful coat and mittens make me look foreign. The second I walked into a shop today (before saying a word!), the shopkeeper said, "You aren't from Berlin."
    I think maybe the plane ride was making me very cranky - normally I really like both Levithan and Cohn. Romantic teens will definitely go for Dash and Lily.
    It's very cold and just keeps snowing!
    As for the Robin Hobb books, Nadia brough 3 fat ones.