Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Berlin day 5

What is the difference between a cold and allergies? Obviously one is caused by a virus and is contagious, while the other is caused by an over-active immune system and is not contagious - but sometimes it's hard to tell what has caused one's nasty symptoms. Nadia has had a cold for several days, so I assumed I caught it - but according to Dr. Internet, my plugged-up head, itchy throat, and burning-lumps-of-coal eyeballs are all allergy-induced. Apparently the color of one's nasal mucus is a good indicator...

Germy or just allergic, I did slow down a bit on day 5. Left Nadia sleeping and took a streetcar to the Friedrichshain Park, where the Fairy Tale Fountain (Maerchenbrunnen) is located. Obviously the fountain wouldn't be running in this weather, but I was still hoping to see cunning statues like this one, based on Grimm fairy tales:But because of the extra-cold weather, all the statues were sheltering inside cozy little boxes:

To thaw out and get over that nasty disappointment, I headed over to the Alexa mall at Alexanderplatz, where I spent an unknown amount of time wandering through the heavy pre-Christmas crowds. Normally, this would be my idea of hell, but it was just so darn WARM in there - plus my head felt like a helium balloon just barely tethered to my body, which strangely enhanced the whole mall experience. I stood in front of the Sheepworld shelves in one store for at least 20 minutes, swaying gently and happily (see the picture above for an example of Sheepworld products). When allergies hit me, they hit me hard...

However, it did seem wasteful to spend so much of my Berlin trip in an American-style mall, so I headed back to the hotel, swooped up Nadia, and... went to see the movie Tangled at the Sony Center. In English. I know, I know - but we were both feeling too sick to do anything else. There was a group of loud American teenage girls sitting right behind us, and Nadia did recover enough to wax scathing about them. There is nobody more judgmental about teenage girls than other teenage girls. "I bet they're from Indiana," she seethed, after yet another bout of shrieking and giggling from the row behind us. Meow!

Another bout of insomnia, this one absolutely allergy-induced, allowed me to finish two books:
The White Horse Trick by Kate Thompson
This last installment of an Irish fantasy trilogy that includes The New Policeman and The Last of the High Kings is a bit disturbing, featuring as it does the destruction of human civilization, thanks to global warming. This is clearly a trend in YA literature - think of Carbon Diaries 2015, Raiders' Ransom, Ship Breaker, and many others. At least in The White Horse Trick, there is T'ir na n'Og to escape to. This is rather a bleak book nevertheless, although it does possess the glimmering bits of down-to-earth humor that make Thompson's books so enjoyable. The Adam and Eve ending is quite disappointing for its blatant wink/nudge aspect, but otherwise this is a fine wrap-up to the trilogy.

Real Live Boyfriends by e. lockhart
Ah, Ruby. We love you and your self-doubting, self-criticizing, self-destructive ways - but enough already! Actually, it's her therapist, the redoubtable Doctor Z, whom I wanted to shake. Enough with the wise silences and the repeating of Ruby's words back to her - just tell her that overthinking everything, though not necessarily healthy, doesn't mean you're bonkers. There's more Guy Trouble, though of a more garden-variety nature this time - and by the end of this slim book, Ruby is actually on the road to maturity. Hurray! Nothing special or new here, but of course a must for Ruby Oliver fans. (small quibble - why is Ruby never wearing her glasses in the jacket art for this series?)

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to read how sick you have been, and cheered at the same time by your determination. The photos and links are terrific. What about your return flight? We are watching the travel situation in Europe with trepidation.