Friday, January 7, 2011

A cold, dark, dirty city

I arrived in Berlin after nightfall on Wednesday, and unfortunately darkness is more the norm than daylight, at least this time of the year. Berlin is a beautiful destination in late spring and summer and especially the early fall, but winters are uninviting at best. But then, many large European cities suffer a similar fate.

After weeks of snow and freezing temperatures the thermometer has started to slowly creep upward. Nevertheless, the sidewalks are icy and slick; in many places the trash that's left over from New Year's celebrations still litters the streets; and anonymity and abandonment rule.

I took a long walk to what used to be one of my favorite breweries here in Berlin, the Brauhaus in Rixdorf. Alas, while the Rixdorf is still a pretty and inviting place, the beer no longer is brewed on the premises and has been outsourced. So when I had my first sip of the Helles (and then of the Dunkel) I was bitterly disappointed by the sour, yucky taste of what used to be smooth and quite quoffable. The only bright spot was a half liter of the guest beer of the month, a Weihenstephan Weizen. Can't wait to see my friend Sabine in Munich in a month's time!

If inhaling my dad's second-hand smoke is not going to kill me in the interim, the plan is to spend time with my brother and his family tonight; with my mentor from my university days in Trier on Saturday; and a visit to my aunt and cousin on Monday. This trip to Berlin is about relationships, and everything else is secondary, even the sour beer. Well, maybe. There's always hope as I may walk to the Südstern this afternoon, a brew house where I've had a few good ones before....


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