After a final dinner out and a few glasses of wine in celebration, Spencer and I headed back to the Yaounde case to pack and get ready for our 5am flight. Before long we arrived in Rabat, sunk our teeth into a croque-Monsieur in all it's cheesy glory, and boarded yet another flight. After 8 hours of flying, my feet were swollen and my broken foot made me believe it might burst my plaster cast.
Flying into Berlin was surreal. The sight of autumn leaves, paved roads and steel buildings was quite the opposite of the green, dirt road and mud brick environment I've been in the last two years. After a bus ride, a U-Baun ride and a walk later, we arrived to our cozy hostel and our clean dorm room.
I was eager for my first bite of non-African food, so we set out in search of dinner. It was a Friday night, so we figured we'd have no problem finding something. Unfortunately our neighborhood, Kreuzeberg, doesn't have much in the way of restaurants. Every bar and cafe we passed was closed, which gives the impression the steel stomached Germans don't go out on Fridays?
After aimlessly walking for a half hour, we finally found a Mediterranean restaurant, Sufis. As we perused the menu, Spencer kept asking "I wonder if they have this in stock?" to everything on the menu. Cameroon restaurants are usually out of or don't carry 90% of what's on the menu, but I reminded Spencer that this is Europe, they've gotta have everything. I was, surprisingly, wrong. We inquired about many items only to find them all not available. Oh well. In the end I kept my two year promise with myself that my first non-African food would be a veggie and cheese loaded salad, and believe me, it didn't disappoint.
It was strange waking up on Saturday to the sound of silence, which I can honestly say hasn't happened in 27 months. In Ngatt I woke up to either roosters, Quranic recitations or goats making all kinds of weird noises. After thoroughly enjoying all the non-bean and egg options at the breakfast buffet, Spencer and I set out for exploring the city.
|I can't wait to see the Berlin Wall, oh, wait a minute, this is it?|
After that brief letdown we visited Checkpoint Charlie, the major border crossing between East and West Berlin. While the history is interesting, the checkpoint is now swarming with throngs of tour buses and Malaysians with selfie-sticks. Also at the checkpoint were fake American soldiers charging 4 euros for gullible tourists to take pictures with them. While the touristic nature of the area was nauseating and honestly overwhelming after living in a village for two years, the history was nonetheless cool.
|That chunk of the Berlin Wall is more like it|
We attempted to use public transit back to avoid walking, but that ended up being an awful mistake. I'm a Chicago girl accustomed to public transit, but I guess after living in Cameroon I've forgotten some of the intricacies of city navigation. In short, as Spencer was completely helpless in helping us find how to get back, I struggled to map out our transfers, but despite my assurances, we got lost. After a while I managed to straighten it out, and in my defense, Berlin's public transit system is the most confusing I've been on (and Germans have told me the same thing).
|Ohhh yes, please|
Berlin has a large Turkish population and because of this, there are some great Turkish eats. We waited 40 minutes in line for a little döner sandwich and though our feet were screaming, our stomachs were happy. This is likely the best dish I've had in Berlin. If this is a sneak peak into food in Turkey, we are in for a treat!
|We should've ordered two....|
Our quick sejour in Berlin has been fun, but overwhelming, especially for me. Having not left Cameroon in 27 months and then abruptly throwing myself into the 4th largest city in Europe has been exhausting and overwhelming, but why take the time to get my toes wet when I could just jump on into the reintegration process. The non-stop activities and delicious food has kept me from missing Ngatt, which is a blessing. As our two days in Berlin come to an end, we now head to Sofia, Bulgaria, where we will now know neither the language nor the alphabet, so we are quite likely to have our fair share of gaffs while exploring some of the oldest cities in Europe. Bulgaria, bring it on!