home, watery home

IMG_1794I’m cleaning off the bulletin board by my desk and came across a couple of blog ideas I’d meant to write a while ago, so here’s one of them. I’ve now been back from Berlin for almost four months, but I don’t think it’s too late to tell you the things I most appreciated when I got home in October 2009.

1. The walk lights in D.C. count down how much time you have left to get across the street. This is handy.

2. Water fountains! I saw one water fountain the whole time I was in Germany. It was in Hamburg, by the harbor, and it was on this giant pedestal that said “water” in big letters and multiple languages. I guess they were worried people wouldn’t recognize it. In German, they even pointed out that it was drinking water.

3. Joking with strangers. My language skills weren’t up to it. I mean, not that I go around making wisecracks all day here, but every now and then, you just want to be able to say something funny and have someone appreciate it.

4. Walls without graffiti. It seemed like everything that stood still for more than a few minutes in Berlin got tagged. I’m sure this is not actually true – ok, I occasionally stood still for a few minutes and no one approached me with spray paint – but really, there is graffiti everywhere. Some of it is cool murals and artsy stuff and whatnot, but a lot of it is just ugly old tagging.

5. Tap water!! In restaurants!!! I’m sorry, that wasn’t enough exclamation points to express how awesome this is!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !

(Previously: Good things from Berlin that stuck with me – and, I can report a few months later, have continued to do so.)

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3 Responses to home, watery home

  1. Will Wurzel says:

    The only language I know of in which “water” translates “aqua” is Latin. Are Germans into Latin signage?

  2. Helen says:

    Not generally! Isn’t that funny? I guess they figured that would be universally understood…although you’d think they could’ve stuck the Chinese character for water up there, too.

  3. Lucky Fresh says:

    I think Germans must have a thing about being clear about whether you should drink something or not. I learned some of my first vocab words early on in my first trip there when we visited an old mill. I don’t remember what it was that had the sign on it, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t something I would have drunk from. But nevertheless, it was labeled “Kein trinkwasser.”