Being in Berlin: First impressions

Greetings from Berlin.

I don’t have much to report yet, but when has that ever stopped me from blogging! It is a beautiful, sunny day and I am excited to finally experience Berlin in the summer. Every other time I visited this place was in the middle of the winter. And let me tell you, it gets bone-chilling cold in this city. Berlin is pretty psychologically cold to begin with. You add 10F to the mix and it is just barely bearable. Berlin in the summer is going to be a whole new experience for me.

It already looks totally different than I remember it. I am staying with a friend in Kreuzberg, which is the hip area of Berlin, I am told. There are great little cafes, sushi bars and thrift stores all around us. Using Wiki lingo, Kreuzberg is an “unusual mix of left-wing punks, anarchists, gays, creative artists and Turkish immigrants, the last of which make up a third of the population and have earned the area its occasional nickname Little Istanbul.” Can’t wait to try my first falafel.

One thing I can’t figure out is that all these cafes are packed all day long. How Berlin sustains a vibrant cafe culture and a whopping 17% unemployment rate is beyond me. Does the state literally pay people to sit in cafes all day?