October 1st was the official start of the semester at Universität Potsdam where Jon will be studying while we’re in Berlin. He needed to pick up some orientation paperwork, so we decided to make a day trip of sorts out of it. Potsdam isn’t very far away, about 40 minutes from Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main station) to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof on the S7 and trains run every ten minutes.
Why aren’t we living in Potsdam? Is because we CAN live in Berlin a good enough answer? Potsdam is a much smaller and while charming city, we prefer something bigger, busier more, as the Germans say, multi-kulti (multicultural).
While Jon picked up his info, Shoshana and I wandered around a nearby toy store. It was hard not to buy every adorable wooden toy in sight, but in the end, we picked out a magnadoodle to replace the won she loved to death (did you know those things can wear out? in 3 months?!) and a little recorder. The magnadoodle was a lucky buy – it was a lifesaver on the train home. Luckily, grad students are students who kind of aren’t real students, so Jon didn’t have to do much besides declare his presence. He found us before we got to the cash register.
We walked down to Brandenburgerstrasse thinking that it would be easy to find a place to eat there. Its a pedestrian zone (Fußgangezone in German) in between Luisenplatz and St. Peter und Paul, and, presumably, is lined with things that pedestrians and tourists need like restaurants. Well, there were a lot of deli type places with pre-made sandwiches, but nothing that one would want to stop at with a baby. So we wandered up and down. It was hot, the hottest day of the year, we were hungry and tired and anxious about finding something that Shoshana would like/could eat. There may have been bickering and some angry declaring that we should just go back to the train station and GO HOME!
Then Jon noticed a chinese restaurant on a side street.
Chinese food can be, honestly, it can be horrible in Germany. Most chinese food here is a greasy, bland mess, but every once in a while you find something delicious. We were lucky.
China-Restaurant Mandarin is decorated foor to ceiling in cherry wood and gold paint. Its everything a westerner who has never been to China would think China looks like. We ordered our usual first meal in a new Chinese restaurant: chicken fried rice and kung pao chicken (Eirreis mit Hähnchen und Kung Bao). The kung pao was saucy and bland. Exactly what it usually tastes like in Germany, germanized. I think we’re just going to have to give up on ordering scharf (spicy) food and then we won’t be disappointed. The rice, however, was perfect and, even better, baby approved.
We spent so much time looking for something to eat, that we didn’t do much else. I was determined to see the Holländisches Viertel, however. Its just two or three blocks off of Brandenburgerstrasse. When you see the gate that looks like a grey castle, the Nauener Tor, walk towards it and soon you’ll see red brick buildings. That’s the Holländisches Viertel or Dutch Quarter.
Isn’t it pretty? It reminds me of parts of the US east coast. It even made me a little homesick.
The wonderful thing about Potsdam is that its so close to Berlin, we didn’t feel rushed to do more. Of course, if you’re only in Berlin for a short time, Sansoucci is a must. All you need to get there is a VBB ticket for zones ABC. One way (Einzelfahrausweis) costs 3 euro. A day pass (Tageskarte) for all 3 zones costs 6.80.