Monday, 24 March

In Berlin, you often need to slap yourself, to make sure you’re not dreaming.

First slap was necessary Thursday. Nathan K. and his dog Spikey took Elsa and me for a walk at the old airport Templehof, which has been turned into a park. Except it sill looks just like an airport. There are runways, with numbers next to them, vast stretches of treeless grass. Near the terminal, there are several shells of old planes, some from the Berlin airlift. A Cold War watch tower, very similar to Teufelsberg tower. Now people bike, skate, wind-board on the runways. Several large dog runs have been fenced in, complete with poop-bag dispensers at the gates. Yet in the middle, vegetation has grown up and you feel almost in the country.

Slap number two: the Salon Christophori on the Ufestrasse, where we went to a concert on Saturday. It is a piano repair atelier in Wedding that Julia, one of my German teachers, told me about (http://www.konzertfluegel.com/). The vast hangar of a building on a canal is stuffed to bursting with pianos and piano parts that even hang from the ceiling. The eye cannot settle it’s so packed. But for the concerts a narrow passage between stacks of stuff leads to a cleared area with a low stage and about 200 chairs, each bearing a chit with the name under which it's been reserved. A bar is set up at the back and you can pour yourself a glass of wine. Unusually for Berlin, the audience was more or less our age. The organizers requested that we contribute 14€. It was very civilized—a sort of modern-day salon, this evening with a dissonant jazz group. Have to say that I liked the setting better than the music.