On Saturday we took an urban adventure. I’m starting to think that the longer you live in a city and the more comfortable you become, the less you seek to know it. When we first arrived, we truly felt like tourists as we explored the city with joy and wonder. I doubt we could ever know all of Berlin, see all of her sights, or grow bored with all there is to offer here, but if we aren’t intentional we’ll inadvertently stop getting to know her, and we might end up losing that joy and wonder of exploration. I’ve heard that people tend to stick to their neighborhoods in Berlin, and the longer we are here (only 8 months so far) the more I realize how true this is. We are learning to do with what we can find in our neighborhood. Sure, we get out of our area for things like clothing, specialized craft supplies, coffee we enjoy drinking, restaurants (we don’t have a lot of options near us), and to see people we’ve met who don’t live near us, but for the most part we stay in our small little neighborhood or the two/three right next to us.
One place we had yet to visit was the Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe for short), or “Department Store of the West” (translated to English) so we headed out for an adventure. This place is in a totally different part of the city from where we live. We came out of the U-Bahn station and it felt 100% different from what we are “used to”. I felt for a moment as if we weren’t even in Berlin, but that’s one of the beautiful things about this city, and another example of the diversity within her. I am amazed at how different areas of this city can feel to me. We joined the crowd of people- tourists, curious shoppers, locals, and entered the building. We had come for two specific purposes: first, we had never been to this iconic shopping center and second was that this store is said to sell American grocery products at imported prices, so we were about to discover what that meant.
We entered in what I would describe as a scene similar to Macy’s make up department. I haven’t been in anything like that for months. I smiled, not because I was on a shopping spree, because I wasn’t, but because there were things I knew and recognized there. It almost felt like home as in something we recognized, except this would compare to the largest Macy’s I can imagine.
On the 6th floor we finally arrived at the department that sells groceries. We walked past small restaurants selling foods or wines to guests sitting around them, a large wine and spirits section, huge cheese section that made our kids gag and walk around with plugged noses, produce that had Jazz apples (yum!), Jalapeños (and Habaneros) and other delicious items, and finally the American food section.
Let me tell you: the items they sell in the American section are interesting to me and the prices- oh my. I heard that things were inflated here, but the costs were somewhat unbelievable to us. This is one reason we are learning to live on what we can find here, we find if we look hard enough we can find most things we really want like jalapenos this past week. Salsa with jalapenos is a treat we will gladly eat whenever we find them. Back to the inflation topic though. At KaDeWe one can find Starburst candy canes for €8 a box, Hidden Valley Ranch for €11 a bottle, syrup for between €9-€40 depending on “quality” and quantity (I didn’t recognize any of the syrup names), a brownie mix for €14, pop tarts were €9,98 a box, Hershey’s choc chips, brown sugar, BBQ sauce- all substantially more expensive compared to what we’d pay at a grocery store in the US. We were hoping to find A&W, or Barq’s root beer and had brought some Christmas money we got in case we found some, as this would be a real treat, but no dice. It was shocking and maybe a little laughable. On our way back out of the store we saw an amazing TV that cost €35,000! Incredible!
We had a triplet of slightly disappointed children who had hoped to find dream worthy snacks at this store so we went in search of a café to grab a snack and hang out. While walking, we passed the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and for the first time since we moved here, we saw it uncovered since it was previously under preservation project. It was beautiful as the sun was setting, the light was right, and you could see what remains of her. Someday I hope to see the inside because I imagine it’s amazing.
That snack? Since the kids were quite persistent, we ended up just stopping at McDonalds for dinner instead of a café for coffee and cakes. The café we hoped to stop at was a little dressier than we were prepared for so we chose the place where our attire was always welcome- McD’s. We ended our urban adventure at home, snuggled up in bed, with the kiddos listening to me read them our current read aloud.