A Day at Slow Travel Berlin’s Celebration: a Kleidertausch, Brushes with Grimberg, and Unassuming Tacos

German events–so long as they happen in the daylight hours–are nearly always far quieter than I expect.

Coming off of four tumultuous years in one of Europe’s most bustling, shouty, aggressive and, without a doubt, loudest capital cities (fact: some sources say Spain is the second loudest country on earth after Japan), it still sits strangely with me that here, I can leave my home on a Saturday afternoon, navigate south, and for blocks at a time, hear nothing but the sound of my own footsteps. Where in other countries, city streets, popular bars, and even shopping malls are the highest of high volume locales, in Berlin, they’re hushed and adult–they’re goddamn orderly. Discomfiting. Weird. And also inarguably awesome.

Slow Travel Berlin’s Celebration of Culture was one such unexpectedly calm, chill, and characteristically German-quiet event. Despite the prevalence of daytime drinking and the attendance of more than a few visiting Iberians, the shady, cavernous space of Kreuzberg’s Markthalle 9 remained tenably chillaxed throughout the afternoon I spent enjoying the various workshops, food stalls, and events. Here’s how it went down.

After a quick stop by ArtConnect Berlin’s jewelry trunk show, I arrived on the scene with my favoritest of kiwis. Our bags were full and our destination clear: the Kleidertausch event. After laying out our clothes for exchange, a glass of complimentary bubbly, and a few too many gooey brownies, Rosie and I were ready to swap. Women hoved like buzzards around the u-shaped tables, eyeing the piles of soon-to-be-grabbable textiles. Sadly, there was little booty which interested Rosie or me, but at the afternoon clothes swap session,  we both struck gold. By the good graces of Jenni, kleidertausch organizer extraordinaire and new friend, I left Markthalle 9 with a breezy summer tee and a splendid little vintage dress that seems made for my grandma’s illnaynay woven cordovan belt.

Apart from the monster-sized tofu burger, lovely wine (discovery: they sell Bitácora, one of my preferred Ruedas, at the market’s permanent wine stall), great company and tuneage supplied by a variety of local artists, there were also wandering sketchers, and three practitioners of the quite possibly useless Grimberg method. I suppose I oughtn’t knock it–after all, I was the beneficiary of a complimentary 20-minute (awkwardly public) massage–but this particular physical therapy method, subscribing to a belief in the body’s ability to heal itself if taught, seemed rather ineffective to me. At the very least I served as a rather awkward life drawing subject for the scores of roving scribblers.

And then there was Mexican. Together with our passel of new friends, Rosie and I trooped to Lenaustraße for Geist im Glas’ infamous taco night, meeting some work colleagues and various significant others at the spot. The apricot margaritas and licorice-infused bourbon went down nice and easy, but the real star of the show wasn’t the exotic booze or beautifully tattered decor, nor was it the traditional beef taco. It was the humble chipotle sweet potato taco that knocked my brain back into its rattly, hatted hull in the pleasantest of ways. As I chewed  through my second taco, I considered its subtle tuberous appeal–subdued in its spices, certainly not screaming hot or ostentatiously adorned with exotic veg, never would this dreamtaco ever consider attracting unwonted attention to itself–it seemed to me an appropriate mascot food for a lovely day out in this, the chillest of capitol cities.

I’ve always been a fan of the strong, silent types, Berlin. I’m getting used to your quiet. Keep me in fantastic cultural events and belly-warming tacos and we’ll both be a-okay.

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