TRAVEL NOTES::DAY 6 | SWIMMING AND CHIPS

saffron after swimming

"Ja, ja" I told the cranky man at the Schwimmhalle as I placed two 2€ coins on the counter for the 3,50€ entrance fee for my daughter. Instead of simply explaining to me the entrance fee was not covered in the receipts I was given - ones I handed him - the man repeated the amount I owed. No smile, no kindness, no understanding or willingness to help.

The cold nature I experienced is typical German mentality. While it takes time to get used to, I was not prepared to deal with this nature so early this morning when I took Saffron to her swimming lesson.

Trusting my daughter's sense of direction, as I had no idea where to go, I followed her up the stairs of the Deutsche Oper U-Bahn station to Krumme Strasse. As we approached the building she usually frequents, we saw a sign on the door stating the lessons were moved to the "new" hall. Saffron did not know the location of the "new" hall, so we walked further up the street until we saw another building announcing it as the "Neue Schwimmhalle".

After the confrontation with the cranky man, Saffron and I entered a small, warm locker area where a mix of mothers and fathers were standing about, albeit I noticed more fathers than mothers. In the States, this type of scene would not be acceptable - the mixed sex children and adults. Outside the women's locker room at my gym back home there is a sign stating no children of opposite sex are allowed with the parent. Cultural differences prevail.

Intending to watch my daughter swim and hoping to photograph her as I did during the summer, I noticed it was not possible. The viewing area was in the entrance hall and the pool was separated by two walls of glass. One can certainly watch the children if you stood the entire 45 minutes. I chose to walk outside and along Zillestrasse until I reached the coffee shop my daughter and I visited earlier in the week.

At the coffee shop, I ordered a flat white. Spoiled from yesterday's high quality coffee, I noticed this one was too bitter and required far too much sugar. I drank it anyways and handed the barista a 5€ bill for the 3,20€ coffee. He handed me three coins and I held onto them as I left.

Once outside I glanced at the coins before placing them in my coin purse. I noticed the guy had shorted me 0,50€ and wondered if I should bother saying anything. Seeing how I was still reeling from the treatment of the cranky man, I decided to walk back into the shop and point out the discrepancy. The barista handed me the missing coin and I was on my way. I'm sure most people would simply walk away and give it no thought. Most likely I would give it no thought, if I had an income. But 0,50€ is $0.63 (according to today's exchange rate) and I wasn't about to give it away. I'd rather use the money towards the pony ride Saffron wants to take.

Upon my return, I stood and watched my daughter's swim class. Saffron noticed me and waved as she walked and swam her way across the shallow pool with a swim noodle. This seemed to me too basic of a class for her as it was similar to the beginning class she took this summer with her siblings. She kept waving and smiling and I felt as though I was distracting her. At the end of the class, they all took turns sliding down a red elephant slide several times. Then I recalled Cinnamon's lessons where she was truly swimming and not playing as I observed at this class.

After swimming, we rode the U-Bahn home seeing how I forgot my ATM card and needed money for the next flat we will rent starting Monday. We returned to Wilmersdorferstrasse, withdrew the needed money, and walked towards the Saturday farmer's market.

saffron on u-bahn

The place we will be staying next week is on the way to the market, so I decided to contact the owner via the intercom outside the building. This was no easy feat as the owner knows no English. Somehow, I made my intentions known, stating I had booked the place online last night. I kept hoping she would come outside so we could discuss this in person but she did not. She did, however, recognise my name and remembered my having stayed at her place two summers ago.

Saffron and I walked to the corner of Krumme Strasse and Goethestrasse at Karl-August-Platz where people crossed the street with their market purchases. We had no intention of purchasing anything but alphabet pasta, which I've noticed only at the Saturday market. Unfortunately, no pasta was available today.

Instead, we purchased a large container of strawberries and flat leaf parsley. Baby eggs we would get once more before I leave - at Wednesday's market. I recalled my mistake of purchasing too much food on previous trips to Berlin and wanted to avoid it this time.

saffron at farmers market

Seeing the stand with the eggs and potatoes on the corner - the exact one where the lady chased after me two years ago - I had to snap a photograph of it as a reminder. I couldn't have pulled it off without the assistance of my smiling daughter.

egg lady

We made our way around the crowded market once and stopped to look at the guy with the guitar. Others also glanced his way as they passed by.

guitar guy at market

Saffron and I continued to Wilmersdorferstrasse and noticed the decorations for Halloween. We first noticed them last night on our walk when Saffron expressed her desire to ride on a pony. I told her I would consider it for next week.

halloween on wilmersdorferstrasse

As she admired the white horse in the stall by the pony rides, I couldn't help but notice her sincere smile. I then promised her we'd return tomorrow when she could take that ride.

saffron and white pony

On our walk from the Theodor-Heuss-Platz station, we stopped at Kaiser's for chips as Saffron expressed her desire for chips instead of popcorn for movie night. She chose the Paprika Chipsletten and I chose a small bag of Nic Nacs. Tonight's movie night included whatever she discovered on television which turned out to be a dragon cartoon at first, then a movie with Obelisk and Asterisk.

My girl was tired after lunch so she retreated to the bedroom for a long nap. As she slept, I worked on a recipe for a 5" hazelnut cake which I then started to make as my daughter awoke. The cake would be for tomorrow's breakfast with plans for Saffron to help make two more cakes during the day.

As I tucked Saffron in bed this evening, I asked her what most stood out for her today. She wondered why I was asking and I told her I simply wanted to know. An adult's lasting impression of a day is almost never the same as a child's. Her answer was swimming and chips.