Today is my first Sunday back in Berlin after teaching at SGI for the whole summer. Fortunately, the sun is shining (quite rare for Berlin!) and that means one thing for Berliners: a beer and a slow walk around the world-famous flea market, Der Flohmarkt am Mauerpark. You can pretty much buy anything: cool clothes, weird jewellery, 1960’s sofas, collectable vinyl records, used pots and pans and Mexican wrestling masks! Lots of the stalls are run by young designers, selling stuff that you can’t buy anywhere else. However, lots of Berliners just offload all their crap that they don’t want anymore: video-cassettes, roller skates and dirty, old jeans! Most people don’t actually spend too long in the market though, because there’s a lot of action outside in Mauerpark. On the grass, just under an old section of the Berlin wall, you can catch jugglers, impromptu yoga sessions, hula-hoopers and lots of other small, unofficial stalls. I like the Mauerpark because you can always find some music going on. Sometimes, you get a band playing a set and selling their cds. Or you can hear some amazing musicians that are just jamming for the love of it. If the weather is really good, then the Bearpit (a stone ampitheatre) gets rammed with people watching a mobile Karaoke below. The crowd really gets into it when the singer is terrible, but loses all their inhibitions and really goes for it. If you can sing well and don’t perform, the crowd gets bored very quickly. The atmosphere is kind of like a modern-day Roman circus. It’s not a place for the faint-hearted.
After a day in the Mauerpark, I like to pick up my guitar and see if any songwriting inspiration comes after all those stimuli that you can only get in Berlin.