After a gloriously long autumn, it seems that winter has finally hit Berlin. Despite spending five years in Central/Eastern/Northern Europe, I was still woefully unprepared so an emergency winter coat-buying mission was in order.
I was very pleased with my purchase, until a homeless man started pointing and laughing, saying, “Ha ha ha, es ist ein kleine Eskimo!” Then he asked me for money. I gave it to him as I thought insulting someone was rather a unique way to beg.
Later that week, I was taking some rubbish out to the bins – I know, I’m so German. One of my neighbours was there trying to turn a cardboard box the size of a bed into the size of a matchbox. So engrossed in his task was he that he didn’t hear me approach and jumped about a foot in the air when I let the lid of the bin fall.
Deciding that almost giving the poor man a heart attack wasn’t enough, I proceeded to hop from foot to foot, waving my hands around going “Woooo, ich bin der kleine Eskimooooo…” He didn’t look impressed but he might have been laughing on the inside. It was dark and my hood was over my eyes from all the hopping about so I couldn’t really tell.
Anyway, it seems that despite not being a fan of winter, or Christmas for that matter, I’m coping with it slightly better in Germany. I put this down to the fact that the Germans – as with most things – do Christmas well.
While parents are busy beating the crap out of each other over “Frozen” dolls in my home town in Ireland, the Germans are cheerily setting up wonderful Christmas markets and getting merrily sloshed on Glühwein. I know where I’d rather be.
I went to my first Christmas market, at Potsdamer Platz, a couple of weeks ago with an Australian girl I work with. To say that we were stupidly excited would be a massive understatement. We were worse than kids – kids on Glühwein.
But I actually recommend going to your first German Christmas market with another foreigner. That was you can be ridiculously over-enthusiastic about everything and freak the Germans out no end.
Sheila: Germany is AWESOME!
Manfred: Really? Germany??
Sheila: And Germans are AWESOME!
Me: YES! They’re so friendly and helpful and amazing!
Ulf: Germans? Really??
Me: And Glühwein is fantastic!
Continue this line of conversation until you’ve cleared the wine hut – we did.
The great thing about Germans is that hot wine alone isn’t alcoholic enough for them. No, they have to add more alcohol to it. So far, I’ve had Glühwein with rum, amaretto, brandy, and a cheeky little cherry Glühwein with vanilla vodka. Not all in the same glass, you understand.
It seems there are 60 Christmas markets in Berlin. So far, I’ve been to three – at Potsdamer Platz, Gendarmenmarkt, and Holy Heimat (hipster heaven Christmas market) in Friedrichshain. I’m not sure I’ll manage another 57 of them before I go back to Ireland for Christmas, but I’m going to have a bloody good time trying.