The Littlest Hobo

At the end of this month, I will be moving out of flat number five and into flat number six. Not bad going for ten months, even by Berlin standards.

My plans to change the locks in Ailsa’s place failed and I dutifully moved out at the end of June. Ailsa came back from America to a spotless clean apartment, which she was very happy about, and I was very happy that she hadn’t arrived a couple of hours earlier when this was not even remotely the case.

Aware that I was about to be homeless – again – I started putting out feelers to see if I could find somewhere to keep me off the streets for another few weeks. As luck would have it, my German friend, Adalwolfa, was going to the States for a month with her dad and was looking for someone to take over her room. Funnily enough, the flat is about a ten-minute walk from Hermann’s place so it feels a bit like coming full circle.

I’m now sharing with a charming young German gentleman and a (thankfully) sane Swede. My first act in a bid to impress my new housemates was to make a cup of tea with a spoon and a half of salt, which I then proceeded to spit all over the kitchen. Eberhart came to my rescue and pointed out where the sugar was, though probably not before thinking he was living with a complete lunatic.

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In my defence, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone keep salt in a jar with a spoon in it before. Surely that’s just asking for trouble, or is it yet another example of the much-maligned German sense of humour?

Anyway, since then, things have been going just fine. Although some of the décor leaves a little to be desired…

Um...
Um…

and the kitchen would give Hildeberta and Hildegard the willies, I have a huge room, working wifi, nice flatmates who don’t ask anything of me and, most importantly, a roof over my head. As Adalwolfa is a bit of a technical genius, I’ve also had hours of fun with her remote-controlled lighting system, hitting random buttons to see which light comes on or goes off. I’ve even managed to make it through almost an entire month with only one mini-lecture about putting packaging in the bio bin.

However, all good things must come to an end, and conscious of being under serious time pressure, I started looking for a new flat right after I’d moved into this one. And, I can hardly believe it, but I think I’ve found the perfect solution.

There is a company here called Berlinovo, which has apartments all over the city. The real beauty of this, particularly for someone with my sketchy employment history and even sketchier prospects, is that there’s no deposit, you can rent by the month, and only have to give a month’s notice when you want to leave.

The flat is small, but fully furnished (down to a corkscrew – I checked),  there are good transport connections, and I will be living on my own. ON MY OWN – how sweet those words are…

I'm this happy
I’m this happy

Regarding my current area, I will miss my new favourite bar, where it’s rumoured they eat foreigners for breakfast. I, however, have fit in like a dream, and the scary-looking locals have turned out to be lovely German pussycats, who help me with my language skills every time I go there. If there ever comes a time that I need to rob a bank or hide a body, the German that I’m learning from these characters will come in very handy.

I will NOT miss my local Italian restaurant, where the lecherous, elderly Sicilian waiter seems to think it’s perfectly acceptable to follow timid young women (yes, me) into the ladies bathroom, and attempt – repeatedly – to kiss them.

Numerous shoves in the chest failed to convince Salvatore that the feeling was not mutual.
Numerous shoves in the chest failed to convince Salvatore that the feeling was not mutual.

Anyway, for better or worse, soon I will be leaving all of this far behind and making the 25 or so S-Bahn trips it will take me to get all of my stuff from one end of the city to the other. This will probably be a walk in the park in comparison to setting up an internet connection…

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Hit me with your selfie stick

Go on. I dare you. It’s not that I think people need an excuse to take down anybody seen with a selfie stick, but German law enforcement might look on me a bit more kindly if I were (properly) provoked.

OK, so this isn’t limited to Berlin; it could apply to any city that attracts a decent amount of tourists. But Berlin is my city and with 12 million visitors in 2014, I thought it might be about time to share my feelings with the twatty tourist who thinks that his or her idiotic face in front of some monument/building they haven’t even looked at is more important than me going about my daily business. (Clue: it isn’t.)

NEIN.
NEIN.

Back when I was earning rather a stupid amount of money for doing a not very important job, I used to travel by myself quite a lot. While I’m not a huge fan of seeing myself in photographs, after a while I began to realise that I had all of these amazing photos and I hadn’t appeared in one of them. I could have just downloaded them off the internet and pretended I’d been to all of those places – if I was that way inclined.

In the (good) old days, this was where some random helpful soul would step into your life. In halting “insert language here”, you’d attempt to communicate while pointing first at the camera and then at some attraction you wanted to ruin by standing in front of it. As a lone traveller, these little exchanges could make your day. To be fair, you probably still looked like a bit of a tool, but at least there was some kind of human interaction involved. And brightening up some auld lad’s holiday by convincing him that the blurry mess you were looking at was “really good! No, really! Perfect!” just added to the experience.

It seems that those days are gone though. Selfie sticks and pointless posing are taking over the world and it offends me enough to have caused the odd rant to those within earshot.

Me: God, I HATE selfie sticks. 

Poor long-suffering Nigel: I don’t know. They have their uses. 

Me: WHAT?! We can no longer be friends. 

PL-SN: No, wait. Hear me out. 

Me: (picking up handbag and preparing to vacate in dramatic fashion) Go on… 

PL-SN: Well, when I see someone with a selfie stick, I instantly know that they’re a total penis and I don’t have to waste any time on them. 

Me: Huh. You might actually have a point there. 

PL-SN: What are you doing? 

Me: Writing down “selfie stick = total penis” – I might use it in a blog post some day. 

PL-SN: You’re weird. 

Total penis. And me.
Total penis. And me.

Yes, I have been known to take the odd silly photo but at least I wasn’t in anyone’s way at the time. And I’d rather photograph a penis any day than look like one. Who’s with me?