Bedding it in Berlin

I’m always meaning to do more touristy stuff in Berlin but, you know how it is – it’s getting colder, I’m a bit lazy…

Luckily, Berlin has the answer to all of my first-world problems. Introducing (drum roll, please)… Berlin Horizontal.

Genius
Genius

I’d only come across this company last weekend while waiting for a friend at Alexanderplatz – it’s hard to miss a bed on wheels, parked in the middle of one of the busiest squares in Berlin. When I got home, I went straight to the Berlin Horizontal website and emailed the owner to try to arrange a tour for this weekend. We arranged to meet at 3pm this afternoon, he took my telephone number in case the weather took a turn for the worse, and even emailed me last night to remind me about the clock going back – all very well-organised and, well, German.

I managed to rope my friend, Heike, into accompanying me, which saved me putting out a message on Facebook along the lines of:

Does anyone want to go to bed with me – in public – next Sunday afternoon?

I probably would have had a few takers though. At least I like to think so…

We showed up a little early and stood around, waiting for our bed to appear. And, oh! The silly giddiness when it did! We shook hands with Richard, the charming, friendly owner of the company, and after introductions and a little small talk, were presented with little blue surgical slippers to put over our shoes. Seemingly, nobody wants to ride in a dirty bed.

Nice and clean and orderly - the way things should be.
Nice and clean and orderly – the way things should be.

We jumped in, fluffed up the pillows and pulled the duvet over us. Richard took a few pictures and then we were off. I think people could probably hear me laughing in Hamburg…

Getting comfortable
Getting comfortable

We took a nicely winding route from Alexanderplatz to Brandenburger Tor, stopping off at Museum Island, the “Lust Garden”, Bebelplatz, Gendarmenmarkt, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and Tiergarten along the way, with Richard providing an entertaining commentary as we went. I asked him how he had come up with the idea to start Berlin Horizontal, and he told us that this very special rickshaw had been built for some sort of promotion but, after it had fulfilled its purpose, was left forgotten in a garage somewhere. Richard had rescued it from obscurity and started doing his thing.

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A very happy Berlinda

Aside from being in a bed in the middle of a capital city, what makes this tour so unique, and so much fun, are the reactions from passers-by. Everywhere we went, people were pointing, belly-laughing, taking photos and waving at us. Cries of “Good night!”, “Sleep well!” and “Oh, das ist so geil!” accompanied us around the city. A couple of people even wanted to hop into bed with us, and a bus driver stopped to take a photo of the show. I was grinning like a maniac and, at times, was giggling so uncontrollably, tears were running down my cheeks.

Imagining drivers’ phone calls to their waiting loved ones was enough to set me off in peals of laughter again.

“Hey honey, I’m going to be a bit late. I’m stuck behind a bed on wheels on Unter den Linden…”

Followers
Followers

We quickly perfected our royal waves, but it was a bit difficult to look regal whilst crying laughing under a duvet.

Sleeping beauty
Sleeping beauty

After an hour or so, we arrived at our final destination – Brandenburger Tor. It’s not often you get to upstage one of the most famous sights in the world, but we did just that. People even abandoned taking selfies for long enough to take pictures of us instead. Richard also had one last surprise, producing night caps out of his little bag of tricks. (He also has a reading lamp he can rig up for night-time tours.)

Looking insane at Brandenburger Tor.
Looking insane (but very happy) at Brandenburger Tor.

Alas, our tour had come to an end. To say that I recommend doing a tour with Berlin Horizontal is an understatement. I can honestly say, with no offence intended to the men who have been in my life, that this is the most fun I have ever had in bed. However, I do feel it is important to warn you of the side effect of this tour: the temptation to keep waving and grinning at people long after the tour has ended is very strong.

And probably not appropriate on Berlin’s public transport system.

I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I dooooo…

A couple of weeks ago, I ended up talking about weddings with one of my groups.

Me: Which hand do you wear your ring on in Germany? 

Students: The right. Unlike the rest of the world. 

Me: Yeah, pretty much. Oh, you don’t wear your engagement ring on the same finger? 

Students: Germans don’t do engagement rings. 

Me: What?! But how does that work? He gets down on one knee, proposes and gives you, erm, nothing? 

Students: Pretty much. 

Me: But that’s just… I don’t know… it’s just…

Students: Engagement rings are expensive.

Good old German practicality strikes again.

A little later, we were doing a listening exercise.

A: Patrick and I are getting married! 

B: Wow, that’s fantastic news! Congratulations! 

Me: So, let’s see the ring!

Me: There is no ring. I’m marrying a German…

Students: Sigh.

Anyway, there is a point to all of this, and no, it’s not that a German has proposed to me (but hopefully some day – hint, hint…). I’ve been invited to my first German wedding!

I imagine I will wear something like this. It is Berlin.
I imagine I will wear something like this. It is Berlin, after all.

When I lived in Latvia, if someone came out with “I wanted to ask you something”, it usually ended up with me working for no money, or a promised beer that never materialised. In Germany, however, this was followed up by, “I’m getting hitched in Berlin next year. Want to come?”

I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I doooooo!

The invitation was all the more surprising as I don’t even know the bride that well. In fact, we only got to know each other after she started reading my blog and got in touch to ask if I wanted to meet up some time. We did, got along like a house on fire and have been friends ever since, although mostly on Facebook as she lives in London. (She’s marrying an English man which means that if my German starts to fail at the wedding, I’ll have his side of the family to talk to. Totally gewinning.)

The day itself sounds amazing – first of all, the wedding is not going to be in a church so there’s no risk of me being hounded by a priest for back taxes. There’s going to be a two-hour boat trip to Potsdam and, best of all, a 7-hour free bar…

I now see the point in not spending stupid amounts of money on an engagement ring.

Bridehilde: And you MUST write a blog post about it.

Me: Absolutely! 

Bridehilde: You can black out my face though. 

Me: Umm, that might look a bit creepy…

My best friend kindly let me butcher one of her beautiful wedding photos to prove my point.
My best friend kindly let me butcher one of her beautiful wedding photos to prove my point.

We might need to rethink the photography angle. But after a 7-hour free bar, there might not be much of an issue anyway.

Roll on June!

I’m in a book!

Or, at least, I’m going to be.

It all started one evening when I was working hard arsing around on Facebook, and Veronica from The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife popped up for a chat. We engaged in some very important discussions about life, love and the universe – or maybe I talked about my cup of tea – and then she told me about an idea that she and Pete, of Black Sheep fame, had come up with.

The idea was dangerously simple: invite funny expat bloggers from all over Europe to contribute to a comedy anthology, publish it on Amazon in time for Christmas and donate the proceeds to charity. They’d had the idea around nine months ago, but hadn’t really got around to doing anything about it.

While Irish Linda was lazily formulating the thought, “Ah sure, it’s grand. Eight months is no time at all, at all…”, German Linda efficiently stomped her and went into military mode. Within a day, we’d compiled a list of the bloggers we wanted to take part, emailed them to ask if they wanted to contribute, I appointed myself editor, and asked a friend to design the cover. Veronica would take on marketing the book and formatting it for Amazon. (Thankfully, as I am clueless about that stuff.)

“Uprooted and Undiluted” was born. I also gained the lovely title of “Linda the Whip”. (Thanks for that, Pete.)

My inner German does not look like this.
My inner German does not look like this.

Luckily, everyone else was just as taken with the idea as I was and, in no time at all, the blog posts started rolling in. We decided to divide it into topics, rather than simply by blogger, so we’d cover things like daily life, sexy time, man flu, battling red tape, and problems with learning the local language. I compiled all of the posts into one monster document and got down to it. Needless to say, it was a lot more work than I had initially thought; I finished editing it yesterday and my right hand now resembles a claw. The ‘N’ has also worn off my keyboard although that could be more a side effect of typing “NEIN” all the time.

My N-less love...
My N-less love…

We have bloggers covering Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, England, Croatia, Sweden, France and, of course, I’ll be contributing my hilarious antics from both Latvia and Germany. You can find the full list of writers on my new page and, I have to say, they really are a funny bunch – editing the book was incredibly difficult as I just couldn’t stop laughing.

As I mentioned, the proceeds of the book will go to charity. Now you’d think it would be pretty easy to give money away, right? NEIN (sorry, N). We contacted a couple of major international charities to ask if we could use their logo and donate the money to them. The amount of hoop-jumping and bureaucracy they wanted us to go through would make even a German’s head spin. One actually wanted us to sign a contract guaranteeing a minimum annual donation… Um, what? Can’t we just give you the money?

In the end, Veronica came to the rescue by emailing an old friend who’d set up a charity called Hands Together that builds schools in Nepal. They were absolutely thrilled to be part of the project and we are delighted to be donating the money to such a worthy cause. They’ve offered to help us market the book in any way they can, and the Chairperson, none other than the Absolutely Fabulous Joanna Lumley, is even going to write a foreword for us.

Joanna does her best impression of a Latvian woman. (Image taken from The Times Magazine.)
Joanna does her best impression of a Latvian woman. (Image taken from The Times Magazine.)

With the editing done, the cover a day or two from completion, and the charity on board, it’s all starting to feel very real. I have no problem admitting that I am stupidly excited about it all. I think the book is fantastic and I hope that everyone immediately rushes out and buys a copy. Or, rather, sits comfortably in their armchair and clicks a couple of times. (Technology, eh?)

You’d better be quick though, before Mammy O’Grady buys them all.

The Facebook page can be found here – ‪#‎uprootedandundiluted‬. I think. I still don’t really understand what hashtags do…

This post was updated October 15. The editorial team is re-visiting its connection with the aforementioned charity as the book might be too ‘undiluted’ for their taste… More to follow in a later post.