A blast from the past

Last week, a little bit of Latvia came to Berlin in the form of Yummy Jānis, my Latvian ex-boyfriend.

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Aww, those were the days…

He told me that he’d be flying into Schönefeld Airport at 13.55 on Friday and I told him he was on his own as I wouldn’t have time to get there after my German lesson. I helpfully sent him a map of the Berlin transport system and left him with dire warnings on which ticket to buy and to make sure to VALIDATE it.

After my lesson and much merriment, I dashed home to drop off my bag and straight back out again to meet Yummy at his hostel. He was staying in the ghetto area of Neukölln, so he should have felt right at home, albeit with a few more Turkish people than he’s probably used to in Latvia. His hostel was right beside the train station so I had no problems finding it.

Me: Are you nearly here?

Yummy: I’m still in the queue at the ticket machine.

30 minutes later…

Me: Any progress?

Yummy: I’ve got a ticket.

Me: Sigh.

This is why nobody flies into bloody Schönefeld if they can help it.

I wandered off to pick up a few bits and pieces and kill some time. Heading back towards the hostel, I noticed Yummy standing directly underneath a massive sign pointing to his hostel.

Me: Oh good, so you’re all checked in.

Yummy: No, I couldn’t find the hostel.

Me: …

I led him to the hostel and waited in the lobby as he took 30 minutes to drop his bag off and put a sheet on the bed. It was around two and a half hours since he’d landed and almost dark by then. I dragged him on to a train and off we went.

Me: Did you validate your ticket? 

Yummy: I think so. 

Me: Let me see it… No, you didn’t. 

So we got off the train again, validated the ticket and back on another train.

Me: (waving my hands around a bit) The world-famous Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag… Right, do you want to go to a Christmas market and drink Glühwein?

Luckily, he gave the correct answer.

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Can you smell the Glühwein and sausage?
Gendarmenmarkt is probably one of the most popular Christmas markets in Berlin, with certainly one of the most beautiful backdrops. We got some Glühwein, Yummy had a sausage and we wandered around savouring the sights and smells.

Me: Huh, it’s not even that crowded. Lucky. 

Yummy: (pale and sweating) My god, it’s so crowded. I’m kind of freaking out. 

Me: Yeah, I guess when you’re used to being one of like five people in your country, this probably is crowded. 

Hordes of Latvians. ARGH.

So we left again.

Yummy: OK, I’m kind of calm again now. Can we go eat? 

Me: But you just had a sausage. That would keep me going all night. 

Yummy: I’m a grown man. 

Me: Sure. 

I took him to a semi-deserted restaurant on Oranienburger Straße, where I had hoped I could show him the hookers doing their thing, but it must have been too cold for them. Yummy presented me with a couple of Latvian “treats” to make up for it.

Yay. Black Balsams. My favourite...
Yay. Black Balsams. My favourite…

 

With Yummy fed, watered and feeling more like himself again, it was off to my favourite watering hole in Friedrichshain. There, we joined my neighbours (not the naked ones) from when I lived with Hildeberta and Hildegard. And, would you believe it, the Latvian chick Yummy had sat beside on the plane was in the very same bar. She was over visiting her boyfriend who now lives in Germany. They both seemed normal enough (for Latvians, anyway), so they sat with us and a raucous evening of Irish-German-Latvian hilarity ensued.

With Yummy off to visit his cousin in Hamburg the next day, I was left to my own devices. As luck would have it, the Lankwitz one-day-only, 5-hour extravaganza of a Christmas market was taking place on the church grounds.

Possibly the smallest, shortest Christmas market in Berlin.
Possibly the smallest, shortest Christmas market in Berlin.

 

As everyone knows, the best way to get over an excess of Glühwein is to have more Glühwein so I headed straight for the longest queue which, I felt, had to be where the Glühwein was at. I strolled around for a bit and when I started losing the feeling in my feet, adjourned to the one bar in Lankwitz I hadn’t tried yet.

Unluckily for me, it’s a Hertha BSC bar and a football match against Bayern Munich was in full swing. It was standing room only so I did my best to look interested and supportive, despite wearing the rather eye-catching red of the Bayern team. Not to worry. With Bayern comfortably hammering Hertha, the place cleared out a bit and I was able to perch on a stool at the bar.

The man next to me immediately started talking to me and, in no time at all, I was being introduced to everyone and having my wine bought for me. Maybe Hertha fans weren’t so bad after all. Nobody really spoke any English and, as well as practising my German, I also had at least three old blokes offering to cook me dinner.

Gunther: You should pay attention. All of the men will be after you because you are the only relatively young, semi-attractive woman in the bar. 

Looking around, I realised I was now the only woman in the bar. Couldn’t he just have left it at “young and attractive”? But no, that just wouldn’t be German, would it?

 

Huge thanks to Yummy for coming to visit – I hope you had a fun night!

 

 

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92 thoughts on “A blast from the past”

  1. Ja, Günther, wie du mich nennst, hätte nicht gedacht das die Bezeichnung “relativ jung” solche Wellen schlägt. Das war keine Beleidigung! Ich werde das Wort “relativ” gegenüber Frauen, egal welcher Nationalität, aus meinem Wortschatz streichen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Are the Christmas markets for food/drink or do they sell gifts too?

    Glad to read in the comments that Yummy returned safe and sound to LV. You can take the boy out of LV, but you can’t take LV out of the boy. 🙂

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    1. Sigh, ain’t that the truth…
      Oh, they sell all sorts of stuff! Gifts, ornaments, clothing (like woolly hats and gloves and stuff). At my little one in Lankwitz, I accidentally became a nutcracker demonstrator 😉 Some of the bigger ones have ice slides or ice skating – fun for all the family 😉

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        1. They ALL have Glühwein – that is a given! Usually red or white with optional shots of rum, amaretto or brandy 😉 And they have “Kinderpunsch” (Kids’ punch) for the kids so there really is something for everyone!

          Liked by 1 person

    2. I am really happy to read that there are still Latvians with LV inside. At least these Latvians are not faceless world inhabitants. Take out of me LV and I will be rootless world citizen. There are already too many world citizens without love for their country and culture. We should with all means keep our identity, and way of life.

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  3. Maybe this malicious man is a very special graceless gigolo?!
    This shameless subject ambushes single women in scandalous sports bars; then he starts with coarse chate-up. If the woman is really desperate she will coquets with this specious seducer despite his rude ramblings … To lose herself in anguished addiction!
    Thank god, this honourable Irish blog writerin withstands the temptations of this Prussian peacock!

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  4. As my British friend likes to say, the Brits are too polite to be honest, and the Germans are too honest to be polite.
    I always forget the whole validating process – what’s up with the honor system???

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    1. Germans are very trusting? It’s quite nice – don’t have to worry about my ticket from one end of the month to the other – unless an inspector gets on, then it’s a mad scramble to find where I put it 🙂 I like that quote from your friend haha!

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  5. But how would these “direct” and “honest” German men react to an honest assessment of THEIR looks?
    I was charmed, on the other hand, by Yummy’s argument for more food: “I’m a grown man!” That is sweet 🙂

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      1. LOL. All this reminds me of a job interview I once had with a German university professor. He asked me to explain exactly why I thought my modest qualifications made me worthy of employment. If only I had known then about “German directness.” I thought he was deliberately insulting me.

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        1. A little bit thin- skinned, aren’t you?
          This question was a gentle version from the questionnaire used in a “stress interview”. This kind of interview is (not only) custom in an assessment center. This technique was invented by the German Wehrmacht in the late 1930ies; Wiki says: “… 68% of employers in the UK and USA now use some form of assessment centre as part of their recruitment/ promotion process.”
          Don’t “smack” the HR- bunch too hard! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I have never heard of “stress interviews” before! Sounds creepy! These days I would handle such a question much better, but this was 25 years ago and yes, I was much more thin-skinned back then…

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            1. I’ve heard of them before – possibly in Latvia. They basically shout at you and are horrible to you to see if you break. Like a test to see how easily you’d break on the job… Reckon your guy was just being German though 😉

              Liked by 1 person

                1. It was both. They took turns taking shots at me. By far the worst interview I ever had. But maybe you had to be tough to survive in *that* academic department. They had a reputation for viciousness and involving students in their feuds…

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    1. Ha, it’s pretty bad! I’ve forgotten almost everything. I was in Malta last week and there were three of us – a Greek, a Scot and me – and it took us around 10 minutes to think of the Latvian word for cheers! It’s Prieka – we got there in the end 😉
      Sveiki, kā tev iet? 😉

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            1. “Stupid Westerner with your fake how are yous. You don’t really care about the answer. Why don’t you go back to your England/Ireland/America and fake-smile at some people there instead. We are LATVIAN.” Or something like that 🙂

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            2. Simply say hallo. We are not talking about ourselves with strangers. Small talk doesn’t go further as a weather. We are closed people and we don’t share our personal life or feelings with strangers. And actually we are not very interested in strangers personal life or opinions. We are Nordic people.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Speaking about Yummy… Next morning he wished he was dead. Deutche schnaps caused nuclear reaction in his guts. Cursing in Latvian-Russian he made his way to Hamburg, where cousin brought him to a place called Reapferban (or something). There were lots of them hookers. One of them almost killed both – poor lad and his cousin. True lady – she was very insulted by his refuse. He also lost his credit-card. But managed to get to his plain and very tired but safe returned to Latvia. I am sure that it wasn’t the last time you’ve met. He had wonderful time and is very thankful for warm greeting. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! Oh no! That was the area I told you about in Hamburg 🙂 At least you got to see some hookers eventually 😉 And it was you buying all the schnapps, remember? That was definitely NOT my idea! Glad you had a great time anyway – and the warm welcome will always be here! x

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  7. Speaking of Latvian treats, I’m actually writing a little article about what foods, if you buy them, will expose you as a foreigner in supermarkets, with cops immediately asking you then for your Ausweis, and other shoppers pulling out the (blow-)torches and (pitch-)forks hidden under the shelves for when a riot is needed.

    Balzams, Laima chocolate and šproti will make the list. Selga won’t – their factory smells way too nice.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I’m more aiming at people who are trying to try out the things Latvia has to offer. And shooting. 🙂

        But there will also be an opposite section that tells you about the foods that camouflage you in a supermarket line, like 200 ml bottles of vodka, pelmeni, scallions, lard and ‘grey peas.’

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    1. ‘Relatively intelligent’ sounds way too nice – it implies that the recipient is above average, when the point is that, ¡good for them!, they’re just a step above dragging their knuckles. I’d say ‘acceptably bright.’ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes! Lard: lots of calories, lots of energy for the noggin! 🙂

          (I’m thinking about including sieriņi –the standard practice is to translate them as ‘curd desserts’, btw– quarg is way too widespread, you can get it in Germany.)

          Liked by 1 person

            1. It’s the same thing as biezpiens. 🙂 There are variants that are a little different (especially in Austria, they add cream to it, as far as I know), but the idea is still the same.

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