See gulls?

After five years of living in Berlin, it seems I have finally found a pleasing pocket of this sprawling metropolis that suits me down to the ground. Yes, I recently moved to the lovely, leafy suburb of Pankow – and I only had to go via Wedding, Charlottenburg, Friedrichshain, Neukölln, Wedding (again), Lankwitz and  Friedrichshain (again) to find it. Well, nobody ever said life in Berlin would be easy.

The great thing about Pankow is that it’s (shock horror) a couple of stops outside the Ring train line, which means that it’s largely free from hipsters, wankers, hipster-wankers, men who wear trousers that show their ankles, drunks, drug dealers, drug users, pickpockets, people on trains who reek so much you can smell them on your hair and clothes for hours afterwards, foreigners who expect everyone to speak English, and people who walk around with poo running down the backs of their legs. Yes, Berlin is a wonderfully diverse city like that.

OK, I’m back. The Berlin Tourist Board just called to offer me a job…

Anyhooooooo, anyone who knows me knows that I have long lamented the local habit of people dumping their useless crap on the street. However, in Pankow, even this is rather civilised. People actually put out useful stuff like kids’ clothes and toys, books, and household objects that… wait for it… still work. And woe betide anyone who goes rogue.

Asocial, uncultured people left me here. This is Pankow, not Kreuzberg. Wake up. (I might fall in love with whoever wrote this if I ever find them.)

And so it was, last Saturday, I was on my way back from the speed-packing odyssey that is LIDL when I saw a little treasure trove outside my very own apartment building. It could be that I’m getting old, or perhaps even odder, but I was overjoyed to see that someone had put out mugs. Yes, MUGS!

The sign says that you can drop a small donation to the Berlin Animal Shelter into their mailbox. CIVILISED.

Now, you might be thinking it’s a bit strange for someone to get so excited over something so mundane but bear with me. You see, I’d bought these stupid cups in Kaufland when I moved in, with kind of fancy handles. Little did I know that I wouldn’t even be able to fit all of my midget fingers in there and that gripping the handle in a certain way would cause calluses on my ring fingers.

(I have also just realised that it’s rather difficult to take a photo of a finger on your right hand when you’re right-handed. And that my knuckles might be a tad overweight.)

So, I grabbed the two biggest mugs (with gently rounded handles) I could see and strolled back to my apartment, pleased with my haul. I sent a message to my building’s WhatsApp group thanking the “mysterious neighbour” who’d left out the brilliant cups and got a nice message back. All was well in the world of Pankow (or Pandow, as I now think of it).

“Be bambootiful” 🙂

A couple of days later, I was scratching my healing calluses (because I’m a very sexy person) when a personal WhatsApp message popped up on my phone.

“Hi Linda, this is Sigrid from the front building. You recently took the cups that my husband left out. Was there a white cup with a “Möwe” on it?”

Shit, shit, shit! Had I done something wrong? Weren’t the cups put out for people to take after all? Had I accidentally stolen from my lovely new neighbours? Was I being a weird foreigner in the land of German unwritten rules? And what the hell was a “Möwe”? It didn’t sound anything like “panda” but this is German so who knows!? ARGH! Panic, panic, panic!

I willed my wizened fingers to function and entered “Möwe” into Linguee. “Seagull”. Huh. OK. Couldn’t really get much further from a panda. Relief flooded over me. Then I remembered the other mug. I was pretty sure it was just plain gold but I pulled it out of the cupboard in trepidation to make sure there wasn’t a seagull I’d missed anywhere. Nope, no seagull. Thank God.

I messaged back to say that I hadn’t seen any mug with a seagull on it and Sigrid replied to say that maybe her daughter had hidden it somewhere. Laughing smileys were exchanged and we went our separate virtual ways, with me safe in the knowledge that I could go on living in my apartment without being known as the “sticky-(callused-)fingered Irish girl”. Phew.

Still, I like a story with a happy ending so I messaged her yesterday to see if she’d ever found the mysterious seagull cup. Turns out it’s nowhere to be found. Either her daughter is a really good hider or someone else on the street has a penchant for cups with seagulls on them. Who knows? Will we ever know?

And people say life in Pankow is dull…

(It is. It really is. Please don’t move here. Especially if you’re a hipster, wanker, hipster-wanker…)




21 thoughts on “See gulls?”

  1. Do not panic about the legionella bacteria. It is a new hype that water testing companies make money from. If there is an increased leginonalla level in your house it is normally mainly a problem of the top floors. It is absolutely save to drink the water. The problem is inhaling steam when showering. You should thoroughly clean the mountings from your shower from remains of chalk. Or buy a new shower head if possible. When returning home from a trip, let the water run for a while before you take a shower.Still, your “Hausverwaltung” has to take care of the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, nice to see companies are still finding new and inventive ways to make money! Not that we’re cynical 😉 Yeah, as far as I know the Hausverwaltung is on it. The levels are pretty low so I don’t think it’s really going to cause any problems – apart from mass hysteria in the building WhatsApp group the day we found out haha! Thanks for the reassuring comment! Best, Linda. 🙂


  2. How wise of the tourist board to offer you a job. You can filter out the riff-raff and the only people visiting will be the ones who really need to be there. Everyone will be happier and the planet will save a few resources for better uses.

    Be sure they pay well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If there are no hipsters, wankers, hipster-wankers, men who wear trousers that show their ankles, drunks, drug dealers, drug users, pickpockets, people on trains who reek so much you can smell them on your hair and clothes for hours afterwards, foreigners who expect everyone to speak English, and people who walk around with poo running down the backs of their legs…. WHO IS LEFT? Are you sure you’re still in Europe?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, pretty sure! Turns out I spoke too soon about everything being perfect here. Found out this morning our water is contaminated with Legionella bacteria. So I guess it’s just me and the germs left 😉


  4. The nice orderly way the books are stacked outside could only be done by a German. Here they would be in a black sack and left down a country road.

    Or they would be sold on facebook, Italian sell used flip flops and bikinis on face book. Barf

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! Barf indeed! I guess every nationality has its foibles 😉 The books were actually neater believe it or not – I only thought to take a photo after I’d had a rummage. Despite my best efforts, that was as German-looking as I could get them! They were probably stacked with a ruler and spirit level originally… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re BACK!! Okay, maybe you never really left (as in you are still alive), but I’ve wondering if somehow I was missing your posts and, yes, I did wonder at times if you had died and how would I know.

    So you moved! Well, that’s enough to take a person out of the blogosphere for a long time. And, really, the Berlin Tourist Board should hire you! The diversity you described just reminds me of San Francisco, California. In fact, people poo in public there so maybe Berlin is not so bad 😉

    Pankow sounds lovely (because boring is what you want if you’re going to sleep at night and travel the metro unmolested) and I love the Panda cup. I’m hoping this means you’ll be back writing for your blog?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think so! Maybe not as regularly as before but hopefully every now and then at the very least 🙂 Funny thing when you move to a new country is that after a while (around 5 years!), things start to seem normal and not so blog-worthy! I actually did once see a woman poo on the platform in the middle of the day at Friedrichstrasse station (which is in the heart of Berlin in rather a nice area). Also saw a guy pee in a beer bottle on a train because the train stopped for no discernible reason so what’s a guy gonna do?! And then he helpfully put the bottle on the floor so that it could roll around leaking pee all over the carriage while we were all trapped in there 😉 Ah, city life! If the Berlin Tourist Board reads this, they’ll definitely be after me! Not in a good way 😉 It might be like Latvia all over again – eek haha! Lovely to hear from you again, by the way!

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Get ready to get your ankles out 😉 Although it might be too cold by then… Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you have a great time in Kreuzberg – if that piece of furniture is still here by then, you can drop it off there 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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