Later that evening, it was time to brave the death stairs and head out in search of food. It’s hard to say whether Görlitz looks prettier by day or by night.
One thing I did notice was that it was eerily empty at 8 p.m. In Berlin, people would just be getting up around then; in Görlitz, I feared people had already gone to bed for the night. Still, I did manage to find a nice-looking restaurant and, as I was pretty much in Poland, ordered the bigos – a Polish stew consisting of Sauerkraut and mystery meat…
Naturally, by the time I’d finished, I was the only person left in the restaurant. As I sipped my wine, the Polish waitress eyed me like the inconvenience I was so I decided to buy a bit more time by charming her with the fact that I had once lived in Poland. (I hated it but she didn’t have to know that.) Suitably impressed by my surprising knowledge of her language (“thank you very much”, “beer, please”, “old nag” and “under the chestnut tree” – the last two were the names of bars), we chatted for a bit and I got to finish my wine in peace. Win win. I paid up and made my way into the night, hoping there was a bit of life somewhere.
I ran through my mental checklist of questions to consider before choosing a place to drink:
Is it a bar? Check.
Is it open? Check.
Decision made. A bit later, as the two girls next to me were preparing to leave, I asked them where the nightlife in Görlitz is. They exchanged a slightly puzzled glance – it seemed I was in it.
The next morning, I woke up in a fit of breathless excitement. Today was the day. I had a date with… Hollywood Great, Engelbert von Nordhausen! I had a cup of tea, showered and dressed, and skipped down the stairs of doom. Carefully. I’m not a complete idiot.
The weather had decided to play along for the scene of this momentous occasion.
I was planning on doing the 1 o’clock tour so I chose a breakfast establishment close to the bus stop. I sat down outside in the glorious sunshine and ordered.
My food arrived really quickly, so much so, that I was done by the time the bus returned from the 11 o’clock tour. Watching the people stream off the bus, I decided it might be a good idea to book my ticket there and then, to be sure that I wouldn’t miss out. I ordered another cup of tea, left my coat and book there so the waiter knew I wasn’t doing a runner, and trotted over.
I accosted the driver just as he was getting off.
Hi, can I buy a ticket for the 1 o’clock tour, please?
Cztrzczycztyz. (Looking slightly desperate)
Oh, you don’t speak German! English?
I realised that my time in Poland might have been better spent learning words like “buy” and “ticket”. So, I did the classic foreigner thing and spoke louder in German.
ONE. (Holds up finger) TICKET. FOR ONE O’CLOCK. (Points futilely at watch-less wrist) TOUR. (Points futilely at massive red bus)
At this point, the poor driver was frantically looking around to see if there was anyone who could rescue him. He managed to communicate that he had a colleague, pointed at his wrist and the ground I was standing on, and ran. I understood that I should come back just before one when his colleague would be there. Genius. I did also fleetingly wonder if he knew the German rules of the road. (To this day, I’m still unconvinced.)
I went back to the café, finished off my tea, and then did as instructed. I beamed at my new Polish bestie who hurried off to hide in the driver’s compartment. I successfully purchased my ticket from his colleague, who was also Polish but thankfully spoke German, and boarded. As I was the first person there, I had my pick of seats so sat right up front on the top deck. Brilliantly, even though there are essentially zero bars in Görlitz, there is a bar on the bus. I decided at that moment that the pandemic no longer existed and ordered a Radler.
And then we were off! Engelbert welcomed us all, introduced himself as the German Samuel L. Jackson (and wisely not the German Bill Cosby, which he also was) and we travelled at questionable speeds – careening around corners and sometimes on the wrong side of the road – through Görlitz, checking out the locations where movies like The Reader, Inglourious Basterds and Grand Budapest Hotel were made. Jackie Chan also jumped out of a tower window somewhere. When I wasn’t clinging to the railing for dear life, I sniggered as Engelbert referred to Brad Pitt and co. as “my colleagues”. I was pretty sure Brad wasn’t wandering around Hollywood returning the favour. But this was Görliwood and Engelbert was actually very entertaining in his own right, despite obviously sounding nothing like Samuel L. Jackson.
If you’re ever in Görlitz, have a spare €13 and an hour’s time, I highly recommend it. Just keep your hands off my Engelbert…
Tour done, I realised that that day was probably the “photo-taking day” as the weather wasn’t looking great for the rest of my time there. So, I wandered around for a bit, doing just that.
Despite everything being gorgeous, a couple of things caught my eye.
- Everything in the Euroshop now costs €1.10, which seems to defeat the purpose of having a EUROshop.
2. I was standing on the grass, taking a picture of some flowers when an old German woman shouted at me that standing on the grass was VERBOTEN! In a fit of pique, I marched around the grassy area trying to find the sign that said that. There wasn’t one. I looked around for her to give her a piece of my mind but she was gone. Germans are pretty speedy, even the old ones.
3. Behold, the German uniform…
4. German stag dos are a bit weird. They wander around town trying to give OTHER PEOPLE alcohol and, oddly, tiny bread, instead of getting sloshed themselves.
Still, they looked like they were having a blast – and I have to say, I did too. Maybe some day, Engelbert will wander around Görlitz with his tiny bread and booze and I will become Linda von Nordhausen. Time will tell…