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