Tag Archives: Balcony

The Eagle has Landed

I’m finally in my new place. The good news is that it only took two days, six train journeys, six bus journeys, a lot of sweat, some bumps, scrapes and bruises, far too much riding in lifts with screeching brats, and more swearing than Berlin has probably ever heard before. Still, maybe there’s something character building about knowing you can do this kind of stuff by yourself when you have to. I’ll let you know when that feeling kicks in…

Although I’m now living in what most Berliners would probably consider “the sticks”, I couldn’t be happier. This morning, instead of being woken up by blaring Turkish car radios, manic beeping, and sirens every seven minutes, I woke up to the sound of birdsong and distant church bells – something my good Irish Catholic soul finds very soothing. Ahem.

From this:

To this:

For the first time since I moved to Berlin, I have unpacked everything I own. In fact, there’s so much storage space here, I might need to buy new stuff to fill it all. The joy, the utter joy, of not having to move other people’s stuff to the side, or squeeze my things into the gaps that they left behind. I have drawers, cupboards, wardrobes and they’re mine, all mine! The place is spotless and fully equipped, even coming with a 104″ flat screen TV…

Welcome to the future.
Welcome to the future.

Of course, even when a flat comes fully furnished, there are always some bits and pieces that you need, in my case, clothes hangers and decent-sized mugs. So, after hefting the second load of stuff up the stairs and into the flat, I took a stroll to the DM (a bit like Boots) on the corner.

Where the hell were the clothes hangers? I did three laps of the shop and still couldn’t find them. Thankfully, there was a woman stacking shelves so I approached her.

Me: (in German) Excuse me, do you sell… (Shit. Due to the excitement of the day, I’d neglected to figure out what I’d say if I couldn’t find something. What on earth were clothes hangers in German? Deciding that ‘hangen’ was probably a verb, I finished with…) the things for clothes hanging? (Brilliant, I know.) 

Hadwigis: What? 

Me: You know, the things for the clothes hanging! 

Hadwigis: (looking like she wished she had an emergency security button underneath the shelf) What? 

Me: (lots of enthusiastic miming of clothes hanger shapes and hanging things up)

Hadwigis, finally twigging what I was after, or just desperate to get rid of me, pointed to the other end of the shop, said something in rapid German and went back to her shelf stacking.

I walked in the direction she’d pointed in, did another couple of laps but still failed to find anything remotely resembling clothes hangers. Embarrassed that Hadwigis would see my hangerless basket, I shiftily checked each aisle to make sure she wasn’t there and skulked to the till. Once outside, I Google Translated “clothes hangers”. “Kleiderbügel” – what a fabulous word, and one that I will not easily forget.

Kleiderbügel! Say it with me!
Kleiderbügel! Say it with me!

I wandered down the street and came to a stop outside a blast from the past – Woolworths. Pretty sure they’d have everything I needed, in I went. Naturally, the clothes hangers were again elusive, but armed with the correct word this time, I marched up to another shelf-stacker and confidently asked her where they were. My pronunciation might have been a bit Irish because she gave me a huge grin while directing me to the lower floor. I hadn’t even realised there was a lower floor but, oh my god, it was home-start heaven down there.

I finally struggled to the till with two mugs, 20 clothes hangers, a chopping board, a duvet and pillow cover set, a sheet, a dishtowel, a small bin and a scented candle. I nearly fell over when she told me the total – just over €16. As this makes Woolworths my new favourite shop, Hadwigis can breathe a sigh of relief as I’ll never have to darken her door again.

I now have everything I need, but the only thing I was slightly concerned about before moving here was the internet situation. The company I had contacted said that it would take three weeks to set up a connection. (Um, why?) But, lo and behold, thanks to a T-Mobile hotspot that I can pay for for 30 days, here I am. I’m hoping that by the time the 30 days are up, the other company will have got their act together. I mean, Jesus, I need the internet for Scrabble Facebook work. How hard can it be, Germany, huh?

So, before I go and enjoy a glass of wine in blissful solitude on my balcony, I can tell you that I’ve also made a major leap in becoming a real German…

Yes, it's my very own poo shelf
Yes, it’s my very own poo shelf

You’re free to laugh now.

Living on my own

Me: Of course, my dream is to live by myself eventually.

Kayla: Oh, my Aussie friend is looking for someone to take over her flat for a couple of months. Maybe you two should meet? 

Me: Hell yeah. 

And so, through my South African friend that I used to work with in Dublin who now also lives in Berlin, I got to meet Ailsa, the Aussie artist who’s going on an artists residency in the States for a couple of months. She’d had some problems with Airbnb people before, so she wanted to leave her flat in safe hands. (Ahem.) Enter me. Naturally, she loved me at first sight and we both agreed that I should have her apartment.

Of course, Hildeberta and Hildegard were heart-broken when I told them I’d be moving out. Who would leave long dark hairs all over the apartment when I was gone? But, on the plus side, they now get to clean every second week instead of every third week so I guess there’s that. Naturally, I will miss them a lot, but we’ll still see each other and I’ll have them over to my flat for a (hopefully not poisonous) dinner soon.

I moved into my new pad in Neukölln on Tuesday with the help of Fritz, who I hoped would be more alert behind the wheel than he is on trains. He came to my place at 10am (on the dot) and by 10.40, we had everything moved into my new flat. German-Irish efficiency. (Yes, it is a real thing…)

I fully intend to.
I fully intend to.

Words can’t describe how happy I am to be finally living on my own in Berlin – even if it is just for a short time. Of course, it’s more expensive than my old place, but I’ve decided to start living my life the way I want it to be (rather than how it actually is) and hope that everything else falls into place. Madness? Perhaps, but it feels wunderbar. And I get to play “If I were an egg, where would I be?” in a whole new LIDL.

I’ve already charmed the Lederhosen off the auld lads who are permanently installed outside the bar next door, and I’m planning on joining them several times a week – to practise my German. I’ve also met the little old Turkish lady who’s like the gatekeeper to the building and a good woman to have on side. She also doesn’t speak a word of English so our first meeting was quite entertaining.

Zeynep: Are you from Australia too?

Me: No, I’m from Ireland. 

Zeynep: (brief pause) JOHNNY LOGAN!!!

Me: Erm, yeah… 

(Ah, the good old days, when Ireland got more than “nul points” in the Eurovision.)

My first act upon moving in was to accidentally melt cheese all over the kitchen floor thanks to my new sandwich toaster. I’d gone to get dressed and put on my make-up after turning it on, and came back to find molten hot cheese covering the nice wooden floor and some wiring. I’d forgotten how fast those things toast, clearly.

Don't worry, Ailsa, it came off easily...
Don’t worry, Ailsa, it came off easily…

I’ve also had to permanently close the door to the storage room, as I kept walking in there thinking it was the kitchen or the bathroom. But, thankfully, I’m less confused now, and becoming more successful at living. Last night, I had Nigel over for dinner and managed not to kill either of us. I cooked a sausage casserole that I was hoping would feed me for the week, but Nige polished off three-quarters of it in one sitting. Still, at least he didn’t wildpinkel on the balcony.

View from my awesome balcony
View from my awesome balcony

This morning, feeling rather continental, I decided to have my Schokobrötchen and tea on said balcony while sunning myself in my underwear. This afforded me the treat of seeing my Turkish neighbour doing his morning stretching routine on his balcony. Or at least he was doing it until he spotted the half-naked Irish woman eyeing him.

What I'll be doing every morning from now until July.
What I’ll be doing every morning from now until July.

On the whole, after only two days, I’m enjoying living here so much that I think I might have the locks changed while Ailsa is in the States and not open the door when she comes back. Although, I’m not sure how German law enforcement would feel about that.

OK, I know exactly how they'd feel.
OK, I know exactly how they’d feel.

So, for anyone who hasn’t been keeping track of my journey in Berlin, this is how it looks so far…

North, south, east, west...
North, south, east, west…

Where to next? Who knows, but I should probably start looking tomorrow…