Tag Archives: Boat tour

Hat, heels, Hochzeit (2)

Everyone filed (in an orderly German fashion) into the front room of the boat for the 2.5-hour tour that would take us around scenic Potsdam and Wannsee. This was probably the most painful part of the day for James as, at 6’9″, he had to stoop just to fit into the boat. Still, I had more pressing things on my mind, namely THE CAKE.

YESSSSSS...
Yogurty, moussey, fruity, spongy, creamy, biscuity goodness…

Luckily, Germans aren’t known for scrimping when it comes to portion sizes so, after queuing for a couple of minutes, I had a slice of cake roughly the size of my head. It was practically a meal in itself and would definitely keep me going until the actual meal later that evening.

Yum.
Yum.

I settled in with my new South African homies out on deck, taking in the views, listening to the tour guide and chatting to whomever came along. The Bridemama emerged and pulled a well-used piece of paper out of her bosom.

BM: Are you relative or friend? 

It turned out that she’d written down several conversation openers – I’m not sure she could understand the answers but she somehow managed to pull it off. I later learned that Kat’s brother had, in recent weeks, been teaching her a few expressions in English but that she’d forgotten them all on the day. Hence, the cheat sheet – more German genius.

The boat docked after 1.5 hours to let the wedding party off for photos but not before I got a quick pic with the beautiful bride. The bright orange dress was deliberate as I’m not much of a swimmer (I sink like a stone) but I knew I’d be visible if I happened to go overboard.

The biggest hat in the world
The biggest hat in the world

The rest of us continued on, munching on our tiny traditional “English Afternoon Tea” sandwiches as we went. At 17.30, the boat docked, around a 5-minute walk from the reception venue. Taxis were available for those who wanted them, but most people chose to walk.

Schloss Glienicke
Schloss Glienicke

You know, villa, boat, palace… just an average day in the life for this expat.

The courtyard was decked out and champagne service beckoned. A bagpipe (Dudelsack haha!) player was standing off to the side waiting for the bride and groom to show up so I asked him if I could take a photo of him.

Me: What is the German word for “bride” anyway? 

BP: Die Braut. 

Me: Not to be confused with “das Brot”. (bread)

BP: Ha ha ha, NEIN! 

Hamish the German
Hamish the German

I grabbed a glass of champagne and tottered around on the cobblestones a bit. A table full of kindly English people took pity on me and invited me to sit with them. Again, I had to explain my tenuous connection to the wedding party but thankfully, everyone seemed to think it was cool rather than downright weird.

The palace courtyard. Or a typical Saturday afternoon for me...
The palace courtyard. Or a typical Saturday afternoon for me…

In typical German fashion, an AGENDA for the evening was set out.

So German...
So German…

We all gathered to watch the German wedding tradition of log-sawing. Seemingly, it’s a demonstration of the couple’s abilities in teamwork. They were both given workman’s gloves, which really set off Kat’s dress, and then they got down to it.

German log-sawing
German log-sawing

I can’t say either of them will ever make it as lumberjacks but I hope they won’t have to. There probably isn’t much call for lumberjackmanship (I went a bit German there) in London anyway. We all gathered for the group photo and then it was time for the 4-course dinner. 13427974_1122601124449930_158288312928114469_n

I was seated at the same table as my new English buddies so chatting was easy. The girl beside me was a teacher so we had something in common. She was also alone as her husband was the best man and, therefore, seated at the top table, beside Santa. He looked like he was about to pass out from nerves at any second so his friends took it in turns to go up and distract him. At 6’7″, he would have gone down hard.

Dinner was delicious, and wine and conversation flowed. The waiter copped on pretty quickly that we were the high-maintenance table wine-wise and was always ready with a bottle.

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Then it was time for the speeches. Santa Claus went first with a short speech in German. An English translation was distributed to the English-speaking guests. Then it was James’ turn. Bless him, he read his speech first in English and then in German. I admired his balls while mentally correcting his pronunciation (because I’m a bitch like that). Finally, it was the best man’s turn. He delivered his speech in English and there was a German translation given out to the German-speaking guests. More great organisation. He also didn’t faint, which was good.

Dessert
Dessert

Dessert (Riesling champagne ice-cream soufflé with strawberry and mint salad) followed and then it was time for the party to begin. A band was getting set up in the next room so we all headed in that direction, ready for the couple’s first dance. “We’ve only just begun” by The Carpenters. Perfect.

Awwww
Awwww

The band played all of the 60s and 70s greats, everyone danced (except me because I have two left feet) and a free bar ensured everyone was well-lubed. The night ended with a midnight Currywurst and Pommes snack and then buses were waiting to take everyone back to the city centre.

All in all, it was an amazing day. The way they integrated the two cultures/languages and made sure that everyone was included must have taken so much planning. There was no dead time, everyone had a ball, and most people saw something more of Berlin than they normally would have.

Kat and James, I tip my big, floppy hat to you and wish you all the best. Thank you both so much for having me (the random Irish blogger) at your special day.

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And, if anyone else wants to invite me to their wedding, the answer is YES.

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The Russian does Berlin

When Anna first visited me in Riga, I delighted in trying to poison her with the local Black Balzams. So, when she said she wanted to come to Berlin for more torture, I wondered what fun and games we’d get up to. Her wishlist was, thankfully, pretty straightforward. Do a boat tour, go to a couple of Christmas markets, see the Berlin Wall and, most importantly, go out and meet people or, more specifically, men.  I had absolutely no problems with that.

I briefly considered trying to hook her up with my new half-naked, opera-singing Asian neighbour. I hoped that it might shut him up for 4 to 7 minutes. Then the thought that he might get louder put that idea out of my head.

When Anna arrived, like most tourists, the first thing she wanted to do was visit the… post office. Yup, it seems that in Russia, you can’t post something and expect it to actually arrive, so good old Deutsche Post would have to step in.

Lovely, reliable German post office...
Lovely, reliable German post office…

She decided she would like to use DHL and was just about finished filling in the form when we got to the top of the queue. It was the wrong form and she had no envelope. So we left the counter, picked up some envelopes and rejoined the queue. We got to the counter again, but she should have taken the envelopes out of the packaging, filled in all of the information, and then brought it to the nice lady. So we left the counter again. Anna filled in the form, I lost patience at the thought of having to queue a third time and went outside, and Anna rejoined the queue.

I needed a drink
I needed a drink

After a massive glass of wine for me and a tiny cappuccino for Anna – the waiter actually brought her a free second cappuccino as he must have felt sorry for her with her puny drink – we set off for Gendarmenmarkt. Pretty lights, a beautiful backdrop, oodles of ridiculously cute tat, little wooden huts, sausage and Glühwein – Anna was in heaven. In fact, when the choir started singing, she even shed a few tears. Normally, this sort of behaviour might result in a slap but, even I have to admit, there is something pretty magical about Gendarmenmarkt at Christmas. (Don’t judge me.)

We hit the town where Anna was horrified to see that Germans keep their children out so late.

Me: It’s 7.30…

The next morning, we were up bright and early for breakfast. Not really. We made it in time for brunch though. I was manhandled away from my food so that Anna could take a photo of it first. As everyone knows, “if it isn’t on Instagram, it didn’t happen”. I wondered what I’d been doing for the last 37 years.

Massive German portions
Massive German portions

We’d lucked out with a truly beautiful day so it was definitely boat tour time. We arrived with seconds to spare before the 2pm tour and hopped on the boat. While I wondered what the hell was wrong with my headset, Anna hopped from side to side, photographing everything to within an inch of its life. Because, you know, if it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen…

Watching someone else run around like Usain Bolt on speed can be thirsty work, so it was off to try the Feuerzangenbowle at Charlottenburg Palace. As I’d really liked it, I thought Anna would feel the same. Judge for yourselves…

Brave little Russian lamb
Brave little Russian lamb
Uh oh...
Uh oh…
Is she going to puke?
Is she going to puke?
She can't puke in front of a palace, can she?
She can’t puke in front of a palace, can she?
Breathe, breathe, little one...
Breathe, breathe, little one…

I think we can safely say Anna will not be trying that again.

After a night spent drinking vodka with a bunch of Russian men, there’s nothing I like more than getting out of bed and going sightseeing. And so, off to the Berlin Wall we went.

Anna: Is that it? 

Me: Yes. 

Anna: Oh. 

Like my mirror image that day
Like my mirror image that day

Anna had also mentioned that she quite fancied seeing some street art (more of it), so I escorted her over to my old hood, which is quirky to say the least. I’m not sure what kind of pretty, fluffy street art she was expecting but, well, this is Berlin.

Um...
Um…

Anna: Oh my god, oh my god, what IS that?! Why is it all so scary and creepy? What does that baby have no head? Why is that little girl trying to kill her cat? Why did you bring me here? I’m going to have nightmares after this…

Me: Heh heh heh.

I brought her to a local restaurant before she passed out. I guess Moscow is fluffier than Berlin. Who knew? After finishing the buffet  her meal, Anna decided to treat herself to a cocktail. Why she ordered a Swimming Pool I’ll never know, but it prompted the barman to point out where the bathroom was, just in case. Then again, he also said that Russian men looked like East German lesbians, so he may have had a couple himself. I would never insult East German lesbians like that.

Soon, it was time for the pièce de resistance of the weekend – the ice slide at Potsdamer Platz. We met my favourite German-Venezuelan couple – Engelbert and Enrique – filled up our Glühweins with rum from Engelbert’s illicit hip flask, and it was time. The slide was a lot bigger than I remembered but (Scheiße) in for a penny, in for a pound.

You can hear the German cackling in the background. Thanks for the support, Engelbert…

So, Anna’s now back in the land of smiles and fluffiness. Thanks for visiting and I hope you had fun apart from the TERRIFYING street art…

Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone!