Tag Archives: church

I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I dooooo…

A couple of weeks ago, I ended up talking about weddings with one of my groups.

Me: Which hand do you wear your ring on in Germany? 

Students: The right. Unlike the rest of the world. 

Me: Yeah, pretty much. Oh, you don’t wear your engagement ring on the same finger? 

Students: Germans don’t do engagement rings. 

Me: What?! But how does that work? He gets down on one knee, proposes and gives you, erm, nothing? 

Students: Pretty much. 

Me: But that’s just… I don’t know… it’s just…

Students: Engagement rings are expensive.

Good old German practicality strikes again.

A little later, we were doing a listening exercise.

A: Patrick and I are getting married! 

B: Wow, that’s fantastic news! Congratulations! 

Me: So, let’s see the ring!

Me: There is no ring. I’m marrying a German…

Students: Sigh.

Anyway, there is a point to all of this, and no, it’s not that a German has proposed to me (but hopefully some day – hint, hint…). I’ve been invited to my first German wedding!

I imagine I will wear something like this. It is Berlin.
I imagine I will wear something like this. It is Berlin, after all.

When I lived in Latvia, if someone came out with “I wanted to ask you something”, it usually ended up with me working for no money, or a promised beer that never materialised. In Germany, however, this was followed up by, “I’m getting hitched in Berlin next year. Want to come?”

I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I doooooo!

The invitation was all the more surprising as I don’t even know the bride that well. In fact, we only got to know each other after she started reading my blog and got in touch to ask if I wanted to meet up some time. We did, got along like a house on fire and have been friends ever since, although mostly on Facebook as she lives in London. (She’s marrying an English man which means that if my German starts to fail at the wedding, I’ll have his side of the family to talk to. Totally gewinning.)

The day itself sounds amazing – first of all, the wedding is not going to be in a church so there’s no risk of me being hounded by a priest for back taxes. There’s going to be a two-hour boat trip to Potsdam and, best of all, a 7-hour free bar…

I now see the point in not spending stupid amounts of money on an engagement ring.

Bridehilde: And you MUST write a blog post about it.

Me: Absolutely! 

Bridehilde: You can black out my face though. 

Me: Umm, that might look a bit creepy…

My best friend kindly let me butcher one of her beautiful wedding photos to prove my point.
My best friend kindly let me butcher one of her beautiful wedding photos to prove my point.

We might need to rethink the photography angle. But after a 7-hour free bar, there might not be much of an issue anyway.

Roll on June!

Welcome to my hood

I am officially declaring my first week and a half of living on my own a roaring success. But, I suspect that since posting these pictures…

…some of you might think that I have taken to tree-hugging, stuff-picking, or whatever else it is people who live near forests do. Not so, dear reader. If there was ever a chance of that, I think it probably would have happened in Latvia, and the closest I came to tree-hugging there was being driven out of the country by stick-wielding local lunatics. (Slight exaggeration, but close enough.)

Far from feeling isolated from my beloved Berlin, I am feeling very much at home here. During the day, I get to scoff at tourists who spend 20 minutes standing in front of a map of the train system, and a further 20 minutes trying to figure out which ticket to buy; in the evenings, I get to come home to my tranquil little haven. It’s the perfect balance. In fact, living here feels a bit like living in a holiday camp, which I can’t recommend highly enough.

Despite being small, the town has absolutely everything I need for daily living – an efficient transport system, supermarkets, banks, a post office, shops, WOOLWORTH, bakeries, cafés, restaurants, bars, late-night shops (for midnight/Sunday wine runs) and even a little cinema. Oh, and there’s also a church for people who like that sort of thing.

The bells, the bells...
The bells, the bells…

In my back garden, there’s a table tennis table which I’ve never seen anyone using, but am planning to take full advantage of at the first possible opportunity.

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Just down the road in one direction, there’s mini-golf and archery, and in the other direction, there’s a swimming pool, tennis courts and an ice rink. In fact, all I need is some bad karaoke, bingo and ballroom dancing and I’d be living in Butlin’s. (For non-UK/Irish readers, Butlin’s is a famous holiday camp in the UK – think “Dirty Dancing”, but without the dirty bits.)

Something the world hoped it would never see again...
Something the world hoped it would never see again…

Dotted all around the town are pretty little allotments where the Mermans, “merry Germans” in case you’d forgotten, grow stuff, grill sausages, drink beer, bask in the sunshine, paddle in inflatable swimming pools and get naked a lot. This last one is, as yet, unconfirmed, but this is Germany so…

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Naturally, I’ve also been to check out my new local bar. I first went last Sunday as a little treat for managing to lug my worldly possessions – solo – from one end of the city to the other. I was mildly perturbed to find that I was in the minority given that I didn’t have white hair, a walker or a wheelchair. Still, the punters were friendly, in a toothless, elderly sort of way.

Not one to give up so easily, I decided to return on a Saturday night to see what kind of crowd it brought in on a more “happening” night of the week. I had no sooner settled in with a nice glass of wine when the waiter came over.

Eggert: Those gentlemen over there would like to buy you a drink.

Feeling a bit like I was in a movie, I looked over to see three men of various ages/sizes grinning back at me.

Me: Um. 

Me: Ummmm.

Me: OK, I’ll have a white wi… no, sod that, I’ll have a whiskey. Irish. No ice. No water. Danke. 

When it came, I raised my glass to the gentlemen, thanked them in German and offered a pleasantry or two. This was greeted with looks of disappointment. Huh? Surely my German wasn’t that bad – it wasn’t like I was saying anything overly complicated. What was their problem?

As it turned out, their problem was that they didn’t have a word of German between them. They were Croatian builders who’d been in Germany for around ten days. Two out of three spoke passable English though, so in the end, we managed to have what was probably the most uproarious night that particular bar had ever seen.

It used to be so peaceful…

With my flat kitted out, my internet provider coming on Wednesday and my new bar of choice selected, there is really only one thing left to do. Yup, it’s back to the dreaded Bürgeramt to re-re-re-re-re-register my address. I guess if they try to make me wait for hours on end again, I can just start screaming, “Nobody puts O’Grady in a corner!” and see where that gets me.