Tag Archives: Cocktails

We did the Münster mash (Part Two)

We left while I could still walk under the weight of all the food and headed for the Altstadt (Old City) of Münster in search of German prettiness. I have to admit, from the area we had been in the night before, I was starting to think that the internet had lied to me about Münster being so scenic.

NEIN!
NEIN!

But, fear not. Yet again, Germany did not disappoint. For those interested in a little extra information – the rest of you can skip this paragraph – Münster is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia and is considered to be the cultural capital of the region. Münster was where the treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648, putting an end to the Thirty Years’ War in Germany. Today, it has a population of around 300,000 and is known as the bicycle capital of Germany.

For good reason
With good reason

With Manfredas periodically sweeping me out of the cycle lanes, we wandered around while I took photos of the beautiful buildings. Considering he’s been there umpteen times, Manfredas wasn’t much of a tour guide. Instead, he read the plaques on the sides of the buildings to me which, really, I could have done myself… (Ungrateful much, Linda?) Seemingly, there’s also a Latvian high school but, tragically, we missed that…

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Anyway, after walking around for hours under an hour, we’d worked up a bit of a thirst. We found a likely-looking café and, as it was a mild day, sat outside. Germans and their love of Luft and lüften… as long as it’s not lashing rain or below freezing, you’ll find them sitting outside. I huddled up under a blanket and we ordered some wine.

Don't ask me why I'm looking in the wrong direction. That was only my first glass, I swear.
Don’t ask me why I’m looking in the wrong direction. That was only my first glass, I swear.

The great thing about being in a smaller city is that you’re really under no pressure to rush around visiting all the “MUST-SEE” sights. We had had a nice stroll and now we were more than content to relax and chat with a few glasses of vino. The perfect day. Until the sirens started.

Me: Oooh, a demonstration! 

Manfredas: Ja.

Me: What’s it about? No more refugees? 

Manfredas: No, the other side. 

So, I dashed off to take a photo of the 20-30 people in Münster who think taking in more refugees is a good idea.

Not a German flag in sight
Not a German flag in sight

With darkness starting to fall, we decided to head back to the B&B for a power nap before dinner.

Clearly, Barbara had been up to her old tricks with the lüften again and the room was like an ice-box. Still, once I thawed out, I managed to get in a bit of shut-eye and, after a quick change, we were off out for dinner. Café Garbo picked up where breakfast had left off and served me my own body weight in Frikadellen (German meatballs) and fried potatoes. This time, I was too in shock at the size of the portion to take a photo… or I just ate it. You decide.

Manfredas rolled me into a taxi, and we drove to Kittys Trinksalon to meet up with a couple of his friends from the night before. Outside Kittys, I spied what is possibly the best invention I have ever seen…

20160123_235724

You dirty-minded bunch of…

This is what it actually was.

20160123_235747
Still pretty cool, right?

They even have their own website –

tail.de
tail.de

Having laughed myself sober, we headed for Münster’s Rock Factory where, I was told, no tourists ever go.

You lookin' at me?
You lookin’ at me?

We were stamped on our way in and didn’t make it out until around 4am. Well, I had to keep the Berlin side up, after all. The next morning, I woke up with a very fetching imprint of the stamp on the outside of my thigh which will give you a brief insight into how I sleep – if you ever wanted it.

We had booked breakfast for that morning so we went downstairs to see the ever-cheerful Barbara.

This is not Barbara
Not Barbara

Scrambled eggs, fruit in Greek yogurt, more bread than you could shake a stick at, juice, and as much tea and coffee as you could drink. I would definitely stay at Barbara’s again.

Barbara: Say “Würstchen”. (Würstchen = little sausage)

Me: Würstchen.

Barbara: (peals of laughter) I love getting foreigners to say that word!! 

Me: WüüüürstCHEN!

Barbara: (hysterics) 

Manfredas was clearly about to crack a smile but then realised that he would have to spend five hours in a car with a potentially annoyed Irish woman so he held it in. Germans are very sensible people.

Once Barbara had picked herself up off the floor, we hugged goodbye and Manfredas and I hit the road again. Luckily for him, I was exhausted after the night before so I slept for most of the first couple of hours. We stopped off at the Marienborn Memorial, the largest border crossing during the division of Germany. A bleaker, grimmer place would be hard to find.

Luckily, there was a truck-stop restaurant and shop nearby so we popped in for a Sitzpinkel and some food. It seems that where Germany depresses you one minute, it instantly tries to cheer you up in the next…

Mission accomplished
Mission accomplished

Little did I realise that the best was yet to come…

 

 

 

English and Elvis

I’m happy to say that I’m finally feeling a bit more settled in Berlin, thanks to my new home and my two lovely German ladies. (And no, we don’t braid each other’s hair and have pillow fights, in case you were wondering.)

I’ve got my head around my work schedule and feel that I’m now in a position to talk a little about what it’s like to be an English teacher in Berlin.

I guess I should start by saying that if you’re looking for a safe bet, Berlin probably isn’t the place for you. Most schools hire on a freelance basis, and won’t interview people who don’t already live in Berlin. The only thing you can do, which is what I did, is find a list of English schools here and send your CV to ALL of them. Then cross your fingers and hope one or two reply, move to Berlin, cross your fingers again and hope that you get an interview.

I got two interviews (and two jobs) within around a week and a half. I now realise how insanely lucky I was after talking to another teacher who said that it took her four months to find any work at all. In short, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Oh, and you'll definitely need one of these...
Oh, and you’ll definitely need one of these…

In addition, if you’re looking for a job where you go to a school, work five or six hours a day in the same building and go home again, you might want to rethink Berlin as your first choice. If you’re freelancing, you’ll likely be travelling to different companies to teach there. And as most companies want lessons either before or after normal working hours, you’ll probably have to get up at stupid o’clock to get to 8am lessons.

Of course, it can be a bit tiring, but seriously, who wouldn’t want to spend their days wandering around Berlin? I’ve got to see so much of the city this way and, every day, something new surprises or tickles me.

From the wonderful...
From the wonderful…

to the wonderfully historic...
to the wonderfully historic…

to the wonderfully weird.
to the wonderfully weird.

In short, Berlin is fantastic. And there are also some pretty impressive, double-take-inducing German moustaches roaming the streets. (Attached to men, of course. Berlin is crazy, but not that crazy.)

The school that I get the bulk of my hours from is fantastically well-run. The teachers are financially taken care of and support is always available. We even get paid for training, induction, and travel expenses. And, every now and then, the Director of Studies bakes…

A sausage roll! A rare sight indeed in Germany.
A sausage roll! A rare sight indeed in Germany.

And finally, ze German students… In my (admittedly still limited) experience, they’re great – warm, friendly, chuckly, open, smart, hard-working, and pleasingly self-aware. I recently had two students act out a telephone role play.

(Afterwards)

Me: Um, it was good, but maybe a little… direct?

Fritz: You mean too German? 

Me: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

So overall, it’s hard work, it’s stressful in the beginning, but if you’re really determined to move to Berlin, you’ll find a way to make it work eventually – and it will be worth it.

Still, all work and no play makes Linda a dull girl, so last night I had the honour of being invited to an English stand-up comedy night by Victoria over at The British Berliner. We met up for Happy Hour cocktails at the rather fabulous Bellini Lounge, and then to the main event at the Quatsch Comedy Club.

Free stuff :)
Free stuff 🙂

The star of the show, Daniel Sloss, is a young, up-and-coming Scottish comedian, and if you like no-holds-barred comedy, which made half an audience in Indianapolis stand up and leave the show, then he’s the guy for you. If you’re not easily offended and like penis jokes – as I do – then you’ll laugh your ass off.

The warm-up act, the very funny Jack Woodhead, joked, sang and played the piano in an outfit and make-up that would have had a Latvian woman squealing in envy (and a Latvian man squealing in fear and pushing himself up against a wall – not that he’d be in any danger, I’m sure. Jack looked like a discerning individual…)

We got chatting to both comedians over a couple of drinks after the show, but I had to pretend to be a sensible person and leave early(ish). 5.45am starts bring out the sensible in most people. At around midnight, as I was walking from the train to my flat, the strains of people singing roaring along to ‘Suspicious Minds’ drifted my way.

Naturally, I should have kept walking but curiosity got the better of me, and I found myself outside a cute little French bar called ‘Place Clichy’. The bar was heaving when I managed to push open the door.

“HOORAY!!!”, roared everyone.

“HOORAY!!!”, I roared back, with no real idea why. I went to the bar and got talking to a very merry German.

Heinz: Where are you from?

Me: Ireland.

Heinz: (roaring) SHE’S FROM IRELAND!!!

Everyone: HOORAY!!! 

And so, my new buddies and I shouted along to Elvis tunes, and drank €2 glasses of wine, until around 2am, when I really had to be sensible and go to bed.

Ah Berlin, there’s never a dull moment with you, is there?