Tag Archives: DHL

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!

 

Advertisements

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours…

Having German neighbours is great. Everyone says hello, people hold the door open for you, and they even buzz you into the building at 3am when you can’t find your key.

However, before you decide you want to move in with me, there are a few things that you should probably be aware of.

1. Germans love online shopping.

I mean they REALLY love it. Which is all well and good, unless you live in the ground floor apartment and the DHL guy always rings your buzzer first. I have worn a path in the carpet trotting from my desk to open the door and sign for people’s packages. Half the time, our hall looks like the back room of a post office with all of the packages we take in.

The tip of the iceberg
The tip of the iceberg

There’s still no rest when delivery time is over for the day, because then you’re up and down to open the door to people looking for their stuff.

2. Naked neighbours

While I don’t think I’ve taken in any packages for the couple next door, I’ve seen the boyfriend’s package more times than I care to admit. Not that I’ve been going out of my way to see it, of course.

They have no curtains on their living room window and sometimes things get a bit sexy in there. They also both like walking around naked or standing at the sink naked, something that nearly gave my Bavarian flatmate a heart attack.

And, at the risk of going a little off topic, I think they might have murdered their cat. They had the cutest little kitten that used to leap out at you from all sorts of hiding places, but seemingly also liked peeing and pooping in the bed. Then one day it was gone.

Me: Hey, I haven’t seen your cat around for a few days. 

Traute: He ran away.

Me: Aw, well, maybe he’ll come back.

Traute: No, he’s not coming back.

Me: Right…

Then the next day, they put all the cat’s stuff in the bins. I could be wrong of course, but it does give you paws for thought… (Sorry.)

3. A hit on the house

One day, I came home to find two Xs spray painted onto the front door.

Like this
Like this

I didn’t give it much thought until one of my neighbours put up a sign on the inside of the door a day later.

Like this
Like this

It turns out that the two Xs are Berlin Criminal Underworld-ese for “There’s good stuff in this building. Rob it.” Thankfully, one of my neighbours understands BCU-ese and responded with the sign that means “The police have been made aware of this situation. Don’t even think about it. Punk.”

After an attempted break-in last week, Hildeberta, my flatmate, suggested that maybe I could sit inside the door and bark for a while in the evenings. She did not get a “hoch fünf” for that.

4. Chatty Kathy

I guess every building has one of these. You know, the type that’s into everyone’s business and is almost impossible to escape when you bump into them in the hall? Mine also happens to look a bit like Kathy Bates in “Misery”.

misery_1

 

In our first conversation, she explained how she couldn’t understand why everyone thinks Berlin is cool and Berliners are friendly, as supposedly, Berliners are the least friendly people on the planet. She then told me she is a Berliner and proceeded to talk the ear off me for a good twenty minutes.

As she lives on the fifth floor, she’s worried that nobody will hear her scream (unlikely) if someone breaks into her apartment. She’s also worried that, as you can’t text the police in Berlin, the intruder will be able to hear her on the phone. So now she has my phone number.

The idea is that she’ll text me in the event of a break-in, and then I’ll call the police. Why she took the number of the one person in the building who can’t speak German is a mystery.

Heinz: Hallo, Polizei.

Me: HILFE! HILFE! EIN MANN IST… UM… UM… JUST HILFE! 

You see the flaw in the plan.

Crap, my phone is ringing – private number. I guess it’s time to let a neighbour get murdered. Sigh. I hate when this happens.

 

(Kathy Bates image taken from here.)