It’s summer in Berlin which means that there are around ten festivals happening every week. In fact, there’s so much going on, it can be close to impossible to decide what to do. This weekend, however, the choice was easy. My two favourite words were mashed together into one German word and the decision was made. Weinfest.
After a relaxing brunch, Manfredas and I hopped on the bus to Britzer Garten. I had been there once before and thought it was beautiful so I was looking forward to going again.
Unfortunately, the festival wasn’t being held in the park proper but in a side bit next to a windmill.
We walked for around 10 minutes after the bus journey, wondering at the lack of drunk people on the streets. Clearly, this wasn’t going to be a massive party.
We got there to find not much of anything at all.
There were only three stands in total and two of those were selling coffee and cheese. Erm, what? But there was ONE wine stand so we marched over there and asked the barman what was going on.
Weinman: Well, there were supposed to be four wineries here but two cancelled and the third crashed in the outskirts of Berlin so now it’s just me.
There wasn’t much we could say to that so we ordered a couple of glasses of Weißburgunder and sat down, lowering the average age of the revellers by around 30 years.
Manfredas: I’ve been thinking about why this isn’t really a fest.
Me: You mean apart from the lack of people and wine?
Manfredas: Yes, apart from that. It’s because there’s no sausage.
Me: I think they’re going for a more classy “wine and cheese” French-style of proceedings.
Manfredas: THIS IS GERMANY! GERMANS NEED SAUSAGES!
Since we’d come all that way, we decided to have a second glass and chill out for a while – the good thing about a fest with 20 people is that there is never a queue for the toilets. When we were around half-way through, a van pulled up and a band (dressed in American GI uniforms) stepped out.
Me: Oooh, there’s a band! We have to stay now!
They started at 6pm on the dot and the lead singer explained that they were normally Checkpoint Five but they were missing their drum and keyboard players so, that night, they were Checkpoint Light.
Me: Oh, hahahaha! This is just too funny! A wine fest with no wine and a band with no members! Ha hahahahaha! What are drums in German anyway?
Me: Hit thing! Ha hahahahahaha!
Yes, we had started ordering wine by the bottle at that stage…
The band launched into energetic renditions of all the old American doo-wop classics, with every second song being an Elvis number. I was in heaven. Amazingly, the tables started filling up and we were soon sharing ours with a bunch of fun, middle-aged Germans.
They ordered a cheese plate which came with Schüttelbrot. Seemingly, it’s the preferred bread of the Alpine regions but it was far more fun whacking it off the table to try and break it than it was to attempt to eat it.
We all roared along with the music, providing percussion by beating the table with the bread. I’m pretty sure that Elvis was spinning in his grave by that point.
People were up dancing, the wine and conversation flowed and what could have been a total bust turned into a fantastic night out.
Even the Latvians turned up.
I can’t wait to go again next year. I only hope that it’s as disastrously funny as it was this year.
The third Alsace post will be up next week!