Tag Archives: Engelbert von Nordhausen

Görgeous Görlitz – Part 2

Later that evening, it was time to brave the death stairs and head out in search of food. It’s hard to say whether Görlitz looks prettier by day or by night.

One thing I did notice was that it was eerily empty at 8 p.m. In Berlin, people would just be getting up around then; in Görlitz, I feared people had already gone to bed for the night. Still, I did manage to find a nice-looking restaurant and, as I was pretty much in Poland, ordered the bigos – a Polish stew consisting of Sauerkraut and mystery meat…

Naturally, by the time I’d finished, I was the only person left in the restaurant. As I sipped my wine, the Polish waitress eyed me like the inconvenience I was so I decided to buy a bit more time by charming her with the fact that I had once lived in Poland. (I hated it but she didn’t have to know that.) Suitably impressed by my surprising knowledge of her language (“thank you very much”, “beer, please”, “old nag” and “under the chestnut tree” – the last two were the names of bars), we chatted for a bit and I got to finish my wine in peace. Win win. I paid up and made my way into the night, hoping there was a bit of life somewhere.

Hmm.

I ran through my mental checklist of questions to consider before choosing a place to drink:

Is it a bar? Check.

Is it open? Check.

Decision made. A bit later, as the two girls next to me were preparing to leave, I asked them where the nightlife in Görlitz is. They exchanged a slightly puzzled glance – it seemed I was in it.

The next morning, I woke up in a fit of breathless excitement. Today was the day. I had a date with… Hollywood Great, Engelbert von Nordhausen! I had a cup of tea, showered and dressed, and skipped down the stairs of doom. Carefully. I’m not a complete idiot.

The weather had decided to play along for the scene of this momentous occasion.

I was planning on doing the 1 o’clock tour so I chose a breakfast establishment close to the bus stop. I sat down outside in the glorious sunshine and ordered.

My food arrived really quickly, so much so, that I was done by the time the bus returned from the 11 o’clock tour. Watching the people stream off the bus, I decided it might be a good idea to book my ticket there and then, to be sure that I wouldn’t miss out. I ordered another cup of tea, left my coat and book there so the waiter knew I wasn’t doing a runner, and trotted over.

Love the licence plates in Görlitz – GR…

I accosted the driver just as he was getting off.

Hi, can I buy a ticket for the 1 o’clock tour, please?

Cztrzczycztyz.

Huh?

Cztrzczycztyz. (Looking slightly desperate)

Oh, you don’t speak German! English?

Cztrzczycztyz.

I realised that my time in Poland might have been better spent learning words like “buy” and “ticket”. So, I did the classic foreigner thing and spoke louder in German.

ONE. (Holds up finger) TICKET. FOR ONE O’CLOCK. (Points futilely at watch-less wrist) TOUR. (Points futilely at massive red bus)

At this point, the poor driver was frantically looking around to see if there was anyone who could rescue him. He managed to communicate that he had a colleague, pointed at his wrist and the ground I was standing on, and ran. I understood that I should come back just before one when his colleague would be there. Genius. I did also fleetingly wonder if he knew the German rules of the road. (To this day, I’m still unconvinced.)

I went back to the café, finished off my tea, and then did as instructed. I beamed at my new Polish bestie who hurried off to hide in the driver’s compartment. I successfully purchased my ticket from his colleague, who was also Polish but thankfully spoke German, and boarded. As I was the first person there, I had my pick of seats so sat right up front on the top deck. Brilliantly, even though there are essentially zero bars in Görlitz, there is a bar on the bus. I decided at that moment that the pandemic no longer existed and ordered a Radler.

And then we were off! Engelbert welcomed us all, introduced himself as the German Samuel L. Jackson (and wisely not the German Bill Cosby, which he also was) and we travelled at questionable speeds – careening around corners and sometimes on the wrong side of the road – through Görlitz, checking out the locations where movies like The Reader, Inglourious Basterds and Grand Budapest Hotel were made. Jackie Chan also jumped out of a tower window somewhere. When I wasn’t clinging to the railing for dear life, I sniggered as Engelbert referred to Brad Pitt and co. as “my colleagues”. I was pretty sure Brad wasn’t wandering around Hollywood returning the favour. But this was Görliwood and Engelbert was actually very entertaining in his own right, despite obviously sounding nothing like Samuel L. Jackson.

If you’re ever in Görlitz, have a spare €13 and an hour’s time, I highly recommend it. Just keep your hands off my Engelbert…

Tour done, I realised that that day was probably the “photo-taking day” as the weather wasn’t looking great for the rest of my time there. So, I wandered around for a bit, doing just that.

Despite everything being gorgeous, a couple of things caught my eye.

  1. Everything in the Euroshop now costs €1.10, which seems to defeat the purpose of having a EUROshop.

2. I was standing on the grass, taking a picture of some flowers when an old German woman shouted at me that standing on the grass was VERBOTEN! In a fit of pique, I marched around the grassy area trying to find the sign that said that. There wasn’t one. I looked around for her to give her a piece of my mind but she was gone. Germans are pretty speedy, even the old ones.

Illegally obtained imagery

3. Behold, the German uniform…

Dressing up is not really a thing here. Queuing for ice-cream is.

4. German stag dos are a bit weird. They wander around town trying to give OTHER PEOPLE alcohol and, oddly, tiny bread, instead of getting sloshed themselves.

Still, they looked like they were having a blast – and I have to say, I did too. Maybe some day, Engelbert will wander around Görlitz with his tiny bread and booze and I will become Linda von Nordhausen. Time will tell…

Görgeous Görlitz – Part 1

“This weekend, I am off to The Hollywood of Germany!” I announce with dramatic flair and jazz hands.

German 1: “What is that?”

“This weekend, I am off to The Hollywood of Germany!” I announce with slightly less dramatic flair and subdued jazz hands.

German 2: “Where?”

“This weekend, I’m off to The Hollywood of Germany. You’ve probably never heard of it.”

German 3: “Oh, you mean Babelsberg?”

“NEIN, Babelsberg is a film studio. Görlitz is The Hollywood of Germany!” The jazz hands are back.

“Why the fuck are you going to Dunkeldeutschland?”

“Because it’s The H… sod it. I give up.”

Dunkeldeutschland (dark Germany) is the not-very-nice name given to the former GDR and, even though the Wall came down in 1989, you’d be surprised how many “Wessis” still think this way. But not me. Nope, I was off to visit Görlitz, the easternmost city in Germany, otherwise known as Görliwood or… yep, you guessed it, The Hollywood of Germany!

Thankfully, the trains worked the way you’d expect German trains to work as I only had five minutes to change in Cottbus and, at 14:15 precisely, I was rolling into Görlitz. I bumped my wheelie suitcase over the cobblestones from the station to my AirBnB in the heart of the old town and arrived at 14:59, one minute before I was due to meet my host. Goddamn, I’m a good German.

On cue, a lovely, smiley lady by the name of Angela opened the door and showed me in.

I may have gasped a little when I saw the staircase…

… and made a mental note not to drink too much during my stay there. Or at least not while I was in the flat. Crawling back up the stairs, fine, falling down them, not so much.

Angela gave me a quick guided tour, handed over the key, and then I was on my own. The flat was huge, with a balcony, big comfy double bed, fully-equipped kitchen – not that I’d need it – more chairs than you could sit on in three days, and more lamps than you could use in a lifetime.

As I hung up the couple of dresses I’d brought with me, I did notice something odd though.

Why is the door buzzer in the back of the wardrobe? Anyone??

Mystery unsolved, I was off to check out what Görlitz had to offer. Mainly in the way of cake. Luckily, in Germany, you never have to walk more than around 20 metres before you hit a café or a bakery and, sure enough, there was Café Gloria, pretty much on my doorstep.

I selected a rich, chocolatey number and demolished it, all the while making rather porny “hmmmm, hmmmmm” noises. It was totally worth it. My cake craving sated, I took a couple of snaps of the square I was staying in – the Untermarkt (lower market).

That’s my gaff at the end on the left. €45 a night…

Then I decided to walk to Poland.

And no, your eyes do not deceive you. I mean, literally, walk to Poland. Görlitz is situated on the Neisse River and, when you walk over the bridge, you’re in Zgorzelec. (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it.)

Guess which side is Germany…

This is what still blows my mind about living in the EU (suck it, Brexit) – one minute, you’re in Germany, where they speak German, use the euro and customer service is questionable; the next, you’re in Poland, where they speak Polish, use the złoty (but accept the euro) and customer service is non-existent! Boom! No border control, no ID required, just toddle across a bridge and there you are!

The first indication that you’re in Poland is a burnt-out car on the river bank and massive signs advertising “Zigaretten”, which are significantly cheaper in Poland. It also only took around thirty seconds until I spotted a man swigging vodka from a bottle, and another five seconds until I saw a “yoof” clad from head to toe in stonewashed denim.

I immediately decided that I would spend my nights on the German side.

I found a slightly less terrifying-looking establishment and ordered a glass of wine which, disappointingly, cost €4 rather than 4 cents.

Poland. It’s not all bad. (Feel free to use that as your slogan, Zgorzelec Tourist Board. You are welcome.)

I sat there sipping away and trying to read my book, but really, I couldn’t concentrate as I was Sitting. In. Poland. Looking. At. Germany. Which, incidentally, is the right way to do it as I don’t think anyone sits in Germany looking across at Poland.

I took a few more photos on my way back but it was pretty overcast and doesn’t really do the place justice. In fact, it looks rather dunkel…

Back at the ranch, I had a rummage through the flyers there, but already knew what I had in mind for the next day – a bus tour on the Görliwood Entdecker (Explorer). If you’ve been wondering why on earth I’ve been referring to Görlitz as The Hollywood of Germany, it’s because over a hundred movies have been shot there.

German 3: Yeah right, what do they film there? Their own belly buttons? Har har har

Me: (Smug Wessi prick, I’ll show him…) Er, no, actually. Try Grand Budapest Hotel, Inglourious Basterds, The Reader, something with Jackie Chan that I can’t remember…

German 3: Oh.

With great excitement, I read the flyer – a Hollywood Great as Tour Guide! Oh my God, it’s frickin’ Samuel L. Jackson! Oh no, wait, it’s the guy who does the voice of Samuel L. Jackson for the German market. Hmm, “Hollywood Great” seemed like a bit of a stretch – unless you’re intimately familiar with the work of Engelbert von Nordhausen. I was not so I googled him.

I would say the similarities end with the glasses but maybe that’s just me.

Stay tuned for Part 2 with me, sunshine, and Hollywood Great, Engelbert von Nordhausen…