Tag Archives: flat-hunting in Berlin

The Littlest Hobo

At the end of this month, I will be moving out of flat number five and into flat number six. Not bad going for ten months, even by Berlin standards.

My plans to change the locks in Ailsa’s place failed and I dutifully moved out at the end of June. Ailsa came back from America to a spotless clean apartment, which she was very happy about, and I was very happy that she hadn’t arrived a couple of hours earlier when this was not even remotely the case.

Aware that I was about to be homeless – again – I started putting out feelers to see if I could find somewhere to keep me off the streets for another few weeks. As luck would have it, my German friend, Adalwolfa, was going to the States for a month with her dad and was looking for someone to take over her room. Funnily enough, the flat is about a ten-minute walk from Hermann’s place so it feels a bit like coming full circle.

I’m now sharing with a charming young German gentleman and a (thankfully) sane Swede. My first act in a bid to impress my new housemates was to make a cup of tea with a spoon and a half of salt, which I then proceeded to spit all over the kitchen. Eberhart came to my rescue and pointed out where the sugar was, though probably not before thinking he was living with a complete lunatic.

20150718_154429[1]

In my defence, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone keep salt in a jar with a spoon in it before. Surely that’s just asking for trouble, or is it yet another example of the much-maligned German sense of humour?

Anyway, since then, things have been going just fine. Although some of the décor leaves a little to be desired…

Um...
Um…

and the kitchen would give Hildeberta and Hildegard the willies, I have a huge room, working wifi, nice flatmates who don’t ask anything of me and, most importantly, a roof over my head. As Adalwolfa is a bit of a technical genius, I’ve also had hours of fun with her remote-controlled lighting system, hitting random buttons to see which light comes on or goes off. I’ve even managed to make it through almost an entire month with only one mini-lecture about putting packaging in the bio bin.

However, all good things must come to an end, and conscious of being under serious time pressure, I started looking for a new flat right after I’d moved into this one. And, I can hardly believe it, but I think I’ve found the perfect solution.

There is a company here called Berlinovo, which has apartments all over the city. The real beauty of this, particularly for someone with my sketchy employment history and even sketchier prospects, is that there’s no deposit, you can rent by the month, and only have to give a month’s notice when you want to leave.

The flat is small, but fully furnished (down to a corkscrew – I checked),  there are good transport connections, and I will be living on my own. ON MY OWN – how sweet those words are…

I'm this happy
I’m this happy

Regarding my current area, I will miss my new favourite bar, where it’s rumoured they eat foreigners for breakfast. I, however, have fit in like a dream, and the scary-looking locals have turned out to be lovely German pussycats, who help me with my language skills every time I go there. If there ever comes a time that I need to rob a bank or hide a body, the German that I’m learning from these characters will come in very handy.

I will NOT miss my local Italian restaurant, where the lecherous, elderly Sicilian waiter seems to think it’s perfectly acceptable to follow timid young women (yes, me) into the ladies bathroom, and attempt – repeatedly – to kiss them.

Numerous shoves in the chest failed to convince Salvatore that the feeling was not mutual.
Numerous shoves in the chest failed to convince Salvatore that the feeling was not mutual.

Anyway, for better or worse, soon I will be leaving all of this far behind and making the 25 or so S-Bahn trips it will take me to get all of my stuff from one end of the city to the other. This will probably be a walk in the park in comparison to setting up an internet connection…

House-training and house-hunting

After days of rigorous house-training, it appears that I can now make eggs and Brötchen in a way that is pleasing to Hermann. As I wandered around the kitchen looking for a saucepan and firing up the grill, I could hear Hermann muttering behind me.

My shoulders were firmly clasped and I was shuffled around the kitchen in front of him, ooh-ing and ahh-ing in understanding as he pointed out more acceptable German ways of making breakfast. At one point, he asked me if I had a kitchen at home so he really must think I’m the most useless article ever to grace his apartment. Still, lesson learned.

NEIN!
NEIN!

JA! Good little Irish woman...
JA! Good little Irish woman…

While I’m happy enough to be domesticated a little, I had to draw the line when Hermann tried to ‘help’ me dry my hair. It would appear that there is a more German way of doing that too. I mean, cooking an egg like a 70-year-old man is one thing, having the hairstyle of one is quite another. Plus, Hermann nearly has a seizure every time I use the dish-drying dish towel to dry my hands, and not the specially designated hand-drying dish towel… And so the flat-hunting began.

Hören Sie bitte - one is for dishes, one is for hands...
Hören Sie bitte – one is for dishes, one is for hands…

First up was a flat on Warschauerstrasse (Warsaw Street), and as luck would have it, the tram outside my door goes directly there. The transport system in Berlin is nothing short of amazing – until it isn’t. So, we were dumped at the side of the road at some random stop because of works on the line. When I asked the driver where Warschauer was, he pointed behind the tram which didn’t make much sense but you have to trust the Germans on these things.

After rambling aimlessly for around 15 minutes, asking people for directions (who all pointed in different directions – and people say Germans don’t have a sense of humour…) I figured out that there was a bus that would take me the rest of the way.

This too, dumped me out at the side of the road around four stops later, and still nowhere near Warschauer. So it was back on the tram to go the rest of the way. I could have been almost halfway to actual Warsaw in this time. When I finally showed up, I was nearly an hour late for my first German appointment, but luckily she was Egyptian so it didn’t really matter.

Home sweet home?
Home sweet home?

Although they seemed nice enough, the room was only going to be available for 3 to 4 weeks and I didn’t feel like doing all of this again so soon. And they were vegans… “Well, we don’t eat meat but we don’t really have a problem if you want to…” Getting the Death Stare over my weekend bacon wasn’t very appealing so I turned it down. And went to have a Currywurst and a beer to celebrate the fact that I am not a vegan.

That's it. Come to your non-vegan mama...
That’s it. Come to your non-vegan mama…

Later that evening, I went to see another apartment. I would have been sharing with an Italian girl who liked to cook. No-brainer. And the room was huge. We got on great and she said she’d call in a day or two to let me know. She didn’t. Bitch.

Anyway, luckily, I’d lined up another viewing – this time sharing with a Swedish guy. The second I saw the building and surroundings, I just knew I had to have it.

This will do nicely.
This will do nicely.

Fortunately, Bjorn didn’t want to waste too much time in finding someone so he agreed with me that I should have it. He preferred to share with a woman (because we’re tidy…) and I generally prefer blokes – match made in heaven. (Apart from the tidiness aspect.) Seemingly he travels a lot so I will have the place to myself quite a bit – I’ll run around and tidy up when he’s on his way back from the airport. Or just call Hermann who will do it better.

Celebration cake
Celebration cake

I’ll be moving in on Saturday, which means that my life in Germany can officially start. You can do NOTHING here without an address so let the bureaucratic adventures begin. Linda vs German Red Tape – it could be a death match.

Just thinking about it makes me want a glass of wine. I hope Hermann’s around to show me how to pour a glass properly in the German way…

 

 

 

 

Wedded Bliss

Amazingly, I’m not bound and gagged on someone’s basement floor, but am, rather, alive and kicking in Berlin.

I’ve settled into my temporary home in Wedding, which I have until the 23rd of September. The old guy who owns it is currently in hospital so, most of the time, I have the place to myself. However, he does pop in every day (colostomy bag in tow) to give me helpful pointers on how to use various household objects in a more German way. For example, this is unacceptable behaviour in Germany:

NEIN!
NEIN!

After my previous lecture on how to hang up a dish towel correctly, I thought I’d just let things dry naturally from then on and avoid the whole dish towel issue altogether. Now Hermann comes in every day (at unexpected times) and puts everything away where I can’t find it neatly. We’re a bit like an Irish-German ‘Odd Couple’ – after I’ve spent the whole of the previous day unintentionally deGermanising the place, he comes round and reGermanises it, tutting good-naturedly at my slovenly ways.

However, fun as this is, the prospect of being homeless in under two weeks is gnawing at me so I’ve lined up a couple of flat viewings for tomorrow. (One woman replied saying she wanted someone ‘god-fearing’ so I ruled that one out.) After chatting to some people, I’ve decided to just go for a room in an apartment for the first few months and look for my own place a bit further down the line.

I thought my luck was in last night. I’d been at an English language stand-up comedy night in JÄÄ-ÄÄR (Estonian for ‘iceberg’) and afterwards headed back to Offside on the off chance my new buddy might be there. He wasn’t but I did meet a red-headed German named Paddy, complete with leprechaun tattoo, who offered me his spare room. It seemed like fate but it turns out I’d have to buy a bed so that’s not going to fly. Moral of the story – don’t get excited over things that happen while drinking green shots that taste like Listerine.

There’s not much to report on the job front yet (but I do have an interview on Thursday) so instead, I thought I’d make a little list of things that I’m looking forward to in Germany.

1. More sausage than I can handle – and just good-quality meat in general. Take that as you will.

2014-09-13 18.51.41
Giant sausage

 

2. Order, rules, systems… it’s going to make such a pleasant change.

3. Being surrounded by polite, considerate, helpful, cheerful people – and yes, I do mean the Germans. Except when they’re in Primark on a Saturday afternoon – then they’re just scary.

4. Sex in German – ja, ja, oh mein Gott, schneller, schneller, ja, ja, das ist ausgezeichnet… what a sexy language.

5. Learning German so that I can understand what’s going on during the sex.

And that pretty much brings us up to date!