On Sunday evening, I went out for a meal with Manfredas. As part of my stirring dinner conversation repartee, somehow the conversation turned to mice. (Don’t ask me how – I normally have so many random thoughts milling around in my head, it’s hard to tell where one burbling session ends and the next begins.)
Me: So, das Maus…
Manfredas: Die Maus. Not “das” Maus.
Me: Well, that just makes no sense.
Manfredas: Why not?
Me: (sigh/eye-roll combo) Becaaaause Maus ends in “s” and so does “das.” Easier to remember. And it’s “das Haus” and “Haus” rhymes with “Maus.” Das Haus, das Maus. The house, the mouse. Simple.
Me: Wait, so all mice are feminine in German?
Me: What about Mickey?
Manfredas: Still DIE MAUS.
Me: So, what… just because some German grammarian says so, Germans have the right to give one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time a sex-change? I mean, it’s all well and good for Minnie but poor Mickey! Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave!
Me: You know, “mickey” is Irish slang for “penis.”
Manfredas: What does that have to do with anything?
Me: Absolutely nothing.
Me: It’s DER Frosch (the frog), right?
Me: Good, so Kermit is safe. But DAS Schwein (the pig)?
Me: Miss Piggy will not be best pleased with the Germans.
Manfredas: Are you going to go through the entire cast of The Muppets?
Not really sure what Gonzo is supposed to be, I decided to quit while I was behind and get on with the business of eating.
And yes, in case you’re wondering, I am available for dinner parties.
Here it is – the long-awaited, “exciting” second installment.
You’ll be relieved to hear that I did eventually manage to get my cup of tea to my mouth, by adopting a new technique I like to call the “Wurstfinger-out manoeuvre”. I might patent it.
While elegantly sipping my exquisite Netto own brand tea, I spotted Oma emerging from the tool shed in the garden and decided to pop out to say “good morning”. This was just after 10 a.m. and I was feeling rather pleased with myself for simply being up, even if I was still in my pajamas with bed hair. Oma, however, looked like she’d been up for hours and was suitably full of the joys. I raised an eyebrow at the toolbox she was carrying and she threw back a cheery, “So ist das Leben!” (Such is life!)
I couldn’t even imagine a life that would involve me chirpily carting around a toolbox at 10 a.m. (or any time of the day for that matter) but then I’m not a German Oma; she’d probably built the shed while I was sleeping.
Feeling a little underachieving, I went back inside, showered and got myself ready for the day. I figured I would probably have enough plasters to get me through.
Now looking slightly more presentable (and appropriately plastered), I set out in search of food. Before long, I hit the jackpot – a cosy little café that served… Käse-Schinkenbrötchen! The nice lady behind the counter even offered to heat it up for me. (I think there must be something gormlessly endearing about me, or my accent, that Germans find appealing as she just glared at everyone else who came in.)
On the way out, I discovered that there must be some live dogs* in Rheinsberg as dead dogs don’t poop, as far as I know.
Satisfied with my morning so far, I set off for the palace and lake. My plan was to take a few photos of the palace and lake, walk around the lake to the obelisk, take photos of the palace and lake from the other side and then walk back again. Just when you thought this trip couldn’t get any more exciting, eh?
I set off, convincing myself that I was enjoying the (freezing) fresh air. Along the way, I passed a few other brave souls out for a walk, all very clearly German in their sensible footwear and all-weather clothing. Most of them gave me a cheery smile and a hello. It could have been the even more gormless, half-frozen look I was sporting at the time.
Anyway, I achieved my goal of making it to the obelisk, taking a lot of pretty photos along the way.
At this point, I was feeling so “at one” with nature, that I decided to carry on walking for a while. After ten minutes or so, I noticed something odd. I was completely alone. I hadn’t passed any Germans since the obelisk. Did they know something I didn’t? Had I missed a sign or something? I sent Manfredas a quick message.
Me: Are there wild boars in Brandenburg?
Manfredas: Hmm, I think you’ll be quite safe in the middle of the day.
Pfft. What did he know? Maybe the wild boar had never smelled Irish meat before and would disrupt their nocturnal habits for a nibble. Feeling more like eating than being eaten, I headed back towards town for some cake.
Unfortunately, I came to a Glühwein hut first.
Actually, there was nothing unfortunate about it; it was bloody brilliant. My cockles warmed, I continued on for around three minutes until I hit a likely-looking café.
Naturally, after all of this wild adventure I was exhausted, so I walked back to my apartment for a nap. A few hours later, I was ready to eat again. (I know – it just keeps getting more exciting…)
I’d spied a reasonably-priced restaurant on my earlier travels and, this being Rheinsberg, had no trouble getting a table. A lively foursome were sitting at the table next to me and thankfully, they didn’t look like they were about to leave any time soon. This was good as we were soon the only people left. We ended up having a nice chat but soon they were also ready to leave. Determined not to be the last one in the restaurant again, I downed my wine and left with them. We parted ways and I headed to the only Kneipe in town.
While it wasn’t the most salubrious of joints, I’m generally quite at home in these places so I plonked myself at the bar and ordered a glass of wine. The heads around me turned. Ah, “strange face in a local bar syndrome” – fun.
Me: Huh. Am I the only woman here?
Holger: (nodding behind the bar) She’s a woman.
Me: (casting a dubious look at the barkeep giantess) Oh, yes, of course she is! I meant, you know, as a customer… (eek, bad start)
Holger: Hmm, you speak good German but you don’t sound like a German. Where are you from?
Holger: Oh, right then! Shot?
Me: Yes, please.
And so began a merry night of shot-drinking, bizarre conversations and terrible dart-playing. It seemed there was some fun to be had in this town after all.
Day three got off to a rather later start and was pretty much a carbon copy of day two, apart from a nice glass of wine on a (currently non-touring) tour boat – and skipping the Kneipe; I was worried I might have some damages to settle from my slightly erratic darts skills.
And, while I may not have dug up the dog, I did find where he’s buried.
All in all, a perfectly enjoyable few days. I can definitely recommend it – especially if you enjoy having entire restaurants to yourself at the outrageous hour of 9 p.m.
*If you’re confused by the dog references, you probably need to read the previous post.
Me: Did I tell you I’m volunteering at a homeless thing tomorrow?
Han: Yep. ML.
This has been going on between us for some time. For example:
Han: I quite fancy a sherry.
Han: Old man Han?
Me: Correct. I had a grand-aunt who used to drink sherry. It always reminds me of her. Auntie Peg.
Han: Peg short for Peggy?
Me: NEIN. Peg short for Margaret. English is weird sometimes.
Han: Ha hahaha!
But what was ML? Magnificent Linda? Majestic Linda? Selfless doesn’t start with an “m”…
Han: Mother Linda.
Me: Ha hahaha!
Han: Jedi Master Linda.
Me: Ha hahaha!
And so, on Christmas Eve, I found myself on the S-Bahn on the way to Ostbahnhof, passing Germans on bikes, tandem bikes and scooters… walking, Nordic walking and jogging. These people never stop.
Anyway, Kälte Nothilfe – it roughly translates as “cold (weather) emergency aid” – were hosting an event at YAAM nightclub to feed the homeless in Berlin for the 6th year running; they were expecting over 1,000 people. There were several different ways in which people could help but, this year, I decided I would be hands-on and actually go there. Setting everything up would start at 11 a.m. and the guests would start arriving at around 2 p.m. At 10.45, I was walking past Stump Tower.
Having never done anything like this before, I really had no idea what to expect (though visions of me in an apron and hairnet slopping some kind of gruel into bowls had come to mind). I got to YAAM just before 11 o’clock along with a few other people.
As it turned out, I didn’t have any time to worry about what I was going to be doing. Several vans were parked in front of the club and I joined the human chain carrying crates of food, drinks and various other stuff into the venue. As soon as I walked in the door, I was plunged into darkness and picked my way carefully across the floor to where people were depositing the crates on counters and tables. Seemingly, they were working on getting the lights to come on…
This went on for some time. Daylight, crate, darkness, deposit, daylight, crate, darkness, deposit until all of the crates had been unloaded and piled high in the club.
I had never seen so much food in one place in my life. None of us were really sure what to do at that point but luckily someone took charge and we started sorting everything into different “areas” – fruit, veg, sweet stuff, fresh bread, tetra pak, dairy, tea and coffee, toiletries, pet food, cigarettes… The lights also came on.
I was closest to the fruit and veg so it would have made sense for me to start there but half the time I didn’t know if the thing was fruit or veg. Is an avocado a fruit or a vegetable? I figured Googling it would have looked a bit weird. And what on earth was that terrifying-looking, red, spiky thing? Clearly, I was in uncharted territory here.
Toiletries. Toiletries were safe.
Toiletries done, I appointed myself “Head of Glühwein Transportation” and starting hauling the boxes over behind the bar.
I wanted to help the guy slicing the bread after that but there was only one knife. (Come on, people…)
Once everything was neatly organised, we started bringing in the Christmas trees.
The tables were set up and the decorating commenced. I realised that you can drop baubles on a concrete floor and they won’t break. Useful information. Tubs of white candy floss appeared (Weihnachtsmannbart – Santa Claus’s beard) and we draped it over the trees to look like snow. After getting through two tubs, my hands looked like Santa Claus’s beard so it was time to go to the bathroom to wash it off. Another girl was already there.
Even though the place essentially looks like a huge, bare warehouse, we managed to get it looking pretty festive.
I made my way to the “Garderobe” area where people were sorting out the clothing donations. I ended up working with a sweet, American, gay guy.
GG: Oh my GOD! This t-shirt is soooo cute!
(It was hideous – like someone had eaten 10 packs of Skittles and vomited the contents of their stomach onto some material.)
Me: I don’t think you’re allowed to take the stuff…
A German guy dropped a pair of trousers on the floor.
GG2: Aw, NEIN!
Me: DOCH! (snigger)
At this stage, the guests had started arriving. As is pretty typical for Berlin, it was kind of hard to tell who was homeless and who was just artfully distressed. A Johnny Cash t-shirt that I’d just folded (badly) was swiped by a guy wearing better clothes than I was. But that was OK because I definitely didn’t have my eye on it…
By now, pretty much everything was done. The first guests were helping themselves to the food, or sitting at the tables talking and eating, and the DJ had started. I was ravenous.
As I wasn’t really sure what the policy was on eating the homeless people’s food, I thought it was as good a time as any to leave. I hit the Backwerk at Ostbahnhof and got back on the train. An old homeless man was in the same carriage. In a move reminiscent of the Latvian Snot Rocket, he pressed his fingers down hard on one nostril, expelled the contents of the other onto the floor and then repeated the procedure on the other nostril. In the reflection on the window, I could see the snot dripping off his moustache and clinging to his beard. I immediately ran over and wiped it away with my bare hands, smiling at him beatifically as I did so.
Did I heck.
I figured I’d done enough for one day and went for a glass of wine.
Eight Hungarian men have moved into my apartment block. Thankfully, the only hot one moved into the apartment opposite mine. He has a propensity for walking around half-naked which I find pleasing. We have mildly flirtatious conversations that I can barely understand as he only speaks Hungariman. They don’t seem to go to bars but, instead, enjoy knacker-drinking on the roof of the parking garage which is just below my balcony. I feel like a bit like Juliet some nights, if Juliet had had eight Hungarian Romeos, that is.
On one such occasion, they offered me some Hungarian moonshine. (If you want to know what that tastes like, go and swig some petrol.) We all ended up at a party in one of their flats and I immediately impressed with my one word of Hungarian – “egészségedre!” Where I could have picked up the word for “cheers!” in Hungarian (and around 15 other languages) is a mystery…
Anyway, on Sunday, I decided that a major blitz of my flat was necessary. I had amassed enough paper over the last year and a half to start my own recycling plant. Five sacks of paper and general rubbish (separated, of course) sat in the hall and I proceeded to lug them down to the bins one by one. On my fourth trip, I bumped into the Hungarian who acts as an interpreter for the rest of them. He looks a bit like Chris Evans, unfortunately not the hot Hollywood one.
He also likes wearing socks and sandals.
He kindly unlocked the front door for me and I trudged back upstairs. I was hoping he’d have finished his cigarette by the time I went back down with bag number five but no, he was still there.
András: Wow, so much rubbish.
Me: Ja, heute ist Putztag.
Luckily, he hadn’t seen me schlepping down with the first three bags. He opened the door for me again and then paused on the steps.
András: Em, Linda, can I ask you something?
Me: Sure, (whatever your name is).
András: I’m looking for someone to practise my German with and I was wondering if you’d be interested.
Me: I’m not sure I’m the right person for that job. I’m pretty sure your German is better than mine. (Educating someone on the art of the Sitzpinkel does not make you an expert on the German language; it merely means that you have a rather unhealthy fascination with the peeing habits of German men and like talking about it when you’ve been drinking Hungarian moonshine.)
András: (peering at me intensely through his black-rimmed glasses) I’d like to try though. I can cook dinner for us. Monday?
Me: Erm, no, I can’t tomorrow. I have a pub quiz.
Me: Erm, erm… Maybe. I have a late lesson though so… we’ll see. Maybe. Byeeeeeee!
On Tuesday, I arrived home, put on my slippers, spooned some beans into a saucepan and started up my laptop. I hadn’t even had time to enter the password when there was a ring at the bell. Scheiße.
Me: Oh. Hi.
András: Are you coming?
Me: Well, I’m really tired and I’ve just got in the door. (He lives directly under me so he had obviously heard me coming home.) Would you mind if we left it for another night?
His face fell. More.
András: But I’ve already cooked.
András: It’s 20 minutes out of your life and I’ve already prepared everything.
Me: (Sigh.) OK, then.
I then flopped around the flat, sighing loudly, sulkily taking off my slippers again and angrily bunging my poor beans into the fridge. I gave the bottle of wine in there a last wistful glance and walked wearily downstairs.
When I stepped into the living room, I was comforted to see that András had his laptop on and was currently browsing a website full of terrifying-looking knives.
Me: Em, what’s that?
András: Oh, it’s a hobby of mine. I make knives.
Me: … Cool?
He then opened a cupboard and proceeded to show me his collection. Just in case I wasn’t convinced by the glinting blades, he then shaved a chunk of hair off his arm to demonstrate how sharp they were. Tufts of ginger hair floated lazily to the floor.
Me: (Hmm, I wonder if I should throw myself through the window or try to make an attempt for the door…) Um, wow, impressive. Oh, is that a photo of your family?
Immediate crisis averted, we sat down to eat. To be fair, he had gone to quite a bit of effort. He’d even bought wine. I tucked into the goulash while making what I felt were appropriately appreciative noises. We chatted a bit about his family in Hungary, his work here and the joys of learning German. He pulled out the book he was using. It was quite possibly the most boring book I’d ever seen.
András: I’m using this book.
Me: (Say something positive, say something positive) Bah hahaha! That’s probably the worst book I’ve ever seen! It’s just table after table of conjugated verbs! It’s so dry!
András: (Peering at me over his goulash) You think your books are better than my books?
Me: (Say no, say no) Yes, for sure. They have pictures and dialogues and useful everyday German. I can lend you a couple if you like?
I polished off my goulash and got ready to make good my escape.
András: I’ll get the main course.
He set down a plate of grilled chicken and a pot of vegetables. I refilled my glass.
Me: Mmm, this is really good, thanks.
András: You know, I don’t want to be… wait, I don’t know the word.
He started typing the Hungarian word into the translator app on his phone. The German word appeared letter by letter:
Me: (Gulp) Violent? You don’t want to be violent?
Me: And are you?
András: I don’t want to be. But when you said you didn’t want to come tonight after I’d prepared everything…
At that moment, I knew exactly how Julia Roberts had felt in “Sleeping with the Enemy”. Door it was.
Me: Well, that was delicious but I really must be going now. Thank you for dinner!
András: Next Tuesday?
I scarpered back upstairs and gave Manfredas the abridged version over Messenger.
Manfredas: Double lock your door.
Manfredas: And your balcony door.
Me: Also done. I mean, he has a wife and kids, but then, so did Fred West.
The real tragedy of the story is that I never did get around to eating the beans.
Me: I think Green Day are coming this year. I’d love to see them live.
Manfredas: I’d be up for that. When are they coming?
Me: Not sure. Hold on, I’ll check… Aw crap, they’re coming on Thursday! There’s no way I can make that.
Manfredas: (Sad face)
Me: Oh well. Guess I’ll just have to wait until the next time they’re in town. (Sigh)
The next morning, I woke up to a Facebook message:
Manfredas: Do you fancy going to see Green Day in Paris?
Me: ??? Mais oui, bien sûr!
Within the next couple of hours, flights were booked, concert tickets were reserved and an AirBnB apartment in the centre of Paris was found. German efficiency. Stupidly early on the 3rd of February, we were off!
We got to Orly Airport and made our way outside to wait for the Orly Bus to the city. The first one was too full to get on, with passengers’ faces squished against the windows. We managed to squeeze onto the next one, where we stood like sardines the whole way into the city. There was no chance to validate our tickets so it would be a free journey back. Irish rule-shirking.
We navigated the Métro easily and were soon standing in front of our apartment building on a postcard-perfect, cobbled street in Saint-Michel.
We had been sent a list of quite detailed instructions by the owner of the apartment, Julien. Unfortunately, he had failed to include the correct code for the front door. Luckily, another resident was leaving just as we were punching in the wrong code for the fifth time so we finally managed to get in.
After that u have to cross the yard : dont climb the first stairs but the last. The flat is at the 4th floor (without elevator) and it’s the door in front of the stairs, the last possible.
The door is sometimes a bit hard to open. The lock to open is the lower one. The tip to do it easily is to push the key until the end and to take it back a little. Then turn a quarter round unclockwise and it’s done ;).
I wisely let Manfredas grapple with that.
Please don’t throw anything anormal in the toilets, it’s getting blocked really easily. There is a bin under the bathroom sink.
Poor Manfredas would refuse to poo in the loo for the whole of our time there. He figured, using flawless German logic, that a lady poo would probably be OK but a manly poo might be too much for the delicate French plumbing. It was actually quite hilarious having a German in a French apartment; if he’d had his tool kit, I think he would have spent most of the weekend straightening the crooked shelves and replumbing the entire apartment.
French plumbing meets German disapproval
Thankfully he didn’t and it didn’t seem like Julien possessed anything remotely practical so we were able to leave the apartment and start exploring. The narrow, winding streets around the apartment were just so pretty and so French that I may have had a tiny orgasm. We certainly wouldn’t go hungry or thirsty as practically every second building was a bar, restaurant or café. The chances of going broke were far higher.
We managed to find a place that wouldn’t require taking out a loan and enjoyed our first croque monsieur and bottle of wine in Paris. We strolled around for a while, scoped out where the bus to the concert venue went from, and I exclaimed “Sacré bleu!” and “Oh là là” sporadically and for no apparent reason.
After a little rest (and some wine) in the apartment, we made our way to the bus stop. Upon overhearing our conversation on the bus, a lively debate sprang up among the locals about which stop we should get off at. Yeah, the French are soooo unfriendly…
We got off, got half-heartedly frisked on the way in, and made our way to our seats. Manfredas went and got us a couple of beers and then Green Day were on.
Having been a fan for quite a long time, my expectations were high. Green Day surpassed every one of them – they absolutely rocked the house. There was a lot of audience participation and one girl even got to keep the guitar that she played on stage. Manfredas had the added bonus of listening to me roaring along with the band for over two hours. Lucky devil.
We stumbled out of the stadium on a total high, jabbering on about how amazing it had been and how cool it was that we were actually in Paris and had seen Green Day. I wondered if I should hang around and wait for Billie Joe to come out so I could creepily stalk him but decided that a celebratory glass of wine was more important.
Coming across as a complete “Basket Case” probably wouldn’t have endeared me to him much anyway.
Me: Ugh, I think I’ll sleep for another hour. It shouldn’t take more than five and a half hours to put on a dress.
Manfredas: One would think not.
Me: Grunt. (I hate it that a German sounds more natural using “one” than I do.)
We were being picked up by Manfredas’ boss, Heribert, at 5.30 to go to their company Christmas party. As there would be at least a hundred new people and a hell of a lot of German, I suggested one for “Dutch courage” in the local bar beforehand. Amazingly, Manfredas had never heard of this expression before so I smugly took my leave with four hours and forty-five minutes remaining to put on a dress.
Heribert and his wife, Fraubert (yeah, I know I’m pushing it with that one), were waiting for us so we hopped into the car and I entertained everyone with my charming Germish. Manfredas and I had devised a game called “Spot the Ossi” which we shared with the Berts, neither of whom are East German (Ossi).
The shindig had been organised by Manfredas’ colleague, who is known internally as “The Sheriff”.
Yes, you read that correctly – the party was scheduled to end at 11.59. Not midnight, not 11.58, but 11.59. Germans…
We were greeted by The Sheriff and I craned my neck to get a good look at her over the vast expanse of her yellow outfit; I imagine it was how David must have felt when he met Goliath. (I was David, in case you were wondering.) Our names were checked off a list and we were given name tags, which everyone just loves. We made our way outside to the mulled wine reception.
Me: There’s one.
A woman with hair like blonde candy floss was an obvious first Ossi-spot.
Me: There’s another one.
A woman who had dyed the back of her wall of hair purple was an easy second spot. We mingled a little, with me attempting to be on my best behaviour. The Sheriff soon started herding us towards the main reception room, where the big boss was due to give a welcome speech. We took our seats at the Berts’ table and I restrained myself from commenting (too much) on the phallic festive chocolates.
The Sheriff was given the credit for organising the event and lumbered up to collect a bouquet of flowers. All credit to the woman, she had organised it with military precision and everything went off without a hint of a hitch. The food was amazing – honeyed ham, duck, cod, mushroom ravioli, an extensive salad bar, fresh baguettes, a veritable potato fest, and a choice of desserts with fancy descriptions that defied any logic. “An interpretation of Apfelstrudel”… Anyone?
The endless supply of free wine lubed up my linguistic skills and conversation at our table flowed as easily as the booze. The DJ played a rather bewildering array of tunes and, despite one failed attempt to get our dinner companions to do the YMCA, Manfredas and I had a rollicking good time.
Best of all, at 11.59, the Berts gave us a lift back too, saving us up to two hours on public transport. We finished our night as we had started it, looking fabulously overdressed in our local bar.
I remembered to remove my name tag just in time and avoided looking like a total prat.
Manfredas: Do you fancy a couple of days in Hannover? We’d be staying with my parents…
Me: Oh God.
But I agreed to go; the chance to see a typical German family household with alles in Ordnung trumped my nervousness at having to try to be “normal” in a foreign language for an entire weekend. I made Manfredas stop at a supermarket close to their house so that I could pick up some flowers. I figured that I could at least make a good first impression even if it was going to be all downhill from there.
Me: What kind of flowers does she like?
Manfredas: I dunno. Everything?
We arrived just after sunset and were greeted at the door by Mr and Mrs Manfredas. I needn’t have worried – they couldn’t have been nicer and more welcoming. We were ushered into the dining room where Abendbrot (evening bread) was waiting for us. Abendbrot, as far as I can tell, is basically breakfast without the jam and Nutella. Yes Germans, your secret is out…
Me: (eyeing a suspicious-looking grey mass on a plate) What is THAT?
Manfredas: Leberwurst (liver sausage).
I excused myself to go to the bathroom, which was so clean you could have eaten your Leberwurst off the floor. His dad had rigged up a radio to the light switch so it was a very nice, musical pee. I made sure to compliment Mr Manfredas on his ingenuity when I got back downstairs.
After a little more small talk – yes, Germans do that – we were off to visit Manfredas’ friend and his wife. We sat in the “party kitchen”, drank wine and good whiskey and I managed to not come across as a total idiot – I think.
The next morning, after a musical shower and a massive breakfast, we hopped on the U-Bahn to the football stadium where Hannover 96 were playing Sankt Pauli. As the Germans are capable of having ideas, the cost of the trip to and from the stadium is included in the season ticket in a bid to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
The weather was a bit shit but Mrs Manfredas had been nice enough to lend me a practical German raincoat. As we approached security, I prayed that she had no illicit substances in her pockets. Having been briskly frisked and having my phone charger taken off me, we were in. The match was sold out and the atmosphere was buzzing. Sechsundneunzig – immer nett und freundlich. Various chants were being sung and I sung along with what I imagined the right words were.
Me: Are they saying “Ole asshole”?
Manfredas: Ha, NEIN! “Ole HSV!” (pronounced like “Ha ess fow” in German so an easy mistake to make…)
Hannover won 2-0 in the end and the stadium was a testament to what simple creatures men really are.
We met up with another of Manfredas’ friends on the way out and proceeded to the Hannover version of Oktoberfest. It was a bit like Las Vegas on steroids.
We managed to stick the noise and drunkenness for one drink and then walked to the old city to find somewhere a bit more civilised. The German love of sausage appears to be strong in Hannover.
Manfredas brought me to Gosch, which is where the Hannover wannabes hang out. I looked a little out of place amid the primped and preened ladies in my over-sized red raincoat, jeans and trainers but it’s Germany so nobody really cares. Still, I wanted to find somewhere a little more “me” (i.e. dodgy) so we left after one.
Walking past a bar where women with partially shaved heads and tattooed necks were roaring out the window at some poor bloke on a bike, I decided we’d found it.
We stayed for as long as I could bear listening to the Hannover Hyena laughing toothily at everything I said and then went for a bite to eat.
Sunday morning was sunny and warm and, when I got downstairs, Manfredas and his dad were sitting in the garden putting the world to rights. I decided there and then that my mission in life was to become a German pensioner – these people know how to live.
After another huge breakfast, Manfredas, his dad and I took a stroll to the nearby Blauer See, not five minutes from the house. Of course, this being Germany, there was also a beer garden.
Manfredas: Do you want something to drink?
Manfredas: My dad’s going to have a beer.
Me: OK then, I’ll have a glass of wine.
It was 11.55.
We sat and chilled for an hour or so, sunning ourselves and enjoying the peace and quiet. I made witty conversation – in my head – and Manfredas and his dad pretended that what I said in reality was actually correct German.
We all went for a delicious lunch in a Croatian restaurant and then it was time to pack up and get on the Autobahn back to Berlin.
I can’t say how the Manfredases felt about me, but I’m a huge fan of theirs. From the moment I arrived, I “felt myself at home” as the Germans would say – the musical bathroom was just a bonus.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain