Tag Archives: Hollywood

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…

Acting German

Having been told, on more than one occasion, that I have a flair for the dramatic – it wasn’t meant as a compliment – this week, I decided to put this theory to the test and try out “German with Theatre Games”.

The lesson was to take place at 77 Kastanienallee, which is right at the opposite end of the city. I left myself plenty of time (as usual), found 75, walked past 77, which is a cinema, and hit 79. Huh. Guess it must be down that dark alley somewhere. So I trotted through the darkness until I came to a courtyard. Nope, nothing to see here. So I headed through the second dark alley until I came to the second dark courtyard.

Bingo.
Bingo.

I followed the signs to the third floor and pushed at the door. Locked. I had managed to arrive before the teacher even got there. I stood for a couple of minutes admiring what I hoped was my artistically mysterious, all-black clothing, shoving at the door every now and then.

Knock, knock...
Knock, knock…

The teacher showed up right on time, but I wasn’t allowed in until I had removed my boots. Crap. This was about the time “artistically mysterious” went awry.

Don't you judge me - it's winter...
Don’t you judge me – it’s winter…

When I walked in, Traudl the Teacher had also removed her socks. Great. A hippy. And I hate feet. Still, I tried to make polite conversation for a few minutes until, finally, Claudio showed up. With two people, we could get started. The theme of the “lesson” was drinks and restaurants, something I felt I could get on board with.

But first, we had to move “freestyle” around the room to music, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is one of my all-time favourite activities…

I chose to shuffle around glaring accusingly at my non-mysterious pink socks. As the room was roughly the same temperature as the streets (0 Celsius), this activity was probably more for survival purposes than anything else.

Next Traudl put a “Ja” card in one corner, and a “NEIN” card in another. We had to ask each other questions to get to know each other a bit.

Me: Können sie singen? (Can you sing?) 

Traudl: No, no, there’s no “sie” in this space, only “du”. (The informal “you” in German.)

Me: OK, but I’m asking two of you so then it would be the plural, “ihr”. “Du” doesn’t make any sense. 

Traudl: Please use “du” in this space. 

Me: Mutter… 

We threw a massive workout ball around for a bit with me trying not to aim for Traudl’s head. Two more girls had shown up in the meantime.

Run free...
Run free…

Next up was a “game” where we had to pretend to be something else. Traudl showed off her acting skills by pretending to be a worm and lying on the floor, wriggling. I wondered why she wasn’t in Hollywood. Claudio ran over and pretended to be a bird and another girl became a tree. The bird took the worm and it was game over. Seemingly we were practising our article forms. This continued for some time and, while I’m not sure it helped my articles much, I’m pretty sure I could be a convincing worm now…

Traudl gathered us all into a circle and it was time to shout, “JA, NEIN AND DOCH”, with various hand gestures,  at each other. After a while, these three words were replaced with DIE heiße Schokolade, DER frischgepresste Orangensaft, and DAS alkoholfreie Getränk. The shouting and gesturing continued for a further ten minutes or so. Admittedly, I’ll never forget the articles that go with these drinks, but can this really be counted as learning the language in any sort of meaningful way?

After what seemed like an eternity, we were put into groups of three (two more people had shown up 30 and 40 minutes late) and instructed to write a drinks menu. After a while, Traudl bare-footedly bounced over to inspect ours.

Traudl: But wait, what’s this? 

Me: Weißbier.

Traudl: Oh no, that’s not a thing. You mean light beer. 

Me: No. I don’t. 

Traudl: (Scribbling out my word) 

Me: No, obviously you have light beer and dark beer but Weißbier is something different. 

Traudl: No, no, you mean light beer. 

Me: Sure. And “DU” can kiss my white Irish Arsch.

It wasn’t like I needed much convincing at this point, but seriously, what can I possibly learn from a GERMAN who knows nothing about BEER? She’d also never heard of Hoegaarden.

Yes, that also exists, you numpty.
Oh look! Things you’ve never heard of DO exist…

Finally, we had to act out a couple of “ordering in a restaurant” scenes, which luckily, we all knew how to do anyway as we’d had zero input in this respect in the preceding 75 minutes.

Seemingly it had taken Traudel – professional actress and German teacher – three years to “perfect” this teaching technique. I’m pretty sure I could have beaten her by 2 years, 364 days and 23.5 hours. She even made two spelling mistakes AND an article mistake in the “useful language” .pdf she posted the next day.

Clearly, I would not recommend “German with Theatre Games”, unless maybe you have a foot fetish. However, Hollywood, you there? If you’re ever looking for a convincing worm, I’ve got just the woman…