Das capital The kranky

Bleurgh. Pride comes before a fall ‘n all that. After being so ridiculously chuffed by my weight loss and running exploits for the last few days, I woke up on Saturday with my nagging sore throat threatning to turn into a full blown one. What’s more, it seemed to be ascending into my nose. I could really do without a cold.

I also woke up from a very uncomfortable night’s sleep on a tiny single bed I’d almost fallen out of at least once, and having had a bizarre dream where my football friends had to sit me down and have some serious words about my personal hygiene, telling me they could no longer put up with my constant stink. I’ll have to ask them about that next week.

Anyway. Kevin was already awake, as was Helen, and after chatting to both of them I had to get on with blogging. Finished too late to have breakfast, instead just about being able to fit in a shower (see that, footy mates?). I mean that sentence in two ways: I had just enough time for the shower, and I could only just fit in it. It’s a tiny cubicle crammed next to the bathroom sink, and a few months ago I’d have struggled to get in.

Anyway. Enough. Kevin’s down in reception and we’re off for a wander. He still needs some electronics, but otherwise we’ve precious few plans. First we walk to Ostbahnhof, and spend twenty minutes failing to find a machine which will sell us a day ticket for Berlin public transport. Sigh. A woman behind a desk eventually sells them to us, and we go up to the platform for the S-Bahn. Then we go back down the stairs, remembering we’d failed to validate the ticket, and back up. God damn this city’s trains, so far.

The next train comes in, and a strange man wanders along the platform knocking on windows, closing doors randomly, and gurning. We leave him behind and arrive at Alexanderplatz, which seems to be having a Christmas market. What? Oh, wait, no, they’re having an Oktoberfest. OK then.

First, Saturn. After some faffing an adapter is bought for his laptop, then we set off the theft alarm as we leave. The security guy sends each of us back through individually, and nothing goes off. He apologises for their shit tech and we’re on our way.

By now I’m really dehydrated, so I go to buy a pretzel. I ask for a knoblauchbrezel, and get back a cavalcade of German which I accurately translate as “we don’t have that, we only have what you can see”. Salami pretzel it is. I almost burn my fingers on it, and all the salt makes me even more dehydrated so next is a diet coke stop. Finally feeling human, we can start tourisming. Here’s a big fucking tower next to a church.

The weather’s a bit grim and there are far fewer people around than I expected. Kevin fancies going to look at the reichstag and thinks he knows the way, so off we set. First stop is a theme shop for the red/green men on the Berlin pedestrian crossings. Seriously, a shop dedicated to all kinds of stuff emblazoned with their pictures. I get it, they are these cool little stylised figures, but even a day later I’m still a bit surprised this is A Thing. At the till, the lass strikes up conversation about Australia with Kevin, giving me enough time to look around and go, ooh, they serve pedestrian-crossing-figure beer as well. Let’s buy some bottles to drink tomorrow!

Yeah, tomorrow. Kevin’s been off the sauce since I was in Australia, and remains so until the finish line on Sunday. OK perhaps a little while after the finish, but you get the gist.

Back out on the streets and we cross the river, then spot a museum with some statues of - yes! - men with horses. I’m under strict instruction to take photos of myself with Helen’s international hat, posing next so statues of men with horses, so I duly oblige.

One of the statues is absolutely brutal. Here, this one.

He’s kicking some geezer in the face, while stamping on the broken torso of a vanquished enemy. My first thought is that the rider is holding a sock full of snooker balls, but Kevin reckons it’s probably the guts or heart of the guy on the floor. Steady on!

Up top of another building, way too far away to get a photo of - especially since my real camera, with the optical zoom ‘n that, has no battery - is a statue of someone punching a horse in the chin. It’s a bit weird around here. Over the next bit of river, through the art market, and back on the main drag - Unter den Linden, I think - we keep wandering and briefly pop into the Merc gallery. I know fuck all about cars, let alone rotating Mercedes ones.

Further we go, past yet more statues of men on horses - Berlin’s giving Madrid a run for its money here - and now there’s thouands of people around. We’ve arrived at Brandenburger Tor, some gate or other. It’s the entrance to the Tiergarten, next to the Reichstag and the Holocaust Memorial. It’s also where the marathon will start and end, and the inline skating marathon is on in a bit ‘n all. That explains all the inline skaters, I guess.

Man behind horses, rather than on a horse.

The queue to the Reichstag is absolutely vast, and anyway since I’ve made us buy bottles of beer it seems unlikely we’d be allowed through security, so fuck it. The writing on the front says Dem Deutscher Volke which I guess means “The German People!”, but to us reads a bit more convivially - “Them German folk, eh?”

We follow the signs to the “Family reunion” area, so I can get me bearings about where the letter F is to turn up at. Then, back across to the Holocaust memorial for some moderately contemplative

By now I’m regularly complaining about the weight of my bag, what with having a bottle of fucking beer in it. Whose idea was this? And we’re both hungry and a bit dehydrated again, plus Kevin kinda wants to save his feet and legs for the main event. So, typically, we entirely fail to get public transport and walk all the way back into the city centre, eventually stumbling almost literally into what seems to be Alt Berlin. It’s reminiscent of the nice bit of Bremen me and Helen found in May, and has lots of eateries.

I veto the closest thing they have to a greasy spoon and instead we go to Bolte’s. Since we’re in Germany, it’s basically a houe of meat. We start off each having potato soup with bacon and sausage - I really wouldn’t classify it as soup, meself - followed by mains of blood sausage with potato and apple (me), or the plate of assorted meaty goodness (Kevin). Nom nom nom it’s AWESOME. My drink choice, accidentally, is a dark beer, about which I am very happy. Everyone on every table is taking photos of their food when it arrives, and we’re of course no different.

We’re actually almost sort of done for the day here. He definitely needs to give his legs a rest, and we have much logistics to discuss. I’m gonna carry a bag of his clothes with me so he doesn’t have to dick around with lockers ‘n that in the morning. There are forty thousand people running this race, after all, so any time saved is worthwhile. This means going to his hotel to pick up stuff, so back at Alexanderplatz and... oh fuck you, Berlin public transport.

We want to get the U-bahn, line 2, to Spittelmarkt. But there’s a sign saying due to engineering work, there’s no service between Alexanderplatz and Spittelmarkt. The only stretch we want. You can go north from the former or south from the latter, but not between the two. ARGH. But then, back on the street, I consult Citymapper and it says, nuh uh, you’re fine. What? Back underground and a closer look at the poster seems to say this is only a problem from Sunday to Thursday.

The platform agrees. It is busy and a train is due in three minutes. There’s a kiosk selling food, drink, and booze - Jagermeister on the tube, anyone? The train itself, however, has signs saying no food, no drink, no booze. Well, here’s an idea: don’t sell it on the damn platforms, eh?

Kevin’s hotel is less salubrious than mine, but at least he has a double bed. Neither of us have a fridge, making the bottled beer purchase even more hilariously terrible an idea. Go me! We watch CNN for a bit, he decants some clothes into a bag and tells me how to get to my hotel on foot. It seems easy, the map makes sense, and once I leave I almost immediately take a wrong turn and cross the river way too early, and heading away from where I want to go. Twat.

Down the stairs and past the lock, I hug the river until I get to the next station and think, fuck it, I’ve had enough of being on my feet ‘n all. 20 odd thouand steps me watch says. So, one stop on the S-Bahn - making great use of that travelcard - and soon enough I’m back at my hotel. I’m utterly exhausted, feeling like I could sleep at any moment, but manage to keep myself awake through judicious playing of the Criminal Case games while listening to podcasts. Come 7.30pm I figure I’ll go downstairs for a pint and a panini, and do exactly this.

I keep wondering if I’m ill. The throat is nagging, but didn’t get any worse, and I’d even forgotten about the nasal issues I’d woken with. I sit at the bar, one pint turns into four, as I’m enjoying chatting with Helen on facebook while listening to an endless stream of language fail between other customers and the bar staff.

A Scotsman tries valiantly to say ‘rot’ meaning ‘red’ to describe the wine he wants, even though the barman is talking to him in English, and eventually the transaction only succeeds through pointing. Later, an Australian asks in English about wine. “Do you have Chablis?” “No” “Pinto Grigiot?” “No” The barman takes some convincing to actually proffer what wine they do have.

Eventually, I’m the only person left. My phone is down to 10% battery and I’ve got to be up early-ish in the morning. I’m sure I’m charged too little for what I consumed, and make a hasty exit.

Created By
Darren Foreman

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.