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.
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.