Our new abode is gargantuan! If we crammed my last three apartments and one of the more compact Getrankeshops from Frankfurter Allee in here (and made them wear lederhosen), there would still be enough room for a currywurst stand. I am getting a lot of exercise loping between my desk and the kettle to fetch the 57 cups of Scottish Breakfast Tea that my days are fuelled by.
I have been adding to my colloquial German from watching locals interact with each other. Tonight’s lesson comes from witnessing an interaction between two Berliners on Oranienburgerstrasse. When approached by a sex worker wearing standard issue Berlin hooker-wear (a distinctive and mostly practical outfit of corset over ski jacket plus leg warmers plus moon boots), instead of saying “Nein!,” one can grin sheepishly, look embarrassed and answer “Ne, danke.” The emphasis was on the “Ne.”
I have also learned that a bottle of beer or alcohol of some sort is also pretty much obligatory for anyone sauntering the streets and transit system of Berlin after about 4 p.m. Whether trotting about the streets or on the U-bahn almost everyone has a brown beer bottle attached to hand or mouth. When we came home a bit after midnight, though, stepping carefully over the hundreds of smashed beer bottles that now litter the streets of Friedrichshain, I noted that many of the now sedate-seeming beers had been replaced by bottles of wine and vodka.
Once again, we were woken by the sounds of happy, hefty German children thundering back and forth in the apartment upstairs from 7 a.m. until 9 or so, when I assume their parents subdued them with a hearty breakfast. Even the lights shake as they gallop and lumber above our heads. We are happier to discover a neighbour through the wall is a classical pianist. Her early morning renditions of the better known works of Beethoven are a much more charming and Berlin-y way to start the day.
I ventured out on my first solo expedition this morning, armed with a shopping bag, some large denomination notes and no German. I found the dairy in the Frisch Markt particularly perplexing and returned with very few of the items that I had set out to buy, but with some amusing goods such as a wee wheel of camembert with two smiling gnomes prancing on its wrapper and a glass jar of Blaubeere yogurt. I was pleased to note that I now live in a land where they sell cookies shaped like gnomes. Gnomes seem a popular marketing feature here — there’s also some sort of evil looking schnapps on sale with a crusty looking gnome crouching over a fire on its label. Inexplicably, in pretty much every interaction this morning, I thanked people in Italian.