Various thoughts while getting drunk in East Berlin

It’s hot here, guys. Like stiflingly, deadeningly, damply hot. Like East-Coast-in-August hot. Today it’s about 95° in the shade, and I don’t even want to think about the temperature in the sun.

I guess a positive aspect is that I’m sweating so evenly and so completely in the humidity that I don’t have any specific sweatstains on my clothes. I’m just sort of uniformly damp. Yay?
Earlier today in Prenzlauer Berg a couple boys in their late teens came out of a building, dripping wet, in tiny little swimming bottoms and nothing else, one carrying a big homemade sign that said ‘POOL PARTY!’ and the other carrying a super soaker, with which he proceeded to soak random passers-by. No one seemed to mind in the least, including me.
Now I’m sitting at Renata in Friedrichshain, famous for its surrealist labyrinth. Unfortunately I can’t go inside — I got here when it was supposed to open at 6, but it was all locked up tight. Then I tried to go to the opening night of a modern dance performance but it was sold out — I waitlisted but didn’t get in, so I came back here to try again. This time, at 10pm, the bar is open but the list for the labyrinth tonight is already full and they aren’t taking any more names. The rest of the bar is good, though — it’s very Williamsburg [Brooklyn] in this part of Friedrichshain. This bar is mostly weird garden spaces outside, with some shacks here and there and a couple swimming pools. Good lighting, lots of trees, very gritty but almost self-consciously so. Just down the block I passed another bar that looks like the front yard of a ramshackle house, filled with sand and a ping-pong table and beach chairs. Pretty sure Michael and I went to the same bar once in Williamsburg with Fiona 🙂
I like it.
Back to the dance performance — I must say that my notions of classic German organizational skills have been challenged a few times. Managing a full house and a stand-by line isn’t nearly as difficult as they made it look… I and many of my coworkers could house manage circles around them single-handedly. Ha!
So today I walked by a Haagen Dazs shop. You know me… ice cream is my great weakness, and Haagen Dazs is my favorite. How could I NOT have it on a hot sunny day, in GERMANY?! So I went up to the counter, chose my flavors, and ordered, and had the following exchange in broken English and German:
“Ein scoop vanilla und ein scoop cookies and cream, bitte, in a cone!”
“Ja. For eating here or takeaway?”
(At this point I wondered if he had understood my request for a cone, so I pointed, helpfully, at the cones)
“…Ja… you are sitting here, or walking?”
(How could this possibly matter?)
“Ummm… for sitting down? Bitte?”
“Ja, I bring to you!”
So…. table service ice cream? Ok, I thought, that’s kind of bizarre, but whatever… I went and sat outside, under an umbrella to wait. They really understand cafe culture in Berlin, I have to say. Then, after a surprising amount of time, given that I was the only customer, He brought me my ice cream cone… LIKE THIS (see photo). I mean… whoa. This is a new level of ice cream. STEP IT UP, MOLLY MOON, is all I’m saying. Whoa. He also asked me if I’d like anything to drink, so I ordered sparkling water, and from there on out it was like a restaurant. CRAZY.
Next subject: I’m getting rapidly tipsy on one drink here at Renata. It tastes like shitty vodka, but they pour heavy and also I just realized the only ‘meal’ I had today was a [delicious] bagel sandwich at like 3pm… Yeah, eating regular meals isn’t my forte. But! I discovered amazing chai in Prenzlauer Berg! Which is way too full of families and children for my taste, but otherwise pretty great and seems to have a fair amount of small performance venues.
Related: I discovered in a coffee shop today that I’m missing seeing Iggy Pop and the Stooges in BERLIN by like three days. Shit. That would be AMAZING. Anyway….
I’m now at that exciting point of tipsiness where I have to decide if I’m stopping or continuing — continuing means I’ll have an amazing time and get home sometime around dawn with a vague memory of what happened (hi mom and dad!! Don’t worry about me traveling alone in a foreign land!), while stopping means I’ll cut myself off like a good girl and make my way home shortly. Given that I have an appointment to tour the Reichstag at 8:15 tomorrow morning (the only available time), the second option is probably wiser, but we’ll see. I’m in Berlin, for God’s sake…
But also I’m constantly aware that as a woman traveling alone in an unfamiliar place, there are certain things that are… less advisable. It sucks being a lady sometimes… if you’re a dude traveling alone, sure you should still be careful, but drinking alone in a random pub in an unknown area of a foreign city is infinitely safer for you. As a lady, even as a remarkably self-confident one, it’s… different. I’ve never forgotten what my first real martial arts instructor told me when I was eight: “the first rule of self defense is to not put yourself in a situation where you’ll be forced to defend yourself.” Sage advice. Rule one: don’t be dumb. Rule two: learn how to absolutely destroy anyone who tries to hurt you. Rule three: if you’re in trouble, you should yell “get the police!” instead of “help!” — always give people clear instructions that require minimal thought on their part. Ladies, are you paying attention? Good. Now excuse me while I proceed to get drunk alone in a foreign city where unfortunately I don’t know how to say “get the police!” in the native language. Or “help!”, for that matter. Prost! Salud! Cheers! 😉
Temperature update: it’s 11pm and my thermometer (YES I carry a thermometer, it’s attached to a compass which is clipped to my purse [NERD ALERT but also hey, I NEVER get lost]) says it’s about 87°. Well, the nice thing about backpacking in the summertime is your clothing takes up much less space in your backpack! This is good, because tomorrow is the first day I have to fit everything in one bag (including my purse) for a shitty off-brand intra-Europe flight to London. I pack LIGHT, my friends. SUPER LIGHT. It also cuts way down on my shopping expenses, since I have no room to carry anything I buy… so for anything I add, I have to throw something out. Today I almost bought a dress with the full intention of throwing out another outfit in its place but I couldn’t understand the seller when I asked the price, so I chickened out. Yay budget travel? It was super cute, though 😦
Update: I’m headed home, at 11:30, having chosen safety and sleep over debauchery. Hey, speaking of Iggy Pop – I meant to bring some Iggy to listen to here, but somehow failed to fully sync my phone (SADNESS). I did, however, bring the Siouxsie and the Banshees cover of The Passenger, which I’ve been listening to a lot. I mean, fuck. The horn section. HOW WAS THERE NOT A HORN SECTION BEFORE THIS COVER, is all. It’s PERFECT.
Alright, I think that’s all for now. Gut Nacht!


3 thoughts on “Various thoughts while getting drunk in East Berlin

  1. Aww I'm sorry you missed the labyrinth. We'll visit it together some day! I'm proud of you for getting to the Reichstag, as I failed to when I was there. Germans demanded “transparency” in their government after the whole Hilter and breakup/reunion debacles, so that explains the roof.
    helfen = help
    die Politzei = the police
    …but you can kick anyone's ass, I'm certain.
    Have fun in London!


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