We have a leisurely start to the day. Our flight isn’t until after noon. Leaving plenty of time to make sarnies, tip the kids’ lazy arses out of bed and generally get the rusty gears of my body in motion. And to have a quick farewell St. Bernardus Abt.
Usually I’d take a bus to station Zuid then a train. But having discovered the 197 bus, Dolores wanted to take that instead. “It’s much cheaper, Ronald.” That is true. “And quicker.” Not totally sure about that. It depends on how you time it.
Security isn’t too mobbed at Schiphol. Thank god. But I still don’t have time to slip furtively up to a bar. Instead we sit sheepishly with the other sheep at the gate. At least the flight’s on time.
The flight is uneventful. Other than me struggling to keep my sandwich together. Boiled spuds and no butter isn’t a great combination. Especially when the bread’s a bit crumbly. Dolores gives me a look when the trolley comes around. A don’t-you-dare-buy-any-whisky look. As I’ve become quite attached to my grillox, I let the trolley pass me by. It chinks tauntingly on its way.
I hate buses. That’s why we’ve landed at Schönefeld, even though it’s further out of the centre than Tegel. It has a train connection to the city. Though the station is just far enough away from the terminal to be annoying. I’ve never landed here before, but I can remember speeding past (well, as speedily as Deutsche Reichsbahn trains could speed) back in what I still refer to (at least mentally) as the good old days.
We get S-Bahn tickets and jump on a train. We just have to change once to get to our destination, Warschauerstrasse. It’s quite warm. No, very warm. Too bloody warm. Which makes pulling our luggage a couple of hundred metres to our hotel great fun. We pass a Kaiser supermarket that has an encouragingly large drinks hall. I make a mental note.
We’re staying in an Ost Fresian hotel. It’s quite nice, but has no airco. Though our rooms do have fridges. Lexie suggests : “We can just leave the fridge door open all night to cool down.” “That only works in cartoons.” I reply. He still struggles with the difference between animation and reality.
As we’ve fridges, we may as well fill them. We head back to Kaiser. Lexie checks out the vintage Fanta, while I give the beer section a good look over. I ignore the Kindl Berliner Weisse and other local beers and turn my attention to the Bavarian corner. Schlenkerla Märzen and Andechs Doppelbock. That’ll do. Dolores opts for girly wine stuff. Andrew for a bizarre Bourbon and apple mix. Should put him to sleep, at least.
As always, I’ve done some interweb scouting. So I know there’s a Schwabisch pub just around the corner. With some interesting beers and reasonably priced food. It’ll save traipsing into town and save money. At least those are the – very reasonable – arguments I present to Dolores. They must be compelling, because we’re soon sat inside Hirsch wondering what to drink.
There are around 20 bottled beers and four draught. Mostly, as you’d expect, from the Southwest of Germany. I opt for a SchlappeSeppl Kellerbier for the simple reason that I’ve never heard of it. And it’s a Kellerbier. Dolores and Andrew have Augustiner Helles (good choice). Lexie, despite being legal to drink in Germany, sticks with a soft drink. I wonder whether he’s mine, sometimes.
The food is dirt cheap. A pair of sausages and potato salad costs just over 5 euros. So cheap, we can afford to let both kids eat for a change.
Fed and beered, we head back to the hotel for a bit of a lie down. Did I mention that it’s effing hot? Luckily the Andechs I bought earlier has cooled down nicely in the fridge. A couple take the edge off the heat.
Once we’ve rested a bit, we go in search of more beer. And stumble across a little beer garden, Jägerklause, a few corners away. It’s a little rough at the edges but bustling. Everywhere you look are tattoos and beards. Though the female guests mostly only have the former.
“There’s a fiver for the first person you spot without a tattoo,” I tell the kids, “and children don’t count.”
It’s pretty dark. But Lexie is illuminated by the brainsucker he’s fiddling with. I choose something dark to fit with the lighting. And because I usually swing to the Dark Side.
We stay about an hour. Only time for five pints. Just as well there’s some more Andechs cooling in the hotel fridge.
Tomorrow I do my one geeky thing of the trip. What could that be?
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The year DOT - My blog is 12 years old today. I'm using the opportunity to catch up with a local brewer whose beers I've been gathering notes on for months and am overdue...
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