Thursday, 7 June 2018

August in Berlin

One of the trips I make every year with Dolores is a trip to Berlin for the Berliner Biermeile. A festival that stretches for a mile or so along Karl-Marx Allee.

I love it because it's the ultimate anti-geek festival, where Peroni, Carlsberg and Desperados rub shoulders with regional Czech breweries. It looks as if the beer selection is made by blindly sticking pins into a list. But what do I care? There are always more than enough Lagers for me to wrap my chops around. I do like a good Lager. And they're generally very poorly represented at festivals.

I also like Berlin. And - for the moment, at least - it's cheap. Beer and eating out often cost only about half what they do in Amsterdam. I doubt that will last, so best to take advantage of it while I can.

When I say I like Berlin, I really mean the former East Berlin. I rarely vbenture into the West of the city. There's no real point. All the major museums are in the East. As is the Augustiner pub with Bayerischer Anstich.

It helps that Dolores is a fan of Berlin, too. Especially the low, low prices.

This is the full report of our 2017 trip to Berlin.


Flying to Berlin

Our flight is at a fairly civilised time, a little after noon. No need to get up at a silly time.

But we don’t leave it too late. Not when it can take two hours to get through security. It’s been rather chaotic at Schiphol this summer. Massive queues and people missing flights.

But it does have an upside. They’ve had to hire extra people to work in security. And one of them is Andrew. Yes, the lazy git has finally found a job. And quite a fun one, as he gets to boss people around. He even gets a uniform.

“Can you get a gun, Andrew?” Alexei asked him hopefully. “No, of course not.”

Check in is at Departures 1A. Never been there before. I realise that it’s the new, temporary departure hall tacked onto hall 1. Which has me worrying. Is it going to be cramped and packed?

It turns out neither. There’s virtually no queue at security and we’re through in a couple of minutes. Then we’re stone free. No passport control as we’re headed for a Schengen country.

Our conservative planning has left us with some time to kill. Where could we possibly do that? If only there were some sort of place you could sit and take refreshment.

The Grand Café in Pier C has an obvious Heineken tie, flogging their Pils as well as Affligem Abbey beers.

“Hmmm. “ says Dolores, a little miffed. “They haven’t got any Witbier.”

“Yes they have. Look Paulaner Weissbier is on the menu.”

“It’s not on mine.”

Dolores is right. Hers lists Palm. “Maybe they’ve stopped selling it.” She says.

“There’s a pump with a Paulaner sign there.” I say, pointing to the bar “And that bloke sat at the bar has a glass of it in front of him. I think we can be pretty certain they’re selling it.”

I go for Affligem Tripel. It’s a fair enough beer. And the strongest one on offer. I’ve time for two.

We didn’t bother checking in bags. We haven’t brought that much with us. I’m a little puzzled by our seats: window and centre. I always get an aisle seat. Then I remember: I wasn’t able to reserve seats when I booked. And I forgot to do it later. Oh well. At least it’s a short flight.

I bought a sandwich landside just in case. Sometimes KLM just give you a piece of cake, which is no use to me being a non-sugar-eater.  We are given a sandwich. Which looks like cheese, but is actually egg. Dolores tells me this a couple of times, but I’m still not totally convinced. “But it looks like cheese.” I say mournfully. Whatever it is, I wash it down with red wine.


One of the bad features of Berlin is Tegel airport. Hopelessly outdated, cramped and frustratingly difficult to get to and from. Especially when you consider it’s bang in the city.

There’s no choice but to start out with a bus. Berlin’s many U- and S-Bahn lines all manage to dodge past it.  This time, we decide to get off the bus earlier, after just a couple of stops where it first connects to the S-Bahn. Which we take to Frankfurter Allee, where we take the U-Bahn for a couple of stops, then switch to a tram. Way too many changes. And lots of walking up and down stairs.


Luggage dumped, we head off to Lidl to stock up on essentials like wine. Our hotel room has a small kitchen. Including a fridge, which is dead handy. Somewhere to keep the milk for our tea cool. I don’t bother getting any beer. Because the Getränkemarkt next door is our next stop. Where they’ve a pretty wide range of beers.

I pick out a selection of stuff. Some from Berlin, some from other bits of the former DDR, some Bavarian. It only comes to 15 euros. And a third of that is for one 75 cl bottle of Maisel & Friends.

“There’s a beer garden further down this street. Do you fancy coming here later?” Dolores says she’s up for it.


There’s a big, enigmatic building we’d been wondering about ever since first walking around this bit. It turns out the beer garden is in its grounds. On closer inspection the big thing is clearly a former industrial building. Which now seems to have been taken over by artists.


We sit down and I order a Berliner Bürgerbräu Rodkelchen. “That’s odd, Dolores.” “Why?” “Berliner Bürgerbräu closed several years ago.

Fitting in with with hipsteriness, we order hamburgers. Mine’s rather messy to eat by hand.

After a second beer I ask: “Shall we go to Jägerklause?” It’s another, rather more rough and ready beer garden. Cheaper, too.


We finish the evening there with a beer or two, as night slowly folds around us and the lights come up.

We don’t stay up late.



Bierhof Rüdersdorf
Rüdersdorfer Str. 70,
10243 Berlin.
bierhof.berlin
Tel: +49 30 29360215

Jägerklause
Grünberger Str. 1,
10243 Berlin.
http://www.jaegerklause-berlin.de/
Tel.: +49 176 22286892



Tränenpalast

We’re up pretty early for a busy day. Lots of stuff planned. Starting with brekkie.

Breakfast is one of the main reason we stay at Opstalboom. They have a good buffet spread. Fried stuff for me, herring and cake for Dolores. Though obviously she doesn’t eat the two together.

The weather isn’t as hot as some previous years here. But it has been for the last couple of weeks. Leaving the hotel pretty warm inside. So we leave our room’s windows wide open when we set off for Friedrichstrasse.

I was dead excited when I heard Tränenpalast had reopened as a museum. It’s a place I spent many a miserable hour in the 1980’s. Being where customs and passport controls were carried out for those leaving East Berlin via Friedrichstrasse station. Something I did a few dozen times.*


It’s was pretty weird. First you put tour bags on a table for the customs people to look through. Often very thoroughly. After which you were confronted by a wall of doors made from cheap laminated wood. You’d be directed through one of these to a narrow corridor, on one side of which was a border guard behind glass. Who’d really check your passport and visa.


Once you got past him, you were through into the station itself. Or at least the two westbound platforms. You were hermetically sealed off from the platforms serving the east. The photo of a model of the layout below should give you some idea of how it looked.


As well as the building itself, there’s an exhibition about the wall and the people who crossed over it. Hard to imagine today what an impenetrable barrier it was. Being in Berlin with Dolores was always weird. With the wall never far away. Being able to see, sometimes just 50 metres away, parts of the city she couldn’t visit.

I’m glad to be reminded of what it all looked like. Because obviously I couldn’t take photos. That would have got you into all sorts of shit.

But Tränenpalast only tells half the story. There was a similar hall for those entering East Berlin. That was in the main part of the station and has totally disappeared. There you left through a single windowless door. With no handle on the East Berlin side. Dolores would wait, staring at a blank wall, until I popped through the door without warning. Strange days.

Our original plan was to head up to Prenzlauerberg yet. But time is running short. We’re meeting Joe Stange at 13:00 at the beer festival. No way we’ll make that if we go first to Prenzlauerberg. So we head back to Friedrichshain.

We’re supposed to be meeting Joe at lamppost number 27. Which fortunately isn’t too much of a walk.


I love the Biermeile. Or the International Berlin Beer Festival, to give it its proper English name. It’s the least pretentious festival I know. Every type of beer, including mass-market beers, like Newcastle Brown, Carlsberg and Desperados. Lots of very, very unfashionable beers. Plus some craft shit.

I go for just one thing: Lager. Because there’s always some interesting Easter European Lager to be had. Everyday Czech and Polish drinking Lagers. The type of beer you won’t find in a geek beer bar.


No sign of Joe at lamppost 27. I wander around a bit looking for him. No luck. I go back and sit with Dolores. And we both drink some nice Czech stuff. I even took some notes. Starting with a beer brewed just outside Berlin:


Bernauer Torwächter Dunkel (12º Plato, 4.9% ABV)
Nice dark colour, but a bit bland. Not nasty, mind, and good for unthirsting me. (According to their website, it uses Munich malt as base.)

The table we're sitting at is a lovely old Schultheiss barrel. Which looks like it was in use until the late 1960's, judging by the inspection marks:


There are plenty of tattoos on display. That’s the joy of summer, seeing all the shitty leg and back tattoos people have disfigured themselves with. Lots of facial hair, too. But more moustaches and mullets than beards and buns.



Bernauer Torwächter Kellerbier (12º Plato, 4.9% ABV)
Pleasant spicy hop aroma. Bit yeasty. Not bad at all.


Bauer Schwarzbier (4.9% ABV)
Pleasantly roasty aroma and flavour. Very nice.

“That’s a bit odd, Dolores.”

“What is?”

“I thought Bauer closed several years ago. Yet they have their beers here.”**


I get all excited when I go past the stand of a polish brewery. They’ve got Grodziskie. Never had a Polish-brewed example before.


Złoty Pies Grodziskie
Yeah, it’s actually pretty right for the style: smoky and bitter. Only slight minus – not totally clear. Then again, neither was the one I collaborated on at Jopen. It tastes pretty similar to that beer, which we tried to make as authentic as possible.


Złoty Pies Setter Stout
Looks the part – pitch black, tan head. Pretty nice Stout – roasty, malty and a bit bitter. Not a bad attempt.


We stay and slowly sup for a couple of hours. Then take the tram M10 to Prenzlauerberg. Dolores wants to see an exhibition in Kulturbrauerei about everyday life in the DDR.

“Can’t you remember what it was like?” I quip. “Very funny, Ronald.”

It’s sad in a way, coming to an exhibition here. Because I can remember when this was a functioning brewery, operating as Schultheiss.

There’s a mockup of a DDR kitchen.


“Oh look, they’ve got the same egg cups as us, Dolores.”

“Everyone had them.” That makes me feel a bit less special.

When we’re done, it’s time to find somewhere to eat. A Vietnamese place. Had some nice Vietnamese food around this way last year. And I do love me some Vietnamese food.


Rather than us both trudge around, I stay and look after our stuff in Zum Schusterjungen while Dolores goes searching. May as well have a beer while I’m here. I go for Märkisches Landsman, a Schwarzbier.

I remember this pub from the 1980’s. It features in my very first beer article, a guide to pubs in East Berlin that was published in What’s Brewing in 1989. A random reserved sign on one table really brought back memories of the DDR days. There were always a few spread around, effectively putting out of service half the tables. Just because the staff couldn't be arsed to work them.


“I’m trying to remember if this was a communist pub or a Nazi pub in the 1930’s. It was one of the two.”*** Amazingly, Dolores can’t remember the place. I thought I was the one with the bad memory.

Dolores isn’t gone long. There’s a place a block and a half away.  I finish my beer and off we go.

Dolores gets a Pho. I have a beef noodle dish. To which I add a load of chili. Yum. Even better, they have bottled Augustiner Helles. I let Dolores try it. “Tastes like beer.” Praise, indeed, from Dolores. She likes her beer to taste like beer.


It’s not that late when we get to our hotel. So we go and sit on the roof terrace. Gazing out towards the Fernseherturm as the sun begins to set, colouring the clouds first orange then purple then finally inky black. The beer festival, despite being 400 metres away and there being plenty of large buildings inbetween, is audible. Glad we’re not staying on Karl-Marx-Allee.

“Did you ever go up the Fernseherturm?”

“Are you joking? They charged 5 marks. It took me two hours to earn that. A ridiculous price.”

Putting that into my sort of context, a half litre of draught beer was 1 mark at the time in East Berlin. I can see her point.

We don’t stay out late. Loads more to do tomorrow.


* While we were waiting to be married, I travelled to Berlin to see Dolores two or three weekends a month. Sometimes to sort out some of the documentation we needed to wed. Mostly just to meet. Jumping on a train in Amsterdam in the evening, I’d arrive at Friedrichstrasse at some ungodly early hour. 7 am or so. Then I’d have the fun of getting through the deliberately obstructive border regime. Dolores would be waiting behind the blank door for me. In Berlin you could get a 24-hour visa on the border. I needed two for the weekend. At 11:59 I’d go through Tränenpalast and join the queue to enter East Berlin again. An indeterminate time later, I’d pop through the door and (thankfully) always find Dolores waiting for me. Sunday evening, I’d take the night train back to Amsterdam. And go straight into work from the station. Neither of the trains had any sort of sleeper accommodation. Just compartments. When I was lucky, I got a whole bench to stretch out on. Otherwise, it was sleeping sitting up. Like being on a plane. But without the free drinks. After a while, I got to recognise people who were doing the same as me. Crossing straight back on a day visa. Dolores started to see the same faces every night her side of the border. Happy days? Ones I didn’t fully understand. And where I didn’t realise how fragile everything was. It all came crumbling down 18 months after our marriage.
** Bauer beers are currently brewed at Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf.
*** Zum Schusterjungen was the communist pub. Zum Hackepeter opposite (which no longer exists) was the Nazi pub.



Tränenpalast
Reichstagufer 17,
10117 Berlin.
https://www.hdg.de/traenenpalast/


International Berlin Beer Festival
http://www.bierfestival-berlin.de/index%20eng.html

Bernauer Torwächter
Rollberg 4,
16321 Bernau
Tel: +49 33 38 / 38 151
info@bernauer-torwaechter.de
http://www.bernauer-torwaechter.de

Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf
Chemnitzer Straße 5
09232 Hartmannsdorf.
Tel.: +49 (0)3722 - 71 91 - 0
Email: info@braha.eu
http://www.braha.de/

Browar Złoty Pies
Wita Stwosza 1-2,
11-400 Wrocław,
Poland.
zlotypies.com
Tel: +48 570 221 212
http://www.zlotypies.com/

Zum Schusterjungen
Danziger Str. 9,
10435 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 4427654
http://www.zumschusterjungen.com/

Red Dragon
Danziger Str. 29,
10435 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 4429965
https://www.reddragon-berlin.de/



Berliner Biermeile

It turns out Joe meant lamppost 47 yesterday. No wonder I couldn’t find him. We’ve arranged to meet there again today. It’s where Kout na Šumavě is. So I’m not arguing.

Feeling all health-conscious, I have some fruit as well as fried stuff for breakfast.

“That means I can treat myself to an extra couple of beers.”

“You’ll do that anyway, Ronald.”

“You’re so cynical.”

“Realistic. I grew up in the DDR, remember?”

We’ve a date with the supermarket, first. A chance for me to stock up on some hotel beers. While Dolores fiddles around buying some foodstuff or other. She needs to get her priorities right. After dumping our food and drink we head to the festival.


We troll down to lamppost 47. No sign of Joe. But, hey, they’re selling Kout na Šumavě here.

“Three fifty for 25 cl! That’s expensive.”

“But it’s supposed to be dead good, Dolores.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

I order one anyway, while Dolores goes for something cheaper.




Kout na Šumavě 12º

My first time trying this. Will it disappoint? So many have sung its praises. It doesn’t. Really nicely hoppy. Top stuff.


Eggenberg Tmavý Ležák 11°
Pretty dark, slightly roasty, not too sweet. OK. Not as good as the Kout, obviously.

Joe rolls up when I’m on my second beer. He has a couple of hours before he needs to go home for a BBQ. Should be long enough. Always good to meet him, which usually happens a couple of times a year.

Andreas Krennmair, a young Austrian living in the city, arrives soon after with his Irish wife.  He’s been investigating continental beer, especially German beers, the way I’ve been looking into British beers. We’ve never met before, but have had contact on the internet. Plenty for us to chat about.


Maryensztadt Imperial Baltic Porter (29.33º Plato, 10.5% ABV)
Black as night, beautifully thick and sticky. Sweet, heavy, lovely. Very good.

Another thing I love about this festival is the food. Country-appropriate – so Czech stuff close to the Czech brewery stands – mostly pretty good and not that expensive. I invest in a Czech sausage. Like the Kout, it doesn’t disappoint.

It’s starting to get a bit crowded. Just time for one last beer. I guess I’ll make it something nice and light.

Maryensztadt Żywot Barley'a (22º Plato, 9.5% ABV)
An English Barley Wine, evidently. Sweet and gloopy as a Barley Wine should be. Full of alcoholy goodness.



Černá Hora Světlý Ležák (4.8% ABV)
I couldn’t pass this one up. It’s the beer I was drinking when I first met Dolores. It’s a lovely, light and hoppy beer, the type of beer they make so well in the Czech Republic.

It’s about time for us to leave. But we’re still hungry. What to do next?

We’ve noticed a Korean restaurant on Warschauerstrasse. The food looked dead good when we walked past. We decide to eat there. I get a big pile of crispy fried pork on a bed of rice. It costs about threepence and is more than I can manage to eat. I’m not about to leave something so nice. We take the leftovers home in a doggy bag.



Pivovar Kout na Šumavě
Kout na Šumavě 2,
345 02 Kout na Šumavě.
Tel: +420 379 789 370
http://www.pivovarkout.cz

Pivovar Eggenberg
Pivovarská 27,
381 01 Český Krumlov,
Czechia.
Tel: +420 380 711 225
http://eggenberg.cz


Browar Maryensztadt
ul. Sportowa 3
26-700 Zwoleń
Tel: +48 730 115 985
http://www.browarmaryensztadt.pl

Pivovar Černá Hora
Černá Hora 3/5,
679 21 Černá Hora.
Tel: +420 516 482 411
http://www.pivovarcernahora.cz/

New Arirang Restaurant
Warschauer Str. 22,
10243 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 92353325


Last day at the Berliner Biermeile

The day begins with the same routine. A cup of tea in bed, then downstairs to perform some fast breaking.

Once again, I’m partially health conscious, eating a bowl of melon.

“After that, I deserve an extra couple of beers.”

“You said that yesterday.”

“And it was true, wasn’t it?”

“You always drink extra beers.”

“What made you so cynical?”

“Growing up in the DDR. Have you forgotten that already?”

Dolores has read that there’s a Sunday market just over the other side of Warschauerstrasse she fancies taking a look at. No probs. Always good to have an excuse to check out a new bit of the city.

We realise that the other side of Warschauerstrasse is much more exciting. Lots of little ethnic restaurants, lots of cocktail bars. And several bakeries which are even open today, Sunday. Everyone seems to be having brunch in the sun. The tattoo and beard count is extremely high. Bloody yuppies. Sorry, hipsters. The world has moved on.

We have a quick look around the market, where all sorts of second-hand junk is being sold. A bit like Koningsdag in Amsterdam, but less mobbed. Not that we intend buying anything. Not sure we could fit a record player or a sideboard in our luggage.


Browsing done, we make for Frankfurter Tor. Where the Biermeile starts. Being Sunday and only just about noon, it’s not that crowded. But, judging by the rate punters are arriving, it won’t be long before it starts filling up. Best drink quickly, then.


Schinner Braunbier (5.4% ABV)
Definitely is brown. Malty, slightly bitter. Quite caramelly. Not bad, but a bit odd.

Talking of punters, there’s a much higher pensioner count here than most beer festivals. It’s quite sweet seeing an old bloke buzzing around in his electric wheelchair while drinking. Is that legal? The crowd is really just a complete cross-section of society. Young and old, and all the stages inbetween. Rich and poor. German and foreign. Drunk and well on the way to being drunk. Sadly I’m not yet in either of those two categories.

I see there’s a Czech brewery over the way. I’m not really into excessive walking today so something from there will do. Despite the sexist pump clips.


Pivovar Millénium Drsňák (12º Plato, 4.9% ABV)
I have fun trying to order this one by name. Czech loves starting words with multiple consonants. Zmrzlina – Czech for ice cream – is a good example. Then there are the words with no vowels. Is that even legal? An amber Lager. Or polotmavé, as the Czechs say. Slightly sweet, but a bit bland. A bit of nice hop bitterness right at the end.

Another sign this isn’t a geek fest: I’m the only one taking photos of my beer. And making tasting notes, however brief and shitty they might be. What’s wrong with everyone?

We start walking further down the festival, with me looking for something I fancy. Which turns out to be something German.


Zwönitzer Stout 5.1% ABV
Dead black. Roasty and with perhaps a touch of lactic. There’s a pleasant underlying maltiness. Not bad.

By the way, I’m drinking half litres of everything. If they sell them. I hate pissing around with small measures. They mean too much walking and queueing up at bars and not enough drinking. I’ve come to drink beer, not take exercise.

I just can’t resist a classic Czech beer when I spot the Pardubický stand.


Pardubický Porter (19º Plato, 8% ABV)
Great to be able to drink this again. Nice and dark, tan head. Caramel, malt, chocolate with just enough bitterness at the end. A great session Porter.

“This used to be the strongest beer brewed in Czechoslovakia” I tell a not particularly interested Dolores, “Not that I ever saw it, mind.”


Falkenštejn Tmavý Speciál (14º Plato, 5.4% ABV)
Served in a nonic, for some reason. Very roasty. That’s interesting.

Just time for one more beer. Another Czech one.

Kout na Šumavě 12ºIt’s still lovely.

We leave just after two, when it’s already starting to get a bit busy. I’ve an appointment, anyway. At Vagabund, over on the scary side of the city. I always feel oddly uneasy when in West Berlin. Never quite worked out why.


I’ve been invited over by Vagabund’s American brewer, Erik Mell. He asked me if I’d like to come over and try his Broyhan. Only ever going to be one answer to that question.

The Broyhan is darker than I expected. Very dry, with no sourness. Though that seems to have been optional, depending on time and location.


Andreas Krennmair arrives. I told him yesterday we’d be trying the Broyhan. He didn’t want to miss out, either. We get a quick tour of the tiny brewery. The kit is just 50 litres. I have, literally, seen bigger homebrew setups. A British guy about my age who was sitting in the bar tags along with us. He seems quite happy to get a look inside the brewery.


We have a couple more beers and then head back to the U-Bahn. But we aren’t going home just yet. It’s after 6 PM. Which means Augustiner will be serving cask. Not going to miss out on that as god knows when I’ll be in Bavaria again.


We take a seat inside. I ask what’s on cask. It’s Edelstoff.

“I’ll have one of those then.”

“Do you want a large or a small one, sir?”

“I’ll have a big one, please.”

“You do realise that means a litre, Ronald?”

“No, I didn’t. But I’ll have one, anyway.”


I order a couple of sausages, potato salad and cabbage to go with it. I start to speak as I tuck not the cabbage, but before I can get very far Dolores says “Don’t start with that being able to drink extra beer crap again.”

The Edelstoff is wonderful. I’m not a huge fan of litre glasses. They usually slow me down. Not this time. I polish off half in just three gulps.

“Thirsty today are we, Ronald?”


As I’m shovelling down my food Dolores spots something. “Look behind you.” Blow me. It’s a Buddhist monk having a meal. I suppose they have to eat like everyone else.


When we get back to our hotel Dolores says: “Look at all that beer. You’re never going to get through it all before we leave.”

“That sounds like a challenge to me.” I say as I reach for my bottle opener.



Schinner Bürgerbräu Bayreuth
Richard-Wagner-Str. 38,
95444 Bayreuth.
Tel: +49 921 79780
http://www.buergerbraeu-schinner.de/

Pivovar Millénium
Sibiřská 55,
400 01 Ústí nad Labem-Neštěmice,
Czechia.
Tel.: +420 606 645 203
http://www.pivovar-millenium.cz/

Brauerei Gasthof Zwoenitz
Grünhainer Straße 15,
08297 Zwönitz/Erzgebirge.
Tel.: 037754 59905
http://www.brauerei-zwoenitz.de/

Pardubický Pivovar
Palackého třída 250,
530 33 Pardubice.
http://www.pernstejn.cz

Pivovar Falkenštejn
Křinické nám. 7/12,
407 46 Krásná Lípa.
Tel.: +420 478 048 673
http://www.pivofalkenstejn.cz/

Vagabund
Antwerpener Str. 3
13353 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 5266 7668
https://www.vagabundbrauerei.com/

Augustiner
Charlottenstraße 55,
10117 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 20454020
http://augustiner-braeu-berlin.de/


We’re on our way home

I awake feeling totally knacked. It takes two cups of tea to get me out of bed. Even after a shower I’m not that lively.

The selection of fried stuff is getting narrower every day. Yesterday there was no bacon. Today there are no meat balls, either. Still plenty of fruit.

As I get tucked into my fruit, I start to speak, but Dolores interrupts me.

“I know, the fruit means you can drink more beer. You say that every morning, Ronald.”

Sorry for being so predictable.

Dolores takes pity on me and lets me lie in bed while she goes off shopping. While she’s gone I get stuck into the remaining beers. Though, come to think of it, I took back quite a few beers from Berlin last year. In fact, it’s only a few weeks ago I drank the last couple of bottles of Maisel & Friends.

She’s gone to the supermarket for some stuff to take home with us. And the second-hand clothes shop she looked around on Saturday. She’s been regretting not buying the dirt-cheap dirndl she spotted. Fingers crossed that it’s still there.

I’m three bottles into my stash when Dolores returns.

She immediately tries to switch channels.

“I was watching that.”

“But it’s rubbish.”

“I know. That’s why I was watching it.”

Die Trovatos, if you’re wondering. Quality stuff that you’ll only find on TV on a weekday morning.

We spend the next hour packing up all our shit, while do my best to reduce the weight of beer I’ll have to carry. Yet does Dolores thank me for my consideration?

Once we’ve checked out and dropped off our luggage, we head over to east of Warschauerstrasse again. It’s surprisingly busy for 12:15 on a Monday. There are quite a few people hanging around the bars and restaurants. Doesn’t anyone have to work around here? Though I wouldn’t personally be sat outside eating on the bits of the street with the bad drain smell. As some are.

Avoiding the stinky parts of the street, we have a quick pre-prandial beer. I’m trying to work out what the place is called. The sign is pretty cryptic:


Can you guess what it’s called? I couldn’t. It’s Plusminusnull. Not sure about that one. I am sure what I’m drinking: a half litre of Staropramen. Never my favourite. In fact the Czech beer I liked the least, back in the good old days.


We were thinking of dining in a Sudanese place. We spotted a couple yesterday. But the first one we come to is pretty small and cramped. So we troll a bit further down the street to a Vietnamese place, bizarrely called Soup & Rolls.

Unfortunately, they’re out of Hanoi beer. So I have to make do with a Saigon.


“Shouldn’t it really be a Ho Chi Minh City beer?”

“Very funny, Ronald.”

We kick off with a spring and a summer roll each. The spring rolls are dead good. The summer rolls not quite as good as on Saturday. My main course, crispy duck on fried noodles, is ace. Even though there’s quite a pile, I shovel it down. Dolores has a beef noodle salad that’s also pretty damn good.


Bags picked up, we face the long trek to Tegel. There are several possible routes, none perfect. The one with the fewest stairs isn’t practical. The M10 tram, as we discovered on Friday, doesn’t run all the way through due to works on the track. So we plump for the U-Bahn/S-Bahn route again. Despite all the stairs.

It’s all going well. Until there’s an announcement saying the train won’t go any further than Wedding, due to a Polizei Einsatz (police operation). Great. I quickly consult the network map. If we take the U6, we can connect with the 128 bus. More stairs. Just what we needed.

We squeeze onto the bus. And have to stand. There’s a bloke sitting nearby with a nose the size, shape and colour of a half-pound strawberry. It waves from side to side every time he moves his head.

We check in dead quickly. It helps that I can use the short queue because of my Sky Elite status.

We’ve still some time. The terminal we’re leaving from is a bit shit. An obviously temporary shed. So best be airside. Inside is pretty grim. Doesn’t look like they’ve changed anything since the 1970’s.

Luckily, there’s a little pub just outside our terminal. In an old S-Bahn carriage. I get myself a Kindl Jubiläums Pils. It isn’t great. But it is wet.


Our flight starts boarding early. And is ready to leave early. But we have to wait for 30 minutes for a air traffic control slot.

It is cheese in the sandwich on the way back. It looks just like the egg one. As is traditional, I wash it down with red wine.

The house is still in one piece. Unlike my Guinness. Alexei has drunk a couple of bottles. It could have been worse. He could have got stuck my Abt stash.






Plusminusnull (+-0)
Grünberger Str. 61,
10245 Berlin
+49 30 21239624
http://www.plusminusnull-berlin.de/

Soup & Rolls
Kopernikusstraße 11,
10243 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 80923253

EsS-Bahn Imbiss
Tunnel Flughafen Tegel,
13405 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 41014441

3 comments:

Lee said...

Always love the travel and beer write ups, and food too!
But, Ron, could it be possible that you used old photos?

BryanB said...

You mean like the Aldi photo next to the Lidl reference? :-D

But c'mon Ron, let us out of our misery - did she find the dirndl?

Ron Pattinson said...

BryanB,

yes,