Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wohnung gesucht! (Ohne Betrügerei)

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Wohnungssuch has proved Wohnungless so far and it appears my prospects are decreasing by the day.
Every day I check on Immobilienscout there are less offers for my predetermined conditions – namely, price. There are fewer offers within my financial constraints each day.
I knew rents are going up, but it’s depressing to actually witness rents shooting up by the day. Someone must be paying them too, or they wouldn’t keep shooting up.
So today I posted flyers around my ideal Wohnungsort in the hope someone getting rid of their flat will contact me before involving an agent who would invite 80 people all to look at it at the same time.
I started with Norwegerstraße because it has a good view of the Fernsehturm and borders the railtracks, so I’d have a good view and the young lad would too, with all the trains coming and going from Bornholmerstraße. He loves trains.
I went up and down the side streets too, posting the flyers in every doorway I found. Walking back to my bike after I used my first batch of flyers, I noticed some fucker had already ripped down some of them. They obviously offended some petty fuckwit.
I came back with a second bunch and some stronger sticky tape and stuck them up again. I’ll be back Monday with more and I’ll stick them up too. I’ll cover the whole damn city with them if I have to…
Meanwhile, some other fuckwit is trying to con me out of €1,180. Someone posing as Karolina Milaszewsk advertised their apartment on Isländische Straße for rent on Immobilienscout.
I didn’t think it was a con initially because it looked like a dump with old GDR-style furniture. (“Karolina” kindly provided the pictures for this post.) There was a big crack down the wall, and the balcony was crumbling. Usually these fraudsters advertise places with plasma screens and every mod con available.
Anyway, “Karolina” replied in English because her German was bad, said she was out of the country, kept stressing the currency EUR and €, said it was on the second floor when she had advertised third, and that I should contact her for more details if I was still interested.
I smelled the rat that no doubt lived in the place advertised, but was curious for more.
“Karolina” replied again: “Because I am not in Deutschland, I arranged with IAD Immobilienagentur to take care of renting the apartment for me.
You will have to pay the amount of €1.180,00 to IAD Immobilienagentur.
The €1.180,00 represents the rent deposit, therefore if you decide to rent my apartment these money will be used for the next two months payment and you will start paying the third rent in the beginning of the third month.
As soon as you define the payment to the Agency, they will send you the necessary documents which attest my credibility as Landlord and will handle you the keys of the apartment for 7 days to check it's conditions and the rental contract before notifying IAD Immobilienagentur if you like it or not.
During the 7 days inspection, in case you decide not to rent my apartment, the Agency will give you full refund of your money.”
And so on. Of course it was a con, but I wrote I'd like to see the apartment before deciding whether I'd like to rent it or not and asked her to contact IAD for a Besichtigung.
“Karolina” replied again with more bullshit: “The only way to continue with the renting is by brokerage services because I can't handle the renting myself.
After you pay the rent deposit to the broker they will send you the keys and the lease agreement to check the apartment and the area.
After you check my apartment and by any cause you decide not to rent it the broker agency will give you full refund of your money.”
Well, I didn’t bother replying until now – let’s see what other bullshit they come back with.
Each and every time I received an email from “Karolina” it was from a different email address.
I wasn’t going to write about it initially, thinking anyone stupid enough to be caught by this scam deserves to be ripped off, but then it occurred to me that this setup might actually suit someone trying to organize an apartment in Berlin before they move here. IAD is a real Immobilienagentur, though I’m sure they’ve never heard of Karolina Milaszewsk.
Most of the daily offers I get are obviously fraudulent. Immobilienscout doesn’t seem to care enough to put a stop to it. Sure, there are warnings, but obviously these fuckers are finding enough victims.
So be careful if you’re looking! Better yet, stop looking, and let me find a place first.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Dortmund is all shops and nothing more. It’s taken me a long while to determine that. The city has an elusive quality, making it difficult to determine its essence, but in effect, that’s it – shops.
The city is nothing to look at, and the beer’s nothing special, but it does have a few mitigating attributes – flying rhinos, a great football team, and friendly natives.
I discovered the flying rhinos on my first visit quite a few moons ago, and am happy to report they’re still beating their colorful wings on the city’s streets. They’re everywhere and simply fantastic. Any animal with horns on its nose and wings on its back is fantastic, with the notable exception perhaps of Angela Merkel.
The team routed Real Madrid 4-1 last night, and it could – nay, should – have been more. Most Madrid fans would be upset, but Dortmund plays with such joie de jouer that it is hard not to be seduced by their style.
Jürgen Klopp, the coach and one of the best-named people in Germany, a country that excels in great names, is brilliant, fast becoming my favorite human.
“I also scored four goals,” he said, after Robert Lewandowski destroyed the Madrid defense. “1990 in Erfurt.”
Klopp was only ever a second division player, and a defender at that, but he’s found his niche in guiding others according to wise ways.
Asked if any of the goals he scored were quite as brilliant as Lewandowski’s, he replied: “One of them was similar. I’m sure you will find it on the World Wide Web.”
I was stifling back the laughter while attempting to capture his words.
Then there are the people. The Dortmunders I met are down to earth, open, friendly. They’re real, genuine.
I guess they need to be if they’ve only shops and football. It’s impossible to walk down the street without bumping into them because their eyes are constantly drawn to shop windows, but the welcome they’ve provided me has always been first class.
The city itself is flipped. On several visits now, anytime I think I'm going north I'm going south, anytime I think I'm going south I'm going north. The same phenomenon applies when I go east and west so it’s as horizontal as it is vertical.
I missed two trains when I attempted to leave, the second while I was waiting for it on the platform. Deutsche Bahn decided at the last minute to switch it to another platform and I wasn’t paying enough attention. Germans demand 100 percent attention, 100 percent of the time. Daydreaming is strictly verboten.
Duly chastened, I got out on the next train, but the memories remained warm all the same.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Calm before the storm

I’m remarkably calm despite my latest foreign assignment. It’s the biggest yet. Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid, Champions League semifinal, first leg. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
I should be going bananas but I’m extraordinarily blasé about the whole thing. I’m starting to worry! Other people would cut off their right arms, possibly also their left arms, to be attending this. There was a time I’d have walked to Dortmund to be there.
Maybe I’m just getting used to the job. I guess that’s a good thing. I’m getting like the players. “It’s just another game,” they’ll shrug.
But it isn’t just another game. It’s Dortmund vs. Real, two of the best four teams in Europe, fighting for a place in the final. The whole buildup has been overshadowed by Mario Götze’s questionable decision to join archrival Bayern Munich and the Dortmund fans won’t know whether to whistle or cheer.
It can’t be as mad as the Malaga game on my last visit to the city of flying rhinos, but it promises to be another bareknuckle ride of raw emotions. Ha! Maybe I am getting excited after all…

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spaceman's remarkable Berlin discovery

If the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space* then the Berlin Wall is the only thing that can be seen from space even after it’s gone.
Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut currently floating above the planet in a tin box known as the International Space Station, has been sending back indescribably beautiful images of this giant rock we call home through Twitter.
He seems like a genuinely likeable fellow and has forever endeared himself to Irish fans by tweeting pictures of Ireland and then sending greetings in Irish for St. Patrick’s Day from space.
Last night Commander Hadfield, who is leading Expedition 35, tweeted a photo of Berlin from above that revealed the startling discovery that East and West Berlin are still clearly defined according to the city’s division following World War II.
More than 23 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, light bulbs still clearly differentiate between East and West!
I couldn’t believe it when I saw it first, but even a cursory glance at the image to the left reveals the orangey glow of street lights in the former Soviet sector, compared to a whiter glow from the sectors administered by the American, British and French occupying forces.
Subsequent speculation suggested that the difference may be due to gas lamps vs. electric lights. I’m not so sure that there are that many gas lamps still burning. And are they all only in the West?
Apparently there were large stocks of lamps and bulbs still available after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, and so they have been used to replace and maintain the existing street lights as before.
If the gas lights are to blame for the visible differentiation from space, then perhaps the division’s days are numbered. The city wants to save money by replacing them with electric lights.
Whatever happens, any visiting aliens looking down in the meantime will presume East and West Berlin are still separate entities. It’s gas! And we know this thanks to Cmdr Hadfield’s remarkable messages from space. Thank you, Commander.

*Apparently this is a myth. Bono’s ego, while not a structure per se, is the only thing man-made thing on this planet that can be identified with the naked eye from space.

None of these pictures are mine. I presume they’re all taken by Cmdr Hadfield because he tweeted them, and hope, therefore, that he won’t mind me reproducing them here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Berlin apartment search

The apartment search isn’t going too well. Shite is the operative word. It’s going shite.
But I guess I should be grateful it’s going at all and that I have the luxury of looking. Rosemarie Fliess, a 67-year-old woman with severe disabilities, was evicted from her flat in Reinickendorf last week with the help of 150 Polizei. Homeless, she died two days later.
Rents are rising in Berlin and landlords are rubbing their greasy paws together and salivating at thoughts of all the riches that awaits them. They’re supported by the courts and enforcers.
Apparently, Rosemarie’s landlord said about her before her eviction, “such people should live in the jungle or kill themselves.”
I’m in a privileged position to be looking for a place without the specter of poverty over my head and without the pressure of finding a place urgently.
In fact, I’ve taken my time to date, two months or thereabouts so far, but I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that I’m going to have to settle for a less than satisfactory hovel if I want a place to call my own – even if it’s only in name.
Perhaps my demands are too high. It has to be cheap, central, yet close to where we are now, with two rooms, a balcony and – above all – it has to have a view of the Fernsehturm. I think I’m love with that thing. It’s an obsession.
Lately, because I’d come across precisely zero places meeting all those criteria, I’ve been relaxing them somewhat, and going to see other places too – anywhere within my modestly increased budget.
It’s not scientific, and I’m too tired to check, but I reckon the rate of evictions in Berlin has increased in proportion to the length of queues for viewing apartments in certain areas.
At a Besichtigung last week, the day after Rosemarie died, I counted about 70 people to see an apartment near Helmholtzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg. All at the same time. It was ridiculous. Everyone filed up the stairs, one after the other. It was so bad no one even complained about the lack of the advertised balcony. Some were going around measuring the place, imagining their furniture in it.
I didn’t even look, just filled in the form, added my wheelbarrow-load of all the other forms you need – Schufa, Personalausweiskopie, Verdienstbescheinigungen, Mietschuldenfreiheit etc. – and gave it to the overwhelmed estate agent. I haven’t heard back from her since. I don’t expect to.
That’s the thing. These people advertise their places for rent. You’re lucky if they bother replying to your enquiry. I don’t know how many emails I sent without response.
I applied for another place nearby too – there were only 40 people for that Besichtigung – and I haven’t heard back from them either. I don’t want it so I didn’t chase it up.
The one place I did want I didn’t get. It was almost perfect, within budget, near Mauerpark, with a balcony from which you could see the very tip of the Fernsehturm, only about 3cm, but enough to know it was there.
Someone richer, with a better looking passport photo, a nicer name or more agreeable nationality – who probably doesn’t even give a shit about the Fernsehturm – got it instead. At least the estate agent was decent enough to tell me.
Yesterday I went to see four places. One was nice – you could see the TV tower from the entrance – two were shit, and the last one wanted a commission of at least €1,118.60 just for the privilege of them renting it to you. (Maklergebühr of 2.38 times Kaltmiete.) It may be more, depending on whether they decide to up the existing rent, which of course they will.
Some idiot will pay it, and as long as there are enough idiots, people like Rosemarie will be evicted. There’s another eviction scheduled for tomorrow, when property managers GESOBAG flex their muscles to kick out another 67-year-old after 30 years in the same place because of three months’ rent arrears.*
As if the law-backed property sharks weren’t bad enough, you also have to look out for the fraudsters, who seem to be placing adverts on the likes of with impunity. They seem to target foreigners, with fully furnished apartments for prices too good to be true in the most sought-after areas.
Anyway, the search continues, as does the guilt as I realize I’m contributing to the problem. If there weren’t so many people queuing at Besichtigungs to pay rent, those who can’t wouldn’t be forced out onto the street.
Besichtigungs ensue when the landlords or property managers actually have to work. Normally they get the previous tenant to find the next tenant for them. So you need to lick the previous tenant’s arse before you get to lick the landlord’s. I suspect the only real licking that works is bribery, but then that’s just giving the fuckers what they want.
So I may yet end up living in a tent. At least summer’s coming and I can find always find a spot with a good view of the Fernsehturm.

*UPDATE: Later Wednesday – Tomorrow's planned eviction of Mohamed S was called off after GEWOBAG boss Hendrik Jellema said he wanted an amicable solution to the issue. It seems the extra attention the case received following Rosemarie’s death had an influence on his thinking.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sammy the Squirrel

A baby squirrel grabbed my leg today, looked up at me, and wouldn’t let go. I looked down and waited. But still it didn’t budge even as the mother was scampering furiously at safe distance.
It first came over when I got back from the Kita with the young lad, bounding over across the path from the bushes. I figured it was just really friendly.
The mother was always around though and something was wrong. The young one kept scurrying around outside the door after it let go of my leg. It didn’t move much out of the way when other humans came along. If a dog came along it was history.
Then there were the cars. It ran across the road after I brought Fionn upstairs and stopped in front of another doorway, where it remained even as people were trying to enter. I brought over some broccoli and milk. They eat broccoli apparently. But it didn’t touch either, just sat there with its head bowed. The mother remained under a car nearby, helpless.
I didn’t know what to do so I turned to Twitter. Bring it to a vet, was one suggestion, but I wasn’t sure if I should handle the animal or if that’d make things worse, especially with its mother nearby.
Then @textgruen pointed out there was a squirrel hotline at, so I gave them a call when I was back upstairs.
“Oh Jeminee!” said the woman when I told her the story. But she was at another squirrel emergency so she asked me to call another number. There a man told me his wife’d call me back when she was back from another squirrel call-out. It was squirrel carnage out there.
I looked down from the balcony and a crow was circling a car ominously, so I figured the little squirrel was underneath. I went back down to try find it but it wasn’t there. I saw the mother up a tree eating nuts or sticks or something.
Then I saw it up the road. Bounding again. I went towards it. It came over again. Your wan from the squirrel hotline rang just as the baby squirrel curled up between my feet.
“I’ve a squirrel between my feet,” I told the woman over the phone. “I don’t think it’s well.”
I told her the address, expecting her to send a squirrel ambulance over. But she told me to pack it in a box and bring it to a vet on the other end of the city.
The mother came over when I picked up her little one. It was terrible. I’m sure she feared the worst.
Off I went in the S-Bahn, with the squirrel in a basket Jenny found upstairs. The noises must have been terrifying. I didn’t dare try look in case it tried escape on the train.
When we got off at Bundesplatz I had to tie my shoelace. Anyone who’s ever had to tie a shoelace while attempting to keep the lid on a live squirrel will know how difficult this is. But I made it and we continued.
The vet was a veritable animal hospital. The nurses had blue uniforms and the patients were all barking or miaowing. Mine was emitting little grunty noises, and hiding in the corner under the newspaper. I could see its little heart beating like mad.
The vet has a squirrel specialist who’d handled five squirrel emergencies today alone. Apparently they were all young too. The long winter has taken its toll. Maybe the mothers are too hungry to do anything but eat. I don’t know, I’m no squirrel expert.
Of course the first thing they asked me to do was fill in a form. They didn’t even look at the squirrel. Welcome to Germany.
Eventually a nurse examined it, agreed something was wrong. She wasn’t sure what, thought it may have been a trauma. She said they’d keep Sammy in overnight for observation. By this stage I’d ascertained the squirrel’s name. We’d formed a bond. And Sammy the Squirrel is on a form – it’s official now.
The nurse put Sammy in a comfortable-looking basket with a little blanket and handled him* very gently. She said they’d give him medication after an examination by the specialist. If Sammy survives, he will be released back into the wild through a sort of halfway house.
I asked about the mother but apparently mama squirrels quickly lose interest in their babies if they’re sick or injured. I guess they have to survive.
It was hard to say goodbye to him, but I wished Sammy “Gute Nacht” and all the best. I’ll get a progress report in the morning, before the nurse finishes her nightshift. I just hope the little critter pulls through…

UPDATE: Next day – Sammy survived the night. The nurse rang this morning, said he was doing much better. They couldn’t find anything apparent wrong, but she said he was very malnourished and small for his age. I guess he told her how old he was.
He’d been introduced to four other little squirrels and they were all getting along very well apparently. A volunteer from the squirrel rescue crowd was to collect them all once they’d been given the all-clear.
The nurse is back on duty Monday so I’ll get another update then.
*I’ve assumed Sammy is a boy because she said “he” but it doesn’t matter, Sammy covers both. Once Samuel or Samantha the Squirrel is well, that’s the main thing.

UPDATE: Monday, April 15 – Sammy’s leaving the squirrel hospital today! The nurse called, said he’d been recovering very well and that someone from the squirrel rescue team was picking him up so he’ll be released back into the wild.
Well done Sammy! Best of luck!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dortmund Wunder

Sheer wild unadulterated pandemonium. I’d never experienced anything like it, probably never will again.
My initial match report was done. It was 2-1 to Malaga and we were into injury time. Dortmund needed two goals to avoid crashing out of the Champions League. Mission impossible. Malaga were defending like dogs and the wonderfully named Willy was outstanding in the visitors’ goal.
One minute into injury time Marco Reus scored. The place erupted. But surely it was just a consolation. 2-2 and Dortmund were still going out on the away goals rule.
Cursing, I started rewriting my match report as the stadium announcer was calling on the side to keep attacking.
A goalmouth scramble, screams, shouts, roars, and Felipe Santana knocked the ball over the line with bodies strewn around.
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!! 3-2 to Dortmund! The place went fucking apeshit, APESHIT. Jesus Christ, it was incredible. The whole press section was jumping up and down, journalists below me were punching the air in delight, someone to the left of me was shrieking like she was being murdered, beer and flags were flung into the air, and 68,000 people all screamed, bawled, howled, raved and roared in utter frenzy. Mayhem.
I had my head in my hands, I couldn’t believe it, I just couldn’t fucking believe it. All around me, people were losing theirs. Nobody was sane.
But I had a match report to write, quick! No time for panic.
There was beer on my laptop from the commotion, so I had to wipe that down with my gloves, the mousepad wouldn’t work, but fuck it, I had a report to write.
Somehow I got it done, and sent, so I grabbed the laptop and tried forcing my way through the crowd to get down for the press conference. Nightmare. I won’t bore you with the details, I made it anyway.
Jürgen Klopp, the brilliantly named Dortmund coach, was pleased; his counterpart Manuel Pellegrini less so.
“I’ll never forget this game,” Klopp said.
Neither will I.
It’s unvergesslich.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Ireland, a brief appreciation

So the Ireland trip was cut short for work commitments but it’s probably just as well or I’d be dead from exhaustion.
Noddy was over too, from Australia (for a week!), so nights were spent chatting into the early hours, while early hours were spent getting up on account of the young lad, his godson.
The young lad was in a hurry to get up early each morning to go visit cows, chase pigeons, charge at sheep, bash sticks into puddles, throw stones into wells, stomp in muck, roll around in wet grass, jump into streams and generally get as dirty as humanly – or even animally – possible in the quickest time possible.
Despite its economic woes, its governments of gangsters and bankers of chancers, I’m happy to report Fionnito fucking LOVES Ireland.
The rest he was already familiar with from previous visits, but the pigeons were new. He met them in Waterford, where he spent a good half hour chasing them around before I’d to pull him away when he showed no sign or tiring.
On our way back to the car, he encountered another walking along the path and promptly gave chase again. The pigeon jumped onto the road, at which point the young lad stopped and shook his head.
“No, no, pigeon. No, no. Cars.”
I was impressed. Barely two years old and he’s already displaying great leadership qualities. A couple of weeks before, he’d warned Jenny to be careful when she was crossing the road.
When he saw the sheep in a field with the gate open he simply ran in and charged after them. They ran off just far enough to turn around and look at him charging before they turned and ran off again before stopping and doing the same thing. Over and over it went before I had to intervene again – it was getting dark.
He had a great time with Noddy at the well, splashing sticks and throwing huge rocks into it. We braved a hailstorm so ridiculously cold and wild we eventually went back in, vowing to return and fuck stones and sticks into the well again another day, which we did, with even more success.
We saw Helen in Dublin, my parents in Wexford and my aunt and uncle in Tipperary. He drove my uncle mad by shouting “POOR Michael!” at the top of his voice, over and over and over again. We only spent a night with them, I’d say they’re happy to see the back of us.
I met Sully on the first night in Whitechurch but Noddy wasn’t there then meaning the two amigos didn’t meet at all, with Sully returning to Dublin the next day.
Vanessa was there when I first called up to Noddy’s house, a minor miracle given she drove her car headfirst into a wall the last time he was over. Thankfully she survived. It was great to see her sitting in the kitchen with the rest of the Noddy family.
Noddy was talking about the size of the mosquitos in Australia.
“The fuckers bite you through your shirt. They’re HUGE,” he said.
“Can you fry them?” Vanessa asked, evidently overestimating just how big they are.
I told her how Fionnito says “shit” any time he drops something on the floor.
“It’s great when kids curse when they’re two” she said, before adding for the benefit of her son Shane sitting beside her, “when they’re older they have to cop on.”
Maggie, Noddy’s mother, came in and asked poor Shane, who’d been sitting there minding his own business without saying a word, if he was going into space.
“You look like a spaceman there!” she told him. He was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.
Noddy’s brother, Johnny, who was over from Kentucky, told the tale of riding to Daytona on a Japanese import – “like riding a ceramic tile” – and of the prejudice he had to overcome for riding such a piece of crap motorbike en route.
There were other visitors too. Seamus Kane was among a gang of the older generation up there one night, lashing into the whiskey and anything else they could get their hands on.
They talked about anything and everything.
“Like pushing a bike up a hill with a rope,” he said.
Jaysus, we laughed and laughed. ‘Twas great, talking shite, just having a laugh.
“This is what I miss about Ireland,” I told Noddy. He felt exactly the same.

It seems Fionnito misses it too. I’m not saying he’s not happy to back in Berlin – of course he is – but he’s asked a few times if we’re taking the plane again and he’s been asking for the relations. He still says “POOR Michael!” every so often – he’s even turned it into a song!
I brought him to bed the other night, asked him what he wanted to do the next day, if he wanted to go visit the goats or go down to Mauerpark.
“Cows?” he asked.
So I’ll have to see if I can find some cows in Berlin.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Kein Spätis in München

Munich doesn’t have any Spätis. Well, maybe one, but if anything that solitary beacon of hope just shows how hopeless it is.
I got back to the center after work around 1.30 a.m. with my tongue hanging out for a beer. Bavarian beer is the best in the world, presumably the only reason anyone would consider living in Munich.
There was nothing open on my way to the station, nothing open at either station, and nothing open from the other station. Not even a vending machine anywhere!
I was getting desperate. I stopped a local, asked him where I could find a Späti.
He looked at me like I was demented. In a way I was.
“Späti, Späti!” I repeated.
Eyes grew wider. Maybe he didn’t understand. I changed tack.
“Späti. Spätkauf. Gibt’s kein Spätkauf hier in der Nahe? Irgendwo ein Bier zu kaufen?”
He shook his head, backed away.
“Kein Spätis in München?” I persisted.
He ran away.
Disconsolate, I turned away, headed back toward the hotel.
Just a few doors up from it, I noticed a “New York Bar” with people outside. I’d have tried anything at this stage, so I went in.
I asked your man behind the bar for a Hefeweißen. They had none. Only Pilsener or Guinness. What kind of place was this? A bar in Munich that didn’t even have Helles?
“Go on, gimme a Guinness then,” I said. “They’re pints are they?”
He replied in the affirmative.
I went to sit at a table. He told me not to. It was reserved. At half fucking one in the morning. He pointed me to a shitty little table in the middle of the way. I said damn it, I’ll sit at the bar and wait for me Guinness there.
Well, he plonked it on the bar. A thimble. I looked at him. That isn’t a pint, I told him. A pint is 568ml.
I asked him how much it was. 0.4l he replied. No, how much does it cost? €5.50. Five fucking fifty for two-thirds of a pint!
“Keep it,” I told him, and walked out in disgust.
There weren’t even any vending machines with beer in the hotel (as there were in Köln, for example) so I traipsed back to my room and gave up, defeated. There was a bottle of water. I drank that. Water! Here I was in a city stuffed to the gills with the world’s best beer and here I was drinking water.
I decided I hated Munich and nothing will change my mind.
I saw nothing to change it the next day, despite a most enjoyable lunch with the Honourable Husband. I didn’t want a beer at that stage but I ordered one anyway, still reeling from my experience the night before.
His Honour told me how bourgeois Munich is. Too bourgeois for Spätis, apparently. I got the hell out of the place as quickly as I could.

First thing I did on my return to Berlin was pop into my local Späti for three bottles of Andechs, a Bavarian brew (not from Munich but Andechs, funnily enough), that I currently consider to be the world’s finest.
My heart jumped for joy on hearing the tingle of the bell as I opened the door, I almost cried at the warm welcome I received, and I nearly kissed the floor in gratitude when he handed me back my change. That, dear Münchkins, is a Späti.

Thanks to Harvey Morrell for attempting to assist me in my hour of need. It was he who pointed out that Munich may actually have a Späti after all. Unfortunately, by then it was already too spät.