The Food, Fun, and Foibles of a First-Time Europe Traveler

Berlin Day 1: “Open the Door and I’ll Tell You”

In front of the Brandenburg Gate.

We left Nuremberg, hoping to find a place where Hanna could get some of their famous gingerbread on the way to the train station. Luckily enough, there was a stand selling it in the station on the way to our train and, not only that, but they were giving away free samples. Hanna tried some and noted the differences between it and our gingerbread (theirs was more like a cake and covered in chocolate whereas ours is hard). She liked it, but wasn’t impressed enough to take home a 6-pack so she decided not to buy any.

We boarded the 12:33 to Berlin, had a rather uneventful 4 ½ hour trip, and disembarked in Berlin. We quickly found the tourist information booth where we bought our transport tickets and asked how to get to our hotel. The guy told us to “go across the street to the yellow building and get the bus from there.”

We crossed the street to find no yellow building, but rather a series of about 6 bus stops within a three-block radius. We found one that looked like the right one, waited there for about 20 minutes, and watched as the bus we were trying to board turned down the street right in front of us. Quickly we ran to try to catch it, but it was too late. Turns out there was another bus stop behind the corner on a dark street where absolutely no cars went. Who knew?

Finally, we boarded the right bus and we got to our hostel. It wasn’t in the nicest of areas, but nobody seemed to be dangerous. On the walk there we scoped out dinner options and settled on “Sudhaus.” It looked like a brew-pub type place so we figured it would be standard bar food.

We arrived at our hostel to find a group of about 6,000 German teenagers hanging out downstairs. They were drinking beers, playing ping pong, using the computers, but most of all they were talking very loudly. Considering that Hanna and I always look for the hostel with the lowest “Fun” rating, we were quite alarmed by the amount of “fun” people seemed to be having. “Fun” for them means long, sleepless nights for us.

Hoping for the best, we checked in then went to drop our stuff off in the room before heading back to the Sudhaus for dinner. Turns out that it’s right next to a squash court facility and we didn’t see one person in there that didn’t have a squash racket. Besides that the place seemed alright, other than the fact that there was one waitress. Let me clarify, actually. She seemed to be the only person working in the entire restaurant. There were two floors—a bar on the first and the restaurant upstairs. This poor woman had to serve the drinks to the 6 or 7 people at the bar, seat people for dinner, take orders, bring drinks from the bar upstairs to the customers at the restaurant, and bring the food from the upstairs kitchen to the diners. There was a light that would go on outside the kitchen from time to time, and she would quickly run in after. This led us to believe that she was cooking the food as well.

The food was average and it took about three hours, literally, but we tipped liberally considering the demanding conditions.

When we got back to the hostel, we used the free wireless in the lobby to check some emails and post some articles. Hanna used the pay phone to call and wish her mother a happy birthday (she had to do it quickly since her money kept running out). We headed up to bed at around 11:30, where we would have one of the strangest experiences of our lives.

It was around midnight, and I was just about to get into the shower. Hanna was in bed and we had some music playing softly in the background. Suddenly, we heard a knock on the door.

“Yes?”

“It’s reception. Can you please open the door?” said a male voice.

“Why?”

“Open the door and I’ll tell you.”

Even if we hadn’t adopted the “trust no one” mentality for this trip, there’s no way we would have opened the door. It sounded like a line from a bad horror movie where you scream at the television “Don’t open the door you moron!”

So we both immediately screamed “No! Tell us what you want!”

At that point we heard our door beep and the handle start to turn. This asshole actually opened our door and started to walk in! Since I was up I ran to push the door closed and said, “Woah! What are you doing!” Hanna was screaming similar things from the bed, but they were edited to maintain her dainty, lady-like façade.

Through the crack in the door he said, “I would like to tell you that now is the time for you to turn your music down.”

What!? All this because he wanted us to turn the music down. I made the obvious statement: “You could have just told us that through the door. You didn’t have to barge in here!”

To which he replied, “Yes, but that wouldn’t be very polite.”

Apparently Germans have a much different set of manners than we do. We closed the door, turned down the music, and Gerry-rigged our door closed using the two desk chairs and the open bathroom door.

 

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