Andrei’s arrival marks this week’s special occurrence. Señor Hahn and I were Greeters together at GAC, and now he’s living in Madrid while plying his Spanish and studying. As we roam Berlin’s main sights, we eventually make our way to the Brandenburg Gate. On the plaza in front of it, there are all kinds of people dressed up in crazy outfits like Checkpoint Charlie guards, Darth Vader, a man caked in silver paint, and various other random things. As we walk past some men in military uniform, one says something to us in English, but not wanting to pay for a worthless photo op, we ignore him and keep walking. Not to be dismayed, he looks at us again and asks, “Colombian?” I have to laugh at this point, because I’ve been mistaken for a lot of things in my life, but that’s the first time Colombian has come in to the mix. Also, with Andrei being of Romanian descent, I have a feeling he’s never actually seen a Colombian before. After the rest of our short Berlin tour, I take Andrei to Berlin’s best kebab stand which does not disappoint.
There are a ton of bands that come to Berlin, but I’ve never heard of 99% of them. Today though, Train and Matt Nathanson are in town, so Andrei and I decide to go. We arrive maybe 15 minutes before the show is supposed to start and are still able to buy tickets (first indicator that this is too good to be true). We walk in and realize this venue is smaller than an elementary school gym (and I mean the carpeted Horace Mann gym; there are like two Fargoans that will get that joke). What are these Germans thinking? There can’t be more than 500 people here (deep down, I am terrified that it’s actually going to be some German punk rock band named Train; luckily isn’t the case). Matt Nathanson starts, and without even coming early, we’re less than ten yards from the stage. The music is awesome as is Matt Nathanson’s interaction with the crowd. At the end of his set, he throws his pick, and it lands right next to Andrei. As he bends down and picks it up, a girl stands over it looking longing. What does Andrei the Gentleman do? He gives it to her. I’m still a little upset. Think of all the serenading that could’ve been done with that thing. Anyway, Train comes on after this, and you can tell they’ve been doing this for a while. They say they’re going to bring the two most gorgeous girls in the room onto the stage. At this point, I’m thinking, “Can’t your womanizing ways wait til after the concert.” I then get owned. They pull up two little girls who can’t be more than ten and let them sing backup. What better way to get an audience to like you (they claim to have puppies in the back for when this doesn’t work). After this, they play a bunch of their hits, some newer tunes I’ve never heard before, and a Beastie Boys cover of “Fight for Your Right.” It’s magical.
After the concert we head off to meet some friends of mine. We go to a Middle Eastern themed bar and head downstairs. On one side there is some kind of Turkish celebration with some funky Turkish music. Originally, we think it’s a wedding, but with the lady lacking a white dress (not to mention a husband), she must be celebrating something else. They are playing what I’m assuming is a mixture of traditional Turkish music and current Turkish hits. It’s sweet. Eventually, we buck up the courage to see if we can also be a part of the festivities. Before we know it, we’re dancing and singing to the Turkish beats and pretending like we know what’s going on. It’s wonderful. Eventually, we head to another place for some more dancing. Unfortunately, they are playing some of the weirdest hippie music imaginable (so random and so Berlin), but even so, tis an enjoyable night.
The Pokalfinaleis being played the next night. This is the championship of the German Cup, a tournament played over the course of the year between all the teams in the two highest levels of professional soccer in Germany. Two powerhouses, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, are in the final. Soccer is interesting in that you can have a scoreless half and be completely entertained. Less likely though is that four goals get scored in the first half, yet it still feels like a snoozefest. This is what we have on our hands here (aye, no). Anyway, as the half comes to a close, I’m expecting some analysis by former German footballers. What do I get? A lady talking about the news. Not sports news mind you, but actual news. Apparently that’s what happens with state-run television. As much as I want to make fun of this, it is actually quite insightful (I don’t have a TV, so I don’t watch the news all that often here). I find out that the new Berlin airport that is supposed to open in June is actually nowhere near being ready (very un-German of them). Seeing as I am supposed to fly back into this airport in a few weeks, it’s probably good to know that that won’t be happening. Where exactly I’ll be sent instead is a mystery to me, but this one’s on them to figure out. Anyway, the game ends with Dortmund winning 5-2. Ribery has one great goal for Bayern, but the rest are fairly blah.
The next day we do some more sightseeing of a few of the lesser known sights and then return home. As has become customary since Andrei’s arrival, we take a nap. I’m going to blame Andrei’s Spanish, siesta-taking ways for this even if I am always the instigator. That night, Andrei gets his first taste of real, hearty German food. It leaves us both stuffed and needing to be rolled home. Fortunately, we still make it back.
Andrei leaves bright and early the next morning. With all the craziness that’s been going on in my life recently, I really need to kick up the level of studiousness in the coming weeks. Can’t wait.
Hugs and hand pounds,