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Published: August 30th 2009
Berlin's Olympic stadium
U2's truckers letting off steam
I had a slightly odd evening in Berlin recently - “random”, I think the youngsters would call it. It started when I met Marie, who is really called Tanya, at her friend's flat off Friedrichstrasse. You're frowning so let's engage reverse gear and incorporate some back story:
A couple of weeks ago I asked Swiss Jules for suggestions on where to stay north of Milan. He mentioned a jazz festival in Lugano, but I thought accommodation might be booked out. 'Try couchsurfing.com,' was his reply. I dismissed the idea - chiefly because I don't like sleeping on couches - and opted for Lago Maggiore instead. A few days later, though, I thought I'd have a little browse on the site. Aha, you can just meet travellers for coffee or a drink. Well, a coffee is actually a drink but I know what they're getting at. How nice, I thought, to meet somebody interesting with local knowledge. Maybe I'll see the side of town that tourists don't.
The next logical step is to send a message to a suitable host. Now, I hadn't initially thought of the site as a dating site but... If there's a choice of messaging a
Berlin's metro at 1.20am
guy or a pretty girl, what am I going to go for? It's a no-brainer; you know me by now. Also, if you're anything like me, you've no time to delve far into the 1,600 or so entries for Berlin. Find a honey on the first page, is what I say. Actually, that's not strictly true. If she had listed her interests as shoppin' and chillin', I would have scrolled further. Tanya's passion for sailing, however, was enough to intrigue me.
An extended nap in the afternoon, coupled with chaos on the S-bahn lines in Berlin, meant that I didn't turn up in town until 10.15pm. Late for meeting a new girl, I agree, but the nice thing about couchsurfing is that these aren't “dates”. Anyway, I reached the flat where a send-off for a Parisian girl was in full spate. I rang the bell. 'It's Barnaby for Marie,' I said. Silence. Bugger, I forgot that's only her surfing name. Regardless, the buzzer buzzed and there was just seven flights of stairs between me and an exciting encounter.
We spoke of sailing and fashion - the latter topic saw little input from me - and how she would
U2's 360 degree tour
love to have Madonna as a godmother. That was the turning point. What I did discover, though, which is applicable to me, is that drunken cycling is 'verboten' here. No surprise there - this is Germany, after all - but the following news shook me up a bit: if caught, the police revoke your driving licence. That is worth knowing. But surely a couple of “grapefruit beers” are harmless enough, I thought naively, knocking back the last “alcopop” in the fridge. So, if squiffy peddling has you nervous as an oyster at low tide - glancing constantly over a shoulder for blue lights - you'll be relieved to learn that, in Berlin, the metro runs all night at weekends..
Tot: 2.329s; Tpl: 0.043s; cc: 35; qc: 182; dbt: 0.0918s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.8mb