Greetings from Amsterdam! We left Berlin after four lovely days and just got here today. It has been so good to get out of town, to relax, to perambulate among the narrow streets, and to use my German.(Unfortunately, I don’t speak any Dutch, and after only a few hours I am already feeling homesick for it.Â So I withdrew 300 euros auf deutsch, and that made me feel a little better.)
There have been a lot of great stories, including one terrifying luggage tragedy where I thought our bags were lost, and a guy in Oompa-Loompa coveralls told me I would have to make a report. I thought you had to claim your luggage and then re-check it after Customs, like you do at home, when transferring to a domestic flight. (Wrong!) Many of my stories center around bossy Germans who assume I don’t speak their language. For example, on the flight from Munich to Berlin, the flight attendant didn’t like the way I’d stowed a bag, and snarled at me, “What do you think this is, a train?!” So, Germany is as I left it ten years ago, a land of bossy perfectionists who want you to know you’re wrong. (As in my other recent entry, no comments, bitte.)
The country made a much better impression on me than it did last time. Berlin seemed a comforting jumble of high classicism, banal modernity, GDR-era bomb shelters, and typical urban townhouses. It was possible to see new development cheek by jowl with scary socialist apartment blocks. But the people looked cool, the hangouts were great, and the food was good too.
I should get up to my room now and unwind, as it’s been a long day on the train and the cute conductor got off just as I’d advanced to the cafe car to make my move. Also, I was pretty ill last night, and as I memorably said today, “I’m sweating and I bear the stench of the sick.” I feel better, but do need some rest. When I have more time, I’ll tell you about Maredo, an unlikely Geschenk, the Sharon Stonewall Bar, and other fun stories.