Friday, 18 July 2008

Dann sind wir Deutsche!

der Fernsehturm in Alexanderplatz, photo by Andie Gilmour
Today we made our way through sporadic showers to the Berlin district of Grunewald for an appointment with the Notar, and the signing of a contract which will change our lives. For better or ill, who knows? But change it, it will and life without change is, well, langweilig. You can stay in your comfort zone, or you can go and try something different, risky, and exciting.

The meeting with the Notar wasn't exactly spannendes though. An hour and an half in which the Notar read out every clause of the contract, first in rushed German and then, for our benefit, in faltering English. A few clauses were struck out by the Notar, 'das ist Quatsch', but unfortunately not the one about the vendor guaranteeing that the land is free of soil contamination, bombs, and asbestos. The seller present at the signing (or at least their appointed guy, who just happened to also be the estate agent) assured the Notar that this was a standard clause for them in post-industrial land sales. Hmm.

And then we signed our names and that was it; we had first call on the rights to a small piece of Germany. We have to get the purchase price into an escrow account with the Notar by the 28th July, and he's got to do some legal stuff including updating with our details the page about the property in the Grundbuch, and then we can do a key handover and final reading of the utility meters. And then our Traumhaus will legally be ours!

We celebrated at the Biergarten im Tiergarten (actually, the Cafe am Neuen See), where they do excellent beer and the largest pizzas ever (well, maybe not 'ever', but they are pretty big). And then we had to rush back (ok, waddle back) to Alexanderplatz to catch the AirportExpress to Schönefeld.

Before we caught our train home though, we made a visit to the Kaufhof Galleria (noting that for some reason Alexanderplatz had been filled up with comfy sofas and chairs for people to sit on. WTF?). We are going to a barbeque organised by our South African friend next month, and she is somewhat partial to the Brazilian cocktail caipirinha (remember this? Same gal). The main ingredient is cachaça, which you can't seem to get in the UK but is easily available in Germany, so we thought we'd buy a bottle from the Galleria to take to the BBQ. Oh, and one for ourselves to celebrate our signing. So, bottles in bags we head for Schönefeld airport, and then we think, ah, we've only got hand-luggage, and what aren't you allowed to take onto planes in hand-luggage nowadays? That's right - bottles of liquid. Damn those terrorists, trying to deprive us of our caipirinhas!

Rather than abandon our cache of cachaça, we put the bottles into one bag which we had to check in at the airport. And of course there was a big queue at check-out, and time was running short. Finally we got to the front of the queue, and then we were sent to the cash desk because we had to pay for checking in. It cost fifteen euro! That was nearly as much as the two bottles of spirit had cost us! And one of us had to give up our priority online booking and be in the last tranche to board the plane. Well, it wasn't really a problem, as my Beloved went ahead on her priority boarding card and secured us both seats together, and actually even with the additional cost, buying the cachaça in the UK (you can only get it online) would have been much more expensive.

So, we flew back to Luton and drove (in Friday evening traffic up the M1 in sleeting rain) home to see if the cats had missed us and how they were getting on with their German, because they will need it soon!


  1. Hey there, as much as I love reading your blog entries, if only because they provide an insight in what I hope to do in the years to come, I always wonder why you don't post any images? Would be nice to see a quick mobile snap of the sofas in Alexanderplatz or anything else you spot that looks funny/beautiful. Just a suggestion from another Berlin aficionado.


  2. Hi Matt,

    I've posted a nice image I took of the Fernsehturm haven't I? :¬)

    I'd take my camera more often if I didn't have to lug it around all the time, and when you are rushing around Berlin it's one more thing to worry about accidently leaving on the S-Bahn. My mobile doesn't have a built-in camera; not up there with the kids I'm afraid.

    I don't think the sofas in Alexanderplatz could have been captured as a single image though. See it in your mind's eye; you are walking across busy Alexanderplatz and you notice an upholstered comfy chair with someone sitting on it eating a bratwurst. Then you notice a three piece suite next to the fountain. Then you look around and there are about thirty sofas and chairs positioned around the square. What are they doing there? Who put them there? WHY? It's like installation art; you needed to have been there, to have interacted with the realisation that something was not as it should be, that some part of your brain did a back-flip. A photo, nah, wouldn't have done it justice.

    Something I wish I had a camera for though; on a boat-trip up the Spree, there was an original Banksy graffito underneath the bridge by the Palast der Republik!

    Hope you eventually make the move to Berlin sometime soon,

    Viel Glück!


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