I am sitting in the lobby of the Days In on Kögelstraße in Berlin, listening to some pretty awesome pop the desk attendant is playing, and drinking a Red Bull, because in Germany they are sane about the hours they ask people to work. The convenience store opens at 7. By American standards, that’s not very convenient. But people here seem to know when to stop working.
So far I love this trip. Getting here was not “half the fun.” It was pretty disorienting. This is my first time in Europe, and my body is not used to flying so far against the sun, so to speak. I consider the fact that I woke up at 3:30am, my usual time, to mean I have successfully overcome jet lag.
There are lots of little things I could post pictures of. I successfully used my German four times. Everyone here speaks English. Some guys from Vietnam were checking in yesterday afternoon, talking to the person behind the desk in English. There was one maintenance guy at the airport and a security guard in a Bank who either did not speak English or could not figure out within two seconds that we were Americans. Mom’s coach, Val, was trying to buy Euros. The security guard invited us to stop hanging around by the door and step into line, and since I could not, in that moment, puzzle together something like, “We are waiting on our friends,” I just replied, “Wir bin gut.” But now that I think about it, the Urban Dictionary connotation of that statement might have given the wrong impression.
Back to why I was talking about German in the first place, I do not want to be the kind of American who assumes that everyone else should speak English (dammit!). I figure it is polite to make an effort “auf Deutsch.” Once the other person figures out I am an American, they switch to English. It is easier for them, and they do not have to listen to me butcher their mother tongue.
I can read German better than I can speak it. My mom asks me what certain signs say, and I have so far been able to tell her. Google Translate helps me with some vocab I cannot remember and basic phrases I have not used since high school.
Me: Wie ist der Berlinerkindl (How is the Berlinerkindl [beer]).
Man Behind the Counter: Er…it costs 1.60€. [I have no recollection of what his actual German words were.]
Me: Um…ist es gut Bier? (Is it a good beer?)
Man Behind the Counter: Ah! Yes. It is a good beer!
And he was right. It was a pretty good beer, a lot better than what I could get in Nashville for about $2.50. That is one thing I have noticed about Berlin so far. Beer is cheaper. So is chocolate. Beer, chocolate, and not working 24/7. These people have their priorities straight.