Tuesday, October 19, 2010

discovering berlin: potsdam

i had some friends in town for more than a week, and it was soon time to pull out all the stops - like visiting potsdam. i had never been, have only heard good things so, let's go to potsdam.
the 50 minute S-bahn ride was made more attractive by our bag full of sternburg export, the cheapest strongest beer from the spaetkauf and a bag full of gummies that were gifted directly from spaetkauf through my living room window at 4 am the previous night.
we took 2 bikes and a skateboard and landed at potsdam Hbf.
we didn't have a map, or any idea where to go, we figured we would just find it when we got there.

the tourist information people wanted 2 Euro for a map drawing i could have made without looking. . a nice guy from the bus tour company gave us one, which we soon found out was a bit useless as it had no constant scale, so was wickedly deceptive about distances.
nevertheless, we headed into the old potsdam, my friend being pulled on his axe by two lovely ladies on bikes. we came upon a neighborhood with these small brick buildings and cobbled stones, a perfect foreground to a wonderful fall day. even some disc golf holes in the center park.

looks like alexandria
we found no less than 4 different wurst stands at various markets and tasted each one, beginning our day of 1000 weiners.  

innovative transpo
i ended up having a flat tire, but found enough bike shops with free outside pumps to keep me inflated. go potsdam. we meandered around, nibbling at weiners and bag of gummies and came upon the famous parc sanssouci.
we got a lot of dirty looks from people towards the skateboard, but found someone kind enough to take our picture.

how do you get an outofofocus picture with a point and shoot?
we played frisbee in a field, drank a few sternburgs, and spent one of the nicest days left in 2010.
we later found out that the previous activities broke no less than 4 rules but those are just rules that are meant to be broken.
we were hungry for more weiners and came upon a nice little bavarian place near the charlottenburg hof train station. since big beers and sausage are what everyone outside germany thinks is germany, it was a must do. trains for east berlin only came ever 40 minutes to we waited in the biergarten with some liters of oktoberfest paulaner and delicious weisswurst and pretzels.
finally, we're in germany.
after drinking so much beer we logically had to visit the bathroom which is when we discovered the hidden gem in the back room - a bowling alley. 2 lanes of duckpin, and one full normal lane. totally empty.
the walls were a faded hue of retro yellowish green, the equipment strangely antique. our waiter came in and offered us a chance to play a game and fired up the machines. ok...we didn't have the right kind of shoes, so he pulled some out from under the bar, clearly from the lost and found or a second hand shop. i had some turquoise boat shoes, while my friends sported late 70s velcro gold sneakers.
we get a little introduction to the system, built in 1969. older than us. you can't rename the players (aw shucks, one of our favorite things about bowling!), so on the modern addition screen, you are destined to be boring speiler 1,2 oder 3. there are blinking lights and buttons like in a spaceship on the manifold, but do not touch them!! 

the jukebox in the corner has those small record EPs, and a wide coin slot for "DM." Deutschmarks? uhhhhh. the waiter opens the machine, pulls coins out of one slot and feeds us some credit. free tunes!
the artists, all handwritten include, and i'm not making this up - one column with D. Hasselhof (another jaded german stereotype turns out to be true?), beatles, abba, and the rest of the 1,000 or so songs are not related to the labels and are simply bavarian polka. 

have we entered a vortex to another decade?
we find ourselves incapable of hitting any pins, as every ball, no matter where you stand and where you throw it, end up in the left gutter. is it me or is this whole place just, perhaps, leaning? 
finally, sarah gets a strike and we order up a round of jaegermeister shots to celebrate.

it turns out, the pin apparatus is not at all like what we're used to - the pins are on strings and get lifted up like little marionnettes and dance, and then get put down, often at uneven distances from eachother.
the game gets weirder and weirder when one of the balls on its return journey doesn't make it up the little track and gets stuck halfway down the lane, and then the other ball hits it, and soon all our balls get stuck there, and so after every roll we have to walk down the lane to go pick them up.
the jukebox is playing david hasselhof's crazy for you, which is the music of YMCA, but the lyrics aof the chorus re changed to craaaazy for you, craaaazy for me.    
we find some techno and think this cannot get any stranger, and race to meet our train. 
we miss it, and then go back to the bar and the waiter seems less than thrilled to see us. at this point we've had way too many large beers so he urges us to order the small cuter ones. we are still way too loud and annoying for the 2 other passed out drunks next to us.
finally, it's train time again and the waiter, despite his air of indifference sends us off with 3 tiny bottles of what are like jaegermeister but it must be the vegetarian version- lots o spice. i think they are the german hangover cure things...
we take the regional train home and eat more gummies, the ones that are fake teeth and cannot believe how incredibly cool potsdam is. and because my friend left my spare keys on the bar, we actually have to go back.