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For the first time in five years Oct 13

Tomorrow, I shall be doing something for the first time in over five years. Is it:

  1. Releasing a new chart-topping single
  2. Skipping and jumping, pressing wild flowers, putting on women’s clothing and hanging around in bars?
  3. Killing a man?
  4. None of the above?

Yes, it’s d. I’ll be leaving the country, my first time out of Blighty since September 2000 when I spent the fuel crisis in Amsterdam. And I spent guilder there too, so this’ll be my first time using euros.

I’m going to Berlin, the capital of Germany, which is a big country in the middle of Europe. As some of you may know, Germany was divided into two halves after the Second World War: West Germany and East Germany. In Germany, they had their own names. Because West Germany was associated with America, it was known as the FDR after erstwhile US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The East Germans showed their spite for the West by naming themselves the DDR after Dorothea Dolores Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt’s estranged and somewhat psychotic first wife.

When the country was divided, so too was the capital Berlin as neither side could agree on who should get it. Because Berlin was in the centre of the DDR, East Berlin was perfectly situated. However, West Berlin had to be decontructed, brick by brick, and moved 300 miles west, where it was rebuilt exactly as it had been before. This cost £30bn, which was a lot of money in them days. A giant underground railway connected West Berlin and East Berlin, much as it does today.

I have genned up on tourist information:

  • Cocaine is legal in Germany, but a local bye-law prohibits its use in Berlin and it must be left in a locker at the Charlie Checkpoint.
  • The parliament building in East Germany was known as the Reichstag, while the West German parliament was the Linkstag.
  • In German, “Germany” is “Deutschland” and “German” is “Dutch”.
  • The flight from the UK to Berlin takes three hours on the way out but only one on the way back. This is due to strong easterly winds.
  • US president JFK once visited Hamburg and amused locals by saying “I am a hamburger”. He was only joking but he said it with relish.
  • The most famous ever German was probably Adolf Kellerman, 1875-1932, a provincial hatmaker from Cologne.
  • The best ice cream in Germany is made by the Berlin Walls.
  • If you put “deutchland” into Google, the first result is a German Doctor Who fan site. Seriously.

I’ve also checked up on local customs. Apparently, when it’s sunny German people like to wear sunglasses but if it’s rainy they take an umbrella and/or wear a raincoat. I just know I’m going to stand out like a sore thumb.

I’m told they do have teh internets in Europe so I’ll blog if I get the chance. Cheerio!

4 Responses

  1. 1

    In German, “Germany” is “Deutschland” and “German” is “Dutch”.

    Never, ever, ever, say that to a Dutchman

  2. 2

    Mmmmmm… Torchwood.

  3. And remember, David Hasselhoff made the Berlin Wall come down and therefore “I’ll be looking for freedom” is now the national anthem.

    You wish I was kidding.

  4. 4

    best bit of Deutschland is Bayern, so have a bavarian beer in “The Dutch” in Berlin.