This blog post is a little behind schedule… nearly 2 months behind schedule. The thing is, I’ve put off writing about our Berlin trip because, those who follow me on Instagram may remember, it didn’t end well and I’m ever so slightly (totally and completely) traumatised by the whole experience.
In the wise words of Maria von Trapp (so sassy, LOVE her), let’s start at the very beginning….
As my previous blog post explained, Tom turned 30 in February and I went bonkers with the presents. Like ‘who cares if you’ve got a mortgage and a dog to feed and wedding to save for, sod all that and spend your life savings on some lanky kid’s birthday celebrations because YOLO’ type bonkers. He has lots of stuff and lots of hobbies and if I bought him any more stuff our house would go pop SO I went with the gift of happy cheesy memories instead. Or so I thought.
Part 2 of his birthday week involved a present that, I can’t lie, was partly for me. I’ve been obsessed with going to Berlin for a really long time and although Tom has been previously for work I wanted to improve his experience of the city as his first trip was a total disaster. His plane got cancelled so he had to take a dodgy tin can train there from Amsterdam through the night and leap out at the place that looked most like it could be Berlin (there were no announcements on the tin train) AND the airline kept hold of his luggage and then lost it so he had to show up to business meetings in his skinny jeans and Nike high tops, then he had to go and buy a suit for an evening do from the nearest shop which means he left with a VERY shiny, very silver, very small and very short in the arms and legs collection of highly flammable items. SO, this trip was going to cure Thomas of his Berlin phobia and give me the chance to tick something else off my bucket list. Win win.
As I have said in previous posts, if I don’t write something down immediately then I forget it. Add post-traumatic stress to that and my memories of Berlin are very hazy so this is going to have to be a brief (but always waffly) summary of probably true and definitely not exaggerated events:
- When we arrived at Bristol Airport (with four hours to spare because I am paranoid about missing flights) the place was chaos. Every single flight before ours and most of the flights directly after ours were cancelled because of the fog. I still don’t understand why none of those planes could make their way through the Bristol smog and yet ours could… cocky pilot? Xray vision fog lights? I don’t know, but this unnerved me. Alas, we made it through the mighty fog and landed in Berlin with no issues. I slept on Thomas for the entire flight which he really enjoyed because at only 6ft3 tall he has LOADS of extra leg/arm room on EasyJet flights and so likes to share his portion of the plane with a dribbling chubby limpet in a giant fur hood.
- The taxi drive to our hotel was typical of any taxi ride in Europe – most of the time the car only needed to be on two of its wheels AND the taxi driver liked to test his acceleration and breaks often just to make sure they were working ok. They were.
- The hotel was GORGEOUS. We stayed at the SANA Berlin http://www.berlin.sanahotels.com/ in Charlottenberg and I would definitely stay there again. It was clean and shiny and super modern. So clean and shiny that when we got to our room Tom walked straight into a clear glass wall… He left an actual imprint of his nose and forehead on the glass and I’m going to say that this memory makes it into the Top 5 most hilarious Fat Tom moments I have ever witnessed. This was Tom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9j3heYZAk8 and this was the glass partition:
- It’s a good job we’ve been together for over a decade and that Tom has finally accepted that girls do number twos because the bathroom was NOT private. The loo had a sliding door with a MASSIVE peeky hole in it and no sound proofing and the shower was just there, right in the eye line of someone sat on the bed. Please remember this bathroom situation when I get to the final night of our trip…..
- As it was very late and Thomas had mild concussion and an egg growing on his head we got room service which was faaaancy and we sat and watched Friends with German dubbing. I still laughed at all the jokes because I know them off by heart. As you can imagine, Tom was having a wonderful birthday so far…
- You know that first day in a hotel where you’ve paid for the breakfast so you feel obliged to have one of everything? That. So I had ham and granola and bacon and yoghurt and egg and fruit and mushrooms on my plate. With a latte. Wonderful.
- We didn’t make real plans for the week – I’m a useless tourist and like to be guided and Tom likes to go where the wind takes him so we just did a bit of what we fancied each day. I had loads of amazing recommendations via my Instagram so we pretty much used that alone and went with the most mentioned things.
- A highlight of the trip for me was recommended by LOADS of people too, the Sandemans http://www.neweuropetours.eu/berlin/en/home# FREE walking tours. Actual free. We ended up tipping ridiculously generously becuase our tour guide was the tits and foreign money feels like monopoly money right?! Especially on Day 1 when you’ve stashed a bundle of it in your bra and you feel all sassy and flash. Their income is based on tips though and our guy was super lovely and knowledgeable and fun and patient with my 24731 questions right at the end of the tour when I had finally worked up the courage to speak up and everyone else just wanted to go home. Also, you walk a LONG way so you feel very healthy and fabulous too and like that one day of walking will probably undo all of the damage that holiday food and gin replacing water will have done.
- We were lucky that we chose the one sunny day to do the tour BUT it was still freezing so there’s an 86% chance that we smuggled some booze to sip on whilst we hid at the back of our group like the naughty kids.
- On the one walking tour we saw probably 70% of the things we had hoped to see on our trip and felt very pleased with ourselves. It also took the pressure off for the rest of our trip.
- We ate at somewhere called Vapiano on the first night (and then a few more times) as it had a really vast and sexy gluten free menu. Saying that, the novelty of gluten free pizza had worn off by day 3…
- We were back at our hotel and wrapped up in bed with German chocolates (YES) and horror movies on the iPad by 10pm. Perfect.
- I think this is evidence of the extreme lack of exercise and partying we do but Fat Tom and I woke up KNACKERED and aching on the Wednesday. Tom had been away with work and then going straight on to our party weekend in Dorset and then straight to Berlin with a day of walking and exploring and I’m just not very fit and I enjoy resting so we decided to have a really chilled day making the most of the facilities our hotel had to offer. Spa, swimming, steam room that looked like the inside of a spaceship with lots of pods to sit in, reading, napping, grazing on snacks and more napping.
- Loads of people had told us to go to a restaurant called Transit for the most amazing Thai street food / tapas so we decided to get dressed up in the evening and do that. I left Tom in charge…. so we ended up using 1/3 of our Euros getting a taxi to the restaurant on the other side of Berlin rather than the one that was 10 minutes from our hotel…. And that is why I’m the planner in our team.
- When we arrived I asked the lady if anything was gluten free and she said ‘everything yes yes yes, all ok, eat eat’ *smiley face and lots of nodding*. Now, when you have a severe allergy to something it’s probably best not allow a very odd conversation in broken English to be your definitive confirmation that said food is not going to break you. I learnt a lesson here. But before I learnt a lesson we enjoyed the MOST delicious meal. We ordered half the menu, laughed when it all arrived and said ‘well this is awkward, we are never going to eat it all’, and then we ate it all. Every last crumb and grain of rice.
- Gut rot started pretty much immediately.
- Once we had digested our food enough to be able to move we decided to head back to our side of the city and find some cocktails and jazz music. We went to The Monkey Bar in Charlottenberg and enjoyed some really saucy cocktails whilst sitting on floor cushions in very close proximity to lots of people I have never met before… I am FAR too British for that kind of behaviour. I think I held my breath for entire time and didn’t make eye contact with anyone. Tom, however, is a thespian and was totally fine with perfect strangers being in his personal space. The views from the Monkey Bar are meant to be incredible but it was very rainy and very dark so I cannot vouch for that.
- Gut rot continued and I was now looking 4-5 months pregnant.
- Once we had made our horrendously-expensive-but-so-delicious-that-you-forget-about-the–price cocktails last as long as physically possibly we decided to go elsewhere. We found a tiny little jazz bar down a side street called The Hat and plonked ourselves there at the bar. We were the first people in and had a lovely chat with the barman (possibly owner) who let me try alllllllllllll of the gins and Tom try alllll of the rums. Suffice to say, our memory of the rest of the night is a little hazy. I definitely sang along to the music very loudly and also definitely made friend with a very cute little dog in there who’s owner did not want to hear all about my giant scruffy labradoodle back in England.
- Back to our hotel, took a bit of effort as dead phones meant walking back using memory / my fantastic sense of direction instead of Google Maps. We got there in the end.
- Very rainy morning. We went out for breakfast and spent too long searching for anywhere that did a breakfast that I could eat that it became lunch time and we ended up having another Vapianos pizza… I didn’t manage much as I wasn’t feeling well and my tummy was veeeeery bloated.
- Before the trip the one thing I had booked in advance was for us to go up the TV Tower (Berlin Fernsehturm) on our last night. I wouldn’t bother with this again. It wasn’t awful but we got squished into a lift with a load of snotty school children and then I didn’t massively rate it once we were up there. I feel like Berlin is most impressive from the ground and looking up and around. We did buy a cocktail there but I was already on the path to hell by this point so I don’t think I drunk much of mine.
- We found a lovely little restaurant overlooking a pretty building that I’ve forgotten the name of and got an excellent table right in the window. I didn’t want to ruin our last night by telling Thomas that my stomach was broken so I channelled my strong sassy Emyoncé and soldiered on through. Of course, Tom knew. I ordered a bun-less steak burger ‘this is just meat and no breadcrumbs we promise’ and salad and ate what I could. I believe this to be the meal that escalated me from abouttobequitepoorly to abouttobreakentirely.
- We had managed to do well over 10,000 steps every day and nearly 20,000 on the first day so I decided we should walk back to the hotel so we could up our step count and maybe give my tummy a chance to settle.
- We walked MILES and I loved seeing Berlin by night. I’m really glad we made the most of the last evening even though we still had a full day ahead of us on Friday because….
- I woke up at about 1am with the worst shooting pains in my stomach that I have ever experienced. I had genuinely resound myself to the fact that I was about to pull a Sonia Fowler and start giving birth to a baby that I didn’t even know I was expecting.
- I won’t ruin your day (possibly life) with the gory details of what followed but it was hellish. Remember that bathroom I described?! YEAH. Not the kind of place you want to be ill in. Tom saw more than he should ever have had to see. I don’t remember all of it but it was constant and relentless. I fainted a few times and one of those times Tom caught me just before I went head first straight through that (bloody health and safety hazard) glass wall.
- Tom stayed very calm throughout but has since told me he was terrified for me. He was an utter hero. The hotel, lovely and clean and shiny but not very sympathetic to a panicked man and his sickly girlfriend forced Tom pay a lot of money for us to be able to stay there until the last possible moment before our flight. I had lost a LOT of blood (sorry) and Tom wanted to get me to a hospital but I just needed to get home. Never ever in my life have I wanted my own home comforts more. He showed me and washed my hair and let me insist on shaving my legs (because that’s important when you’re in such a state?!), he blow dried my hair and packed for us and just did everything.
- The journey to the airport and the nightmare that is Berlin Schonefeld airport are, probably thankfully, the bits I remember least. I know I slept for most of it, sweated loads but was freezing, got checked at security by a very suspicious looking team (Tom thinks it’s because I looked like a heavily pregnant crack addict) and fainted on the plane. It was honestly truly awful and when we finally, after every delay and queue imaginable, landed in Bristol and I saw my best pal Yas waiting for us I cried and cried happy, relieved tears.
- I saw a doctor once I got back, carried on being sick for days, had an excellent loss at Slimming World and eventually my swollen stomach went down after ONE WHOLE MONTH. Now I can’t use the swollen gluten belly excuse anymore, that bad boy is all my own.
I’ve rushed that last day and left out most of the detail because just no. I’m really pleased I managed to tick another thing off my Bucket List and I’m sure that one day Tom and I will both be able to forget our traumatic experience and just remember Berlin as a beautiful city with a fascinating history and excellent jazz music. One day.
For now I just remember it as being full of fuckers who tried to poison me.
Over and out.