Lessons learned from a second chance in Berlin

1. No matter how many insane, shouting, drunk people there are proclaiming the apocalypse on the S-Bahn, people will always laugh and stare at you when you’re wearing a squid costume.

2. Life is so very cheap, but it is crucial to always remember the following exceptions: Celery. Ibuprofen. Forgetting your membership card at the gym. Prepare to take out a mortgage if you plan on any of those three things.

3. German bread gets exponentially even more delicious, the more you eat it. There is no upper limit.

4. Currywurst has the opposite effect.

5. You must prepare for Sundays as if you were preparing for a brief nuclear quarantine. You must buy everything you could possibly need for the day on Saturday, with extra essentials like milk and salt, double quantities in case of unexpected guests and ‘wild-card’ purchases like a snorkel and a Batman box set because you simply never know.

 6. You must always take responsibility for your actions. If you sit on a bench in a park and a small child lobs an enormous ball of wet sand at you, you must admit that sitting in that park was a foolish move in the first place.

7. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. But unlike in the UK, usually if you do ask, you do get! Bonus points for how energetically you ask; when I was finally offered the flat I have been applying (read: begging) for in Friedrichshain, I asked the woman if she had considered many other offers. She gave me an exhausted, dry look and said, “Not really – you were…very persistent…”

8. Never be scared of the punks, no matter how terrifying and/or murderous they might look. They are always the sweetest people and have the gentlest dogs, unlike the vicious little terriers dragged about by yuppies in Prenzlauer Berg. The punks are war on the outside and peace on the inside. Twice, now, as I have been reading my Kindle in the park, have some punks shyly sidled up to me and asked, “What the flippin’ ‘eck is that device?” Both times we ended up having lovely chats about e-books and the sanctity of the printed word. And when I went to the shop that my Kindle was accidentally delivered to – I feared for the worst, because the shop is a frightening punk cave called ‘Puke Music’ – I asked the guy if he wanted to see my ID so I could pick up my delivery and he beamed at me and said, “Look love, just take it. If you come in here now and nick some other person’s parcel, who is the arsehole here, me or you?”

9. If you ever feel peckish, just go into any of the thousands of Turkish delis around Berlin. You will leave fifteen minutes later having been force-fed enough samples of hummous, olives, pat├ęs and flatbreads to count as a ‘luxury meze platter’, and you’ll only have to buy a pack of Mentos at the end as a gesture-purchase, and you’ll receive a friendly wink into the bargain.

10. All black tea that you can buy in Germany tastes like wet cat. No exceptions.

Rose T