A Cultural Review Of Berlin

So February half term and the annual trip away with a group of lads who were mainly teachers when I first went about 10 years ago but a few have left for various reasons over the years. This years winning host city was announced back in December and it was the city of Berlin. I last visited Berlin in 1992 when in upper 6th form so I was expecting it to be very different. The pre Berlin health kick had gone great and I had managed to get to day 43/108 with no ale and the scales of injustice had me a just under 17 stone. The first time my scales had started with 16 something for over 5 years. The reward was two days hardcore drinking in Germany. It was valentines day when we left and Mrs Fay got the great present of me fucking off for 2 and a half days so she could hammer the Sky Q box !!  Previous years have seen cultural reviews of Stuttgart Hamburg Wroclaw Warsaw Riga Tallinn Krakow Isle Of Man and Edinburgh   with these lads. (Click on city to read)  In fact these lads have taken me all around Europe.

So the first good news was that all 13 people turned up at the airport. We lost two before we boarded the plane for last years trip to The Isle Of Man. Mrs Fay had bought me some chocolate hearts and suggested that I could take them on the plane to share out with the lads. Errrrrrrr maybe not luv ! So as I was off the wagon I was given special dispensation from the “Walter Mitty” (kitty) to have a Desperados instead of a pint for my first drink. A few on the plane and after a very pleasant flight we were soon in the hotel and in the bar and ready to head out into the chilly german evening. So first up was a small bar and it was fixture two on our soccer dice league. Soccer dice is 5 coloured dice which represent a game of footy. Starting with the red dice and then following dice instructions after five goes each and the score is at the end. Top tip throw the red “through ball to green” throw the green “goal” AKA alehouse dice footy but its mighty efficient. Last years champ Eddie was absent but with 13 of us on your the league would be played over two days. Anyway we left the small and smokey bar and ended up cutting through a park and found a pub called The Castle. It was here the checking my pockets I noticed my bank card missing. I deffo had it and with wearing a new coat I checked the pockets and no joy. As I was standing outside to call to cancel the card there was a knock on the window from the inside of the pub and one of the lads smiled and waved my card. They could see I was starting to have kittens and they were passed it in the last pub by somebody. Phewwww somebody nearly had the rest of my five grand overdraft off then ! With Liverpool playing in the champions league we headed to a Berlin Liverpool Fan Club bar handy and on our arrival we were put down stairs into a bunker with seats and a small terrace style seating at the back. Despite our chants of “Liverpool, Liverpool on the big screen” the owners stayed with Real Madrid vs PSG. I could not moan I was bang in front of the TV and after a few pints it was easier for the barman just to start bringing crates of Becks down for us. We were in full voice and the local Germans were joining in with the songs they new though I am not sure the shady looking Owen Oysten stunt double on the back terrace was. Too cool with his cowboy hat on indoors. What a result 5-0 to the oranges reds and the rest of the night becomes hazy after that. I let the lads go in a boozer as I went around the corner to make sure I got my 10,000 steps for the day and after two mins came back and they had all gone. The pub was shut and nobody was in sight. A quick look and I did not have a clue were I was apart from Berlin. Eventually I got in touch with somebody who said our hotel was just past The Castle Pub we had been in. I managed to find that with the help of my iPhone and stumbled back the hotel. Funny enough the lad who had told me how to get home has since got lost and came in after me !! One in the hotel and a story of one of the lads going mental because he got cucumber on his burger and it was time to head to bed for about 1.30am. Freddie was the overnight leader in the dice league.

So day two and I wasn’t up too early for me which was a bonus and with no breakfast included with the hotel I headed to the local supermarket to get some crisps for breakfast. The rest of the lads were over the road where I managed a crusty cob for brekkie and the funny news that “cucumbergate” had continued with the same lad getting cucumber on his breakfast !! So we had a nice morning stroll to the Brandenburg Gate. I had a few pics taken and I know last time I was in Berlin when I was just 19 I had a picture that I still haven’t dug out for a then and now. The gate hasn’t changed but I am fatter with less hair ! After a quick team photo it was noted that the 10 people under 60 all had Adidas trabs on and the two people over 60 had shoes on. We always like to do a bit of culture whilst waiting for the pubs to open so it was the red bus tour. On a previous red bus tour in Edinburgh the tour guide called us “Intellectuals in the guise of scousers” such was our collective knowledge. No guide on this and not much in the way of info coming into our ears via headphones. In fact just the normal bus might have been a better experience. The highlights were some shops and a protest with flags being checked and I think our 13 lads would have been larger in numbers but there was a massive police presence. Anyways we all jumped off for checkpoint Charlie. We walked past the only remaining bit of wall left so I had to put Spotify on my phone and play “Wind Of Change” by The Scorpions, an emotional moment. We reached checkpoint Charlie which was different from when I last visited and as the picture shows below the fall of the wall made it possible for the Golden Arches to sprout. With the location of the wall shown by some cobbles in the road we tried out best to get a pub crawl going (Was quite hard to be honest with decent walks in-between some boozers) we got the soccer dice league going again and left an Irish Pub to hit another bar. After a test tube of beer in that boozer as I left my soccer dice pocket was open and no dice in. I could have sworn I had put them in after the Irish Pub so thought one of the lads is having me off here. After an inquest in the next pub the lads said they deffo had not played a prank and I checked all my pockets again with no joy so me and a fella retraced out steps lucky enough wasn’t that far and after asking in both pubs and even moving punters in the seats we were sitting in and checking in tramlines of a road we crossed they had to be written off. Gutted we couldn’t finish the league and also a bit of daft sentimental value of the case my mum bought for my 13th birthday with my initials on NGF (the dice had been replaced as we had worn the words off them) one pint later and playing darts it was soon forgotten about apart from some stick for the lads for ruining the league campaign. Have to mention the darts and there were 4 “Fays” on the trip so the fat and old Fay’s played the young and thin Fay’s. Oh yes a win for the fat Fay’s. So we all made it back the hotel together for a few more beers and as I took my coat off that was brand new for the trip I noticed a new pocket I didnt know I had on the left breast. Yeah you know whats coming. It had the soccer dice in !!!! So I fell into bed about 3.30am and got to sleep just after 4am after chatting shit with my roommate and that was it no more grog until after the London Marathon on April 22nd !

So more crisps for breakfast after a lie in until about 10.30am which is very rare for me we went for a walk and the got cabs to the airport to complete the remaining fixtures of the soccer dice league due to some tit losing the dice the evening before. With Freddie needing a win to keep himself in the league he lost and Dicko won the last game of the season to claim the 2nd European Soccer Dice Championship. Only on last thing to do and thanks to the wonderfully stocked toilets of europe the traditional “travel pussy” was placed into a random bag and young James discovered it later that evening when home. Just hope it wasn’t in front of his mum (my sister !!!! )

So another great trip and all eyes to September when the winning bid for host city for the 2019 trip will be announced. As ever many thanks again to the group of teachers (and none teachers) I gegg in with for the trip (The name of the school(s) is withheld to protect the guilty) and hopefully any glaring gaps in the story will be filled in on the comments section below..and big thanks to the organiser. Often a thankless task but again superbly organised this year.

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