Thursday, November 16, 2006

When in Berlin, call Fritz

Well, no. We didn't call Fritz. We called Andreas.

Andreas was an acquaintance of my friend, Joan. Joan had met Andreas briefly a few years hence when they crossed paths somewhere in Eastern Europe. Joan had provided me with Andreas' number should we run into any difficulty in Berlin.

"He's cool. He'll hook you up. Mention my name." Of course, that's all I needed.

So we arrive in Berlin, just months after the first chunks of the wall between East and West had begun to crumble. Literally. I have pieces of it stashed in my closet with my winter boots.

And since we'd arrived in the middle of the Amazon at 3am without a reservation, we figured we certainly could do the same in Germany. Berlin would be a cakewalk.

Yeah. Well that's what some of Bush's generals said about Iraq -- "cakewalk."

Anyway. So.

We slowly discover there is not a room to be had in West Berlin because every journalist/carpetbagger/adventure traveler worth their salt was in town for the events which were unfolding daily. We were S.O.L. So I dug deep into my backpack and pulled up Andreas' telephone number and headed for a pay phone.

And Fritz answered my call.

He was one of Andreas' roommates and no, he said, Andreas was not home. Andreas was traveling and would be gone for a few weeks, perhaps a month. Crap. I explained who we were, and how we had obtained Andreas' number and the spot in which we had unexpectedly found ourselves. The closest place with a vacancy was nearly two hours out of the city. We were only in Berlin for 5 days and were hoping we could find a central place to crash, the cheaper the better. Did he have any recommendations?

"Hmmm", said Fritz, "Let me teenk". He paused. "Call me bock und fife meen-utes."

I thanked him, hung up and then we stood, staring at our watches for ten minutes. And called him back.

"You may stay veeth us," Fritz said. "I haff talked eet oh-vair veeth my rrrrooom-mates and vee vant you to come hair." I almost peed my pants. He began to recite their address. I had no pen so I grabbed a lipstick out of my toiletry bag and began scribbling the information with "Cherries On Ice" on the remnants of my boarding pass.

"Vee vill see yooo sooon!" he said and we hung up. We bought a big bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine for our anonymous hosts, hailed Und Taxi and we were off.

I couldn't believe it. He was a roommate of a young man who was an acquaintance of a friend of mine from another country. And he invited us, sight unseen, to stay in his home with his two other roommates.

When that wall came down, I think it freed up more than a political boundary.

It was a wonderful time.


Anonymous said...

Ah. Good story!

Ron from TRS. moving to beta has messed up where I can comment, at least for now!

shilleanm said...

The guy was a Jazz freak who knew every Jazz album in the world. I was in Berlin in July and it was very different but I still loved the run.........Good drawing