Central Europe for Sexagenarians – Day 2

Posted by admin on July 2nd, 2013 filed in batman, language, photography, travel

Friday, June 28th, 2013
Freitag, 28. Juni 2013

After switching to a new hotel (a beautiful room at the Hotel Gates Novum near Ernst-Reuter-Platz from the Hotel Berolina near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church by the Zoo), we spent our second day in Berlin viewing the Schloss Charlottenburg and grounds and a nearby canal.

While crossing the low bridge over the canal, a large tourist ship motored up, stopped and started turning around in the very limited space of the canal. The only boats I usually get to ride are sailboats, so seeing a huge boat turn in place took me by surprise:

We then took the bus back to Kurfürstendamm street and strolled toward the Kaiser Wilhelm church, intending to attend a concert there around 6:30. We got distracted when, while looking for a bathroom, we found a fresh food market in the basement of a large department store. It took us awhile to narrow our choices, so by the time we made our purchase and ate, it was too late to attend the concert. Instead we returned to the hotel for an inevitable nap.

We awoke around nine and got dressed to go dancing. The Berlin Swing Calendar keeps a long list of Berlin’s available swing dance options and we ended up at the Strandbar near the museum island. After a trip on the subway and the train we walked the rest of the way to the bar and found an open-air space carved out of a hillside next to a canal. Two steep, wide staircases led down to a raised plywood dance floor sprinkled with sand. The dance floor, tucked into the corner of the cutout, was accompanied on the remaining two sides by tables with umbrellas.

I wore my suede-bottom Converse expecting a stickier dance surface, but shouldn’t have with the sandy floor. I spent the entire dance mostly trying not to slip and fall. I had a blast though. Most of the leads were dancing Lindy Hop, or some gradient of it and there were three or four particularly talented, fun guys to dance with. I worried the language barrier would make things awkward, but several of them spoke some English and with the others, the dance was enough.

Through several dances I noticed someone sitting on the sidelines, watching everything going on. He hadn’t danced as far as I knew, so I went over and asked if he’d like to. He got up, but paused and gave no verbal response so I apologized that I didn’t speak any German, hoping he was familiar with that English phrase. He replied in articulate English that he’d love to (dance), but hadn’t in a very long time. I was so delighted he spoke clear English that I didn’t care if he could dance, so I pulled him onto the floor for a song then introduced him to Mom and Laura who were sitting at a table by themselves and they conversed while I continued to dance.

I think Laura danced a song or two, but Mom was asked several times by an older-looking gentleman with a crush on her. Despite the obvious (and then verbally stated) fact that she is married, he continued to try to lay on the charm, telling her about his career as an Egyptologist, his publications and how he’s in trouble with his colleagues (for some unclear reason). Laura and I enjoyed watching the interaction because a similar scene usually unfolds when we take her out on the town, no matter what country we’re in. We laugh it up because, genetics-wise, it’s good for us that Mom is a sexy sexagenarian!

When the dance ended and Mom finally convinced her suitor that we didn’t need a ride home, he left the three of us to chat with Phillip. He was visiting Berlin for his first time, though a native German. He told us about the business he works for and about his travels to the States, plus he cleared up some of our cultural questions and gave several tips for driving in Germany, which turned out very helpful! When the conversation turned to dance, he even got up to show us the basic steps to discofox, a social dance we had yet to encounter. Apparently it’s pretty popular in Europe. (Thanks Phillip!)

Noting that it was almost 1AM, I gave him my email address and we parted ways after a lovely evening.

We walked back to the S-bahn (train) station, then while boarding our train, noticed a large group of young men on the opposite platform, stripping to their underwear.  As our train took off, one-by-one, some of them began running the length of the platform. We’re not sure what was going on and couldn’t hang around to figure it out, but we certainly enjoyed the oddness of the situation and were pretty sure it involved alcohol to some degree.

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