Our apartment had a small kitchen, a bathroom with a tub, and a hand held shower. There was a bedroom with a king-size bed and a large living room with an eating area at one end.
The TV got Armed Forces TV, CNN International and the rest were German stations. One day I was flipping through the channels and I found “General Hospital“. It was all dubbed in German. However, it was also 2 years older than the episodes I’d watched at home. I had actually seen these episodes before! (In English of course) So I sat there watching “Luke and Laura” on the run as “Lloyd and Lulu”. I may not have understood the language, but I knew exactly what was happening.
Hubby arrived home from work one day and found me sobbing as I watched General Hospital. It was then that he knew I was totally cracked!
On Hubby’s days off we continued to sight see around the city. We rented bikes one day and this is my other embarrassing story.
It was a bright hot sunny July day. we rode the bikes all along the Spree River, and as we rode I could see Hubby’s head turing to view the nude sunbathing buxom beauties on the shoreline. I rode ahead of him and with all the courage of someone biking in a forested area, I pulled up my shirt and said, “You want to see some boobs, well here ya go buddy!” At that exact moment a little old man on his bike came around the corner and nearly fell off his bike! Hubby started to laugh, I tried to quickly put my puppies back inside my bra while remaining upright on my bike.
Sometimes there is no justice!
Our life settled into a nice rhythm. Hubby would get up in the morning, get his jogging outfit on and go off to run. I would make coffee, maybe some eggs and time it all out so that after half an hour Hubby would return with the fresh morning rolls (or wonderful sweet pastries! I especially liked Mohn-Kuchen or Apfel Strudel). This had been our pattern for a while and it suited me just fine. Although later I would rue the day as my waistline kept increasing!
One day Hubby left for his run and I took my bath, and then started to make the coffee the door to the flat opened and Hubby returned. He hadn’t been gone too long and I immediately met him at the door. He’d been running, as usual, and his knee had locked. This was the start of all his knee problems.
When he had a few more days off we flew down to Munich so I could meet his friends, Lucie and Otto. I wasn’t terribly sure how they would react to Hubby’s new, younger wife, but I needn’t have worried. I was greeted with open arms.
It was there that I came upon a little wire-haired dachshund named Shubi. He didn’t understand any English and I didn’t speak much German, but it didn’t matter. It was love at first sight on both our parts.
This little man followed me all around and even snuck into my bed at night. It was then that I knew I was smitten with the wire-haired dachshund and would someday have to have my own.
Back in Berlin we learned that we could take a bus tour with the US Military. These were done twice a week in order to maintain access between the two Berlin’s. This was agreed to by the four powers when Berlin had been divided after WW II.
But that story is for the next chapter.
My days fell into a wonderful exploration of the city. I enjoyed the shops in the center of (West) Berlin.
KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) was one of my favorite department stores. I could get lost in there for hours! I also went to The Europa Center where I could get delicious Leberknödel Soupe and a beer for lunch. Even now when I go back to Berlin, I enjoy going there.
Our first flat in the city was on the KuDamm. It was a small walk up right on the street. We didn’t stay there too long. The Kudamm is the street that never sleeps in Berlin and so needless to say, neither did we.
Hubby ran into a friend who was leaving Berlin for a week or so and he would lend us his flat in Zehlendorf until we could find something else. So we moved over there, and life was good. We slept like babies, and I got to explore a new part of the city. Zehlendorf was the home of the US Military at that time. We had privileges to use the base for laundry, and to go and get a Big Mac. Although I must tell you, I loved German food and didn’t get a Big Mac at all.
In fact the food in Berlin was and is fantastic. You can find just about any food from anywhere in the world and it is made well. Particularly Greek and Yugoslavian.
I enjoyed a trip to Steinstucken, which was a small enclave that was technically in West Berlin and only connected by a short roadway. It was there I felt I could have reached out and touched East Berlin. If you look hard you can see the Guard in the Tower.
One of the most embarrassing incidents occurred at the flat in Zehlendorf. It was very hot and I decided to lie on the balcony and sun myself, TOPLESS. The balcony was protected from the foot path by wonderful shrubs. I felt very safe.
Well, as I lay there soaking up the sun I suddenly heard water running on cement. I opened my eyes, and there was a neighbor man watering his plants and staring at well, my naked breasts! I grabbed my towel and ran inside. More scandalized and horrified than the man was, I’m sure.
I also spent time at the Wansee, which is a big lake where the Berliners sun and swim. It’s a lovely spot to go and walk as well as get a beer. Back in 1989 drinking beer was like drinking water for me. After my first real German beer, I realized that I’d never had a beer before. American beer is so not beer.
Soon Hubby came home and told me he had sublet a flat in downtown Berlin on Lietzenburger Strasse. It was up on the fifteenth floor, with beautiful views of the city.
So we left Zelhendorf and moved to 1 Lietzenburger Strasse, overlooking the Europa Center.
The first week we were in Berlin we stayed at The Intercontinental Hotel. Each day we would meet our crew in the lobby and off we would go. Hubby was our guide, as he had lived in Berlin on and off for many years. He showed us the places he’d lived with other pilots, took us on river tours of the city and then down to Check Point Charlie, where we observed the most famous border crossing, while it was still functioning.
I loved everything about Germany. The people, the food…THE BEER!!! Those first few days were a wonderful introduction to the city.
Then the day came when the guys had to go to work and I was left on my own. A little scary when you think about it. Not speaking the language, or knowing the customs, well, it was all a bit overwhelming. I was determined, however, to make the most of it.
I dressed and went out to get myself something to eat. I walked down to the train station to get a newspaper and then stopped at the grocery store to get some supplies for the guys (they left me a list), and then to get some rolls for breakfast.
I wish I could tell you how nervous I was when I got to the bakery to get my breakfast rolls. In my best (worst), German I told the shop woman what I wanted and she put it in a bag and I paid and left. I got coffee at another shop and sat down to eat.
My roll was filled. It was a surprise, but it tasted a little like ham salad so I just ate it, as I was very hungry. I was walking back to the hotel, when all of a sudden I felt ill. Very ill. I ran into a public rest room and got violently sick. A very kind female bathroom attendant helped me. She told me in very good English where the pharmacy was. She suggested I had gotten food poisoning.
I stopped at the Apoteke (Pharmacy) and the wizened old Pharmacist gave me some medication for the sickness. I struggled, but made it back to our room, where I began to pray for death!
Hubby arrived home in the evening and as best as we could figure I had eaten Steak Tartar inside the roll, and apparently it had been bad.
Luckily, by the next morning I was fine and this time when I went out, I took the paper that Hubby had given me with the name of a good breakfast roll on it, and off I went.
Only that morning I was walking past another bakery when I saw “sweet treats”. Oh my goodness! The Germans sure do know how to bake the most wonderful confections! Would I risk another roll? I think not. I sat with my coffee and a couple of yummy delights. This was to become my routine breakfast meal while Hubby was at work.
I wandered around the down town area. I went in shops and bought a few things. Mostly I stayed close to the hotel, because I was nervous.
Finally Hubby gave me directions. He wanted a certain beer and it was only sold one place. It required me to take the U-Bahn and then a bus, and then walk to the shop. I carried my basket and off I went.
I got my U-Bahn ticket, and paid for my bus fare and got all the way out to get Hubby’s beer. It was hot and I was tired, so I stopped at a little outside beer stand and had a tall one! Then I retraced my steps carrying 6 bottles of Andecks beer. Not little bottles, no, half liter bottles! But I did it and with that trip, my fear of traveling around Berlin ended. After that I did things every day.
But that is for the next installment.
In late May of 1989 Hubby was awarded a temporary assignment over in Berlin, Germany. The start of this assignment saw him, with two other crewmen, ferrying an A-300 Airbus from New York to Berlin. The A-300 is not a long range airplane, so due to fuel restrictions, the plane had to be flown without passengers. After it’s arrival it would be used for summertime charters out of the still closed city of Berlin (meaning that the Wall had not come down, and the easiest way in and out of the city was by air.)
I was given permission to go along on the flight. What a thrill to experience both take off and landing in the cockpit of a commercial aircraft! As I watched Hubby and our friend George performing both take off and landing check lists, and well, doing all that stuff that pilots do, I was overwhelmed with appreciation for what Hubby did every day at work.
How odd it was to fly in an empty plane. Walking through the isles, helping myself in the galley and then ultimately fixing the meals for the crew was actually a lot of fun.
At one point I had started to fall asleep when the flight engineer came out and told me to come into the cockpit for a moment. I did and I saw the most awesome sight. St. Elmo’s Fire (static electricity going everywhere on the outside of the windshield). It is a sight I will likely never see again, but on that May night over the Atlantic there it was.
I sat in the cockpit more than anyplace else once the sun came up. The guys pointed out all the cities of Europe as we passed over them. This was my first trip to Germany and I could hardly wait to land and see the country of my Grandfather’s birth.
During the landing of the plane I sat in the jump seat of the cockpit and watched. Down, down, down we went. I kept feeling like we weren’t going to have enough runway to land on when all of a sudden I felt the wheels touch. I let out a startled exclamation! “Oh!”
They guys laughed because they knew my perspective made me feel we had far more time before we landed. They knew, of course what they were doing! Good thing I wasn’t flying the plane because I would have literally planted it on the runway.
I had arrived in Berlin!
End of part one.