Friday, October 23, 2009


Well, we're back from Berlin, which was sunny but very chilly. I had to buy a scarf. We had difficulty finding one costing less than 80 Euros and some were considerably more. Who on earth pays £100 for a scarf???

We stayed in former East Berlin - which seemed very odd - near this television tower in the picture above. And then we went up the tower - which was quite a remarkable thing for me to do, since I don't at all care for heights. You go up to the big ball bit and the views are extensive - see below. I hope you're impressed by my daring.

Berlin was very interesting in various ways, but the big snag for us was that I had gone to the dentist the previous Thursday for some treatment to a tooth which was causing me no trouble (but which showed problems on an x-ray). This was on the Thursday. "It might be a bit tender tomorrow," said my lovely young Irish dentist. And it was. So I thought nothing of it. It was worse on the Saturday but we were off to Berlin on the Sunday at 4.30 am so I took lots of paracetamol and ibuprofen and crossed my fingers and went.

And the tooth got worse and worse. We were due to come back on the Friday - today - and my dentist doesn't work on Friday afternoons. So this meant that I wouldn't be seen till Monday, and I have a full teaching day on Monday... so... we changed our flights and came back on Wednesday instead. When I say that we changed our flights, I mean we had to book new ones. Mr Life had to book new ones, to be more accurate. And the dentist saw me and things are now greatly improved.

Mr Life is a saint. Never a word of complaint. Even when I fainted on the plane and had to be laid out along three seats with an oxygen mask and "Is there a doctor on board?" and all that. Cringe.

Well, we did see quite a lot of Berlin in the three days we were there.

And I'll tell you more about it another day.

And it was certainly a memorable holiday though as you'll understand not entirely in a good way. I managed to speak a bit of German, though not much.

Unfortunately, my vocabulary is not good. I kept being able to translate things up to a point, such as: "It is very important that you should something the something, so that something something isn't somethinged." Menus were much the same: being a vegetarian, I kept understanding that that dishes contained potatoes, cheese, beans and something.
Many words and phrases did keep coming into my mind, such as the German for naturally, for example, immediately, hearty greetings - but it's a bit hard to fit these into a conversation involving what's in the pasta. "Naturally I don't want any meat... For example is there sausage in this dish?.... Bring me my meal immediately.... ".
I could have described the weather a bit - "Die Luft is kuhl* und es dunkelt", I could have remarked, or said something about the landscape: "Der Gipfel des Berges fulkelt im Abendsonnenschein". The wind certainly was cool and it did get dark, though there were no mountains to sparkle in the evening sunshine. But alas, the occasion never arose to impress anyone with these conversational gems. Pity.
* Kuhl should have an umlaut. But I don't know how to do them.


  1. Oh so sorry to hear about your dental problems - that would have had a huge impact on your holiday and what a shame you had to cut it short. Glad to hear you've been able to get some relief now and I did see glimmerings of Mr Life's halo when we were there - putting up with a gaggle of strange chatty women invading his home certainly gets him to first base! Z xx

  2. Oh - and ouch - sounds like a very eventful holiday.

  3. Anonymous12:39 am

    Oh no!! Not at all good. Your dentist is a master at understatement.

  4. I am sorry your holiday was terminated so painfully, but what a beautiful essay you've gotten from it! Garrison Keillor couldn't have written a better bit about speaking German.

  5. What a perfectly horrible non-problem tooth. If it made you faint on the plane it must have been frightful. I don't suppose it is easy to describe dental pain in German, naturlich (?) I am glad you feel better now.

  6. Oh,I am so sorry about this painful holiday! I hope you'll feel much better soon. A helpful phrase for future visits: 'Ist dieses Gericht fleischlos?'('Is this meal meat free?')

  7. Good grief. What an appalling end to your trip. You owe yourself and Himself another holiday soon, I reckon.

  8. Wow, fainting on the plane. That sounds terrible. Your dentist owes you part of his next holiday.

  9. Oh - I HATE tooth pain - it's so "in your head"!! I say, stating the bleeding obvious with the best of them.

    Glad you're better now and that you managed to enjoy some bits of your hols.

    Very daring - I like heights but often look over at D when we're at the top of something or other and see a rather green around the gills Irishman hugging a pillar!

    Lesley x

  10. Impressed. I am afraid of heights and feel a bit dizzy just looking at the picture!

    Sorry to hear about your tooth and hope it is all sorted now.

  11. You fainted on the plane?!! Yikes! (Hope you weren't flying Ryanair - they would have charged you for the extra seats......)
    I sympathise with the patchy recollection of German vocabulary - remind me sometime to tell you the story of playing "meat charades" in a Munich beer garden a couple of years ago.....

  12. I hope you're recovering . Rotten end to your trip ! " Naturally ", you took a drill to the dentist on your return .
    And at least you managed to get plenty of leg room on the plane .

  13. Oh Isabelle! That's awful! I'm so sorry to hear about the bad tooth. I hope you managed to eek out a good time while you were there -- although, I can imagine it would be difficult with the pain. I'm very impressed with your climbing skills, as well as your fainting skills -- bonus points to Mr. Life for taking such good care of you! Oh, and your German has certainly survived better than mine!

  14. Oh dear, what a shame that your holiday time had to be cut short, and that you had to endure such pain while you were there. I just hate it when these things happen at entirely inappropriate times. Bad enough in a normal working week, but on holidays...
    Your photos are excellent as usual; Berlin looks good from that height! I often wonder if there is much difference now between East and West Berlin, since the Wall came down?

  15. Well at least you didn't "break your neck and leg" as they so cheerfully wish one in parts Teutonic! Sorry to hear of your tooth trouble---certainly not the kind of pain you can ignore! Pity about the shortened holiday, but worth it to no longer be in pain, or stretched out, unconscious, for all to see!

  16. I had a slightly eccentric not-the-marrying-kind bachelor uncle whose main recollection from his school German was to be able to recite Heinrich Heine's 'Die Lorelei'in its entirety . Which he did, a little too often. The most useful thing about it is that it starts with the words 'Ich weiss nicht.'

    I can remember some words of Christmas carols, which was nice when we went to Rudesheim one Christmas for the markets.

    I'm so sorry your holiday was spoiled like that, fainting on the plane is quite impressive (Loth's Ryanair observation made me laugh). You must have been a very brave soldier to have lasted so long. Did they find someone with a PhD to minister to you?

    These are quite splendid photos from on high.

  17. The tooth problems sound awful! Sounds like some frustrating issues with your holiday! It's good Mr. Life was a "saint"! I imagine my "Mr." with a lot of sighing and muttering at me! :)
    Loved the photos, as usual, and am glad you're back safe, and the tooth issue is improving!