Yet again I find myself working late with nothing but a Wagamama menu to look at. I’m lucky to have a fairly interesting job and I do enjoy working in the city centre, but it’s an absolute ballache if I have to work late as the only places near me that deliver are Wagamama and Pizza Express. I mean, I COULD walk further, but I’m a lazy, lazy man. So – as I’m busy working – I’m pressing the button on a ‘saved’ blog-post – my fourth chapter on our visit to Germany. You can read the previous instalments here, here and here. Because we’re amazing, there’s also a recipe for takeaway style beef and broccoli at the end which is genuinely delicious. Enjoy! Normally skip holiday posts? Give this a whirl – feedback welcomed!
Now, I’m going to be honest, I lost my page of notes for the last day of what we did in Berlin, so I can’t go into any great detail – good riddance I hear you cry, this’ll be a short entry. Nope…
We woke on our last day in Berlin with a heavy heart, and only a small part of that was down to the amount of cholesterol and fats we had taken on during our short stay. Berlin was amazing – something happening on every corner, history all over the place, fantastic mix of people. Having all of the Christmas markets on only added to the atmosphere and neither of us would hesitate in going back. Heartily recommend. Nevertheless, we traipsed down to the checkout, gave our luggage to some hipster fucknugget who had left his little afro-comb in his afro (argh!) and wandered out to kill the time before we were to get our overnight train to Munich.
One last look at the view…
First, Checkpoint Charlie, which took us about forty minutes to find. It shouldn’t have – if we’d just turned left instead of right as we breathlessly climbed out of the underground station, we’d have been there, but instead we walked for forever in a massive circle until we found it. Meh. I know it’s historically very important but I felt its impact was lessened somewhat by the McDonalds just to the side of it. Plus, they had a really ropey statue of a soldier with a bit of tinsel on his head. How respectful!
Afterwards, we spotted the Ritter chocolate museum on a map, and headed there. Again our sense of direction failed us, and we wandered and wandered and wandered, all passive-aggressive sighing and bitchy looks at everyone else who were clearly going exactly where they wanted to go and knew exactly how to get there. The smug twats. After gradually turning our feet to corned-beef in our shoes, and with the blood pouring out over the top of our socks, we FINALLY found Ritter World. Well, honestly, I was expecting Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, I got Billy Vanker’s Chocolate Camp. It was full of tourists and fat children jiggling about with sticky hands and gleeful expressions.
Paul immediately managed to cause international offence by declaring loudly ‘well you’d know all about that’ in response to young slave workers picking cocoa beans along the chocolate highway – he was actually talking to me in response to eating chocolate but the young Puerto-Rican couple in front of us looked pretty crestfallen. I’m surprised he manages to brush his teeth in the morning – whenever he opens his mouth his boot automatically falls in. We loaded ourselves up with 24 bars of Ritter chocolate, ostensibly to give to co-workers – we had the box open by the time I’d put my wallet back in my pocket.
A trip to an experimental computer art-gallery followed next – yet again our normally faultless navigation failing us, leading us into a proper run-down sink estate where I started my ‘protect everything in my pockets’ Macarena dance that I mentioned in a previous entry. In our defence, the art-gallery was tucked away down a side street full of chavs smoking weed. I felt like I was in a Paddy Considine movie.
Oh! We did spot this. Goodness me.
The art gallery was, as you may expect, full of experimental videogames and controllers, and we had a whale of a time geeking out. It was smashing but the best part was the virtual reality headset at the end. Paul normally can’t manage anything like virtual reality – he gets dizzy looking at a magic eye puzzle due to his boss-eyes. Ah bless. He’s got lovely blue eyes – one blew to the East, one blew to the West. Kaboomtish.
We did stop for one of these. My reflex action already had me on my knees until Paul pointed out it meant garlic bread.
Anyway, you think me writing about videogames is exciting? Well you haven’t heard anything yet, because after the videogame museum came the…font museum! That’s right! We saw this on tripadvisor and thought it would be right up our street, and indeed it was, being only a mile or so mince from the videogame museum. We’re sticklers for the right font – it really makes my face itch when I see screenshots that people have put on from their phone and they’ve chosen to use Comic Sans as their display font. Comics Sans should only be used in care homes to illustrate which tap is hot and which is cold, and nothing more. The museum was full of ‘letters’ – random letters from hotel signs, train stations, massive installations – some old, some new, some neon, some metal – it was really quite interesting! I don’t know if I’d pay the amount we paid to go around but I still got to crack a joke as I left and they shook the ‘suggested donations’ box at me – I said ‘Are you taking the P’. Well, as you can well imagine, how we all laughed – we were still chuckling and shaking our heads whimsically as Paul pulled me out by my fagbag. Spoilsport.
By this time the night was cutting in, so we wandered back to the hotel, picked up our suitcases and nipped into the closest restaurant for a last-minute meal before we got on the train. Well fuck me. We couldn’t have picked a more German looking place, it was like being in a themed restaurant. The waitress was wearing lederhosen, there was oompah-oompah music playing, the menu was full of words longer than this bloody blog post…you get the picture. I ordered something that sounded like a bad hand at Scrabble and received a pile of meat and potatoes which was absolutely bloody delicious. I washed it all down with a bathtub sized glass of German beer and suddenly the restaurant seemed like the finest on Earth. Paul had duck and a fizzy water, the great big puff. We settled the bill and waddled, clutching our stomachs full of fermenting beast, to the train station.
We were planning on driving to Munich but I’ve always fancied an overnight train journey, and it was around £200 for the both of us to have a private cabin. That makes it sound infinitely more grand than it was, but it was surprisingly roomy, with two bunkbeds, your own netty, a table to rest at and even a shower! A shower! On a train! The only time I’ve ever managed to get wet on a train is when I’m sitting next to the toilet on a Pendolino and it lurches around a particularly sharp corner.. Once the train pulled in, we were escorted to our ‘room’ by the train conductor, yet another officious looking man with a face full of woe who looked as though he’d push you under the train if you asked him anything. He assured us he’d ‘look after us through the night’ like some creepy fez-wearing Harold Shipman. I was left more than a little terrified. He shut the door and Paul immediately dashed to the toilet ‘to try it out’. I optimistically hoped that this meant testing out the flush or, at a push, having a tinkle, but no, it meant hearing the world fall out of his arse, punctuated by ‘OOOH THAT’LL BE THE CURRYWURST’ and ‘I’M NEVER HAVING SAUERKRAUT AGAIN’. Just once I’d like to be able to relax in a new environment for longer than ten minutes without having to hear my other half straining out a poo. It’s not too much to ask. Course, it gets worse – no sooner had he pressed ‘flush’ then the train conductor clicked the door open and asked whether or not we wanted food. Fuck food, all I wanted was a tank of oxygen, and he totally knew what Paul had just done because I saw his nose wrinkle. Frankly, I’m surprised his nose didn’t burn up like a dry leaf in a bushfire. He didn’t come back until the morning.
The glamour! Look at that size of that toilet – now imagine how small the shower is, to the immediate right of the loo – then read on…
Mind you, it wasn’t just Paul causing embarrassment – about half an hour into the journey I remembered that we had a shower in the tiny bathroom and immediately undressed. The shower cubicle was approximately 80% the size of me but by gaw, I was determined. Through the human equivalent of pushing a beachball into a postbox, we managed to get me in, but I literally didn’t have space to move, so it was a case of standing there letting the water pool around my shoulders as Paul lathered shampoo into my scalp. Finally, there was a loud sucking noise and the water found a way through the dam of my back fat and down my bumcrack and disappeared. I win again! After ten minutes, Paul pulled me back out of the shower and back into the little living room area. Now this is where it gets embarrassing – in all the excitement of working the shower, we hadn’t realised that the train had stopped at a rural passenger station and was obviously taking on a few more people – us looking out the window could barely make anything out because our room was bright and it was night outside. This situation wouldn’t have been so bad had I been dressed, but I’m ashamed to say that at least six good, honest German folk on the platform opposite were treated to the sight of Paul changing into his nightwear and my hairy arse pressed up against the glass like two paint-filled balloons. We only realised our error as the train pulled away – probably ahead of schedule to save my blushes. Wars have started over less than my arse in a window, trust me.
The rest of the journey passed without incident, although I had trouble sleeping through the rocking of the train. Paul was out like a light, but I remained fitful on the bottom bunk, sure that every creak and groan of the metal bed above was a sure sign that he was going to come crashing down on top of me and that I’d be smeared up the side of the train like a fly on a windscreen. I kept myself amused by writing up the first few days of the holiday and looking wistfully out of the window as the night turned black. Oh, saying as I indulged in some toilet talk before, I’ll add a bit more – the combination of good, rich German food and the rocking of the train meant that we were both full of wind – and when one wasn’t farting, wafting and laughing, the other one was taking up position. The poor bastards in the room next door must have thought a brass band was tuning up before a key performance. When we awoke in the morning, the air was so thick I almost swam to the toilet. Even putting on my glasses didn’t remove my blurred vision. I’m only thankful it was a no-smoking train else it would have been like the Paddington Rail Disaster all over again. At six there was a sharp little tap on the door and the conductor, barely hiding his wince, set down a tray of breakfast goodies on the table. It was the usual German fare – apple juice, jams, bread (the bread was fresh when brought in but after two minutes in the fetid air of our room, had gone a lovely toasted colour) and minced animal. They love their indistinct pâté, that’s for sure. Still, it was free food and I couldn’t waste a crumb, so I didn’t, and it was delicious.
The train pulled into Munich at around seven and we were unceremoniously dumped on the platform as the train hastened away, probably to be burnt to ashes thanks to our almost inhuman farting. We jumped onto the underground and after a short ride, we were at our hotel. The guy checking us in clearly thought we were checking him out, and he was posing and fluttering his eyes and being all coquettish. He didn’t have a fucking chance, he had more make-up on than Dame Barbara Cartland for one thing, and he gave us a proper ‘knowing’ leer when he realised that we were a married couple with a king-sized bed. I really hate that! He might as well offered us an upgrade, rimjob or felch for the amount of subtlety he was displaying. We gave him fairly short shrift and were allowed up to our room, where I’m disappointed to say we stayed for the rest of the day. Actually – disappointed is the wrong word, a holiday is for resting, and we had a lovely day in the room, ordering room service, watching the German version of Air Crash Investigation and sleeping. No word of a lie – we pretty much slept from 8am to 8am the next day. The room service was extortionate – €60 for two burgers, although they were the size of footballs and delivered with the usual German élan (i.e. no care at all – they crashed the tray down like they were delivering a verdict on England itself).
Mind you, that’s not surprising, given our hotel room probably smelled like the countryside of England did when we had the foot and mouth crisis and all the cows were being burnt. Fact: the foot and mouth outbreak started less than a mile from my house. I still blame my mother for feeding the dog Aldi stewing steak and starting it all off.
I’ll write more about Germany tomorrow, but in the meantime, speaking of well-cooked beef…
This recipe is dead easy to make and only takes about fifteen minutes or so. It might be helpful to have all your ingredients prepared beforehand. Having the beef cut into smaller chunks means it goes further, and cooks faster.
This serves six people.
to make takeaway style beef and broccoli, you’ll need:
ingredients: 500g diced beef, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 2 tbsp + 60ml light soy sauce, 1 large onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 2.5cm cube of root ginger (grated/minced), 250g broccoli florets, few pinches of red chili flakes, 250ml beef stock
to make takeaway style beef and broccoli, you should:
recipe: in a bowl drizzle 2 tbsp of soy sauce over the diced beef and mix until it’s coated. Heat a large non-stick pan on a high heat, add Frylight (or use a drop of oil, like sensible folk) and add the beef in one layer for one minute, and then flip over for another minute. Put the beef to one side on a plate.
In the same pan and still on a high heat, add more Frylight (see above) and saute the onion, garlic and ginger for three minutes. Add the broccoli and two pinches of the red chili flakes and sauté for another three minutes.
In a bowl mix together beef stock, 1 tbsp of corn starch and 60ml soy sauce. When mixed and there are no lumps pour this over the broccoli mixture and mix to combine and cook for a further three minutes. Add the beef back into the pan, mix, and serve immediately over rice.