Night before last, C. took us to the locals’ red light district of Amsterdam. It was local in the sense that it had no TGI Friday’s Mardi Gras Restaurant or Jackfruit Jimmy’s Australian Billabong Beer Hole. And no British. The women in underwear in the red-lit windows were nerve-wracking, but otherwise unremarkable. Then we went to a tall, narrow bar with stairs like a ship, on a canal, etc., etc. He left our hotel at 3:00 a.m., and we were asleep by 3:30 and up to get the train to Berlin after packing by 7:30.
The train ride was smooth, though I was a bit nervous about getting on the right one. It’s been a long time. We had to sit next to a Reaganite – San Diegan, tan, rich, white, Republican – who had come over to Europe with his wife and his moustache to rub his turbulent Schroeder over some sweet, hot D-Day porno. Like all Reaganites, he hadn’t spent a day in the military, but praised it praised breathlessly. Neither S., whose brother was in Viet Nam, nor I (my father was career Navy and also spent in year there) were delighted to share our seats with them. Mercifully, they soon moved to unoccupied seats across the aisle. Later, I witnessed some infant Gauleiter Deutsche Bahn employee rage violently and throw shit around the bar car’s kitchen. Willkommen in Deutschland. A very creepy reintroduction to the country.
We checked into the Swissotel on the Augsburgerstraße for some much-needed luxury, or so it seemed to us – nice amenities, clean rooms, well-designed, with a good bar and restaurant. Our room looks out across the Kü’damm to the Café Kranzler.
Today we walked three blocks to the Käthe Kollwitz Museums, where S., transported, remains as I write and eat risotto. Berlin is more like home and after jet-lagged London, foreign Riga and smug Amsterdam, it’s a real relief. And I can almost speak the language.
It suddenly occurs to me that today I have had everything a man needs: love, art, food, wine, coffee and tobacco.