My Ryanair flight suffered a two-hour delay while they tried to fix a broken radio, discovered it was unfixable, and transferred us to another plane, but I had the best kind of seat neighbour - chatty without being invasive - and Funeral in Berlin, which I must have read in my teens but of which I remembered nothing, so I didn’t mind.
Once the flight got under way it was smooth and fast, with icy rivers and snowy fields to look at. Soon we had landed and I was on a train heading to the Hauptbahnhof, gazing out at a golden evening and an undeniably foreign cityscape of blocky buildings and steel bridges.
Arakin had put me in touch with a friend of his who suggested we meet in town after I arrived so she could show me round a bit while he finished his working day. Thus I met Cleo, who was one of the best things to happen to me in a weekend of many great things. We enjoyed a restorative Starbucks before checking out Checkpoint Charlie and the tethered World Balloon, sadly closed for the night and destined to be unavailable due to poor weather for the rest of my stay.
Shivering through -8° temperatures, we headed for Arakin’s flat, so I could drop off my bag, then to a nearby Chinese restaurant, where we met my furry writer friend Rob, who also works in Berlin, three other local furries, and finally Arakin himself.
I was somewhat concerned by the number of jiaozi dumplings ordered, which exceeded a hundred, but we ate them all, washed down with several bottles of the mysteriously-named Schankwein, which turned out, of course, to be house wine.