Well Sir you told me to make it snappy!”
Hello to you ALL on this typically warm and sunny October afternoon. It is normally around this time of year that I actually toy with the idea of putting away my shorts and rediscovering my 3 pairs of jeans in a bid to survive the winter months, but against all odds I’m still perfectly content wearing my flip flops! If I’m being perfectly honest I’d completely forgotten about Germany’s notoriously Mediterranean climate so I needn’t have packed so many clothes (if only). The overwhelming number of customers that have flooded Gasthof Stern’s Biergarten over the past 3 days would have made many believe that we’re still at the height of summer, however I’ve been informed that it’s not just the weather that’s raking in the punters, alas no. October 2nd being Erntedankfest (harvest festival of thanks) and October 3rd being German Unity (1990), the first weekend of October is traditionally the busiest of the year for the hotel. Luckily enough the Gasthof Stern team and myself were on hand to feed and inebriate the 5000.
A quick note before I bombard into the weekend’s events if I may. You may recall a certain character called Andreas whom I mentioned a couple of posts back (the builder whose accent I just couldn’t get to grips with), well he popped up again. On Friday I bumped into him and as you do we had a good old chin wag (he attempted his best Hochdeutsch) during which he told me about an intern from Berlin who’s currently working for him. Funnily enough this intern, who’s a native German himself, cannot understand a word of what Andreas says either, which just goes to show how difficult different dialects can be to understand! It made me feel SO much better. My colleague Anke recounted another telling story about her uncle who hails from Franconia, that when on holiday in East Germany was asked whether he was Swedish. I’m still trying my best to adopt a Franconian accent nevertheless!
So. On Friday evening Bernd let me know about how busy it was scheduled to be over the weekend, we’d had one booking for 70 people for two days and that got me a bit worried! I’d taken a punt at all aspects of the waitering business during my first week, but I was to be spending the whole weekend behind the bar, making all the drinks, cleaning all the glasses and then putting them away. There would be drink orders coming in constantly during these two days and unfortunately there wouldn’t be much time for rest. If the pressure became too much then I was to call Bernd and he’d help me out (Holst du mich!), but nevertheless I had some huge responsibility going on! What you can see above, particularly to your left, is the main machine used to pour the beers: Keller, Helles, Radler, Pils, Walli, Dunkles, Wein uzw. In the drawers below live the different varieties of wines and soft drinks, and behind all of that are stacked hundreds of glasses. On the Sunday alone, between Bernd and myself, we poured 978 beers! That’s not including the Saturday. What with all of the food orders going on simultaneously, it was like a mad house. In fact, on the Sunday, we made over 8000 Euros, which equalled the previous sales record of the hotel. After all of the drinks that were poured I’ve come to know that beer machine SO WELL! I know which of its buttons it likes to be pushed, how it likes its handles to be pulled (tenderly or vigorously), where to place my hands to get the best effect and head (of the beer!), and where to place the glasses to stop the leaking. My only worry is that Grace is going to be a bit jealous of the intimacy between the machine and myself and how well I’ve come to know it!
What you can see above is one of five different ‘whistling’ figures that come on the drinks tray if you order Schnaps (and Schnaps are ordered a lot out here!). The figures whistle different tunes and to me it’s a quirky Franconian tradition! I’ve tried Schnaps a couple of times since being out here yet still I can’t get my head around why so many of the Germans drink them, Schnaps are gross!
So, both Saturday and Sunday were mind bogglingly busy and at the end of the shifts (around 1am) everybody was knackered. The kitchen staff as well as the waitering staff were on their knees by the end of the evening. One of the cooks called Wolfgang always works with a beer in one hand which makes me laugh, I’d estimate that half of the drinks orders are usually for him! His excuse is that the hot air in the kitchen always makes him thirsty, although he’s got a good point as it’s boiling in there! If ever there’d been a ‘Hard Day’s Night,’ then it was those days.
Anyway it’s not been all work work work, although the vast majority has :). During my lunch break a couple of days back I headed down to watch the local football team SV Göβweinstein entertain another team in a cup match. If I’m being brutally honest, a little in the style of Mark Lawrenson, then I must confess that the quality of the football wasn’t all that great! Yes, there was the odd pass that could arguably have penetrated even the most solid of defences (most certainly Arsenal’s), but on the whole the most memorable moments were the abnormally high number of mistimed and dangerous tackles! Either these two teams had history with each other or they’d employed Roy Keane and Mike Tyson as head coaches (or simply they were trying to emulate Leeds United of the 1970’s!). The home team prevailed however and so I couldn’t complain, well, not until a random bloke came around with a collection basket and demanded from me 3 Euros for watching the match. I used that typical ploy of innocently stating ‘Ich bin Engländer’ (I’m an Englishman), which always gets the Germans feeling sorry for me, so he let me off. To be fair I’d have been pretty peeved at having to pay 3 Euros for sitting on a patch of overgrown (PUBLIC) grass and watching an event which had been advertised as a football game in the actual guise of a kick boxing match!
I’ve almost been here for almost two weeks which is absolutely crazy. On the one hand the time has flown by, on the other it feels like a lifetime (probably because the shifts are so long). Either way this is turning out to be a really invaluable experience for me and I’m learning all the time. Thank you everybody for all the comments, advice and support so far. Thank you especially to Grace for making my day when you speak to me on Skype and my family for writing letters, talking on the phone, Skyping, and generally making sure that I’m doing the best that I can. I love you all lots. Best of luck to all my fellow German students currently on their year abroad. Special shout outs go to: Emma Sawers, Tom Morgan, Ellie Sweeney, Matthew Williams, Chris Cooper, Jack Levent, Anna Gledhill, Camilla Swan, Rebekah Ahmed, Libby James, Sophie Goss, Eyan Sham, Alex Piney, Tom Allen, Lindsay Coleman and Hannah Prince.
Enjoy the weather in England everybody, I’m sure that it will last knowing the global warming!