At the end of October, I took the last week of my annual leave for 2012 and with Sybille, visited Berlin for a few days, before travelling back to Prague via Wittenberg.
We were kindly hosted by our two friends, Alex and Bernd, who live in Wannsee on the south-western edge of the German capital city. On Monday 22nd October, we drove north-west from Prague along the motorway to the Czech-German border near Dresden, before heading northwards on the German autobahn to the outskirts of Berlin. Then, following Alex’s instructions, we carefully made our way to the street where their apartment is located.
Unfortunately, Alex’s last instruction, said ‘turn right’ when it should have said ‘turn left’. But we eventually spotted the correct house number on the opposite side of the street and, as there was the ideal gap between two parked cars, I pulled across the street and successfully reverse parked into the gap. We locked the car, rang the doorbell and were warmly greeted by Bernd – Alex was out walking the dog.
We had not been in the apartment for more than five minutes when the doorbell rang. Bernd went and answered it. It was the resident of another apartment in the block, an Erster Polizeihauptkommissar of the Berlin Police.
“Do you have guests from Prague staying with you?”
“Yes,” Bernd replied.
“Could you please ask the driver to go at once and turn his car around one hundred and eighty degrees? It is facing the wrong way! If their car is allowed to stay parked like that, others will start doing the same thing and will completely disrupt order in the neighbourhood.”
Bernd returned to us in the sitting room and, with a wry smile, recounted his conversation at the door with his near neighbour. Not wanting to cause any future hassle for Alex and Bernd, I duly went out and moved my car. Already under the windscreen wiper was the Erster Polizeihauptkommissar’s card. Written on the back was his clear instruction – ‘Bitte richtig herum parken‘ – ‘Please park the right way’.
Sybille has not lived in Germany since 1999 and describes herself as a ‘Germaphobe German’. After that little incident, I fully understand why 🙂