Mark JohnstonMARK IN BERLIN Mark Johnston August 26 Germany, Travel 5 Comments All I wanted was some late dinner and some Advil. Suddenly there were glamorous, high-heeled women stepping out of the shadows on the side walk and acting real friendly—but in German, so I didn’t understand a word, except one who said, “cuckoo.” I might have thought upon arriving in Berlin, all alone and missing my wife, that I’d suddenly become irresistible to the opposite sex, but no. Thankfully, an hour earlier, I’d been briefed on these overly-friendly ladies by my friend Djamila and was even provided with a hand-drawn “Hooker Safe Zone” map which I was now ignoring. In need of a late night snack—aka the dinner I should have had five hours ago—and some Advil cold medicine, I braved the friendly streets of Berlin, passing bars and bottle shops while dodging the advances of these prostitutes. Dozens of them. Then in the dark of night I spotted a sign glowing brightly, “Apotheke.” I had no idea what that meant either, but it looked exactly like a pharmacy and, close to midnight with lights glowing from within, it looked open! Only after crossing the street did I realize that the orange vans with flashing lights parked outside were ambulances. Ambulances whose crews were working inside the pharmacy on a man who appeared to have dropped dead by the front door. It didn’t look good, so I moved along figuring my sniffle could be treated in the morning as they obviously had more pressing issues to attend to. Thankfully, back across the street, I saw another bright sign, “Kebab,” and that I did understand. Crossing to the restaurant that was blaring 90s rap, I faced a Seinfeld-soup-kitchen like experience as I muttered my order for two chicken kebabs. Slightly intimidated, I kept it simple and said, “everything,” while making a wide, sweeping gesture over the selections of toppings and spices when asked. Good choice. The first kebab, which I ate while standing in the street watching the commotion back at the pharmacy, was delicious. The second I wrapped in tinfoil before heading home, passing the only other fast food joint I’d earlier avoided because of the hooker standing right out front, (I’d worried she’d mistake my need for fritters and fries as a need for something else). Tucking my wrapped kebab like a football under my arm, I wove my way back up the sidewalk, dodging attempted caresses, wishing my wife was by my side to fend off anymore approaches. I admit though, there was one moment I laughed at the thought of buying their “services,” just for laughs when my friends Mike and Djamila returned to their home—where I was staying— to find me entertaining company and sipping juice at their kitchen table. “Hey guys, I met this friendly lady on your street and we really hit it off. Berlin is wonderful!” But in all seriousness, thanks to friends Mike and Djamila for putting me up in their home for several days, even as I suffered with a cold and during the week of their anniversary. You guys are wonderful! 5 Responses Heidi August 26 Finally! An advantage to being a woman traveling alone. All the tips I found online could fall under the header “things women have to worry about while traveling solo that men never even have to consider.” I was never approached by prostitutes. Drunk men wanting sex, yes. But never prostitutes. I’m glad you and Britnee have rejoined forces. Mark Johnston August 27 Haha, thanks Heidi. Me too.