"Summer Memories"

Victoria’s Amazing trip to Berlin

‘Amazing.’ Adjective: to cause wonderment or astonishment.

‘Oh, my day has been amazing, the weather has been amazing, my perfume smells amazing.’

Really? Do such things truly qualify as ‘amazing’?

People use this word so much I sometimes want to scream at them. Excuse me but your pasta dish has not moved the earth, it merely tastes pleasant! Alas. Call me a cynic or a pessimist, or maybe just a typically-modest Brit, but ‘amazing’ is not a word I use often, if ever at all…So, to pull a complete U-turn here, when I explain that my weekend in Berlin was ‘amazing’ I truly mean it.

It all began last year when a Friday night discussion in the pub with my boyfriend culminated in me signing up to do the Berlin half marathon. A combination of two of my great loves in life: travel and self-punishing challenge. I’d done this distance before but not for a while and I was feeling a little out of running form, therefore I knew that some serious training would need to take place.

Deciding to complete a big run in early Spring means, however, that all the leg-work (joke intended!) needs to be done in winter, which was quite unfortunate for a sun-bunny like myself. In the weeks leading up to the trip, Saturday mornings were no longer to be spent slowly sipping coffee in a horizontal position and in a slightly hungover state, but vertically and moving at some kind of speed on concrete, gravel, mud and grass. I ran around parks, I ran the route of the tram towards and away from Manchester; I learnt to run up hills and how to drink water on the go.

As the trip got closer, the excitement was building. My boyfriend and I had decided to spend some time in Berlin after the run and we had booked somewhere lovely to stay. Turning it into an excuse to explore the city. The week also coincided with his birthday and what could be a better way to ignore the fact you’re ageing than seeking comfort in a change of scene and a nice salty pretzel?

All seemed great, yet little did we know that my inability to correctly read my school term dates (see the earlier paragraph about where the challenge was conceived!) threatened the whole trip. As a teacher, I am blessed with lots of holidays, but always at particular times: term dates are tablets of very heavy and unmovable stone. This meant that I was supposed to be at work for three of the five days of our trip. Yikes! But I was still determined to do the run and so a plan B formed: I would be there for a mere thirty-six hours and a close friend would fly out on the Sunday evening to take my half of the bed in our cosy little apartment… All hopes of a romantic week away faded quicker than I could ever hope to run.

The Run weekend finally arrived, and I was a real bag of nerves. We offset some nerves by exploring the city on Saturday afternoon (distraction by tall buildings is a great technique!) and then spent our first and only night together ‘tapering’ with tuna sandwiches, lots of crisps and Titanic…Who says romance is dead?

The run itself was gruelling but beautiful and I can honestly say I loved every minute, despite the pain I was beginning to feel towards the end: as I approached the finish line, the only thing on my mind was sitting down with a coffee, yet once I was over the line fatigue was replaced by excitement to see my boyfriend. I found extra energy to bound up to him at the fountain where we had arranged to meet. I had brought him a banana and some strange isotonic that had been thrust into my hand (there’s always ample freebies to be had at the end of a large run!) and I was beaming as the serotonin flowed through my veins.

I started to tell him all about what I had seen on my travels but he seemed slightly distracted and very soon I understood why… ‘Will you marry me?’ ‘Are you joking? Is this a joke?’ He was down on one knee yet I still quite couldn’t believe it. ‘Vicky, will you?’ – ‘This must be a joke. Seriously? Is this real?’ ‘Yes, it is real. Will you marry me? ‘ Once I believed him it was a definite yes. I cried, I jumped and hugged him. I didn’t want the moment to end. Leaving my brand-new ‘fiancée’ and our friend to fly home that evening to go to work was one of the hardest things I have had to do.

The excitement about our future together carried me through passport control and onto the plane, but there were also a number of tearful outbursts on strangers and staff. I couldn’t believe how happy I was and how crazy and wrong it felt to be leaving to go home.

Berlin: it was truly amazing. …And what will we do if we win this voucher? Put it towards some trainers for him so he can run with me next year, as marriage is all about sharing.

 

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