After 6 months in Berlin, I’m feeling pretty well-ensconced in my surroundings, and nowhere more so than a little pub in Kreuzberg by the name of Blarney’s. As the name implies, this is an Irish bar, but don’t let that put you off; despite the abundance of green, the obligatory framed map of Ireland, the preponderance of shamrocks and so on, this is a very chill place.
I have yet to try the Guinness – on account of my paranoid distrust of any & all pints of the black stuff outside of the 32 counties – but they’ve got Berliner Pils on tap and that more than does the trick for me. They’ve also got bottles of my favourite soft drink in the world – Fritz Kola natürlich – and they never have problems with their taps, lines or kegs for their various drinks vom Fass.
Then there’s the barman and co-proprietor, Ecki. What a gent this man is… Thoroughly charming, he’s the friendliest German in Berlin – which is lovely, as Berliners do have a tendency to be somewhat reserved at first – and cannot do enough for his clientele. He’s particularly generous to his regulars, bringing drinks to wherever they’re sitting and carrying away the empties whenever required.
My beloved Arsenal were the first reason I ventured to this part of Berlin; it was the nearest place I could find that would show their matches. I subsequently discovered that the place is the home of Berlin’s Arsenal Supporter’s Club, and has been since 2002. Whisper it, but Ecki is in fact a Manchester United supporter (boooooo!) but he is always affable and wishes us Gooners luck before every match (yaaaaaay!). Not for him the tiresome exchange of insults and negativity that pass for ‘banter’ in the UK & Ireland – just absolute affability and willingness to get along. My kinda bloke.
The regulars are a great mix of young and old, with 20 year old fellow Arsenal supporter Fema being the youngest drinker I’ve come across and some other barflies at least in their 70’s if my amateur estimation is correct! It’s a very family-friendly establishment too, with the most entertaining aspect of watching this seasons clash between the Gunners and United at Old Trafford being the vocal encouragement & protestations of a young Arsenal fan who had obviously been brought by her adoring parents – she may have been less than 10, but she was ten times more dedicated than the rest of the club following that day! Point is, the environment is a warm and safe one for any & all patrons.
I’ll certainly be there this Saturday, cheering on the Arsenal with the usual crew – John, Alex, Peter, Ned, Fema, Mad Jens et al – and only having to nod in the general direction of Ecki to have a pint brought over to me. Ah, bliss…
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…