The Virtual Race
Leg 5
Drinking & Driving in Deutschland

A Place To Wait and Contemplate
Patrick: Guten tag from Germany, everybody! Well, it looks like it's my turn to report in again, and I'm happy to tell you that this leg went much better for us than the previous one, in Senegal. You'll remember we ended up in seventh place after having terrible luck with taxis. I'd call it a case of taxi karma except we'd been pretty good about tipping our drivers up to that point! In any event, we started out the fifth leg of the race with a lot of ground to make up.

That saying about war being endless hours of boredom punctuated by moments of absolute panic? That could apply to The Amazing Race, too.
Fortunately we were able to catch up with the lead racers almost immediately, because the Slave House, which was our first check point, didn't open until 8:30am, well after all the teams were under way. We spent most of the time sitting just outside the Slave House, talking with the other teams. That's one thing you don't get a sense of on the show - there's a lot of down time, even during the race. That saying about war being endless hours of boredom punctuated by moments of absolute panic? That could apply to The Amazing Race, too.

Anyway, people got to talking during the long wait, and there was some jockeying for alliance partners. By this time in the race, Kimber & I were on pretty friendly terms with everyone (with one notable exception - three guesses as to who that might be), but we still didn't want to get tied up in an alliance. I was a little concerned when I saw Freddy and Aaron working together, but Kimber waved it off. "They have to deal with their partners," she pointed out, "and you have to admit, I'm a dream to race with compared to Kendra or Hayden."

She was right, but I grumped, "I don't have to admit anything." She responded by slapping me in the arm with a loud BAP!

A few hours later, Kimberly & I were the third team to enter the Slave House. Kimber had been quiet ever since the sun had come up, and now as we walked in, she said softly, "There but for the grace of God." I wasn't sure what to say to that, so I just gave her a hug. We stayed for what we hoped was a respectful amount of time, then exited to get the next clue sending us to Berlin.

Taxing Taxis
Goreé Island is pretty small, so we had no problem finding our way back to the ferry terminal. Unfortunately one of the ferries had just departed, so all the teams behind us caught up while we were waiting, including Don & Mary Jean, who started working up the other racers for cash. Don & MJ were trying to maintain an upbeat attitude, but they looked tired and a little defeated. We were pretty convinced they wouldn't last much longer in the race, but we gave them $10 anyway. They're great people and we didn't want to see them eliminated because of money issues. And if that $10 contributed in any way to Jonathan & Victoria losing, well, we figured that would be $10 well spent.

The ferry ride back to the mainland was quick. Once we got off the ferry, we ran to an area filled with taxis, but they were either like our Derelict Dodge Dart of Death yesterday or snagged by other racers or ferry riders. "I swear, it's like we've been cursed or something," Kimber moaned as she tried waving down yet another cab.

"Come on, Kimber, it's not like we insulted any gods or anything!" I called after her. She turned around, then started going apeshit. I looked where she was pointing to see a taxi bearing down on me! I leaped out of the way and the cab roared past with its horn screaming at full blare. "What do you call that? We must have done something!" Kimber yelled.

We finally managed to get a cab that not only wasn't falling apart but also had an agreeable driver who could move at a good clip. Once we caught up with the other teams at the airport and we got our tickets to Berlin, we felt a little more relaxed. "I hope we've left our taxi troubles behind," Kimber said. "At the very least, the German cabs should be in better shape." We confirmed they were a few hours later when we landed in Berlin and flagged down a Mercedes. I was so happy to see a well-engineered vehicle that I actually kissed the car, much to the amusement of our driver. We jumped in, and I sighed and sank into the back seat of our cab as Kimber told our driver where to go.

Getting Soused at the Brauhaus
We quickly made our way to the East Gallery of the Berlin Wall. It didn't take us long to find the cluebox along the wall, especially since we could see a couple of teams running towards it. "We have to make our way to ... some church," Kimber said. "Getsoutkneeschurch? Getdauchshundkirks? I have no idea how to say that. The name's an inch and a half long!"

"That's why I decided not to take German in school," I laughed at her. "One tonic is plenty, Teutonic is waaaay too much."

We found the Detour clue at the Broken Chain sculpture, and decided to go with the beer task. We'd seen the Good Eats episode on making sausages, which showcased the fragility of some sausage casings, especially those made from pig intestines. Eww, touching pig guts. As if I needed another excuse to make the beer run!

Our taxi driver was familiar with the Detour location, and he drove us there quickly. We ran into the brauhaus, and I was hit with the cheerful sound of accordion music and the delicious smell of fermenting yeast. Mmm! Aaron & Hayden and Freddy & Kendra were already hustling their beer. I had high hopes that Kimber would have some fantastic trick or insight into how to do this task more efficiently, but she just threw down her pack, picked up four full steins, and started moving from table to table. It was just going to take legwork and persistence. And a little bit of drinking on my part. What? It was great beer!

Kimber caught me about halfway through the task, after I'd finished about most of a stein. "What are you doing? We're supposed to get rid of them by giving them away, not drinking them!" she groused. She sniffed at me and wrinkled her nose. "You know how I hate the smell of beer. I'm not going to kiss you until you stop stinking. Besides, you haven't eaten much since this morning, and I can't afford to have you tipsy in case we have to drive a stick shift."

"Oh, come on, honey. I'm sure we'll finish ahead of the other teams. It'd be a real shame to travel all this way and not honor their local traditions. Have a sip!" I lifted up a fresh mug of foamy, nutty goodness and had a taste myself. Ahhh. I felt very, very relaxed.

Kimber made a face. "We haven't got time. Come on, Patrick! God. You can take the fratbrat out of the frat.... Forget about drinking the beer and let's get this done!"

I reluctantly put the half-empty mug down. She was right, of course. I turned back to the task, grabbing two full steins in my left hand and a third stein in my right for sipping as I searched.

Go, Speed Racer, Go
Five minutes and half a stein of amber nectar later, we found our last coaster. We wanted to take one of the coasters for a souvenir, but we decided it was probably against the rules. We raced Aaron & Hayden and Freddy & Kendra to the cabs and jumped in the lead taxi. When our cab driver said he knew exactly where Teufelsberg was and he knew a quick way to get there, Kimber & I gave each other a look. We knew what we were both thinking, but didn't dare say: we were hoping we'd left our bad taxi luck behind in Senegal.

We kept trading the lead with Freddy & Kendra on the way to Teufelsberg. When we finally arrived, Kimber jumped out and ran for the cluebox even before the cab had stopped moving. And she says I zoom! I ran up just as she finished reading the clue about the soap box derby cars. Kimber started chanting, "It's the Roadblock, and I'm doing it, I'm doing it!"

"But it involves driving, and I've done this kind of racing before," I protested.

"It's not really driving. How hard could it be?" she shot back. "Besides, I'm not tipsy like you are. They're not going to let you go. I'm doing it." Before I could answer, Kimber ran up the track in a flash, singsonging, "Gotta beat Freddy, gotta beat Freddy." She's so cute when she's being competitive. (But don't tell her I said that - she'll kick my ass.) I waited anxiously for her at the bottom of the track, but of course I didn't need to worry. She finished with a time of 35 seconds flat even before Freddy started on the course. Yay!

We got the clue telling us to head to the Pit Stop and we ran for our real cars. "Woo hoo, another Mercedes!" I cheered. I laid myself on the hood and gave the car a hug.

"Okay, okay, enough with the dramatics," Kimber teased as she tossed her pack into the car. "Let's take this hunk of junk home."

I took off as quickly as I could, but we had a little trouble finding our way to Brandenburg Gate. After finally figuring out that we took a wrong turn out of the Roadblock area, we drove in circles near the Gate until we found where we were supposed to park the car. After that little disaster, we ended up winning a footrace with racing Jon & Kris and Gus & Hera for fourth place. We stuck around afterwards to say goodbye to Don & Mary Jean. MJ is as amazing a lady as she appears, and when I told her that, she gave me a hug. I think she got tears in her eyes. Don was crying, of course. I hope Kimber & I are like them when we get older. Er, except for the tearing up all the time on Don's part.

Next week: sometimes, tourists do reap the biggest rewards.

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