Our 4th floor neighbors threw an afternoon BBQ in the backyard. We didn't know what to expect, but this turned out to be a truly great afternoon. Oddly enough, that morning, when I got back from my run, I ran into the woman (names withheld for reasons explained in a bit), as she was hauling ice up. I offered to help, but she declined. I was pretty sweaty, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt ;-) Later she told me she was frazzled.
We ventured down, to find the 4th floor folks, and a couple of their friends, as well as all their kids. As we came to find out, the 4th floor tenants actually own the building! They were very friendly, as were their friends. They already had a nice spread of food laid out, and immediately got beers into our hands, so this was off to a great start right away! The kids also started to play together pretty quickly as well.
The husband of the first floor tenants, who'd we'd briefly met before, and his daughter arrived, as well as a few more of the owner's friends. It was interesting to me how quickly and easily the conversation flowed as we all sat around the table eating some great cheese, salami, pickles and so on. We did have to take occasional pauses to deal with the bees, who were pretty thick, the 4th floor wife unfortunately wound up getting stung as well.
I truly enjoyed talking with all the folks. The range of work folks did was great: film director, investment banker, real estate reporter, writer & TV studio technician, software (me), auditor, and probably a couple I've missed. Furthering the interesting mix was the combinations of ethnicities and countries of origin (which I'm not sure I even fully untangled) - Egyptian-German, Egyptian-American, Australian, American, German, and a couple I'm not sure of (and almost certainly not amongst these). Also, one very inquisitive and talkative kid that we had a lot of fun talking to.
Conversations covered things such as books, German bread being the best (but now some folks slipping in some sub-par shit, shame on them!), movies, Cairo, Sydney, Melbourne, Oregon, Morristown (New Jersey), tons on Berlin, software and of course HotelTonight :), learning languages, German bureaucracy, German efficiency, buying German real estate, writing, making movies, homeschooling, international schools, food, and much more. The conversations flowed so easily and casually, and it was really just so much more enjoyable than I guess what I'd expected. I have to say, I love hearing the perspectives of folks that have lived in, or are from other countries. This is one of the reasons I want to be here - to absorb and witness a lot more/different culture. I like that the kids are seeing this too, and hearing a lot of these topics.
We thought we'd be at the BBQ maybe 2 hours, and then were planning to go to MountMitte (a ropes course). But, we had such a good time, that we wound up there for almost 5 hours, helped them clean up (which was handy, as we got a tour of the owner's 2-story top floor apartment), and have a nice feeling of knowing who our neighbors are. There will be some tenants coming in to the 3rd floor (nobody there now) this coming week. We hear they have a daughter, and Venice is really hoping she's her age.
However, I'd say the biggest surprise of all was Xander's reaction. He's been very shy and unwilling to go down and play when some of the other kids have been in the backyard. But, he, unprompted, told us how much he liked the BBQ, how much fun he had, and said thanks for taking him to it. Really cool, and I hope gives him that bit more confidence for the next one. I know Venice also enjoyed it, and is planning to send notes down to the younger girl who lives on the floor below, via the balconies and some tree vine system she's conjured up. Xander also plans to play Minecraft with one of the boys he met (son of one of the friends, not a tenant). Finished the day with such a warm and great feeling about where we are.