“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll [opening a bottle of wine with a cutting board] is one of them.”

– J.K. Rowling

Don’t you love undertaking ridiculous projects with strangers? It’s my #1 reason for hosteling. You never know when you’re going to wind up teaming up with a Brazilian backpacker to solve a mystery, or, in my most recent experience, teaming up with a person of ambiguous nationality and gender to overcome the hydra–by which I mean a particularly capable wine cork.

This person, who had become my eating buddy (although I never learned their name), brought a bottle of wine into the hostel kitchen at…ohhhh, 11 yesterday morning, and proclaimed, “Now I have a problem.” The problem, of course, was that there was no corkscrew, because who goes to Heidelberg for the wine anyway? I, being a well-educated American college student, happen to be experienced in the art of makeshift wine openers*, so I set about looking for a Sharpie, that most typical implement of communal living situations. But in Germany, the markers are not Sharpies, and they are wider than Sharpies, so they don’t fit into the neck of a wine bottle.

And so the battle began. As the other hostel guests cut a wider and wider berth around us on their way to the kitchen, we battled with the wine bottle. First we found a metal chopstick and shoved that in there. My intention was to push the cork in, but my partner wanted to pull it out, shoving a vegetable peeler over the protruding end of the chopstick for leverage. That didn’t work, so we took off the vegetable peeler and started beating the end of the chopstick with a cutting board. That just pierced the cork. My (very strong) friend managed to get the chopstick out, and around that time I found a metal funnel that was slightly narrower than a wine bottle neck, so I stuck that on, and the beating with the cutting board continued. Red wine flew everywhere (I wear my battle scars proudly), and yet the cork was still not completely out of the neck. At this point we were able to continue with a butter knife until finally, in a second shower of wine (hydraulics, you know)–POP! Success!

Before scurrying off, my new friend (see quote above) poured me a glass of wine and shared her snack with me, and we drank a toast to teamwork.

And that is the story of how I acquired wine and a tiny banana.

(picture to follow)

*Other people’s mothers would be disappointed that I was ever so desperate for wine as to learn these measures; my own mother will be just be disappointed that I ever allowed myself to be caught without a corkscrew handy. 🙂

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