77 Albrechtstrasse, Berlin, BRD

In 1985, Kerry and I moved into a sixth-floor apartment at 77 Albrechtstrasse in the southwest part of West Berlin. The apartment was great. It had an enormous balcony that looked out over the rooftops of Steglitz; it was across the street from a lively Greek restaurant; up the street from an equally vibrant Italian restaurant; right on a couple of major bus lines; a couple of blocks from the Teltow Canal; and surrounded by grocery stores and shops of all kinds. Honestly, the only drawback was the apartment's address, and it was only an issue when I found myself nearly passed out in a taxi after having had too much to drink. "Sieben und siebzig Albrechtstrasse, bitte." Throw down half a dozen or more beers and try saying that without butchering it. No doubt the average Berliner with years of practice under his belt would have no problem rattling it off. But this American, even with four years of German in high school, and, I don't mind saying, a fair command of the basics of German, found that excessive drinking and trying to utter my own street address did not mix well. Fortunately, cab drivers must have been pretty good at interpreting my slurred attempt to do the "When in Rome" bit, because I always managed to get back home. Other than that one self-induced shortcoming, it was a great place to live for a year and a half.  I used the address in my first spy novel, Switchback, as the location for a KGB satellite office. I had to stretch things a bit when I put the address in East Berlin, the prerogative of an author. And my relegating the address to a place of suspicion and intrigue is by no means indicative of how I feel about the apartment. Quite the contrary. With the exception of not being able to pronounce its address, my memories of the first apartment Kerry and I shared are nothing but fond.