Berlin - Test centres seem to be springing up everywhere. In night clubs. Restaurants. Even former bookstores. We highlight five unique locations to get your throat or your nose swabbed - places where the chancellor's been, that served as a backdrop for Hollywood, in the forest, in a club and somewhere a bit more forgotten.
A Mano at Strausberger Platz
He's probably heard the question as often as, "One grappa, please!" at this test centre. At least, that's what I take the eyeroll to mean when I ask: "You gonna try to make contact with my cerebral cortex with your chopstick?" His answer (besides just the eyeroll): "Yeah, yeah." If I was a regular here I would probably recognise the voice. But I'm not, unlike the chancellor, who supposedly loves the place for dinner. I just want a negative test.
Once the receptionist and his companion have taken my vitals, I have to go through the empty dining room back into a party tent. The man with the chopstick awaits. His paper suit makes him look more like something from a crime scene. But he's a waiter. "Please take a seat." He points to a chair. Chopstick in left nostril, then the right. Just in front, not up to the brain. "Done. Result by e-mail in 15 minutes." Translation: Get lost! I'll have the grappa next time. When there's something to eat again. Christian Schwager
A Mano, Strausberger Platz 2, 10243 Berlin. Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-3pm, Sun 10am-4pm. Info at amano-ristorante.de
Max-Taut-Schule in Rummelsburg
On the lawn in front of the Max Taut School in Rummelsburg, far from the main entrance, the school's name stands in large metal letters. The letters area good way to mark time in the queue. If it takes 20 minutes to get from the "M" to the "E", it's clear the wait will be lengthy. Even the briefly distracting questions from the friendly staff - "Do you have any symptoms, sick people in your social environment and your ID card?" - don't help too much.
But you can bask in the glow of Hollywood here: Built in the 1920s, the building was transformed into Henry Clay High School for the popular Netflix series Queen's Gambit, where Beth Harmon played chess genius. In the series, the metal letters were replaced by a wall that bore the fictitious high school's name instead. Otherwise, the Berlin original is easily recognizable. Inside, no chess, just a man in a protective suit: "Next, please!" Philip Aubreville
Testzentrum Berlin Ost, Max Taut Schule, Fischerstrasse 36, 10317 Berlin. Mon-Sun 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Info at test-to-go.berlin/testzentrum-berlin-ost/
Müggelturm in Köpenick
When the weather is good, there are people everywhere. Usually. On the outskirts of Berlin, in Köpenick, the forest lures you for a walk and the Müggelturm's crazy views lure you to linger. But corona has put the brakes on all that. And the Müggelturm is celebrating its comeback as a pandemic fighter. Owner Matthias Große opened a rapid test centre about a month ago. And that's a good thing, because there is still room for improvement in testing, especially on the outskirts of the city.
The Müggelturm is easy to reach by car. And you don't need an appointment. Just drive by between 6am and 10pm Monday through Sunday. The 50 testing booths are small green pop-up tents in the Turm's restaurant. Each with a chair. A small group of Martians - men and women in typical corona protective suits - swab. Sticks in - done. Wait on the usually bustling terrace for 15 minutes and an employee will arrive with the results. Negative, usually. Dajana Rubert
Köpenicker Corona-Test-Zentrum, Straße zum Müggelturm 1, 12559 Berlin. 6am-210pm daily. Info at müggelturm.berlin
Club Havanna in Hauptstraße 30, Schöneberg
Friends had already told me about the tests at Club Havanna. The utensils are stored in cocktail glasses and salsa sounds would automatically pop into your head. Testing here is very pleasant, literally under palm trees, between thick leather colonial-style sofas and with a view of the real Corona lettering behind the bar.
And everything is incredibly fast. And friendly! "This way please! Spit test or swab? May I just have your code .... yes, thank you, that's enough, you'll be notified in 10 minutes" - And you're already back outside in the bizarre courtyard behind house number 30 on Schöneberger Haupstraße. Hardly larger than the usual backyards of the Gründerzeit, this one has been given a name and commemorates Hans Litten, an anti-fascist lawyer who took his own life in Dachau in 1938. A pond has been laid out on the square, on the shore of which a stone eagle figure with outstretched wings seems to have just landed; a scrawny pine tree also holds its ground in the shadow of the mighty building in front. The e-mail arrives with after just five minutes. The test is free but a bottle of Corona will run you €5 at Havanna. Petra Kohse
Corona test centre at Club Havanna, Hauptstr. 30, 10827 Berlin. Mon-Sat 7am-1.30pm Info at testcenter.berlin
SEZ on Landsberger Allee
A banner and a fading orange-red-purple facade: Corona Testcenter in the SEZ on Landsberger Allee. Free of charge, senior-friendly, with or without an appointment, only 15 minutes.
Quick visit for a short trip into the past. Behind the construction fence, an East German legend well past its best years that was opened a good 40 years ago in March 1981 by Erich Honecker himself. Admission to the sports and recreation centre then cost 50 pfennigs. It was the largest of its kind in the world: an ice rink, wave pool, dancefloor, chessboarsds, restaurants. Millions and millions of visitors, millions and millions of memories.
Now a plain orange arrow, painted on the metal ramp towards the main entrance. This way. A young woman at the reception desk types in data but the technology is lacking - it's the centre's first day. Paul will come in a minute for the test, she says. But Paul doesn't come. Instead, it's Silas dressed and masked in a medically impeccable manner.
A devotional walk into the belly of the legend to the fresh test cabins. Longing look through windows at swimming pool tiles. Double nose swab, caressingly soft, Silas has the hang of it. Then in an elegant curve to the main entrance. Want to wait or should we e-mail the result? E-mail. I have to go forward, out of the past. Bettina Cosack
Easytestcenter at SEZ-Berlin, Landsberger Allee 77, Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, Sat 9am-1pm, Sun 9am-1pm. Info at easytest.berlin