… meaning “Berlin is poor, but sexy”. The words were uttered by Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit during a TV interview in 2004. The catchphrase stuck, and I am starting to see why.
Brunch & the Book Forest
After the storm and the shattered windows, the calm regained the city and we joined our German speaking friends for brunch at Anna Blume. They served us a giant tower with fresh fruit, homemade marmalade, ham, cheese and all the usual brunch stuff, German style.
No, I’m not obsessed with food, people! The mind is also important but it needs to be nourished, that’s all!
And talking about nourishing our heads… next to the Bakery, there is a small bookforest. Tree trunks filled with books, for any bypasser to visit. People can leave their used books and pick up others.
Books do grow on trees!
Mogg & Melzer, a yummy Jewish deli
Now, back to important things…food. (I have Italian and Jewish roots !)
In between two German classes, I escaped to Mogg & Melzer, a New Yorkish Jewish little restaurant. It’s located at the former Jewish girls’ school in Augustraße 11-13.
The history of the ‘Jüdische Mädchenschule’ was dominated by the Nazi regime following its occupation in 1930. Deportations were even carried out in the courtyard. The school was closed and taken over by the Catholic St. Hedwig’s Hospital until the end of the war. In 1966, the building was handed over to the Jewish community but the building remained empty for decades. In 2012, the former school reopened as a ‘Haus der Kunst und Esskultur’ (House of Art and Dining Culture).
It now houses the Museum of the Kennedys, the gallery Fuchs, a mainstay of the photo gallery Camera Work as well as the restaurant ‘Pauly Saal’, the canteen ‘The Kosher Class Room’ and, of course, ‘Mogg & Melzer’.
The interior is sober and trendy, with purple upholstery and nordic tables made of cherry wood.
I had the peach and tomato gazpacho and Oi! was the Nosh delicious!
They offer other American-Jewish classics such as home-smoked pastrami and salt-pickled pickles à la Katz.
(a)Theo cocktail or my favourite drink ever
Germans are known for their beer-drinking proclivity. But they also love ‘schorles’. That is fruit juice or wine mixed with sparkling water, apple-schorle being the most common.
My new personal favourite is rhubarb-schorle. I’m drinking litres of it a day. And since I’m not much of an alcohol-fan, I’m delighted with my recent discovery of an amazing alcohol-free cocktail featuring my fav’ fruit juice.
Street Art at Cafe Cinema
On my way to meet Chris after class, I found myself in Cafe Cinema, the first bar to open up in the Hackescher area after the wall came down. Dark and unpretentious, this movie-themed café boasts incredible street art pieces on the walls of its gallery.
Chilling (digesting) at Monbijou Park
We were told that we could find giant ‘schnitzels’ at the Lemke Brewery, near the Hackesher Market. I have to admit I was a little disapointed; not only was the ‘riesen-schnitzel’ not so giant, but they weren’t that good either.
Plus we were sort of attacked by wasps so, after a little hysteria display on my behalf, we took our stuff inside.
Stuffed to our mouths, we strolled down to Monbijou Park and rested on two deckchairs while sipping some chilly rhubarb schorle and a club mate, an ice tea with a sour mate flavour.
Back in Uruguay, where I grew up, mate is like the national drink, almost a cult. It’s very hot and has a significant social element, as it’s shared in family / among friends. This bottled mate was a bit of an ersatz.
Live in Alexander Platz
Alexanderplatz moved me more than I would have thought. Bustling crowds were busy consuming. Curry sausages, orange juice, beer, crafts from the market, wigs, you name it.
There were also circus-like attractions and you could feel the intensity of the situation. Artists and poor devils trying to make a living out of anything tourists could throw their money at. It all felt sort of pathetic and grotesque. Loud laughter, the hollering of the merchants, the creepy music from the attractions.
And then, amidst all of that, two men playing music under a bridge. They were singing a Leonard Cohen cover of Hallelujah. Beautiful. Stirring. I get shivers just recalling the moment.
Berlin is blowing my mind. How about you? Have you been here? Did you love it? Tell us what were your favorite places, so we don’t miss any pearls!