Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Berlin - A Food Tour, Some Street Art, A Light Show And The Berlin Wall - Part One

Here I am finally finishing the story of our trip to Berlin last October. It will be a long post but I've decided that it's better to get it done than start splitting it into two. Saturday morning was the day that we'd booked places on the Berlin Food Tour and the photo above shows the group with our guide Bastien who owns the Berlin Food Tour company. We were nicely international with an Israeli couple, three Americans, a Scottish couple and four of us from England. I'm right in the middle in case you're wondering:) All the photographs will enlarge if you click on them.

Our meeting place was Katjes Cafe Grun-Ohr on Rosenthaler Strasse. After introducing ourselves to each other we started our tasting with lovely freshly baked Brownies and also Katjes vegetarian bunny gummies both of which were delicious, in fact I bought packets of the gummies for my grandchildren. A little further down the street was Lindners where among other things we tried Berliner Frikadeller which was really tasty. These are a sort of flat patty made of ground pork and beef seasoned with crispy bread, eggs and onions. There was also a sample of Leberkase which translates as liver cheese, this was the only thing on the whole tour that I really didn't like. However the piece of butter cake that followed was fantastic. Bastien later sent me a recipe for butter cake though I confess I haven't tried it yet. Note to self - must find it and give it a go:)

At this point Bastien took us down a narrow alley to show us some of the street art that Berlin is famous for - this delighted my daughter as street art was something she had particularly wanted to see. More of this later as we returned after the food tour finished. The face on the wall is Anne Frank by the way.

Next on the list was Doner kebab at All in One which apparently does the best Doner kebabs in Berlin and quite possibly the best anywhere. I confess that I had never had this before as it never looks very appetizing when I've seen it in this country. I'm glad I was persuaded to try it though, it was fantastic. What looks like a large orange lamp at the back of the photo is actually a 60 kilo piece of beef which rotates on a spit all day. There was plenty of choice of nice fresh looking salad to go with it as well.
A bakery called Hopfisterei was our next port of call and here we tried German rye bread and some delicious fresh pressed organic apple juice. The bakery dates back to 1331 and once served the Bavarian Royal family

Hackescher Hofe, reached through an arched entrance on Rosenthaler Strasse, is a series of eight interconnecting courtyards dating from 1906. It was,and still is,a mixture of apartments, bars, shops,restaurants and businesses. It's a rare example of art nouveau architecture in Berlin and is both extremely pleasant and very interesting to walk through. Our foodie stop here was Eat Berlin which is a wonderful deli where I bought some pistachio honey for myself and a bottle of Berliner Senfsauce for my husband which was very warmly received indeed:) I could have filled a suitcase with goodies from this shop.

This was my favourite shop! Eisenbergs have the most fabulous pastries including wonderful macarons in all kinds of flavours. Other tastings on the tour were coffee - incredibly strong rather like Turkish coffee - a wine tasting, cheesecake at Barcomis which is famed for its American baked goods, curry wurst - in my case just wurst as I don't like curry at all but it was extremely good just on its own - and finally a refreshing beer at Brauhaus Lemke. This is a small micro brewery but they do food as well and as it happened Juliette and I had eaten there the previous evening and already knew how good the beer is:)  We really enjoyed this tour and we were with a very nice and friendly group of people which made it even better.

Along with food we learnt some history, I had no idea that Martin Luther King visited Berlin in 1964. Not only West Berlin but also East Berlin which is the part of Berlin where we were staying and where the food tour took place. This board outside the Marienkirche commemorates his visit to deliver the evening sermon to a packed church on September 13th 1964. I believe that the American Embassy had confiscated his passport to prevent him from visiting East Berlin but at Checkpoint Charlie the border guards recognised him as the famous Civil Rights leader and let him pass when he showed his American Express card as identification. How true this is I don't know of course but since he certainly was in East Berlin it sounds quite likely. I have a lot of time for Martin Luther King, his death was a sad loss to the world.

Grosse Hamburger Strasse was one of the main streets of Berlin's Jewish quarter and outside the city's oldest cemetery stands this little memorial representing a group of Jews being led to their deaths. The cemetery dates back to 1672 and looked very tranquil and beautiful. It would have been nice to have looked round it but there wasn't time nor are tour groups allowed inside though individuals can wander round quite freely.

We came across many of these small brass plaques set into the pavement. They are called Stolpersteine - stumbling stones. They are set outside the homes of people who were victims of Nazi oppression and although most of them commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust there are also Stolpersteine commemorating Romani people, black people, homosexuals, mentally or physically disabled people all of whom were victimized by the Nazi regime.

Once the Food Tour was over Juliette and I returned to Rosenthaler Strasse so that she could have a proper look at the street art. This isn't really my thing so while she wandered round I went into a tiny museum which is also situated on this little alley. It tells the story of a man called Otto Weidt a visually impaired broom and brushmaker who employed many Jews at his workshop at 39 Rosenthaler during the 1930s. I believe that Otto Weidt is the man in the centre of the front row behind the lady who is sitting on the floor. The museum is in the building where Otto's workshop was and the rooms are preserved pretty much in their original state.

As tensions in the country grew, Weidt endeavoured to protect his mostly blind and deaf employees from persecution and deportation, bribing the Gestapo, falsifying documents, and eventually hiding a family behind a backless cupboard in one room of his shop. Otto survived the war  and established an orphanage for the survivors of the concentration camps but sadly he died of heart failure in 1947 aged 64.

This is a view from the window of 39 Rosenthaler in the 1930s.....

.....and the view from the same window today.

Outside they were preparing for Halloween.

There were three or four flights of stairs inside one of the buildings and every surface all the way up was covered with art. I gave in and was persuaded to go and look at it all, I was informed that I needed to broaden my horizons:) We also paid to go into a sort of show? experience? in a cellar. It was pitch dark and the floors were a soft rubbery material both of which affected my balance which is fine in daylight but rubbish in the dark so Juliette had to hold my hand to make sure I stayed upright:) It was actually great fun as it was filled with automatons that suddenly appeared out of the darkness and did all kinds of things. The artists who built them were undoubtedly very clever and much to my surprise I really enjoyed it .

By this time it was beginning to get dark so we decided to go back to the hotel to have a short rest before going out for the evening. Bastien had told us that was some sort of Festival of Lights on  so we thought we might as well have a look at it. Right, I've decided to give in and make this two posts! I shall go back to the title and add Part One to it:)


Lynda (Granny K) said...

You certainly seem to be broadening your horizons! Wobbly floors? Sure it wasn't the beer?!

Patricia Ellingford said...

It sounds as though you had a really good informative trip and learnt so much. Makes very interesting reading. Thank you Rowan looking forward to the next tranche/instalment. Tricia xx

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

This is all fascinating. (I think I would have been to frightened to go for the wobbly-floor experience.)

Mac n' Janet said...

Your food tour sounds wonderful and I know that we want to do one when we go next year.

Rosie said...

I've enjoyed reading and re-reading your post as there were so many interesting things to learn about. Your food tour sounds wonderful and I love your photos of the Art Nouveau architecture, street art and statues. It looks as if you saw so many wonderful things during your visit:)

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

Marvellous Rowan!
I've heard so often the phrase 'you have to go to Berlin' and I can see why.
I flicked through your photos first and felt sad when I saw the bronze statues, I wasn't surprised when I read who they were.
I've read a lot about both the 1st and 2nd Workd Wars, I'm no expert but my husband is.
A food tour is a great way to learn about.the culture of an area, it tells the story.
My French son-in-law loves downer kebabs and they do them very well in France too. I recognised what it was immediately!
I really enjoyed your narrative - thank you.
I'm looking forward to your next instalment!

Bovey Belle said...

Danny loved Berlin and would happily have stayed there I think. Gabby went last Winter, and hated it - Danny said she'd been to the wrong bits! The rest of us have yet to go.

It certainly looked and sounded very interesting from your post. I think the kebab you had there was an ocean apart from what passes as one in the UK!

Sandra Cox said...

What a trip of a lifetime. I had no idea Berlin was known for its street art. The bakeries sound wonderful and I loved the Halloween picture:)

Lowcarb team member said...

Your food tour sounds great.
I recently watched a Rick Stein programme, he visited Berlin for the weekend, including food hostelries, it was excellent.

All the best Jan