You know how when you fall in love with someone? You are utterly goo goo ga ga over how great they are? Exciting, unpredictable (in a good way), friendly. Then you suddenly find them reckless, unpredictable (in a bad way), and what you took to be friendliness, is actually horniness (and they hit on all your girlfriends, all the time)*. Most times that’s when you expedite them to the nearest exit. Except on the very rare occasion where you see them stripped down and you think, yep, I get you and I still love you (yeah, close your mouth dear, I’m as surprised as you are).My guess is that this is probably why almost 95% of love stories are about an unrequited / misunderstood love that is requited / understood for a blink before one or both of them dies. Romeo & Juliet? Had they lived, he would have probably become a shoe salesman and she would sport a bouffant red hair do.
Because it’s complicated, intangible even to express what it is, how it works, why it works? (Oh and if you ask me, the characters of Miracle Max and his wife run circles around all the afore-mentioned lovers.)It’s easy to be in love with someone before all the dots have been connected but once they have, well then you find yourself thinking – “That’s just a stupid drawing of a couple of kittens playing with a ball of yarn. How kitsch, how dull, I was expecting something else, I saw myself with someone better…” dump.It’s sort of the same with cities, you visit once and you think ‘Ah, to live here, I would be the happiest person in the world.’ Then you do and discover that actually you can’t put up with all the dog poop (Paris); all the over 70s (Geneva); can’t afford it (London); all the Hogans sports shoes (Munich); all the motorcycles without mufflers…oh, oh…and the imminent financial collapse (Athens) – you get my drift.But Berlin, Berlin. Well yes: the bureaucrats are exceedingly good at telling you, you haven’t filled in the right form; receiving a flyer that says I must go collect my parcel at the post office leaves me shaking with fear (they’re mean to me); and my eyes roll so far into their sockets every time the supermarket counter girls get up from their seat to make sure I am not wheeling out a lifetime supply of diapers, that I have to pull out my compact mirror to help roll the back into their place. Buuuuuuttttt……The rest of Berlin is fantastic.
You just need to step out of your door and let things happen to you. No plan, necessary, no money even (although that certainly helps).
That’s how I found myself watching an impromptu performance of The Circus of the Cycling Spoons in Alexanderplatz yesterday. (Funny stuff) After having been treated for coffee at the Confiserie Orientale on Linienstrasse by Astrid of Das Isst Berlin (her own company that does food tours of the city).
And today I went to the market at Ackerplatz, after a friend sent me an email with the markets of Berlin that she translated from German into English because she thought I might find it interesting. Give me three whoop, whoops for people out there who perform unsolicited acts of kindness. It’s only a stamp sized market with no more than 15 stands but all your basic necessities are there, a lot of them regional and bio. My highlight was the organic vegetable / fruit stall Naturhof Gaßmann where I picked up some gorgeous swiss chard (having that with roast salmon for dinner tonight), a blue hubbard squash (WHAT a find!) and some incredible musky grapes from Hamburg.Since I had walked and pushed Layla’s pram all the way up there from the Tiergarten end of Mitte, I decided to push on to Däri’s Milk Workshop in Prenzlauerberg which I had been meaning to visit for a year, ever since I had met Stefan at the Berliner Honig thanksgiving dinner last November. Stefan was giving out samples of quark and he was positively mobbed, when I finally made my way to the front and got my own sample, I really couldn’t believe that was quark. No relation to the stuff at the supermarket, none. 0. I was surprised to see that they were selling frozen yogurt instead. Another frozen yogurt place? Really? But listen, bear with me here, if you are going to do it, if you are going to buy frozen yogurt, then buy it here, from them. Stefan studied food science and he explained to me that most places in Berlin use a base that is reconstituted, a bit like using a knorr cube instead of real stock. There is nothing wrong with that of course, it increases shelf life for one. But the stuff they sell at Däri, that is actual frozen yogurt, the real deal. I want some of that quark though, so I guess that is one reason to look forward to winter.
Which will be upon us soon, so get out as much as you can, let all the laundry, accounting and other home bound activities collect dust and step outside and let Berlin happen to you!
Virtual Address Book:
Das Isst Berlin – Food tours in Mitte and Kreuzberg
Däri – Milk workshop, frozen yogurt in the summer, quark in the winter, excellent coffee.
Berliner Honig – Honey collected by bees in the city of Berlin.
Confiserie Orientale – a shop that sells turkish delight, with a pretty section off to one side for tea.
The Circus of the Cycling Spoons – um, a mobile circus I guess, very funny.
The Article in Tip my friend translated for me (in German)
* The person I’m describing here is obviously not my husband, it’s an amalgamation of men I or my friends have dated (and dumped) at one point in time.