Winding Up

Hello All

Feeling a little touristed out I promised myself a woolly time today. Afterall I needed my Berlin ball of wool for the scarf-shawl-thingy didn’t I? The thingy is growing and the Leipzig mixed twist is rather splendid:

(Good grief hope Mr T isn’t ordering room service….) but I think it is ready for a calming influence. Where to go? A shufty on the Internet produced several candidates but from the pictures and website Wollen Berlin called to me. I was right to follow my instincts as near Ostkreuz S-Bahn at Gartnerstrasse 32, 10245 Berlin I found a haven of wooliness set in a lovely part of the city.

The assistant (who on checking the shop website was Caro) could not have been more helpful. She guided me to some German wool by ‘Hey Mama Wolf’. Looking at the Leipzig mixed twist we were both drawn to the same colour, not the most striking hue but spot on to stop the thingy being overwhelmed by a craziness of mixed yarns … the less is more.

Now while Hey Mama Wolf may call this Meadowsweet I have it in my mind as Berlin Senf (ignore my misspelling on the label, I couldn’t spell check while drinking tea at Hackescher Markt) as it reminds me of the colour of delicious German mustard.

Berlin Senf is created from German Merino sheep – not as soft as the Australian Merino but wonderful in it’s own Germanic way – and hand dyed. Like the Amsterdam yellow it is a bit finer than double knit so I asked if the 100g skein could be wound into two 50g balls so I could double up the strands. This was no problem and Caro was soon putting the yarn on the winder ready to make two neat balls of wool. While she set up I got busy snapping photos of the drool-worthy shelves of yarns. Note all the knitted and crocheted examples for customers to see how the worked wools look.

Skeins can be like life sometimes they get in a bit of a tangle and are then trickier to unravel. While I had been taking photos my skein had begun to misbehave.

Strange though this may be I like sorting out knots and tangles so I happily offered to hand wind my wool. What a pleasure to sit untangling the yarn and talk wool and sheep. Don’t you love woolly folk? It doesn’t take much to keep us happy. I managed to become happier still, not only did I finish my winding for the Thingy but I also got ….

Icelandic wool…I can barely contain myself ….. warm mittens…..ooooh yes… know you want some ….

With a halo that was now beyond wonky it was time for a church. Negotiating the S-Bahn (overground) I made may way to the biggest church available, Berlin Dom (Cathedral).

It’s interior was stunning

However I was distracted from my usual interest in the organ by the contents of the crypt. Berliner Dom crypt contains a macabre collection of sarcophagi containing the earthly remains of the Prussian royal family some dating back to the 1660s. I found it all a bit peculiar. Even though morbid curiosity overtook me – turns out my halo completely slipped – I couldn’t help but wonder if these aristocrats realised they were to become exhibits. It didn’t strike me as resting in peace. Bizarre.

Outside with a little sigh of relief I was on the island of museums. You can rest assured Berlin’s sizo-meter did not fail.

In my turn I made a sizeable decision. I would not visit them as I knew I would find it frustrating to rush around for a few hours and not completely enjoy the pleasure of taking time to view the artefacts. Oh well … I will just have to come back and spend a week in the Altes Museum alone!

Time to hop on a bus (love that German bus stops have digital updates of the arrival times of the buses and they are FREQUENT!!!!) and wend my way along my favourite route back to the hotel. Blimey they are breeding like ….

He was certainly not there last night.

Tomorrow I am off to Prenzlau. So for a while I must bid you adieu as I am having a little time out to meet family …. and I am likely to be without Wifi.

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin city of a big heart and mind blowing architecture.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Underneath the arches

Hello All

I opted for a hop on hop off bus tour today. I really needed an overview of this enormous city. So I hopped on at Potsdamer Platz and away I went with a jolly commentary from our guide. The bus stopped perfectly with the front half in what was East Berlin and the rear in the West. The line of the old wall is marked by a double brick line which snakes along and across the present road system. Potsdamer Platz which is now regarded as a ‘boom town’ was then part of the no man’s land, the death run.

How easily we now pass remnants of the wall which split families – including mine – and friends. Checkpoint Charlie so symbolic of freedom now seems little more than a photo opportunity. My head didn’t really know what to make of it. I so clearly remember the Wall coming down, just before No 1 son was born, and seeing it as a significant sign of better times to come. Now it is in its proper place. A part of history.

After one circuit I felt brave enough to disembark and go solo … for all of five minutes as I decided if one tour why not two? And I boarded a boat for a river borne trip on the River Spree. Apparently the River Spree is a very relaxed sort of a river meandering happily on its way. It is known as the slowest thing in Berlin. No wonder I liked it, think I could beat it into a poor second. Refreshed by a mug of hot chocolate and plate of kartoffel salad (potato salad – it was the only veggie thing on the menu honest!) I wondered what today’s post would be about.

I wasn’t feeling that I had got up close and personal to anything but I was really enjoying being a step removed and floating under countless amazing bridges and suddenly went all arty and started taking pictures of these wonderful structures, This bridge really impressed me.

A thing of beauty? just me? Look at that curved brickwork.

This riverine reverie was not to last. Emboldened by having two tours under my belt I set off on foot and headed in the direction of the Brandenburg Gate. Now on a bus this seemed REALLY close to the river boat trips. In reality it was quite a walk and I was beginning to lose heart when Hallelujah! A tour bus stopped.

On I hopped …. then like a crazy frog off I hopped. It wasn’t returning to the Potsdamer Platz as it was the last run of the day. Lip trembling feet screaming I set off in the direction the guide had indicated. Thank goodness I did because I could get up close and personal (careful, I am British you know…well half of me is) to the stupendous Brandenburg Gate,

And be able to notice the way transport has evolved in an ironic full circle. From horse drawn,

To people pedalled.

Yes, one or the other or both were very tempting to my tootsies but I told them (the toes not the carriages) to get a grip and walked on.

Along the route I passed the Holocaust Memorial (The Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe) a silent and powerful monument to a genocide we must never forget.

A cloud passed through my thoughts. But that is one of the many good things about traveling solo and walking. Time to think and no way to dodge the thoughts you would rather avoid.

But soon I was on familiar ground. Whoopee, Potsdamer Platz I love you. Then home straight back through Marlene Dietrich Platz.

I am sure these fellows were not there last night! No time to wonder where they had come from I was speeded by the need to spend a penny (several by this stage) and positively zipped the last leg of my walk and was ever so glad to see the hotel and those bonkers chairs in the lobby.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. Here is a vision to make you chuckle. For my party piece today I was leaving the hotel via the twirley door but forgot to get out and had to humiliate myself my going round again. It would not have been so bad except for my fly trapped behind glass impression as I tried to get out just after the opening. Of course the foyer was full to maximise embarrassment. I tried to walk off with as much dignity as possible but was crying with laughter at what a twit I had been. Dignity was impossible. Mx

Evening stroll

Hello All

I have made it to Berlin and I feel that my journey to my father’s home has really begun.

I remember him telling me how when he was a little boy he went with his sister to visit their Tante Matilda in Berlin. Matilda it seems lived in the same apartment block as Marlene Dietrich (this was back in the 1920s). Marlene felt sorry for my father having to listen to his big sister and Aunt chatter and she took him to Berlin Zoo as a treat. What a lovely anecdote and the woman best known for seeing what the boys in the back room will have was certainly kind and thoughtful.

So would you believe the veggie restaurant that I am scouting out is in Marlene-Dietrich Platz a few minutes walk from where I am staying? I had to go there, it would have been rude not to. And this time I found the restaurant I was looking for.

Ok from my photo the Weilands Wellfood cafe does not look all that inviting … blame my picture taking because the food was delicious and hearty.

This was sweet potato and tofu stew and as you can see they don’t stint on portion size. It was just what I needed as somehow – and I don’t know how I had let this happen – I had missed lunch. I know it’s a shocker.

Among my memories of what my parents told me is that in the early 1950s my father and mother came to Berlin to meet some of his family. This was pre-Wall Berlin. On my way here I was thinking my mother was only in her early twenties at that time and did not speak a word of German. Except for the consolation that she couldn’t terrify unsuspecting taxi drivers with her Moke-German (Moke wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye at that time) it must have been quite intimidating for a lass from Westmorland to arrive in this huge city unable to communicate with anyone except through her new husband. Lovely man that he was I cannot lie my father was an awful translator. My poor mother must have done a lot of smiling and nodding hoping that both were appropriate responses.

I have a smidgen of German .. Duolingo says I am 30% fluent I will have you know… but Berlin’s quite intimidating to me. It has a three story railway station for goodness sake. Anyhow back to my evening stroll.

I was doing my usual walking around like a country hick going ‘Wow’, ‘Goodness’ ‘Oooh’ and snapping random large buildings,

When I noticed a lot of people had cameras and were checking out the lights. Yesterday I got a text from my friend AJ (thanks me dear) telling me about Berlin’s ‘Festival of Lights’. All over the city buildings, monuments and landmarks have been illuminated. I got only a small taste of it tonight. Firstly outside the Weilands Wellfood Cafe.

And then again as I turned up towards Potsdamer Platz

It looks like it is quite a show and hopefully I will see more of it as it lasts the duration of my stay. It certainly gave a jovial atmosphere to the streets with people walking between illuminations to take photographs.

Tomorrow back on the tourist trail. A bus tour maybe or museums or a river cruise … let’s wait and see.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx