....Last weekend my birthday officially came to an end, nearly a month after it actually took place. That is because Kelly's present was a long weekend in Berlin. I already have a great affection for the city in which I spent 3 months during my St. Martins years.
The door to 59 Strelitzer Strasse, where I stayed years ago.
Berlin shaped my love of photography, architecture, art and a European way of life. So, as you can imagine, nearly 7 years later, this was a much welcome return. There wasn't necessarily anything specific on the agenda for our trip, but to have a good time. And that we did. We were fortunate to be able to stay at Veronika's flat, a friend of Kelly's, which was ideally located in Prenzlauer Berg.
Kelly, Veronika, Roy.
We decided to hire bikes for the time we were away, which made it much more fun and easy to explore the city.
Typically, (certainly on my behalf), there was plenty of food on this trip too and our first port of call after arriving early on Friday was to Anna Blume, a lovely local cafe. The 3 tiered platter breakfast set us off on exactly the right foot.
Anna Blume breakfast
We spent the afternoon cycling between shops and visited the huge C|O photography gallery in a former Royal Post Office before wilting with an ice cream in the sun.
That evening we went to the final show of Veronika's college friends Lisa & Mao. Together they are the textile design collective, REMOTIL.
Lum! is the girls' studio, at which they had their show.
I was hugely impressed by the work on show - to the extent that I plan to follow up with Remotil in regards to buying a piece of furniture. I love the textile design, the colours and innovation but also the remaining practicalities of their pieces.
The show also reminded me of the wonderfully laid back atmosphere at a Berlin Private View. Whereas in London, people are largely there for the free drink and bustling to get one, here, flowers adorned an outside table with snacks and a genuine interest in the work came before the beer.
Kelly popped out to buy food for our own breakfast in the flat, whilst still basking in the morning sun.
We jumped on our bikes with a loose plan of vintage shops in the morning and some culture on the menu too. We didn't have much luck at the former, so holed up for a brew in the incredible micro coffee roasters that is Bonanza Coffee Heroes. In this minute place they roast and grind their own beans and sell by the cup or the pack. Fortunately, they also sold cakes!
We then cycled over to the Reichstag on the edge of Tiergarten, but in the mid Saturday rush, it was simply too busy to go up. (Although both of us have done so on previous trips anyway).
We then retreated to the edge of the river for a little picnic in the sun.
Back to more culture, and the poignant Holocaust Memorial. It is one of the most impressive memorials I have ever seen. Initially, when viewing the sea of concrete blocks from afar, you are under the impression they are all the same size and you can walk through them at knee height.
But as you walk further in in to the memorial, you suddenly realise you are being submerged, the blocks soon towering over you. It is architecturally clever, but also makes it incredibly powerful and somewhat more moving.
That evening we decided to check out a relatively new restaurant Cookies Cream, which sits on top of long standing club, Cookies. It was an incredible place - billed as an inventive, modern vegetarian restaurant, it is accessed in obscurity. Off a main road, you have to walk through an industrial delivery depot, where a grand and very much out of place chandelier hangs to give a clue that you're nearby.
The door is made obvious by flickering light bulbs above it, before buzzing in and walking through a pitch black lobby to some stairs leading the venue.
Unfortunately I was unable to take photos once up there, but I can say that we had a fantastic meal. The space was quite industrial, but not as large as I imagined, whilst the food from the open kitchen was superb - click on the image below to enlarge the example menu.
After getting our fill, we stopped for an aperitif in the new King Size bar on Friedrichstrasse, before heading home to bed.
Today we wanted to take advantage of the great flea markets in Berlin, so visited both the vast Flohmarkt am Mauerpark and the smaller Flohmarkt am Arkonaplatz.
We seemed to spend hours in the burning sun, strolling around, amongst the increasingly excitable Germans on World Cup day. We both did pretty well for ourselves in terms of purchases, from a man bag for me, (Dad you will be proud!) and beautiful vintage photo frames amongst others for Kel.
As it was getting nearer to KO time between England & Germany, we grabbed some food at a cafe that was also a trip down memory lane, Cafe Sauer Schwarz is where I ate regularly all those years ago.
Fortunately the food remains as colossal and as good, so we were both very happy to be there. We quickly jumped back on our bikes and cycled across to a beer garden nearer the flat, where we sloped in anonymously amongst 200 German fans.
We remained pretty silent throughout, (which wasn't all that hard to do given the result), and sloped back out again just before the end, dodging the celebratory fire crackers thrown in to the street on the way.
That night we went to the brand new Berlin branch of Soho House. Or Soho Haus if we're being totally correct!
We stayed up on the roof terrace for numerous cocktails and food, basking in the evening sun and then romanticising in the beautiful sunset. It was another beautiful rooftop location that Kelly & I seem to have been luckily afforded a lot of recently.
I will put more about the place in a separate post, but it was a perfect end to a brilliant weekend. Thank you for the present Kelly! x