November 21, 2012

Krüpelsee, outside of Berlin

It was a grey and foggy weekend in November, but who cares if you can spend your days in a little apartment right by the water, taking long walks on leafy paths, and warming up by the fireplace with a book that you've wanted to read for so long? 

November 16, 2012

Brot und Oel

It was a dreary afternoon, the coldest day since we have been back in Berlin.
We were walking down Gneisenaustrasse and a first real hint of winter was in the air, swallowing the tip of the blackened church at Südstern.

The bright windows of the bakery Soluna - Brot und Oel drew us in. We peeled off our thick winter layers and sat down at a long wooden table in front of a warm clay oven. We couldn't decide which treat to get - a slice of grilled cibatta bread, a piece of chocolate cake,  a tart?
We started with a simple scone, fragrant and airy, when the son of the owner came from behind the counter and brought us without our asking a tray with baked goods, sliced up for the three of us to try: Schoko Torte with walnuts and carrots; a honey-walnut tart, and a little sweet called apostolo filled with marzipan.

The window of the bakery started to get foggy and we felt warm again. We bought a walnut plum bread for supper and  learned that this bakery has been in Berlin for 5 years now - they must have opened just when we were moving away. Now we are back, and I am planning to return to Soluna, hopefully soon.

Gneisenaustr. 58, 10961 Berlin
030 6167 1191

November 12, 2012


I have very very fond memories of lantern parades when I was a kid. Every November, for St. Martin's Day, my kindergarten group would meet on a dark afternoon in the Allee that led along a river through the heart of our small town; we were walking hand in hand, proudly holding our lantern with a small votive candle inside, fervently singing songs. Ich geh mit meiner Laterne, und meine Laterne mit mir.
The parade was headed by one of our male teachers, clad in a red robe, riding a horse. At the end of the afternoon, there would be soft sugar pretzels.

I was happy when I heard that Nova's preschool also organized a lantern parade. But things are different these days. Instead of little candles burning in the lanterns, there were plastic rods with little mini light bulbs and batteries. There was no mysterious dark alley, covered by maple trees, but the grey streets of Berlin. No horse, no sugar pretzles. A light rain.

When the parade was over and we all headed back to the Kita garden, candles were glowing in the trees, hot pumpkin soup was served and we had the first Glühwein of the season. The parents talked about their memories, and the kids were playing in the dark garden.

November 6, 2012

A Trip to Cöthen

On Sunday, a friend picked us up and we all drove to a little village called Cöthen, 1 hour northeast of Berlin. It was the first time we got out of the big city after our move. We drove down windy alleys, sheltered by fall-colored trees.
We looked at an old farm house in Cöthen, which was surrounded by an overgrown orchard; some trees still carried small, ruby-red apples on their gnarly branches; we picked hand fulls for the horse and ourselves (and today, they are going into my apple bread from this recipe). 

Behind the old farm house was a beautiful mint-colored church built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel; although the sign read "Offene Kirche", the doors were closed. 

November 1, 2012

A Glimpse of Halloween in Berlin

When I was a child, there was no Halloween in Germany. We celebrated Fasching, and I dressed up as a native American, a princess, or a cowboy.

Things have changed around here. Last night, we met some of Nova's Kita friends to roam the streets of our neighborhood and try some trick or treating. One mom had organized the route, with a few designated apartments of friends, where we could be sure people would be home and dole out sweets.

The kids, holding hands, were running down the lantern-lit streets, covered with leaves. And there were so many others: Berlin children and teenagers, all dressed up in spooky outfits (my favorite one: a ghost with a boom box on his shoulder, blaring Peter Fox songs). Where did all these German Halloween kids come from?

Besides our friends, who put candles and pumpkins in the stairwells to guide us to the right floor, many shops and restaurants in our neighborhood stayed open late and were prepared for little ghosts: A baker welcomed us with bonbons, an Italian restaurant offered cookies, and the wonderful Saint George's Book Store had a basket filled with chocolate bars.

After our nightly wanderings, we went back to our friend's house for some carrot soup and Mac'n Cheese. And more candy.
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