Berlin: Cold February Daze
Neukölln, February 2012
My acquaintance with Berlin began 10 years ago. A fine summer trip with a dear high school friend which included a journey to Berlin to stay with a new, dear friend.
I’ll be honest, while I was happy to experience a new place, I wasn’t exactly swooning over the German capital. Our hostess was excited to show us the many facets of the history of the city but I found myself mainly interesting in holing up in one (or several) of the city’s numerous cafes, just sitting with my friends, talking for hours and writing.
This was summer too and as long as I am being honest, I have to say that I have found that I have rarely fallen for urban areas in the hot months. Give me a beach and ocean swim on a hot August day and I’m in heaven, but otherwise, my track record with most cities has mainly been a love affair that began in the cooler (or downright cold) months.
And so it was- a lovely and relaxed first meet with Berlin in the summer.
It would be upon a return trip that following winter that Berlin began to capture me…..
We have, of course, different relationships with different places and spaces. Just to outline a few of my own: I have fallen in love with a city before the train even stopped at the main station (Salzburg); comfortable yet not attached or swooning (Budapest); deliciously awake and continuously stimulated (Paris); and caught up in eternal and willing romanticization of a place (NYC), even in the face of its grit and mayhem. And those are just a few of the positive place relations I have experienced (there have of course been negative, neutral and many shades of grey with other places).
But Berlin….I would like to say I have a healthy friendship with her. Always happy to see her and learn more. She always reminds me of humanity- and of being human. She is history. She is space. She is experimentation. She is past. She is present. She is future. All at once.
This February trip was completely surrounded by the Siberian cold that recently drafted into Europe. I saw parts of the city I had never seen on my other visits. I remember that I am not “in love” with Berlin and that that was ok, because I still like her very much and maintain an interested and healthy link to her.
Goldberg in Neukölln
Perhaps as a continuing visitor, I still connect Berlin to moments like this. Food, drink and people. The Berlin cafe scene never fails to impress me in its wealth of places to try with atmospheres of urban simplicity (with a fair measure of quirk at times). The spaces great, the focus nearly always human.
Skreifilet with root vegetables and jasmine rice at Goldberg
Sunday brunch at Cafe Rix
Until next time Berlin……