What happened was, Geri who’s Lauren’s friend of many years, was getting married in Berlin, so we spent a week there. We stayed in the southwest, in Schmargendorf, once an independent town, one of many swallowed up by Berlin in 1922. Child-minding and wedding festivities and touristing and some mailing-list work and fiddling with mod_atom and the Ape didn’t leave much time for this space.

Lauren lived in Berlin for some years and it’s important to her, and she’s very important to me, so for her sake I try to appreciate it, but it’s an effort. The best thing about it is the restaurant culture, which I’ll come back to later.

As for the title: Pfifferlinge are chanterelles, a fungus with a pretty name in two languages, currently in season, they’re 8€/kg at the supermarket and all the restaurants are featuring them.

Probably my biggest issue with Berlin is the visuals; it’s kind of colour-starved and scruffy. There’s green about, every boulevard and lots of parks, both huge ones and little street-corner oases. But they kind of let it run wild, which jars my eye. Here’s an example; we were at the Hotel am Wilden Eber, the Wild Boar, so named because it was just down the street from the traffic roundabout of the same name, with a statue in the middle.

The wild boar statue in Platz am Wilden Eber, Berlin

See the vegetation? Pretty in its own way, but it makes me want to get out a mower and some clippers.

The other thing that runs untended in Berlin is graffiti; it’s everywhere. And indeed, some of it is surprising in its flow and grace. But Sturgeon’s law applies: 95% of everything is crap. On the other hand, the colour schemes in Berlin architecture are basically cream, grey, and a few brick-and-stone tones. So the desire to splash some colour around is understandable.

Berlin walls with graffiti
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Berlin walls with graffiti
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Berlin walls with graffiti

Still, I’m glad we went: good people, good food, good beer, new flavors for the mind.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Aaron Bingham (Jul 11 2007, at 06:27)

I'm a Canadian expatriate who has been living in Germany for several years. I, too, was puzzled by the long grass in the green spaces at first. Typically, they will let the grass grow quite tall, which can be pretty when the wildflowers are blooming. Two or three times a year they will mow the grass and bale it up for hay. In Dresden, where I live, they do this on a grand scale on the banks of the river Elbe.


From: John Cowan (Jul 11 2007, at 07:19)

Looks like great wild-boar territory to me: mostly open grassland with a nice covert or two for the animal to hide in when being hunted. (And here's another over-wide comment box on Firefox, yada yada, whinge whinge.)


From: will (Jul 11 2007, at 10:36)

Graffiti is actually super common all over Western Europe, to a greater degree even than New York, the putative birthplace of modern graffiti. In graffiti, as in computer science, a lot of the practitioners are toys, so there's always a lot of dross to filter out. But the times I've been in Europe, I've been pleased to see so much of it. The quality ratio seemed relatively high to me, especially with regards to the full scale productions.


From: someone (Jul 11 2007, at 13:24)

the comment about wanting to mow a wild flower meadow is rather strange.


From: Paul B (Jul 17 2007, at 09:43)

Cologne has green space in at least one place along the banks of the Rhein. Lovely open grass/parkland, full on a Saturday of picnicing families and every other imaginable kind of person. The grass is not as long, however, due to the herd of sheep that maintains it. People seem quite used to it and mostly just carry on, while the herd breaks around them and browses on through. When I first saw this while visiting friends a few years back, I thought it was simultaneously hilarious and wonderful. Then again, I didn't "mis-step". ;-)


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