December 20, 2012

il Giradschi

Later, after a Glühwein and a walk through rainy streets, we ended up with friends at il Giradschi in Oderbergerstraße; I have been a fan of their other pizza place,  I Due Forni, for a long time. When I  lived on Senefelder Platz, just around the corner from there, I had their "Incredibile" on a regular basis; in summer, on long wooden benches under the trees, in winter in their warm cantina-style restaurant, always busy, always a bit chaotic, with its revolutionary memorabilia and signatures scribbled all over the yellow walls.

Back to il Giradschi last night: Exposed brick and simple wooden tables; vinyl covers and music posters on the walls that reminded me of the room of a teenager (with a good taste of music, nonetheless)  Record sleeves double as menus. Our waiter was friendlier and more attentive than any waiter I ever had at I Due Forni, but I was still disappointed. il Giradschi to me was an uninspired version of the restaurant I liked so much; what looks so effortlessly and works so well at I Due Forni seems contrived at il Giradschi.

The food was good. Although the red wine was a bit chilly, the brick-oven pizzas with their paper-thin crust are as as crunchy as it gets in this corner of Prenzlauer Berg. And large - the plates are are too small for these pizzas, which are generously topped with a forest of arugula and crunchy slivers of walnuts, and served with a spicy oil that will make your lips burn.

Still, next time I will make my way down to I Due Forni again.

il Giradschi
Oderberger Str. 22, 10435 Berlin

I Due Forni
Schönhauser Allee 12, 10119 Berlin

My review of I Due Forni on

December 14, 2012

It's December and I'm Back

It has been quiet around here, but it hasn't been quiet in our lives. A lot has happened that kept me busy and away from my blog, with not much spare time for stories, pictures, new places. Well, not really true, we have been exploring a new place, and that is our new apartment.

We moved a couple of days before December, before the snow started. We celebrated the first of Advent in our new dining room, playing the Ukulele, singing Christmas songs, and baking the first batch of cookies in a wonderfully spacious kitchen. Right on time, the snow started to fall, quieting  the rumbling trains ton the street beneath our window.

Now I am back in front of my screen, between runs to the Baumarkt, Ikea, and Christmas market. 

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.

October 29, 2012

A Beginning

I am writing so much in my head, especially when I am on my bike, but it has been difficult to sit down, to write down. How to begin?

We have been in Berlin for over a month now, from September to October, and so much has happened: We started Kita, we got sick, we ran to many different Ämter for paperwork, we searched for (and found) an apartment, we worked, we had two dear visitors, we reconnected with old friends, and thrillingly, we already found new ones. How easy it sometimes seems to make friends if you have kids. Kids are such a wonderful bridge.


Time seemed to be running slow this last month. My senses sharpened as I was riding my bike through Berlin; besides its many old, familiar faces, I found myself again and again in parts of the city that I didn't recognize anymore. So many changes everywhere.
And on my daily morning bike rides to Kita, even the familiar can feel brand new. As if I have never seen the change of a season so clearly. The falling leaves, quiet like snow - it seems like I see them tumbling from the sky for the first time. The brilliant colors against a blue sky or a white wall - a fiery red, a cheery orange, tinged edges. This morning, the first frost covering leaves and grass, glittering in the cold sun.  I love to tell Nova about the seasons, and somehow this feels like a first autumn for both of us.

August 24, 2012


On our way to our Amondson Family Reunion, we spent two nights in Portland, which has been on my to-see list for while. And how happy I was that we could squeeze in this little city trip: Walking the leavy streets of Irvington, swinging in Mount Tabor Park, browsing through Powell's Books, biking along the waterfront. Eating our way through Hawaiian donuts, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken pot pie, and Swedish lefse at the colorful food trucks gathered at Belmont and 43rd street.

What a happy time it was! We stayed at a little bed and breakfast that turned out to be an urban farm, complete with cats, chicken and goats in the backyard. Nova collected three eggs in the morning and Andrew soft boiled them perfectly for our late breakfast. Then we took the goats Zoe and Bella on a little walk through our neighborhood, them tearing at thorny blackberry bushes and weeds along the sidewalk.

Tierra Soul
4614 N Michigan
Portland, Oregon

July 26, 2012

Evening walk trough MacArthur Park, L.A.

         Stepping out of the subway station, the park lay ahead of us, glowing in the dark.

      The lights of the city cast a magical light on the lake in the middle of the park.

     During the day, you can see the trash littered throughout the park.
     But at night, everything becomes beautiful.

       It was early evening, and the playground was filled with kids.

     Back on 6th street, we were walking back to our house on the hill.

July 17, 2012


I just listened to Sylee Gore's "Empty Spaces" on berlin stories; she talks about how the city used to be filled with these vacant lots, overgrown with trees and gras, often transformed into pop-up bars, spots for impromptu gatherings, a little wilderniss for the big city.
I became nostalgic when I listened to Sylee's story. I can vividly remember the lot at Senefelder Platz she talks about, the "Bauwagen", literally a construction trailer, which parked in the tall weeds for a couple of summers, surrounded by simple deck chairs. Back then, I lived just around the corner and loved to come here after my university class for a drink and some afternoon sun.
Many of these empty spaces are gone now.
But not all of them.

Back in 1999, I shared my first Berlin apartment with my brother in Kreuzberg, at the end of Cuvrystrasse, right by the water. The huge lot opposite our place was vacant, taken over by grass, bushes, and young people who loved to picknick by the edge of the water.
There were rumors. A big shopping mall was planned. Then office spaces. Then condominiums.

Today, the lot is more overgrown than ever. Nothing was built here. Whenever I visit my brother, who still lives on the top floor of the place we once shared, I look out of the window, relieved about the open space that stretches in front of me, the changing colors of the sky, the little wilderness in the middle of the city.

Banksy loves this space too.

July 15, 2012

When I think of summer...

When I think of summer in Berlin, one of the first things that comes to mind is the fairy tale fountain, gateway to the lush Volkspark Friedrichshain. It is lined with stoney sculptures from the Brother Grimm's folk tales; Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, all sitting side by side.

When I came here last summer, it was an especially hot day, and some children were bathing in the knee-deep water of the fountain. I took in this magical scene, and my heart ached a bit. For I was living far away, in Los Angeles, and this magical fountain in the middle of leafy Berlin became a symbol of so many things that I missed deeply.

In a couple of months, I am returning to Berlin, this time with my little family, and I can't wait to come back here with little N, sitting on the edge of the fountain, marveling at the fairies all around us, and waiting until the sun is warm enough so that we can dangle our feet in the water.

Am Friedrichshain (in Volkspark), 10249 Berlin

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