Saturday, December 18, 2010

Berlin, continued

I look outside at the street. The snow of this never ending European winter storm continues to fall. Not in large amounts, but steadily, without hesitation.

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It’s a slow morning for us. Not enough time before our flight out to do big things, so why hurry.

For the first time in a long time we do an exceptionally leisurely breakfast. The kind where you eat a little, get up and add some foods, eat some more and this continues, slowly, without thought as to what comes next.

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Finally, the urge to get going pushes us out and since we have time for a stroll through the neighborhood, we do the usual bundling and buttoning and head out.  


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It’s pretty outside, but the flakes are falling more rapidly now and I notice that the black coats and hats are starting to look like someone has taken a salt shaker to them.

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But we’re close to the chocolate emporium of Fassbender and Rauch. German chocolates on display in the week before Christmas. It’s like examining gelato choices on a hot day in Italy. Some pairings are made in heaven.

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Indeed, Fassbender and Rauch does chocolate in a big way. Landmarks in Berlin? Don’t waste your time stomping through snowdrifts in the cold. See them here, done in chocolate!


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And so we stroll between shelves packed with chocolate in all forms and especially in combination with another German favorite – marzipan, and it’s so aromatic there that of course you cannot leave empty-handed. We don’t.

Time for the airport. Our flight into Paris is to leave after 3 and we’re hoping for a few good hours there tonight and a solid day of that city tomorrow.

But why are there such long lines around the Air France booths? Our flight is on the schedule, on time, but earlier ones have been cancelled. The snow again. That pretty mass of whiteness keeps falling and the agents keep rebooking and the flights keep swelling...

I can see the writing on the wall.

We pull some things from suitcases. Lost luggage suddenly becomes a possibility again.

We wait.

First there is only a delay. Of five hours.

And then there is the (expected, really) cancellation. The airport officially closes.

More lines, rebookings, patient clerks, weary travelers. Air France is, as before, quite sympathetic, empathetic and singularly helpful. We may even get some refunds and reimbursements (missed hotel reservations mess with travel budgets in most awful ways).

We call our Berlin hotel and whimper our way back into a room.

It's evening. We both agree that it’s time to eat something other than game meat. Our German feast was last night. We need to move beyond central Europe in food, if not, as it appears, in travel.

Cookies Cream is an oddly named place, but it is a hot little heaven of vegetarian cuisine here. In our previous Berlin stay, we were not able to get a table for any of the nights. Today, the Berliners must be staying indoors. We’re set.

It's a short walk, a twinkly walk, past brilliantly lit trees -- with a spot for a warm wine, if you feel the need, or a bit of curling with your friends.



The restaurant itself is through an alley way, hidden behind a dark door. There is a club part downstairs, but we’re told to take the stairs up to the dining room.

It’s a modern industrial chipped floors and deliberately not enough paint on the walls kind of place. Where the thirties something congregate. I am by far the oldest in the room.


And the food is superb. I eat a baked cheese with Jerusalem artichokes and beet, then parsley gnocchi with pumpkin something or other and finally gingerbread mousse. With a fine, dry Riesling.




So in the end, the last word comes from a fresh Berlin, pushing out yesterday's older one. Our trip here ends with this modern twist, as if we’re supposed to remember the city in its new incarnation.

We leave through the club part again, where the sounds and lighting are beyond my comprehension.

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Yep, leave it to the next generation.

Now, let’s see if the snows let up Saturday so that we can continue our protracted return home.