loud, dirty and grey…just the way we like it

a bit of green in the courtyard

a bit of green in the courtyard

“Die Berliner sind unfreundlich und rücksichtslos, ruppig und rechthaberisch, Berlin ist abstoßend, laut, dreckig und grau, Baustellen und verstopfte Straßen, wo man geht und steht – aber mir tun alle Menschen leid, die nicht hier leben können!” (“The Berliners are unfriendly and inconsiderate, gruff and self-opinionated, Berlin is repulsive, loud, dirty and grey, construction works and blocked streets where you stop and go. But I feel sorry for those people who can not live here!”)
(Anneliese Bödecker, Berlin philanthropist and social worker, born in 1932)

There were people that were gruff and there was plenty that was loud, dirty and grey in Berlin last week, but this was the view that greeted us as we left the flat every morning. Gorgeous, eh?

The dogs had the time of their lives. There’s plenty to sniff on that stinky pavement. Unlike in Munich, where there are plenty of places for a dog to run free, there’s a leash law in Berlin. This means if you’re in the city proper, you’ve got to go to a Hundeauslaufgebiet (Dog Going Out Area) if your hounds are going to get any room to roam.

There are plenty of beautiful places in the German capital, but dog parks there are definitely not a tourist destination. Oo-whee. Talk about dystopian. If you want a set location for that apocalyptic film you’ve been working on, you should really consider the desolation row that is the Hundewiese (Dog Field) at the Mauerpark in the Prenzlauerberg district of what was formerly East Berlin.

Here’s a photo I found:

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your local dystopian dog park

That almost looks nice. Looks are deceiving.

Not that Ella and Louis were complaining. How many Bavarian dogs get to go holidaying in big, bad Berlin for a whole week? Not many, I can assure you.

blurry photo of two Bavarian dogs in Berlin

blurry photo of two Bavarian dogs in Berlin

Here they are waiting outside the Döner Kebab shop. Did they get a few scraps of that sweet succulent meat that comes from the Dönertier? Indeed, they did.

I should probably explain what a Dönertier is, but that’ll have to wait for another time.

Hanging out in my temporary Wohnzimmer

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As Joni sings in my thoughts, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…’, I’ve spent this week in Berlin without wifi. It’s been more difficult than I imagined. Originally, I assumed I could make it work by just frequenting cafés that were wifi friendly. It hasn’t worked out that way exactly. Although there are plenty of places where you can connect, there are just as many that used to but haven’t altered their websites.

One place I’ve found myself going to again and again is Wohnzimmer in Prenzlauerberg. I could praise its virtues – it’s much more than just the wifi – but regular readers can look at the photo above and assume I feel right at home here. Art Deco entrance ways and comfy design couches. Weird and mismatched as some of the decor is, it’s definitely a great space.

Well, now my battery’s almost dead. Such is connectivity for me at the moment.

Bound to be adventures in Berlin

 

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Berlin Berlin…wir fahren nach Berlin

Going to Berlin tomorrow, and although there’s no wifi in the flat we’re staying in, the city is purportedly all wired up. You can connect anywhere there, or so I’ve been told.

I’ve written about the capital of Germany on this blog before. What, you don’t believe me? Check out these links:

Berlin, Berlin, wir fahren nach Berlin

Willkommen in Berlin

and some of my favourite photos are here:

another day in Berlin

Some of you who badger me with requests for more photos of my dogs Ella and Louis will be happy to know that they’ll be making their first trip to Berlin

There are bound to be adventures and there just might be hijinks involved. If you’d like to know more, watch this space.

Unterwegs with plenty I should be doing otherwise

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The FilmfestMünchen is thankfully behind us. It’s the only week of the year where we can see a variety of independent film and even some not-yet-released-in-Europe bigger movies; however, the way I do it involves quite a lot of screenings. My eyes may or may not be rectangular, as a result.

There are still reviews to write and other projects in the pipeline, but I got a call from a good friend who’s visiting from the States. On her way back home tomorrow, the only way I was going to see her was to hop a train to Passau for the day.

What about my dogs Ella and Louis? Well, they’ve been riding the train since they were pups. This is almost second nature for them.

Ooh, here’s a photo I took of them a few years ago in Passau.

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Passau is a gorgeous smaller Bavarian city on the Austrian border and not far from the Czech Republic. It was actually one of the first places I took the dogs after bringing them home from Hamburg.

Although Germans know about this gem of a city, I rarely see any English-speaking tourists there. Perhaps someone writing in English should be talking more about it. Someone who knows a bit about Bavaria and enjoys writing about all that’s going on there.

I wonder who that could be.

winding streets and churches and finally cake

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What could be along this winding street in Palermo?

Suppose I’m easing into the more conventional travel photos, but they’re finally here. Things like this street are what I find myself more attracted to at the moment, though. Having said that, here’s the cathedral:

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From behind the Cattedrale Maria Santissima Assunta

Quite a name, eh? How many churches do you know with Santissima in their moniker? Oh, and if you liked that angle, check it out from the other side:

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Flying Buttresses and everything…

Although there are plenty of churches here and you could easily only talk about the wide variety on offer, as many as I’ve seen I didn’t get the best photos.

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While very Baroque on the inside, here’s another exterior of a church.

Have been trying to figure out what these red silos on the roof of the church are all about. I’m sure a proper travel blog would find that out for you, but something in me wants to continue wondering. Incidentally, it’s called the Chiesa di San Cataldo.

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The fountain that Goethe purportedly liked

Elaine’s theory is that there was so much dirty stuff in Palermo that when Goethe happened upon this fountain, he was impressed primarily because of its relative cleanliness. To me it seems uncommonly clean. Strange, isn’t it? Something quite gorgeous, but here I am questioning its authenticity in some form.

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Even in the off season, there are scooters whooshing by…everywhere.

You can smell the fuel just looking at this photo, right? Much like Athens, the streets here simply reek of it. The temperature apparently rarely falls to freezing here, so even though it gets cold, one can ride scooters year-round. And ride them they do.

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This gateway is part of the Palazzo dei Normanni, which is under some sort of construction.

Have seen some fantastic shots of this, but mine got it when it was in the midst of its regular maintenance. However, I suppose you can still see the best of it. Are they guarding the palace? I don’t think the ones without arms are going to be of much help.

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Yet another mystery of Palermo

How did this tree grow in such an odd winding manner? It’s almost as if it wants to stay as close to the wall as it possibly can.

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The reward for all the walking and breathing in fumes?

Then, at some point, we had cake. That thing on the left was some sort of pastry filled with and then slathered with a butter fat icing. There’s a lot of injecting food with liquid food here. It’s quite delicious, but you spend most of the time eating it marvelling at the mechanics of the whole thing. Then the other ones were a berry-flavoured cake and then a chocolate layered thing. Both were delicioso, or something…

I think this next photo says it all:

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Post carnage

 

oranges aren’t the only meat

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oranges aren’t the only meat 

There are already more photos of Palermo than one can shake the proverbial stick at, but I just can’t be bothered to sift through them yet and decide which are interesting to anyone other than me.

So, I’ll give you one ridiculous shot and a bit of a story. The handful of you who still come here are doing so for the narrative anyway, right? The photos are gravy, I’m assuming.

What’s with the title of this blogpost, you ask? Well, it comes thanks to Elaine (@elaine4queen), with whom I’m conquering Palermo. There was talk of cake, but we’ve not actually found any of that yet. In the process of our hunt for cake, however, we did find these Orange Balls.

We had both heard of these, but the billing didn’t quite do them justice. Nevertheless, until technology catches up and allows me to upload the taste of something on a blog, a description will have to suffice.

It’s a ball of some sort of corn breading with a variety of different fillings depending on the whims of whoever’s cooking. In this case, we were offered either Ham and Cheese or Meat. When I inquired about what sort of meat specifically was involved in the latter, the woman behind the counter looked at me incredulously and said with an odd finality, ‘Meat.’

Some might have balked, but now I was genuinely curious. The decision was snatched away from us, when the woman announced that they were, alas, out of the Ham and Cheese. We were having the Meat, and have it we did.

They were delicious. There’s a reason why numerous people, upon hearing we were going to Palermo, insisted we try the Orange Balls. There’s nothing remotely citrus about them, incidentally. Orange is a colour here, rather than a taste. Yet they were filling and somehow decadent, and even before we were halfway done, it was clear that there would be no room left for cake.

You could possibly be one of those folk who believes there’s always room for cake. To such a person, I’ll only say, ‘Have an Orange Ball in Palermo and get back to me on that one.

A break in the mundane for a bit of Bon vivantery

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The Lenbach House in Munich’s Maxvorstadt neighbourhood.

Training for my new job has taken much of my time & nearly all of my energy, so the first thing that’s taken a backseat was blogging. Was recently alerted that this incarnation of my blogging is exactly two years old. Too bad I’ve not prepared anything more festive to celebrate the occasion.

However, I do have some rather good news for the excitement level of this site. Read recently that Elaine (@elaine4queen) was planning to run off and join the circus. Then I received an offer she thought I couldn’t refuse: Would I like to go with her? Run away and join the circus? Well, I don’t think either Elaine or I were cut out for the acrobatic or circus-like arts, but when she came up with a second option, I couldn’t resist. What, you ask, might that second option be?

WE’RE GOIN’ TO PALERMO, YOU MOTHER SCRATCHERS…

Now, up until now I’ve refrained from bandying about stale stereotypes about Sicily being overrun by mafia sorts. To be frank, I’m momentarily easily distracted by stories of Palermo being the international centre of cake. What’s in store for you neglected readers in the next week or so is quite arguably the best thing that’s been going on hereabouts for a very long while.

Let the cake-ing commence. I can’t promise there won’t be at least one utterance of the questionably-attributed Marie Antoinette quote. You know? The one about running away and joining the circus.