if we did prague based entirely on some last-minute recommendations from our next-door neighbours, we did berlin based entirely on a $5, 8½″ x 16½″ herb lester map (41 artsy, unusual recommendations are on the reverse). pierre came across the company in an issue of smith journal and, once he knew we’d be travelling to europe this summer, he bought berlin (thus committing us to go to berlin) and austin, tx, in preparation for a trip that is not-yet-booked but likely to happen.
their recommendations were divvied into three categories: shopping and supplies, things to eat and drink, and things to see and do.
we found ourselves drifting through some amazing art and design stores in mitte and schöneberg, including this giant bookstore, bücherbogen, devoted entirely to art, architecture, design, and photography. a neighbouring stationary and bookstore, fürst and iven, was also worth a stop, connected to a great café, too. my favourite shop had to be do you read me?, a magazine shop run by graphic designers and called out in this month’s dwell as well as on the back of our map. the gestalten space, a courtyard home to gestalten publishing as well as a shop carrying their books, herb lester maps, vintage motorcycles, and ferm living’s new mugs, was a close second, though. needless to say, print publishing is alive and well in germany. we also got up to manufactum, a shop that pierre described as selling “the best of everything.” he was right — manufactum carried everything from binder clips (8€ a box and on display in a glass case…) to lamb’s wool henleys (85€ pajamas, anyone?).
throughout our stay in berlin, we often commented on how much we thought my dad would love the city — all the smoking and graffiti aside — and that sentiment was never stronger than at the bauhaus archive, a museum devoted to the design school. since i’m starting my masters program on monday, i was rocking the student discounts hard in berlin, meaning i got to peek inside the archive for half-price, though this place is worth the full-price ticket. lots of buildings constructed in miniature and 1930s chairs!
maybe not the likeliest of tourist activities (but, hey, we never even saw the brandenburg gate), we spent an afternoon exploring an abandoned amusement park called spreepark. according to this wikipedia article, its owner was jailed for attempting to smuggle 180kg of cocaine from peru into germany, and the place has been closed since 2002. i thought it was really interesting and oddly beautiful though; it was one of my favourite days in berlin.
(not my absolute favourite, though; that flea market is going to get its very own post.)
surprisingly, visiting the derelict spreepark, was not the only time a ferris wheel or festive tent made an appearance during our trip. we ended our vacation in the rhine valley, in a town called miltenberg, looking for some nice wine to balance all the beer pierre had been enjoying. we arrived sunday night around 8pm — to find the entire town celebrating the final day of a giant annual festival called michaelismesse. a huge fairground (complete with the ferris wheel pictured through the tree above), fireworks, a live band singing “99 luftballons”, litre steins, and chocolate-covered bananas; we partook of it all…
…and then went on an off-road, off-map hike to find fürst winery, our only clue being that it was housed in a “really modern-looking barn.” (remember that time when i said we didn’t do much in the way of advance planning?) we found it, though — pierre surmising we should just keep climbing “up, in the direction of the grapes” and me seeing a pretty modern-looking barn off in the distance that we decided to aim for.
we’re now the owners of two very nice bottles of fürst wine, a pinot noir and a riesling, which we’ve been told to hang onto for twenty years. but her english wasn’t very good, so we’re going to assume she meant to say twenty days.