No, I didn’t make any mistake. It is really written Kjosk. After going to Katerholzig and the wind blowing, we decided to take the bicycles and drive in another place, outside if possible but protected from the cold. Our friend Silke knew something that we heard of but never went and so here we go heading in our favorite place in Kreuzberg, Oranienstrasse. At the corner of Görlitzer Bahnhof, there is a former garbage dump that has been reinvented as an urban oasis, as said my friend Axel, with umbrellas, benches, cages for lamps hanging on the trees, also a ping pong table. The idea is to find there anything you need from the coffee to bretzel and apple as well as wine, champagne or beer. The homemade cakes look delicious and the service is really friendly. What makes the place funny is that this shop is located backyards in a 1970s (I guess) BVG Doppeldecker bus. Don’t forget in all this assortment the cigs, magazines, and many other surprises. You also can sit upstairs if the view suits you but it’s a bit narrow of course. It’s my kinda place, the one you go alone or to meet friends, for a coffee after work or a last glass of wine in the night. Don’t miss it.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Because I traveled so much and worked abroad for years, I am lucky enough to have friends in other countries. They are few but important in my life, even if It is only via a message on my facebook’s profile. At least it’s either sincere or funny. Of course, the bad point with the friendship is that we don’t meet often: the everyday’s issues, the work, the life by itself, the comfort of staying (finally) home, make that I didn’t go to Amsterdam meeting my friend who live there with his wife. Actually, even if we are often in contact, we didn’t meet since we worked together in Barcelona. Funny how years go without noticing: 4 years gone but we knew when we’ll meet again, It will be as if we had a drink together the day before. And It happened as thought. I arrived at Schipol airport (one of the biggest I know with Hong Kong) Friday evening on time, went home and went directly for dinner. One thing I was very surprised with is that we must have dinner early in the city otherwise It is difficult to get any, in a nice restaurant I mean. Of course, you will always find something but if you wish to go in the nice city centre to enjoy a meal, with the good energy of a Friday evening and people enjoying good company, be ready to start at the latest 7:00 p.m. The restaurant my friend chose is perfectly the type I like. It’s called De Reiger. Wood bar, small and crowdie, good vibes, smells of good food, people smiling, you sit at he bar and order the first glass of wine. I was surprised we didn’t order the bottle but the explanation is very simple: The price of the bottle is always more expensive than ordering a glass after another. And my friend explained to me that the more glasses you order, the fullest the glass is. And it’s true: we had 3 during the meal and the latest one was the fullest. In most restaurants of city center, you will notice a cat comfortably sat on a chair, not even disturbed by the customers and don’t it’s there to give a house warmly touch at the place. The cat in Amsterdam, in public places, has a job: he hunts the mice and rats. And even with the cat indoors, don’t scream when you see a mouse. Just call the cat. Anyway, It was not very late after dinner to go to a wine bar we had noticed on the way in but unfortunately already closed. Because all bars are closed before 2:00 a.m. Carrying on walking we heard some noise on the street on our left and always curious, headed there : big surprise : 2 bars facing one another, nobody inside and everyone outside making the junction between the two bars. We did as all did, meaning going from one to the other to order drinks. I like this way of enjoying. I find the Dutch people sometimes difficult at work, because most of the time, they will only think for themselves, but in private, I find them very nice and friendly. But we made a big mistake and mix white wine and red and even my friend in the end took a bier and it was fatal. We took a taxi and I remember the driver asking me to leave the glass outside as I am not authorized to dink in the vehicle (!) and from there I only remember waking up the next morning with a mega headache. Breakfast with the family, happy to be there, me and my aspirin, my friend trying to survive the night and after a few coffees, orange juice and croissants, we decided to go outside for a refreshing walk … under the rain. Because it rained. A lot. They’re living on an island (let’s say there are many in Amsterdam), so we couldn’t go very far outside swimming. So after a while, we decided to take the street car and going in the center where we could enjoy the view from the sky lounge of the Mint hotel. Me drinking tea, my friend drinking sparkling water, we were chatting waiting the arrival of his wife, gone shopping. Shame it rained so much otherwise we would have enjoyed the roof terrace. Next time. After a strong coffee, we went for dinner, table was booked for 7:00 p.m. Another friend we used to work with in Barcelona, opened a restaurant in Amsterdam, called Fondue & Fondue. The concept is simple, not more than 3 starters and 3 types of fondue (meat, fish, cheese), every time served with vegetables and bread, and the dessert with ice cream, chocolate cake or of course chocolate fondue. In the end, you can order a specialty coffee. Good food, good wine, be prepared to spend some hours inside this non-touristy atmosphere because don’t forget, you’re your own cook ! When all guests gone and restaurant closed, we started our own evening enjoying the wine and the company, until 4 am when we decided to call the taxi, this time without glass in my hand, to go back home. A good night sleep and the same on the way back: airport, flight, Berlin, rain ….
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
My man works in Vienna all month of August and he asked me to join him for the week-end. I liked the idea; never been to this city, heard only good things and I have a friend living there. So I booked the flight, took a day off and Austria, here I am! The flight conditions were not the best ones: maybe I am too sensitive but I had the feeling the speakers were too loud, the baby never stopped crying and when usually I sleep the entire journey to rest, couldn’t close an eye. Then you don’t find it easy to reach the city from the airport, even if you speak the language (well, sort of) and people not really keen on helping: Maybe I was too tired and touchy. Once reached the city centre, the good idea was to have a drink, weather is nice and warm, what a change compared to Berlin where it’s still cold and rainy. But second surprise: terraces close at 11:00 p.m. ! When you arrived at 22:45, of course the barkeeper tends to say, please sit inside. But the one we met was nice enough to let us having a table outside, I must have looked so done that I am not sure I would have accepted another disappointment for the day. Then a walk through the beautiful park to have a view at all the museums and nice buildings and went to bed. The next day I had an appointment for lunch time with my friend who specially took a day off to stay with me and to make me enjoy his city. After the delicious club sandwich in the museum area, we headed under the sun in the city center where you can find all those beautiful buildings. They made the reputation of the Vienna because they are magnificent and also recently renovated. It’s not that I am not interested in visiting exhibitions but the weather was so nice and I didn’t see the sun for so long that I wanted to stay outside. So we did. We walked until the Danube which has been restructured, so to say, because of the flood. Looking at the stream from the bridge, I was very surprised how fast It goes. That is why the city opened 2 other “streets” to allow the river not to go on streets and houses. Following the way, we headed east until the other side of the bank. Just before that, my friend showed me A building left from second world war, a bunker built by Nazis to fire planes flying the Austrian sky. He said to me that the building is so strong with concrete that It is too difficult (time and money) to destroy it. So they use it as a mountain for the ones who like to climb or nice point of view. You can find a few left in the city. Starting to get thirsty, and always so warm outside, we went on the Danube Canal, and stopped at Tel Aviv Beach, the newest hit on the Vienna out door summer scene that opened May 1st at Herminengasse – just on the edge of the old Jewish Quarter in the 2nd District of Leopoldstadt. With its white plastic chairs and tables ankle deep in beach-sand and Vienna’s jeunesse dorée in casual chic lolling to the sounds of Israeli chill-out pop blending with the aroma of Shishas spiraling up from ornate water pipes, this could almost be Tel-Aviv, I thought. Sipping on my ice tea.. People have taken on the soul of the city in a whole new way, I thought. It was a beautiful sight. Toward the farther end of the beach was perhaps the strangest sight of all: a four poster with furled curtains surrounding twin mattresses made up like a bridal bed. A handsome couple, fully clothed, was stretched out full length, propped up on an elbow or two sipping something fruity and gazing out at the water. Reservations required? No, first arrived, first served. Carrying on, we followed the bank und ended up at the right time for the aperitif in the Hermann’s Strand bar which is also famous.Take your shoes off, when you come to Strandbar Hermann or you’ll ruin them. Sand, canvas chairs and people are everywhere. If you want to get a free chair you better come before working hours are over. This is the place to be in the summer, so expect a lot of young, well-dressed men and women after work as well as not that well-dressed students and even tops free for men. In the evenings there are often some DJ’s helping out with taking our troubles away and letting us forget out sorrows until we are back at work. Voted second best bar in the world by Condé Nast Traveler in 2006, the Herrmann gets its name from its location in the canal-side Herrmannpark, which commemorates Emanuel Herrmann (1839-1902), inventor of the picture postcard. And it's a bit like being beside the seaside here. The promontory where the Wien river enters the Danube Canal has been covered with sand and strewn with deckchairs. No bathing but plenty of sunbathing, eating and chilling to great sounds until 2am. After two drinks, a lot of sun and heat, we needed a rest before going for dinner and decided to go back home for a while. After that, my friend knows a Turkish restaurant near where we stayed and we could go walking, which is a good option, only 10 minutes walk. The restaurant is called Kent and is located in the street where you find a marked every day (outside Sunday) Even when we arrived around 10:00 p.m, the market was still there and very living. Once there, you have the feeling It is only a small place where they serve Dönner. But looking at the restaurant’s sign, I noticed “by warm weather, the garden is opened” The garden? We entered, followed a pretty long corridor, saw a woman changing her baby’s clothes and then discovered the beautiful place behind the building. It was amazing, like an oasis in the city. But we arrived too late. The city law is very strict with the noise and because the garden must be closed at the latest 11:00 p.m, there is no possibility to get a table after 10:00 p.m. Nevertheless, we were lucky enough to be able to enjoy the winter garden before they close all doors. I even regret not have taken the big portion as I found mine too light (but I was very hungry). And for the price, there is no hesitation to have. After that, we had a drink further down on the street where you can find bars next to another but not really interesting to notice. My friend decided to go back home as he knew we wanted to carry on going out in the gay area but again here, forget, nothing to see, hard to find and no friendly gay people, only bored and starved men awaiting new flesh in unfriendly expensive bars. Not interested. I was warned but I wanted to see by myself : I did. Done. Thank you. Next. The next came as a big surprise the next day. Of course we were not in the best shape after the night we had to do a lot and we wanted to stay outside, again. Because of the nice weather. What is very easy in Vienna is the use of the public transports. And my boyfriend wanted to show me the Danube island, just a few metro stations away. From there, rent a bike, per hour as you wish, and start the tour of both islands. There is a third little one that we could not visit because It is a pool area and there is a fee to pay. But keep in mind that at the Danube banks, all is made for your comfort and you easily can go for a swim directly there. Only by the sight of well preserved water and grass, I wanted to dive to refresh myself. After a few ices eaten at the place, we gave back the bicycles and took back the metro, this time to the Prater, worldwide known amusement park. I don’t like that so we didn’t spend much time there but It’s worth a visit, even short, because of the ancient merry-go-round not yet destroyed. After that, It was time today for aperitif and we decided to meet at café Savoy which I recomend. This traditional Viennese coffeehouse dates back to the imperial era – quite obvious in the plush furnishings and stucco. On Saturdays, when an eclectic flea market takes place on the adjacent Naschmarkt, the Savoy also opens in the morning. Soaring frescoed ceilings and a smoke-stained beaux-arts decor that evokes the grand Imperial days of the Habsburgs make this cruisy cafe/bar an appealing setting. Café Savoy is an established gay haunt that has a more traditional cafe feel to it. The clientele is generally very mixed on a Saturday – mainly due to the proximity of the Naschmarkt – but at other times it’s filled with men of all ages (but not only). Enjoy the flee market opposite and have a coffee afterwards. I guess one of the only bar also you can smoke inside. But after all that, we were starting to feel tired and headed back home and enjoy the last moments of the day and start of the night, sipping white wine in the center of the city, sitting on the stairs at the café Oben. The entrance is both ways : if you’re courageous enough, climb the stairs until the end, if not, like me, take the elevator which is located in the metro station, just a few steps away. Everything was perfect there : the wine, the company, the view, the noise of the city, the lights, the warmth of the summer breeze. Time to bed before leaving the city the next day, the head full of beautiful images.