The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

October 3 In Berlin

Dear friends, I have returned, I shall start at the present and then add some of the rest of the stuff going back to Vietnam ( a sort of retro Blog).
So without further ado lets get this ball rolling.(again)

A Long Berlin Weekend and a hairy pig to boot.
We had decided quite a few weeks ago that we would spend the 25th Anniversary of theTag Der Deutsche Einheit in Berlin. I was working in Berlin when that momentous event took place so I thought what better way to spend this long weekend than in the reunified capital of Germany.

I picked Linda up from work and had quite an uneventful run to Berlin (well uneventful if you discount a mysterious heavy vibration that occurredat the front end of the car after about 30 minutes, but I couldn’t find anything wrong and we continued without any reoccurrence of the cars strange behaviour.

We travelled South and in the area just around Wittstock I saw a lot of Cranes ( Grus grus not the building site sort) in the fields. I pointed this out to Linda (she just does not have the eyes for these things) a little further on the sky became quite full with them as they gathered for the pending migration, and as I said it was otherwise uneventful.

We arrived at my daughters; she had been able to get a resident parking permit for me for the weekend, thus saving the horrendous parking fees. She had got lots of meze stuff in so we ate, chatted, drank wine and went to bed.

Janice had announced that on the Friday we could go to the Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg, it is one of the few remaining original market halls in Berlin, the rest having succumbed to Allied Bombs or developers hammers. She told us that the streets around were also full with a food festival, so without further ado it was off we went
The market hall is situated on the opposite bank of the spree in what was originally Kieze which was where the original workers lived in tenement housing and small workshop area. A lot have been turned into very desirable shicki micki developments (alas) thus some areas have now lost their original attraction, though they have attracted a lot of diversified restaurants, cafes and bars.
We arrived at the venue and decided to have a look round the streets as it was still quite early there was not too much business going on so we decided to start outside and wander a bit (we had, had breakfast but there is always space for a second one).
There was a Pie Stall selling the normal as well as the abnormal pies (Currywurst pie), sausage, flower and mushrooms stalls and many others to boot. We then decided to pop into the newly renovated market hall, just in time to see some of the workshops, the first was the fish fileting the next was sausage making, they have done it very well and if in the area well worth a visit. I had a Portuguese egg custard with a nice cup of coffee. We next went outside and wandered through the streets again stopping off to visit the cheese workshop and sample a few artisanal cheeses, goats, sheep and raw cow’s milk, quite wonderful. They even had a stall selling Swiss Raclette.  It all looked so inviting.
We strolled a little further and happened upon a fish stall, not any old fish stall this one was grilling fish over charcoal, well I just couldn’t pass this one by, so I ordered a nice piece of Wels (catfish) in a roll, well worth the €5,- I can tell you. The rest of the team had also been tasting and sampling at various stalls. Janice went for veggie samosas and various other none meat grub (she has left the straight and narrow and is now becoming veggified, poor lass).
Because Berlin is truly becoming a cosmopolitan hub in Europe, most of the stalls had their displays signed posted up in English. Everything from pulled pork, Moroccan food, seafood, burgers, Indian, 
You name it there was something for everyone.
We next walked to Waschauer Allee U-bahn caught a train and hopped off at Mörkernenbrücke , the reason being was that we had planned to visit the Martin Gropius Bau  Museum, this was one of the first buildings to be renovated, it was in the west but almost touched the wall. I visited it often when studying at the HdK (I was a guest reader for 4 semesters), it is a very impressive building and an excellent job was done in renovating such a fantastic piece of architecture. At the moment they are presenting the Vikings and well worth a visit. We only wanted to see what the queues were like as we would be visiting the next day.
We then walked via Potsdammer Platz to the Brandenburg  via the Holocaust memorial and along Wilhelmstrasse passing the New British Embassy, a lot has changed in 25 years, I remember coming across this area when it was but wasteland and rubble and it contained the Polish/Russian market, but that is long, long gone, now it is the area containing the most sought after properties in Berlin.
The area between the Brandenburg gate and the Victory Column on the 17er Juni Strasse was full with food and drink stalls we did do a bit of sampling, I had my Currywurst and pommes fix ,real Berliner Currywurst none of your curried bratwurst that passes under the cloak of Currywurst in a lot of the rest of Germany a travesty I say, they should be hung drawn and quartered and turned into sausages.
We then headed back towards home and stopped off to have a bit of Sushi at a place just around the corner from Janice’s apartment. I have visited here before but it was a first for Linda, she was most impressed, the quality and the prices are really good.
We then headed back to Janice’s joint and drank a few bottles of wine looked at photos of their trip to Sri Lanka and our France/Ireland trip.
Next morning after breakfast (Linda went and got the fresh rolls) we had booked a table in a Sri Lankan restaurant near to Boxhagenerplatz, which was very handy as there is a very good street market around the square and we needed some stuff for home as the fridge was bare back in Stodo.
I love Boxhagenerplatz, this is another workers quarter in Friedrichshain it has still retained its wonderful original character while expanding into the modern Berlin, street cafes, bars and ethnic restaurants of every hue.
The stall holders come in from the villages and small towns in Brandenburg that surrounds Berlin, most are Oko farmers and small holders, you are able to get top notch quality produce, this has of course its price and they will be a couple of € more expensive than in the discounters, but if you want quality and taste, then it is well worth it.
I happened across a small stall, selling pork products, not any pork products, but those of the Hungarian Woolly Porker, crossed with the Wild Boar, he also sold farmed game (no interest in that), but the Mangalica to give its correct name was of great interest, we chatted about its characteristics, he explained that it was originally bred for its Ruckenfett (back lard) but had almost become extinct (the only other European woolly pig was the Lincolnshire curly coat, which is now extinct). The breeder now has crossed his with wild boar (the original breed had also been crossed with wild boar, so this was a double cross so as to speak). I decided to buy some to give it a go, not cheap at about €20,- kilo but the 500g I bought was affordable, I also bought some smoked Mangalica ham. We then plodded down the street to the Sri Lankan restaurant  for a really nice lunch, I had a very tasty Mutton and potato curry washed down with a couple of Cobra beers. I don’t know what the rest ate as if I am not eating it, it is of no great interest to me!
After lunch we headed to Martin Gropius Bau and the exhibition, of course the rest had a moan, now that I am a pensioner I got in for half price, not bad this pensioner lark.
The exhibition is well worth a visit, the main hall is filled with the remains of a long boat that was discovered and saved from Roskilde in Denmark, they have given the feeling of size and shape of it by adding steel ribbing and a massive square sail. The surrounding rooms are filled with artefacts, treasures and information about the lives and times of the Vikings, all very interesting.
After that it was case of hopping on the U-bahn  across the street and heading back to Friedrichshain. Janice had decided to make a squash and carrot soup for supper, and very nice it turned out as well. We then watched a very nice film called Boxhagener strasse (well worth a look if you get the chance)drank a few glasses of wine and it was not too late for bed.

Next day breakfast, packed the car and off we went to have lunch with my dear old friends Sigrid and Wille up in Lubars, he was BBQing entrecote and we ate and chatted about old times, it was time to head for home, unfortunately it was at a time that all the rest of the tourists and visitors to Berlin were also leaving, so after many detours dictated by our Sat Nav and the diversions it was after 21:00 when we left home. Just time for some beans of toast (thank goodness for part baked baguettes and vacuum packed Naan bread ). The Mangalica goulash into the fridge, that was to be tomorrows diner, the smoked ham was for breakfast. 

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