Posts Tagged ‘antiques’

Berlin Life: Markets and Cafes

Friday, May 16th, 2014

I went to bed to the sound of rain and woke up to the sound of church bells ringing. Sunday morning, Mother’s day, my first full day in Berlin.

The two elderly women that Maiya lives with had their families over when we woke up since it was Mother’s Day. It was pretty sad not being able to be with my family on Mother’s Day and just one more reminder of how much I miss home. We all sat together at the kitchen table eating breakfast rolls and drinking coffee. I sat attentively listening to everyone speak German as I sat back and watched, trying to gleam anything from the conversation to no avail. It was still nice to see everyone interacting so happily even if I was outside of it all. I just missed my own family.

After breakfast Maiya and I decided to go to Mauerpark, which is a huge park that on Sundays has an even bigger flea market. After a somewhat disorienting U-Bahn ride for me we arrived in a new cute neighborhood that we wandered through to get to the Park. Once we reached the outside we saw a young woman performing on the sidewalk. Her name was Alice Phoebe Lou and she was fantastic. We sat and listened to her soulful singing for a long time just marveling at how such an amazing voice came from such a tiny person. We were hypnotized by her music, her originally songs, and her cover of Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang. We bought her CD, which I honestly didn’t like nearly as much as her live singing but still am pretty obsessed with and haven’t stopped listening to yet. After tearing ourselves away form the entrancing voice of Alice Phoebe Lou, we wandered on past other street performers like some really cool break-dancers until we finally entered the market itself. Stall after stall after stall of all sorts of things to mounted antlers, musical instruments, pipes, clothing, antique kitchen wares, to shoes and knick knacks, it was endless. Oh and also some pretty amazing food. IMG_1600 IMG_1603 IMG_1605 IMG_1613IMG_1607IMG_1616IMG_1617IMG_160910321563_829638643717647_7243128432826486201_oIMG_1620

I am a sucker for markets and it instantly made me love Berlin. Between intermittent down pours of rain we dodged through lake like puddles crossed over with planks of wood from stand to stand taking in the sights.

After a brief but horrifying scare in which I thought I had lost my camera only to realize I had just forgotten that I had put it in my bag already, we decided to get some food. We stopped at a food stall that had potatoes that they put through a ringer making one long spiral cut in the potato so it was all one piece still and then skewering it on a stick to then deep fry it. I got one and it was really and truly amazing. It was so nice to eat it on a cold rainy day while wandering through the market. After that little snack we decided to stop for lunch in the market and got Turkish food, which we ate under the smoky awnings of the food tent. It was colorful, full of spices, and delicious. So incredibly different than all of the food I had gotten so accustomed to eating in Italy.

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Our collective purchases at the end of the day: Alice Phoebe Lou’s CD, Maiya’s Ukulele, earrings for me, a ring made from a fork for Maiya, ad lots of yummy food. We left eh market to enter into the park area again where we climbed the hillside to find a huge expanse of the Berlin wall that overlooked the city of Berlin.

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We sat swinging on some swings with the brief moments of sun shining on our faces. Each pump of my legs bringing me one inch closer t the sun, if you close your eyes it feels like you’re flying. I loved those swings dearly. It was quite a contrast, swinging upward my feet stretched out towards the city and the sun, behind with my legs tucked in and going backwards was the Wall shadowed by rainclouds. It felt like swinging between two worlds, one old one new, one bright one dark.. It was an interesting experience and my first time being near the Berlin Wall.

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After sadly leaving behind our swings, ukulele in hand, we wandered out of the park and down the street to a Tea Bar that is known for its Matcha Green Tea where we sat on a balcony above the shop on little Japanese style seating mats overlooking a courtyard full of armchairs. It was a magical little shop and I really enjoyed sitting there watching people come and go.

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After leaving the shop we returned back to the apartment for a quick break and then went to a nearby coffee shop to do some work. I really love all the cafes in Berlin, they are all so cute and hipster and I just love being able to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee again while working on my laptop. I really dearly missed that. I got a wonderful Chai Latte and a piece of carrot cake and was wonderfully content.

We finished the night by just lying in bed, drinking tea and hot chocolate while watching a movie as it rained outside. It was a good first day, slow, simple, and full of fun discovery of neighborhood life and things that Berliners, like Maiya, get to do every week. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to experience these things, and as different as they are from Rome there is a beauty in the differences that I am so glad I get to experience.


Day Six: New Orleans

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

We stayed the night in New Orleans and spent the entire day walking all over New Orleans to take in the sights of this complex city. There are really so many facets and corners to this city, I don’t feel anyone could ever fully explore. Because of this we decided to take a little tour of the city to help us gather some semblance of what we were doing. But we first decided to go to the famous and wonderful Cafe Du Monde.

Ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you I do not like coffee, I don’t drink it but I heard two things about Cafe Du Monde; they have amazing Beignets and great cafe au lait. So naturally I had to get both, liking coffee or not, I knew I should try it so I got the frozen cafe au lait and on a hot day made twice as hot by the sticky humid air, it was like heaven. I can’t even explain how great it was, all I can say is I am going back tomorrow and if I ever come back again this will be my first stop. This was also my first ever Beignet and it was awesome. This little french pillow of dough, deep fried and coated in a sea of powder sugar, was delicatable. This french doughnut was definitly a good choice, but also a messy one. It was impossible to eat them without leaving a  trail of powder sugar in your wake.

After that we went on the city and cemetery tour of New Orleans which drove us around talking about the things outside. I am not going to lie, I didn’t really like the tour or our guide but it did give a nice break from driving around, desperately trying to find our way and figure out what to do. So in some ways it was good and we got to see a lot of the city by bus but otherwise, I was not a fan. The guide didn’t really seem to know a lot of anything and kept repeating himself in a bothersome manner. We went to the Garden District and looked at all the old mansions and houses and then went through the french quarter. The only thing we did that we otherwise probably wouldn’t have gotten to do was the St. Louis Cemetery.

We learned all sorts of interesting facts about the burial process in New Orleans for this cemetery which includes the body being exhumed after a year and a day and the bones being crushed and then put in a bag to be placed back in the tomb so it take up less space. Also one tomb can hold up to 150 bodies… or I guess baggies but that doesn’t sound right at all to put it that way.

After that stop we made a depressing stop at the sight of one of the most damaged areas by Katrina. The water here reached up to 25 high at one point and took out almost every single house in the area, only three brick founded buildings remained, all the others floated away or were destroyed. Pictured below is the wall for the levy that overflowed leading to this catastrophe. We also learned that Brad Pitt, ever the hero that he is, decided that someone needed to help, so he did. He is building 150 houses for those who lost there homes here and making them large enough to very comfortably house the displaced families and also powered by solar power to help pay for electric bills.

However, the most depressing part about this stop was not Katrina itself but the fact that this tour group took us here to gawk at the despair of the people who lived and lost their lives here. It felt disgusting to be there in a huge air conditioned bus sight seeing where so man people lost so much, even their lives. It was hard for me to stomach that, the only thing that made it bearable was that thanks to the Brad Pitt Foundation homes many of them seemed to be doing much better. But even then I only saw a glimpse from a tour bus, so what could I possibly know.

On a happier note in this neighborhood is a man who apparently makes the best pralines in New Orleans and he came on our bus from his home and sold us some. It was my first praline and it was very good and had quite the sugar kick to it.

After the tour we returned to the French Quarter and decided to tour the city on our own. We walked all over the place visiting many of the places we had glimpsed in a drive by moment on the tour.

The first stop was to the French Market, this market which is part flea market and part food market was really fun and expansive. Spanning several blocks we wound up and down the isles looking at all that was to offer.

We even found a stand that sold all things alligator including alligator jerky, gator on a stick, and fresh grilled gator.

We looked through all the jewelry, hats, bags, and most important antiques.

Around the corner from the french market we went and shopped for blocks in antique and recycled things stores that were just too much fun. We found all sorts of odd things in this quirky little stores.

The furniture had to have been my favorites, they had tons of old antique furniture that I would have bought in a heart beat if I didn’t have to lug it around the country with me. It was really funny weaving in and out of these shops for what seemed like hours.

Next food stop: muffalata and more pralines- also known as the best pralines. First time eating muffalata which is a meat sandwhich with an olive tapenade like spread which was awesome. Even though I was still full I ate the whole thing. New Orleans is about food after all isn’t it? Oh and personally I liked these pralines better…

We wandered around the back streets of the city going into cool shops and looking at intriguing building and architecture.

One of the types of shops I forced my mom to stop at where Voodoo shops. I have always found voodoo intriguing and have always wanted to learn more about it. Having done a bit of research I had heard the place to go was Reverend Zombies House of Voodoo. This crowded and stuff filled little house was full of little heads, voodoo dolls and all sorts of creepy things. It was very fun to explore in and after some prompting from my mom I decided to have my palms read and future told to me by an odd little woman. It was a strange experience but I think a good one to have. Still nothing out of this world though 🙂

We also stumbled upon the Faulkner house, where William Faulkner lived and wrote several of his books. This cute little place is now a book store and was fun to poke around in for a short minute.


Oh, and we met this guy, and yes that is a washboard he has on and is playing. We found him in the street, no literally, in the street in front of traffic, playing his washboard.

Our last real stop of the day besides dinner was Preservation Hall. I was really surprised about this because I had imagined it very differently. I didn’t imagine this beat up washed out place that didn’t really even have a noticable sign that was right across from the voodoo shop. I don’t know what I was expecting but this sue wasn’t it. And it was closed to boot.

We had dinner at Mother’s Restraunt a local famous place that we heard a lot of hype about, especially for their Po’ boys. Po’ boys are sandwhiches that got their name because originally they were the poor man’s sandwich and cooks would hand out this sandwichs to the poor boys. I got a fried shrimp po’ boy and my mom got some nice gumbo. The food was good but I don’t think it stood up to the hype at all. Good but not anyhting to really rave about in the end. It was still nice to end the day and our time in New Orleans with a New Orleans’ classic like the Po’ boy .

I really enjoyed my time here in New Orleans and hope to be able to come back because I think there is so much left to do here. It also seems as if we are bing chased out of New Orleans by a possible hurricane, so maybe it is time to head out of town.  I am sad to go but the trip must go on, tomorrow we are going to Nashville. This is the big change in the trip, no longer are we going eastward, we are in the final leg heading north now. Half way done.


Coca Cola

Friday, January 15th, 2010

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