Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Berlin Diary


Please may I interrupt my writing schedule (8,000 words and counting) to tell you a few things, about me and about Berlin.

Firstly, if I lived alone permanently I would talk to myself out loud and eat straight from the fridge without bothering to use a plate, so I am very grateful to my darling family for keeping me on the right side of civilised.

Secondly, I like to shop but very large department stores confuse me and I have to head for the coffee-shop for recuperative chunks of cake. Yesterday, however, I found the perfect department store – just one size up from bijou, it has an excellent mixture of designer wear to just look at and more affordable street-wear from a mixture of French, British and German designers. The Galleries Lafayette on Friedrichstrasse is beautifully designed around a central glass cone, so I couldn’t get lost. It was also conveniently having its summer sales, so I found one or two lovely items at seriously reduced prices. Having enjoyed that success, I then went down to the foodhall and discovered to my absolute joy, that they have a concession for the Laduree macaroons which are, frankly, the most delicious things I have ever eaten in my life, ever. I ordered four small ones – rose petal (!), salted butter caramel (!!), chocolate and pistachio – but only ate the first two and took the other two home. They are a pastel taste sensation. I love this city!

Then I went into bookshops and flirted dangerously with buying more books than I could carry. Next, I walked up Unter den Linden to Bebelplatz – scene of the Nazi’s first book-burning in 1933 – where there was an open-air book fair. I bought some more books, this time for my kids. There were white marquees up, with writers giving readings, and a children’s tent with books to read, pictures to colour in and a man doing a reading from a pirate-book. I also picked up a flyer to LesArt, a centre of literature for children and young people based in Berlin, that arranges literary events for kids and trains adults, whether parents or professionals such as librarians, how to foster a love of literature in the young. Did I mention that I love this city?

Then I went for a very long walk to the Jüdisches Museum in northern Kreuzberg. It chronicles 2000 years of Jewish history in Germany, and is stunningly detailed, with interesting multimedia effects that even the youngest visitors could enjoy. There is one section dedicated to the Holocaust, and this is reflected in the architecture – an imposing steel-clad building designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind. Inside, the building is divided into three axes – the Axis of the Holocaust, which leads to the empty and haunting Holocaust Tower; the Axis of Exile which leads to a garden of tilting concrete columns that left me feel nauseous and anxious and which is supposed to evoke the discomfort of exile, and the Axis of Continuity, which leads to a very long, steep staircase and the rest of the exhibition. It was very impressive, and tiring.

This morning I took a walk along the Landwehrcanal, zigzagged through various Kreuzberg streets, and ended up in the Hasenheide park on the border of Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Then I strolled back to my favourite Kreuzberg hangout, Bergmannstrasse, for an early lunch of salad, carrot juice (we writers have to keep our strength up) and hummus at Knofi.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some writing to do …


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

10 thoughts on “Berlin Diary

  1. charlotte, it sounds like you are having a great time. i can almost taste those macaroons – i’ll make sure to visit the gallerie lafayette when i’m in berlin the next time!

    happy writing, and have more fun in berlin!

  2. mmmm, the macaroons are to DIE for! they even have them in London now, hooray!

  3. Charlotte, glad you enjoyed my entry 🙂 … I have to say I am seriously contemplating on dropping the kids off at school tomorrow morning and doing a dash into London for those macaroons!

  4. You keep making me want to visit Berlin!

    Congratulations on those 8,000 words (and after the MacBook disaster and everything). More words, more words, go!

  5. Sounds like the Berlin retreat is a resounding success so far (minus the death of your Mac). Happy writing!

  6. Good lord, is anyone really allowed to have that much fun? I think I watched someone making Laduree macaroons on TV once…they are supposed to be wickedly good.

  7. I think I have come across your Blog at just the “write” time Charlotte! I am trying to get in the writing swing myself (mainly boring academic writing at this stage unfortunately) but I am off to a writing retreat this week so your success has given me inspiration!

  8. Berlin made a huge impact on me in the short time I was there. How amazing to have this time not only to write but to immerse yourself in your favourite city with no restrictions. I vowed that I would return to Berlin and now I have another reason – Laduree macaroons!

  9. Oh I LOVE travelling alone and I adored Berlin. The Holocaust museum is incredible, isn’t it? Especially that haunting tower with all the metal faces on the floor. Did you go to the memorial near the Potsdammerplatz? We went up in the tethered balloon and you get an incredible view of it from above, then descend and walk among the gravestone-shaped stones.

    And hurrah for German department stores! Glad to hear you had the Laduree macarons. So far I’m a Pierre Herme macaron girl, but I’m sure I’ll get round to Laduree one day. And well done you for fitting in some writing 😉

  10. Always good to hear about Berlin. I recall very clearly taking a walk from Alexanderplatz down to Kreuzberg and into the Jewish Museum, followed by Checkpoint Charlie and back up to Mitte via Friedrichstrasse and Unter Den Linden, if I’ve got it right in my memory. I remember, just next to Bebelplatz, a man playing a beautiful melody on an accordion: the light was just beginning to fade on a sunny early-November afternoon, and it was one of those really affecting moments.

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