Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Monday, 16 February 2015

My German Blog

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
sorry, I was a bit lazy in the last weeks. Not really lazy - I had a lot of other things to do - but even my best friends in "the real world" had to wait for my (long) e-mails. 
Now the first thing I've written is a post - in German. I had almost forgotten that I have a German blog - www.berlinzumdritten.blogspot.com - but I remembered it two days ago when I had a really charming experience while wandering through Berlin. And suddenly I knew that there exists a word for the way I discover cities and towns: "flanieren" - it might be translated as "to stroll about" or "amble along". And that word I chose as title for my German blog.  
Oh - translations: I saw what Google offers you when you choose "translation" for my German blog - oh my... Better to do it myself (roughly). 
I wrote: 
(...)
'Today the sun is shining, though still a little bit timid, and in the afternoon I sit on my balcony, in one hand a mug of tea, in the other a book by Franz Hessel, written in 1929: "Spazieren in Berlin: Ein Lehrbuch der Kunst in Berlin spazieren zu gehen', ("Strolling about Berlin: A Guide (or textbook) to Learn the Art of Strolling About Berlin") - the title was changed in 1984 to "Ein Flaneur in Berlin". 
My balcony is already planted with early flowering plants: tiny daffodils, a few yellow pansies, and topiary rosemary, thyme, laurel and sage (on little trunks). These little trees led to a discussion with an interesting (unacquainted) woman, who was torn between gardener's greed ("they are dead cheap") and prudence ("it is still too early"). She decided upon reason. 
I don't want to be reasonable anymore. At least not with tiny things - and often also not with big ones. 
"Strolling about" also doesn't follow reason. 
It is what I do for years: in London, where I don't give a damn about beautifully bound city guidebooks; in Edinburgh where I fell in love with the city while I drifted around; in Hastings, washed up like Robinson Crusoe, and where everybody asked: "Why Hastings?" 
If you do 'flanieren', there is no "Why?
One just meanders along. 


18 comments:

  1. I, too, did a post about the word ' flaneur ' Britta …….. as, I am a bit of a saunterer who likes to observe !! …. and, I've done it in Berlin, too !!!!
    Your balcony sounds delightful. XXXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jackie, wow, I will look up that post - when did you write it? And very interesting: so you use the word in England too? (Well, not that surprising: the French 'Flaneur' is an import to Germany too :-)
      I remember that your son studied in Germany, and you had been thus to Berlin - he is a great musician now: I'm still impressed by the video. If you come to Berlin again, I would like to meet you!

      Delete
  2. Such a rational and reasonable way to discover. I believe I have not done this since college. It supposes unlimited time, but why not have that, too. Such unlimited faith in little flowering plants earns the joy of strolling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Joanne, I always like your comments! Yes - to have time is utterly necessary (and of course I do not always have it) - and then: trust. I don't know if I take the right words: "Trust in your intuition" - and then following thatfeeling - with really surprising results!

      Delete
  3. One of the greatest joys in life is to wander and discover some little thing that would never make the guide books. It might only be an interesting color someone chose to paint their house. Or maybe one tiny little flower struggling to shine in an otherwise barren spot. I like the word flanieren. I wish I knew how to properly pronounce it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Emma, you described it so perfectly: the little things that grab our attention - the focus not on 'celebrity', but on things with a beauty that one might discover only on second sight (glimpse?).
      The pronunciation is "fla (long Aah as in "ask") +n +, and 'eeren' (as in eerie). (Sort of - sorry I have no letters for phonetic transcription)

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the pronunciation. It will be a word I use.

      Delete
  4. I love the word flaneur I guess that's what I am too. I love to go exploring. And how lovely to have a bit of colour on your balcony to brighten up the winter days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Elaine, I saw the daffodils on your blog (and nicked the excellent quote by Mark Twain, as I told you - he was really, really cute).
      And yes: 'flaneur' seems to transport even in the way one pronounces it the un-hurriedness (if this word does not exist, one should invent it!)

      Delete
  5. Britta...if ever I am fortunate to travel, my wish is see the people, how they live, what they do in daily life. As nice as monuments, etc are..wandering among the people and observing is much more enlightening and satisfying! Enjoy your balcony... If it is too early, later on you will have a "do over" ...those opportunities seldom come. Smiles...Susan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Susan, its true about the people: when I wondered what I should show to an English visitor here in Berlin, someone said: "First he comes to meet you!" And a balcony always is (regrettable for a real gardener at heart) often a short-living culture (though I have vine and clematis and roses and lilies which flower again every year) and can be replaced if necessary - worth the joy they bring us now,

      Delete
  6. That's a word I'd forgotten, Britta. A lovely word that has something about Sundays and serendipity and strolling from village to village along field roads - or in a new city, wandering where the alleys take one, caught up by shop windows and flower-laden window boxes. Thank you for the lovely pause and the remembering!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Pondside, I had almost forgotten the word too (as the whole blog...) Oh - and I love the other word you now remind me of: "serendipity" - I love that! The nice thing about Berlin is that I don't need a new city - it is mixed from so many very different 'villages' that one always finds something new (if one is ready to leave one's "Kiez", that is - I know quite a lot of Berliner who never leave their comfort zone :-)

      Delete
  7. "I don't want to be reasonable anymore." I applaud the sentiment hugely! As for strolling about, do you know Robert Walser's The Walk? If not, I highly recommend it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Sue, thank you, this is a wonderful tip! I know something by Robert Walser (and husband, of course, has read all) - but "The Walk" is new to me. And: I found it on Project Gutenberg, meaning: for free (or a donation) - I'll just have to find out how to download it.

      Delete
  8. Hello Brigitta, I read this because I saw your blog post heading My German Blog and I have visited Berlin many times so I thought I would read it. Then I saw the word Flaneur and thought of Jackie because she did indeed do a lovely post about flaneuring in her garden last summer. It is such a lovely word and I have never forgotten that post. I sometimes visit your blog but I don't think I have ever left a comment before and you probably won't read this because it is now late. Rachel in the East

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dear Rachel, I'm glad that I found your comment, thank you! One thing I am convinced of: it is very, very seldom too late :-)
    Yes, the word flaneur is lovely, because it has something of 'letting go ' in it, without becoming esoteric.
    And - I really mean it - if you are in Berlin: contact me! I met Tom Stephenson and H. in Bath, and we had a lovely time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete