Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Intoxicated by the smell of limes

photo Britta 

Dear You, 

These days Berlin smells like a heavily perfumed woman - the lime trees flower and their honey-sweet smell comes into every room - wonderful!
I'm glad that I am here at this time! 

"Frau Toni" is a perfume manufactory in Berlin as you know, because you once asked me which perfume I wear, and other than my friend Hildegard I do not keep that as "TOP SECRET". So you know that I use No. 37 - "Violet" - which was the perfume of Marlene Dietrich - and is not half as heavy as it sounds.
(By the way: this is in Germany the only perfume that contains violet - you have to travel to Paris to get one from Serge Lutens)

And this "Frau Toni" has also created an air freshener (perfume for a room - which I normally detest) that is called "Berlin" - and is limetree-flower smell in a bottle - heaven!

Outside I often see bees or bumble bees that lie on the ground - if you bend and listen carefully you'll here them bawl songs as

                      "Let's go for a drink, forget it from now,
                       Put it behind you, I think it's your round.
                       Cause you're my mate and I will stand by you,
                       You're my mate and I will stand by you...." 
Right Said Fred - so help that little totally pissed little mate on a place where no-one might trod upon it...

Yours truly, 

Friday, 26 June 2020

Stairway to Heaven? (Does anybody remember laughter?)

photo Britta 

Dear You,

Yesterday I had an appointment with my dentist

I must show you the flight of marble stairs quite typical for the Bayerische Viertel, the Berlin quarter where I live - oh yes: of course there is an elevator when you reach the first floor (er - yes - that's where the railing ends! And should I better use "if"? If you reach the first floor? Don't worry: a doctor is in the house...) 

I might have told you (have I? I learned a very valuable lesson there a few days ago) that my fitness-studio still offers only a third of the work-out places: so my dentist offers me a good training. For free! 
No problem for a fit person as I... 

Unnecessary to mention that the elevator is - locked down

A dentist can not easily treat patients who are wearing a mask over their mouth :-) 
Another valuable lesson here: We have to trust each other. 
(When my sister was five, the dentist in Bremen sent her home - she refused to open her mouth...) 
But I am (almost) grown-up: 
I gave him a big smile. 

And smiled even more when I heard: "Everything is ok"

Almost lost my glass slipper when I hurried back down! 

Yours truly,

PS: The house where I live is a bit similar, but luckily there are only three marble stairs till you reach the little elevator. 
Our stair carpet is brown, not red - and can you imagine: a thief silently robbed all the brass poles - up to the 4th floor! Nobody noticed... 

Monday, 22 June 2020

By-effects of the lockdown

photo: Britta 

I read Rachel's post and answered this way (added here a bit):

"Many friends, including me, feel odd these days, Rachel (as you write: only sometimes).
One word, should I describe my feeling, is "UNREAL".

The many pretty trees (I love them!) in Berlin help to get that impression: you walk in a street and the light is green - as in a fishtank.. :-)

Unreal, because everything fades a bit, loses colour (only a bit), the sounds become muffled (or are not there).
I never had one, but to me it seems like a global depression: we are waking up in the middle of the night, worrying about the world of thousand things, monkey mind active like hell...

A feeling, that the world around us is still THERE  but covered in a ball of cotton.

There, but in some distance (might I make an educated guess? 1,5m distance?)  

The world is THERE (of course, and will be there long after us), but my feeling signals: it is not really HERE, the world.
Query: maybe I am not really here?

I love fairy tales more and more. I feel like Snow White in her glass coffin - I am alive, but sort of sleeping.  Want to disgorge that poisoned apple.
Feel thin-skinned. Vulnerable. Prone to tears. Unreal. Locked in <- That word describes it nicely, I think. 
Or even better: locked down.

Well - I'll drink a tea now. Might start to read Wilkie Collins again: "The Woman in White".
Or "Wild Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys - or Jane Eyre - all locked up women...

Song in the background: "Wake me up, when it's all over..."

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Summer Solstice and Midsummer Madness

You might wonder about this photo - I took it in Noordwijk where I saw that the evening sun in my back was mirrored in the window of a holiday apartment.

As to solstice: the Flying Dutchman mentioned it quite often last month - and I always reacted a bit annoyed: Why mention it NOW? Why not wait? What do you want to express with it?
(I learned that the Dutch fear darkness - darkness in "full" daylight, I mean - and right they are, too many grey clouds can get you down. BUT: why think about that when the sun is shining brightly?)

I am not a paragon of patience.
My friend Christine tries to teach me for years (she is a paragon of patience!): "Don't cross the bridge before you reach it!" 

And though I am a great midnight rambler (to be exact: I ramble at three o'clock in the morning, heavily trying to puff up many balloons of worry - and I have a lot of breath!) I can abstain from worrying about the rhythms of the year.

I love spring, I love summer, I love autumn, and yes: I love winter too.
I see qualities in each of the seasons and do not want to miss one.

Tom is polishing his silver candlesticks. He is prepared. The Flying Dutchman is that too.
I - honestly - lit the 5 candles on my candlestick every day when I eat dinner.
Paradox: I make that moment special by something I do every day.

Though I confess: I break out in spots if I hear another mentioning of "Achtsamkeit" = "mindfulness" (a whole industry is thriving on this) - of course I enjoy when people really enjoy things -- but spontaneous please, not "holy" (if you get what I mean).

PS: Where is the Druid, the blogger Heron, by the way? 

Friday, 19 June 2020


Today I did something VERY unusual for me - to be honest: I think it was the first time ever. 

A friend of my friend Anne had told me that I MUST watch a TV series, MUST!  
She is Scottish, I didn't know her, but liked her, thought "MUST? I?" and when I heard "Outlander" I thought: No way - Fantasy is absolutely not my cup of tea. 

Later I bought it, stacked it away, didn't watch it, almost forgot it. 
But today I suddenly thought: "Well - might have a look." 
(It was a sort of Scottish day - rainy... And now so stormy, that I cannot upload a trailer or a photo...) 

You must know that I am a great fan of Scotland, and to the surprise of everyone I even love bagpipe music (normally you can make me mad with many sorts of music - I hear like a bat and really suffer). 

Well. And there I sat. And stared. 
And fell in love immediately, without any sign of forewarning. 

Well - I only saw the first episode - but I think: "Louis, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." 

Better late than never.    😂 

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Fata Morgana 2 - more photos than text

photos Britta

Here you see "the back" of the Charlottenburger Schloss 

A baroque garden, beautiful and well-kept borders - here it seems a bit unkempt...

Normally the bridge is painted in beautiful red 

Huge! Flowering soon. 


(How can I delete it?? Only the photo - I love the statue of the Alte Fritz, our King. )

I do hope they don't mess up his pedestal (as with Churchill's statue), or even dump him into the Spree...

The front of the Schloss 

I have just this photo from many, many years ago, a class trip from Bremen, where I come from, to Berlin - then I stood with some pals of mine here and look at him, "Der Große Kurfürst" ---

The Schloss is well protected: 

and now you will understand, after seeing a third of it, why I missed it so very, very much. 


A Fata Morgana - Revisited (1)

photo Britta 

So long it was forbidden ground for me - the lockdown draw a railing around my mobility - I could only go where I could - go. Felt like sitting in a golden cage.

Almost every day I walk about 10.000 steps - but that would be not enough to reach the Charlottenburger Schloss - Google map said: 2 hours walk to and fro - but then I wanted also to walk in the beautiful baroque park!

The Schloss became a symbol, a Fata Morgana, almost an obsession.

Yesterday, which was warm and the air was filled with the intoxicating smell of flowering lime-trees, I got plastered by that.
Got reckless (in a very cautious way: took my unsightly anti-virus-mask - I do have beautiful ones from van Laack, almost an accessory, but they are not so effective), took all my courage into my gloved hands,
- and for the first time since February I walked into the Berlin version of Hades, the underground:

photo Britta 

As you see: not many people here! (I chose a time when people don't have to go to work).
I did not enter the nearest entrance, U Wittenberg Platz, because there is the luxury store KaDeWe, which is open by now and visited by many tourists. I also avoided the next stop, "U Bahnhof Zoo" (a very very bad station even in normal times, and a traffic junction, and a junkie junction..) but of course had to walk a long way to the (hopefully) "more harmless station" Ernst Reuter-Platz.

Only three stops later I was there - "there" means: again a very long walk through Charlottenburg (which I used to visit an acquaintance - the goldsmith Anne Rink - often a costly chat - yes,  yesterday too :-)  - meaning: I had to run back to a bank... and then back to her - but I wanted a symbol of my new freedom.

Then I had to recover from that, which I did by visiting one of my favourite cafés, Café Reet;

... they have the most wonderful Tarte mousse au chocolate - which is not fat, I always wonder how they do it - it slightly crumbles in your mouth in the way cracknel crumbles, but very softly.
Thus strengthened I walked on.
And felt a bit like her:

Minerva - or Athena - a statue created by the Dutch sculptor Bartholomeus Eggers (*1637 in Amsterdam, died 1692) - which stands now in the Charlottenburger Schlosspark.

                               Pallas Athena: goddess of wisdom, strategy and combat. I love her!

(to be continued)