Berlin: Day 3

Berliner Tagebuch: Freitag 9 Juni 2023 / Berlin Diary: Friday 9 June 2023



There is a general realisation that in any skiing trip, the third day is the hardest. I am wondering if this also applies to any short holiday. The spanner in the works today was a visit to the Reichstag at 4.15 pm, which had no in-built flexibility whatsoever. Whilst I understood the rigidity of the arrangements, I did not appreciate it. It was hard to hang around waiting for something to happen, as I will explain later.

Before you read on, please see here for details of the transport and museum passes we used for this Berlin trip. All information correct as of June 2023.


Frühstück und Morgenaktivität / Breakfast and Morning Activity

It was my birthday so I had some cake for breakfast at The Barn’s other location on the north side of Potsdamer Platz (Bellevuestraße 1, 10785 Berlin) near the Sony Centre. Compared to yesterday’s location, this was calmer with no building works.


Looking up at the unique open roof of the Sony Centre in Potsdamer Platz


No croissants, but carrot cake and green tea made a good start to the day



This morning we revisited the Kulturforum complex, to spend a little time in the Kunstgewerbemuseum. This is one of the less featured museums but I found it very interesting, and a bit like the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

On the lower ground floor there are some rare hand-crafted objects. The Cupola Reliquary is part of the Guelph Treasure. Reliquaries held reminders of long-dead saints, and were meant to inspire awe from those who would feel closer to their saints. Today, our awe comes from knowing that the Guelph collection in the museum is valued at around €250 million.


The Cupola (Dome) Reliquary


The other significant collection on the lower ground floor is the Lüneburger Ratssilber / Lüneburg Council Silver. These pieces were made between the middle of the 15th and the beginning of the 17th century, and financed from money made through the town’s salt production. At that time salt was a vital ingredient for preserving herring caught in the Baltic Sea and the waters around Norway. During religious periods of fasting meat was not permitted, so pickled or salted fish was the only ‘meat’ available in inland areas.


A display case featuring some pieces from the Lüneburg Council Silver



Besides other decorative arts e.g. glasswork and cabinetry, the museum has an extensive collection of fashion clothing and accessories from the 18th to 20th centuries. There are many fine examples but I only really looked at the shoes.


Shoes made by Ferragamo, from the 1940s and 1950s


From past to present: after seeing so many historic domestic and fashion items at the museum I went to Galeries Lafayette to see its modern equivalent. As you can imagine, shopping at this French department store is very pleasurable, with many brands under its wing. In the household department, I especially liked looking at the colourful tea towels from Garnier-Thiebaut.

On a mission to look for one thing only i.e. pepper mills for my friend Shoe Lady, I discovered a whole new universe of pepper mills. On the three display units were (counting front and back) 30 shelves of every conceivable shape, size, material and colour of pepper mill you could ever want. This was pepper mill heaven. All the mills come from Peugeot, and I was surprised to learn that the company made hand tools, kitchen equipment and bicycles before they even thought of making cars.



Mittagessen / Lunch

Bocca di Bacco (literally, Bacchus’ mouth): despite an address in Friedrichstraße, near to Galeries Lafayette and Gendarmenmarkt, I found the restaurant refreshingly unstuffy and welcoming. One of my pet fears when dining out in a foreign city is not being considered a proper paying customer, rather a tourist they might never see again and treat disdainfully. In fact, we had very good food and service throughout our Berlin trip.


A very satisfying lunch, from the bread basket to the Alessi salt and pepper table set which we also use at our home


Nachmittagsaktivität/ Afternoon Activity

There was enough time to visit another museum at the Museumsinsel / Museum Island before heading to the Reichstag. The Alte Nationalgalerie houses sculptures as well as paintings, and they are all significant. By now my head was a bit tired of thinking about how valuable these pieces of art were.


The entrance to the Alte Nationalgalerie


Besides the Pergamon Museum, the other visit that has to be booked in advance is a visit to the dome of the Reichstag Building. There are extensive views from the top and for most people that would suffice, but I also think it is worth reflecting on Germany’s tumultuous political history and how democracy is an ideal worth fighting for and preserving.


Dome of the Reichstag Building


Looking up at the dome


One of the many views from the top


I hate being late for anything. Before the strict appointment at the Reichstag, there was some time to fill and we visited first the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and then the Brandenburg Gate. This did not take long. What could we do to use up some spare time? Pariser Platz, the square in front of the Gate, was busy and noisy with tourists. The Tiergarten Park behind the Gate was just a vast and dry space with no seating. This created a perfect storm with frustration and weariness setting in to turn me into a monster.

It’s not that I would not do this again. If I were to visit with someone else, I would be smarter and plant myself at the Hotel Adlon whilst waiting. My advice would be to plan the Reichstag visit as your first activity of the day. The entry and security arrangements are so rigid you would otherwise be hanging around or running so as to not miss your slot.


Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe


The Brandenburg Gate


Abendessen / Dinner

Katz Orange has one dish every non-vegetarian should try, which is called Candy on Bone. This is either lamb or pork slow-roasted at a low temperature for 12 hours. Served in a miniature Staub roasting dish, the small hunk of meat belies how filling it is. Second helpings are offered if you are still hungry, and I think some teenagers or young adults would happily entertain this challenge.



Let’s learn some German words!

Some German words appear to be very long. It would be easier to comprehend if the compound words were split into its component parts, with a space in between. Unless I move to Berlin (that would be quite fun for a month or two) I don’t think I would have the capacity to learn German, but here is a mini list of some long words I found interesting during my day.

Alles / everything
Gute / good
zum / for the (your)
Geburtstag / birthday
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag = Happy Birthday

Kunst / art
Gewerbe / business
Kunstgewerbemuseum = Arts and Crafts Museum or Museum of Decorative Arts

Ersatz / substitute
Haltestelle / bus stop
Ersatzhaltestelle = replacement bus stop

Ersatzverkehr / replacement traffic
Richtung / direction
Ersatzverkehr Richtung Ruhleben = Replacement service towards Ruhleben



After living for such a long time in England, the best birthday present I can ask for is a sunny day and this is what I had the entire day


Berlin: Day 2

Berliner Tagebuch: Donnerstag 8 Juni 2023 / Berlin Diary: Thursday 8 June 2023



The first of three days visiting some of Berlin’s renowned museums. We’re still getting to grips with the extensive transport system, but managed to get to all the places on our list. Before you read on, please see here for details of the transport and museum passes we used for this Berlin trip. All information correct as of June 2023.


Frühstück und Morgenaktivität / Breakfast and Morning Activity

The Barn Coffee Roasters, Alte Potsdamer Str. 5, Berlin 10785. Great coffee and croissant but the entire area, like many parts of Berlin, is a large building site. There is another branch on the opposite side of the road (see next post). The Playce shopping mall is close by, which has a few shops, a supermarket and a surprisingly large gelato shop. This was shut so I added it to another day’s list.

This morning we visited two of the museums within the Kulturforum complex, which is located near to Potsdamer Platz: first, the Neue Nationalgallerie, followed by the Gemäldegalerie. We saved the Kunstgewerbemuseum for another day.

Top Tips: 1) get a museum pass and try to pre-book at least the first museum visit of the day, as there is always a queue to get in at opening time. 2) Rucksacks and larger handbags are not allowed in the galleries and museums. Some places have manned left-luggage counters. For the others, you need a one euro / two euro coin to use the garderobe/ locker.

The Neue Nationalgallerie’s museum building and sculpture gardens were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. I should have taken a photo of the entrance lobby, which is filled with a row of instantly recognisable Barcelona Chairs. Photos below are from Gerhard Richter: 100 Works for Berlin, one of its current exhibitions.


The Sculpture Garden


Where have I seen this before? 4900 Colours (excerpt) reminded me of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant


Strip, 2013 / 2016 reminded me of British designer Paul Smith. If the lines were zig-zagged I would have thought of Italy’s Missoni


One of Mr Richter’s large abstracts: do you see Monet’s water lily pond in this somewhere?


From modern to traditional: our next stop was to the Gemäldegalerie to view its hefty collection of 13th to 18th century European paintings. There are many masterpieces to behold and, unlike London’s National Gallery, it is not crowded and you get to view each painting properly. However there is an entrance charge, which is largely negligible if you make good use of the Museum Pass Berlin.



Walking round the gallery’s many rooms, I had to remind myself that in the days before the invention of photography and film (and now, social media), most people could not see first-hand what famous people, distant places and popular cultural items looked like. Myths, legends and religious texts were brought to life as large drawings. Even foods and flowers were represented in this medium.


Still life paintings of lobsters, one of my favourite foods


In the same culture complex: Berliner Philharmonie, home to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (top) and a rear view of St. Matthäus-Kirche (bottom)


Mittagessen / Lunch

Chipperfield Kantine is the workplace canteen for David Chipperfield Architects. It was not exactly near to the museums we wanted to visit, but it does serve a daily vegetarian lunch. One thing I worried over was my daily fibre intake, and I was not keen on eating street food or pork knuckle and sauerkraut.



After lunch, we had coffee/ tea and cake nearby. I was actually looking for Black Apron Cakes and read that their cakes can now be found at CODOS coffeeshop. Their two branches in Berlin are at: Rosenthaler Straße 1, Berlin 10119 and at Invalidenstraße 1, Berlin 10115. Since there are many cakes to choose from, plus pastries and cooked egg dishes, anytime is a good time to visit CODOS.


Orange and almond cake by Black Apron


On the wall of CODOS Coffee. Wondering whether this is the average feeling of Berliners towards their city. Even on a very bad day I wouldn’t want to say ‘I Hate You’ to my adopted city of London


Nachmittagsaktivität / Afternoon Activity

A visit to the main museum on Museumsinsel / Museum Island. The Pergamonmuseum is what every guidebook says is the museum to visit in Berlin. Some say it is the equivalent of the British Museum in London. I would say that they are both unique in their own way, each presenting ancient cultures through the artefacts they have acquired.


I am slightly ashamed at my lack of ambition and creativity: granite to me means one thing only i.e. kitchen worktops


Currently, the museum’s Pergamon Altar and some other parts are closed to the public, but there is still plenty to see.


Reconstructions of Ancient Babylon’s Processional Way and the Ishtar Gate of Nebuchadnezzar II. The brick fragments were transported in 500 crates which had to be pieced together to remake individual panels


Market Gate of Miletus


One of the star pieces in the museum: the Berlin Gold Hat


Abendessen / Dinner

Osmans Töchter is a modern Turkish restaurant run by Osman’s daughters. Like Night Kitchen (see previous post), the advice is to reserve a table ahead of time. We enjoyed every dish we ordered and ate very well. After dinner we walked to the ice cream shop, because there is always space for ice cream.


Tribeca Ice Cream (vegan), Rykestraße 40, Berlin 10405


There was a little time and sunlight left to catch the tram to Alexanderplatz before heading back to our hotel


Let’s learn some German words!

It is sometimes possible to guess the English equivalent of German words. Here is a mini list of some words I found interesting during my day.

Leben / life
Stillleben mit Hummer und Früchten = Still Life with Lobster and Fruit (the first lobster painting above, by Frans Snyders)
Stillleben mit Früchten und Hummer = Still Life with Fruit and Lobster (the second lobster painting above, by Jan Davidsz de Heem)

Berliner Philharmoniker = Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Kirche / church
St. Matthäus / St Matthew
St. Markus / St Mark
St. Lukas / St Luke
St. Johannes / St John

Gemälde / paintings
Galerie / gallery
Gemäldegalerie = picture gallery

Töchter / daughters

Finally, a bonus note because I love lobsters. Homaridae is the scientific family name for lobsters. In German lobster = hummer, and in French lobster = homard. According to my Chamber’s Dictionary, the English word lobster comes from the Anglo-Saxon word loppestre, related to Latin locusta / locust. You don’t need to remember any of this etymology, just the different words for lobster in any given language.


Date, Banana and Tahini Bundt


I have just finished watching the latest series of Masterchef UK and am in full admiration of the competitors and their ambition. Most would like to own and run at least one restaurant, and to achieve Michelin star status. Me? I am happy to get to the end of the day with something decent on the table.

This is why I love baking. It is so, so simple to bring together a few ingredient and have something to show for it an hour later. Recently I have been baking my cakes in Bundt pans and re-working a few older recipes. I am trying out spelt flour in my cake baking for a change, instead of using regular wheat flour. In line with the doctor’s advice, I have also reduced the sugar by 20%.

Today’s cake includes dates, banana and tahini. The original recipe (made in a square tin) is here, which has notes on which type of tahini to use. Make sure you stick a long metal spoon into the tahini before first using, to scrape up the solid paste which has settled at the bottom of the jar. Stir this solid paste into the more liquid paste on top.


For today’s cake I used a Lebanese tahini


Simple but naturally sweet additions of crushed bananas and chopped dates lessen the need for too much sugar in the cake


I used a 6 Cup Anniversary Bundt Pan and prepared it with butter, sesame seeds and flour, to prevent the cake from sticking



For the Cake:

2 large eggs

80 g light or dark brown soft sugar

100 g sunflower oil

175 g wholegrain or white spelt flour (I used a 125 g wholegrain/ 50 g white mixture)

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

150 g pitted Medjool dates, cut into small pieces

200 g ripe bananas, broken into pieces and lightly crushed

50 g tahini (preferably Middle Eastern tahini)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10 g each softened butter and plain flour to line the Bundt pan

2 – 3 teaspoons untoasted white sesame seeds


You will need a 6 Cup Anniversary Bundt Pan. The cake can also be made in a 2 pound / 900 g loaf tin or a 20 x 20 cm square tin.


How to Make:

Preheat the oven to 170°C/ 150°C fan.

Brush the softened butter evenly over the entire inside of the pan, taking care to fill every corner. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds, which will stick to the butter.

Sift over the flour, moving the pan around to coat evenly. Remove the excess flour by turning the pan upside down and giving it a tap (do this over a sink). Set the pan aside.

Sift the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together into a large bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Whisk in the oil slowly.

Add the flour mixture and, using a silicon spatula, gently fold into the whisked egg mixture.

Add in the dates, banana, tahini and vanilla extract. Gently fold everything together until well mixed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.

Level the surface and tap the pan on a folded dishcloth to settle any bubbles.

Bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until the cake bounces back when touched. A metal skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.

Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

The cake will slice into eight thin and eight thicker pieces – perfect for a sharing with friends, and perfect for picnics.



Millers of spelt flour in the UK: Doves Farm and Shipton Mill. I use their flours regularly and highly recommend them.