Month: July 2013

Copenhagen, part II

The in-laws humoured me in accompanying me to a Fleamarket on Saturday morning.

I miss flea markets and proper opshops! Back home they were my main source of clothing (and jewellery and book and nic-nacs). Apart from the fact that I don’t feel so much like a filthy shallow consumer when buying pretty second hand frilly things, I also enjoy the ‘hunt’: the searching through racks and racks of crap to find something fancy. But, aside from a few fairly poorly outfitted Oxfams, the Potsdam-Berlin area seems to mostly be filled with fancy second hand and vintage ’boutiques’… not at all good for hunting.

So I took advantage of the high-wage, high-cost Perth-like society of Copenhagen, and we all took the 9A bus to Frederiksberg where they run a pretty decent sized fleamarkets (every Saturday morning from 8am to 15:00). I shopped my little heart out and came home with a navy dress- decorated with slightly abstract Chinese characters, and a new winter coat- the latter being the equivalent of <6 euros (plus Karen Millen for those of you playing at home). Photos of the coat to come in the winter. The dress will feature fairly heavily in the next couple of blogs.

We had a coffee before taking the 9A bus back to the centre. The bus was somewhat erratic in its schedule, but in the good ‘coming more than it should’ way- and Andy bestowed upon it the title of ‘Bus NineAnarchy’.

We joined up with a walking tour group- one of the free ones from Sandeman. Andy and I have done a couple now- in London, Amsterdam etc.- and they’re usually a pretty nice way to get a look around the city, to orient yourself and to learn a bit of the (slightly exaggerated) history of the streets.

This one went for a couple of hours, and lead us through some very picturesque areas, eventually ending up at the royal palace, somewhere in the vicinity of the Little Mermaid.

The building to the left was one of our favourites. It’s the stock market, and the spire is actually made up of the twirling tails of dragons (can you make them out at the bottom of the spire sitting with their bums in the air?). Apparently, like all great cities of its time, Copenhagen had some issues with flammability, and the dragons, while representing strength, are also supposed to act as protection from the fires.

Copenhagen is a pretty good place for elephant spotting: they’re the symbol of the city, representing strength and … possibly wisdom??

All good long walks should end in a large meal. And all large meals should end in a long walk. Herein lies the mystery of life (in my family).

We sat down for a rather splendid picnic in the park, and dined on fresh bread, cheese and meats, and a punnet of cherries.

European cities do very very fine botanical gardens. This one is quite central, rather large, and free (which, given that we’re in Copenhagen, is quite something!)

I suspect there’s a turtle somewhere in that photo, but I can’t for the life of me find it.

Look Ma! I found some tobacco (the plant I work with everyday).

I suspect this is how you know that you’re not in Deutschland anymore. My current mood is that ‘in Deutschland you wouldn’t have the sign, you’d just know in your Deutsch DNA whether the gras was sit-onable or not’. But that might be because we went to a cafe yesterday and got thoroughly scolded for sitting too many people around a table (in a tipping society where we were all buying food and multiple rounds of drinks, this seemed very very odd). Probably they’d have a sign. Or a nosey old lady would tell you to move along. 

Our plan to find the place where Andy’s sister once ate a rather nice duck sandwich led us to a beautifully cluttered indoor market place… but we were all too full of cherries (and was there icecream in there somewhere too?) to eat anything else.

It seemed it was time to do a bit more exercising (output) before we were allowed more input.

Tower Climbing Time!

When my sister and her friend did a eurotrip many years ago, they made a point of climbing the tallest building in every city. I think I see their point:

I feel there should be a cross indicating negation in this warning sign. Right now it’s just egging me on.

We seemed to have arrived at Mahlzeit again

And the day ended as all days should. With Andy sliding down a giant parrot slide:

Copenhagening around

The parents (Andy’s) spent a week away from us, in Sweden, with plans to then cross the unbelievably narrow sea to Denmark by Friday evening. With that in mind, Andy and I headed to Copenhagen of Thursday evening, to scout the place out before meeting up with his folks.

We arrived fairly early in the evening, after a flight which lasted literally 45 minutes and was therefore all take off and landing with no meaty flighty bit. Not that I’m complaining- but coming from Perth, where you can fly for about five hours and still be in Australia, I’m not sure I’m ever going to get used to this continent’s tininess.

We walked about ten paces from the main train station (in turn only 12 minutes by train from the airport), through a European summer night filled with trumpet sounds. They had some sort of Jazz festival on in the city, which meant we were also accompanied by trumpets the next morning, and on occasion throughout the following days….so Copenhagen looks like elephants and dragons and castles and sunshine, tastes like burgers and buttermilk icecream (more on that later!), and sounds like trumpets.

Our hotel was pleasingly red, and the beds pleasingly sleep-inducing, and we slept and lazed until well into the next morning.

And then set off to explore…

(Do you see the adorable little birds on the corner of this pillar?)

And to fill ourselves with food at the delightfully decked out Cafe Obelix.

I come from a family of horders with at least a sprinkling of gardening genes thrown in, so this sort of ordered chaotic clutter with plants and bottles and pictures is right up my alley.

Andy’s alley involved more food: bacon, sausages, fried AND scrambled eggs, a pancake, bread, fruit salad, juice, coffee….

 I went for a burger, which, I’ll have you know, is a perfectly respectable brunchtime meal option.

I promise you that the radioactive coloured goo translates to tastiness in one’s mouth!

More exploring, complete with multiple fountains, street art, statues and posing.

As far as sights go, Copenhagen has many very beautiful building, modern and old- and lovely parks and gardens and a fairly pretty coastline. But for the ‘big bucks’, they tend to rely on good old H. C. Anderson, and his story of the little mermaid. We saw several statues, plaques signalling places he lived, his grave- and of course the famous sculpture of his little mermaid, and even an more modern interpretation of her ‘genetically modified’ sister.

 After about 4 hours of walking, we headed to the hotel of Andy’s parents- conveniently located right across the road from ours. Onwards! to several more hours of walking/exploring, punctuated by icecream, which, for possibly the first time in my life, I felt too full to commit to.

Not that it stopped the others.

Finally, the group became aware of the repeated cries of Mari-Anne: it was time to sit down and have some solid food.

We stopped in a restaurant called Toldboden, situated not-too-far from the famous mermaid. It was incredibly packed, and I think mostly with locals, who were crammed around bowls of shrimp at wooden picnic style tables, or lounging in the sun on deckchairs. There was a fight to get a table, which Andy and I failed miserably at, but luckily the more aggressive older generation came to the rescue.

While waiting for our food, I ordered this really delicious hipster-y Rhubarb drink, while Andy’s mum, being the filthy little copy-cat that she is, went for a raspberry. We later branched out to the other two members of the collection- and tasted Holunder blossom (too flowery) and a blackcurrent one (very Ribena-y), but ultimately decided that we’d ‘won’ with the first choices.

And we all chowed down on some very delicious rosemary-salt chips, with crunchy fish pieces, fish rissoles and accompanying sides.

 We walked off our leafy greens, gradually making our way to the Mermaid.

I was allowed icecream, having missed out in the first round, but for some reason had to share. Stupid common-law partnership!
We visited the ‘ugly sister’ of the little mermaid- affectionately called the ‘genetically modified mermaid’. Insert here any usual comments about genetic modification and bad press. 
I’m going to jump the gun on all my relatives and acknowledge that if the little mermaid is Ariel, then this poor sister with its bent little feet must be a Tegan. Probably after licking too much ethidium bromide (mutagen used in lab- not usually recommended for the licking- but just so red and pretty and irresistible).

Stumbling across some errant gym equipment, we jumped at the opportunity to work off our fish.

And then ambled home.

The In-laws: a week-long food voyage

This Monday, Andy’s parents flew in from Perth, so we’ve been meeting up with them after work every evening, to try to show them some of our favourite places.

Of course, many of those places happen to serve good food.

On Monday we went to the Big Smoke, meeting them at Zoo and then walking along the Ku’damm to a fairly decent French restaurant to tuck into some tasty food. In an unplanned coupling, the ‘girls’ went for truffle linguini with Pfifferlinge, and the ‘boys’ steaked it. Pfifferlinge translates to chantarelle mushrooms, and the people who know much more about these things than myself have noted that they are the first of the mushies to appear as the seasons change.

And appear they have!: every restaurant we’ve passed in the last week has had at least two or three Pfifferlinge dishes.

You all know how I feel about mushrooms. The Reign of the Spargel seems to be wanning, and the Pfifferlinge (plus the strawberry and its assorted berry friends) are rising: I think I could be very, very happy indeed in July!

Anyway, I was very lax/too busy stuffing my face with various species of fungi, and managed to miss all the food action, so we’ll have to move onto Tuesday: in which the parentals visit us at work and in our humble abode.

I’m not sure if any of you remember the photos of me squatting (in a non-vulgar sense) on a frozen lake on winter? This is that lake. It looks happier now. Speaking of squatting:


Did I tell you I love grasses? And they are native (probably) here, so Mother cannot scold me from pulling off the seeds and throwing them in the air triumphantly.

Back at the apartment we pulled out our Ikea table to fit 4, and loaded it with salad, speck, schmand, rosemary-garlic potatoes, broccoli and pork….

… and did what families do best: ate more than should be physically possible.

On Wednesday and Thursday we managed to couple the eating with a visit from Rob, who had ducked into Berlin for a few days. We extended across the continent, from French to Turkish- and heartily took to the eating of delicious stews and tasting plates at Knoffi.

I really love the atmosphere in Knoffi, they have strings of dried eggplant hanging form the ceiling, a massive cabinet filled with olives and artichokes and chickpea salads and hundreds of dips and pastes, and every corner is stuffed with baklavas and oils and various wares from that part of the world.

It’s everything a little horder like me could ever dream of!

 

My tasting plate- tapenade, stuffed vine leaves, homous and a chilli-creamcheese paste, plus artichoke salad and chickpea salad, and some various vegetables, and all served with a massive basket of turkish bread.

To walk off some of the food, we did a short wander around Kreuzberg, including through Viktoria park, which holds a large memorial at the top of the hill and is otherwise filled with flowing streams, windy paths and big grassy areas ripe for the picnicing.

Thursday was Italian, at Potsdam’s Pfeffer and Saltz- where they make their own very tasty pasta and rather delicious pizzas.

Mine had air-dried cured ham, fresh tomatoes, rucola, and thick shreds of some sort of strong and tasty Italian cheese.

Of course, the food required yet more walking, so we headed through the Innenstadt, through the park, over the bridge, and back to Schlaatzstrasse, to show off the apartment to Rob.

These blue ones were just amazingly vibrant, and there were whole garden beds filled with seas of different blues!

And on Friday it was time for a taste of Asia: we wandered around Kreuzberg for a bit….

… then made our way to Cuno, near U-Schlesisches Tor.

And ate what I think is easily the best asian food I have so far had in Deutschland. We had fresh prawn vietnamese spring rolls, satay chicken, fried vegetable spring rolls, maki rolls with duck and mushroom, papaya salad and a crispy thai beef salad, some delightful fried fish in a spicy red curry sauce, and superbly cooked duck in a mango curry.

… and then had to walk a bit more…