A Weekend in Berlin

Family duties abroad called, so we travelled to Berlin this weekend, spending Saturday looking after the banker’s 26 month old nephew. After a visit to Berlin zoo, plenty of trips on the U-bahn, and a long walk (guided solely by our little ward), we were more exhausted than he was!
I did manage to steal a little bit of time away on Sunday to do the usual round of flea markets. Mauer Platz disappointed as usual, although I’m sure if you’re looking for vintage (and not so vintage!) clothes and tit-tatty trinkets, you’d be more than happy. So down to Arkona Platz I went, and found a rather marvellous cobalt-blue cased and cut vase. In the form of a ball on a cone, with the ball cut with tightly packed rows of lenses, the optical effect is amazing. It was designed by Marita Voigt for Harz-Kristall in 1974, and I’ve been looking for one that I could afford for ages. At €20 cash, I was more than happy, as they usually sell on eBay for more than that – and then there’s the cost of shipping to consider.
Lunchtime! Wandering down through trendy Mitte, we stumbled across the Schwarzer Hase (The Black Hare) restaurant, below the street on the corner of Oranienburger Strasse and Krausnickstrasse. Now, I know this is going to sound odd, but it serves German tapas. Don’t judge it until you’ve tried it! The varied menu is filled with ‘small dishes’ using the very best quality ingredients, all sourced from German artisan suppliers. To say it was delicious is a complete understatement. The banker and I eat out as much as we can, but this place was SO very good, we went again, to try everything else we hadn’t tried. If you’re in Berlin, you really must go.
When we went, it had only been open for three days, so signs hadn’t arrived later. Look out for the temporary sign below…
Then it was on to the famous Strasse 17 Juni market, which always holds treasures a plenty in my experience. Admittedly, I had left it a bit late, but I’ve been very early in the morning before and found that not all the stallholders have even arrived, let alone unpacked all their stock.
Tourists always flock here, so wandering down the aisles is always a bit of a squeeze. There seemed to be more stalls selling vintage clothes and fur coats this time, but there was still a truly great selection of objects to browse from in the 100+ stands selling antiques and vintage.
Much as I wanted to buy around half a dozen interesting things, my hard-sided roller bag is only a certain size. So I settled for a 1970s Bertoncello shape 83 vase for €10 – a real bargain – and two other things that have to remain *secret* for now…!
But my day wasn’t over yet, as I had got in contact with Berlin-based Toma Clark Haines of The Antiques Diva, to see if she’d like to meet up. The antiques industry is friendly, but Toma is one of the most friendly and charming – and one of the most professional – people I have met. Her unique company offers bespoke antiques tours around shops, markets, and fairs – and hidden gems only open to those ‘in the know’. Her Diva Guides are based in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Belgium, and now Stockholm and Copenhagen. And there’s more exciting expansion on the way. We met for coffee and a chat nearby and had a wonderful time swapping stories, experiences, and contacts. A truly wonderful person!
From there, Toma and her husband kindly gave me a lift back to Mitte, where I meandered back to my hotel. En route I stopped off at the Tacheles art collective, housed in a semi-dilapidated building on Oranienburger Strasse (typical interior below). I’ve been here a few times before, but haven’t had enough time to wander around properly. This time I spent a few hours exploring the cavernous, grafitti-filled interior and its many artists’ studios.
Having already pretty much spent my limited budget, and filled my limited baggage space, there wasn’t room for anything large or serious. But I did buy a tiny acrylic painting by Japanese-born multimedia artist Chuuu, who studied manga in Japan, and now works from Berlin.
Measuring around 3inches square, the painting looks like the view one might get looking through a microscope, with all manner of minute, robot-like small creatures crawling about in the sample in the slide. For an original and unique artwork by an up-and-coming artist, €10 seemed too good to miss, even though it’ll cost me much more than that to frame properly!
Then it was off to the airport back to London to write this, and push on with my next exciting project. About which, more later…

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