In Potsdam, as in Paris, stone profiles play hide-and-seek between the trees. Broad gravel paths, verdant lawns hazed with weeds, and curlicued ironwork gates evoke a world more distant than the half-hour journey from Berlin might lead you to expect.
(My favorite thing: skip the hassle and bustle at Potsdam Hauptbahnhof. Stay on the regional train to the Park Sanssouci station. Alight with two or three others and make your way alone to the long avenue of trees leading to the Neues Palais.)
In Potsdam, I find figures amidst the scaffolding too. A flock of courtiers have been coralled between the two wings of the Neue Palais. The wind piping through the open metal rods that enclosed them made a haunting music too beautiful to believe. Summer's ending, do you feel it too?
Afterwards, on a whim, we climbed the many steps to the stately Drachenhaus. The cartoonish dragons decking the pagoda-like octogon will delight a small child. We liked the blue ceiling painted with stars very much. Look, the fried feta cube straight from the deep-freeze won't wow you: that's why the view of the ruined Belvedere in the distance is there.
Nesting for the winter begins with handmade books and beautiful textiles. This lovely risographed zine has stories by Victoria Hannan and illustrations by Jazz Feldy. Beneath, a cozy eggshell and charcoal rug courtesy of the Urbanara shop, of which I have grown very fond. Mary wrote all about the Berlin-based homeware store here.
I let you have a glimpse of Rita Zepf's wonderful hand-stitched portrait of my daughter in the spring. The dangling threads are particularly appealing picked out in the summer light.
Makrönchen Manufaktur goes heavy on the ground almonds and easy on the sugar when making their macarons. Our favorite trio is pistachio, rose, and Madagascar vanilla. Their tarts are fluffy and not cloyingly sweet, with the happy surprise of red currants studding the fluffy yogurt cream filling. The rainbow-hued base, thrillingly, was made with ground macarons. Ailene took some stunning photos of Makrönchen Manufaktur's cafe interior here.
Urbanara shop, online & showroom, Gipsstr. 10, Berlin-Mitte (map)
Rita Zepf, textile artist, Berlin-Friedrichshain & Uckermark. Open by appointment. Makrönchen Manufaktur, Apostel Paulus Str. 4, Berlin-Schöneberg (map). Snug cafe with macarons, tarts, and hot and cold drinks: I love their sparkling lavender water.
Leg of lamb with roast potatoes and chanterelles for me; courgette carpaccio and tomato soup for David. The latter was devoured too quickly for me to photograph: each roasted tomato (which the chef later explained were marinaded and slow-baked overnight) was a bombshell of flavor. My bed of tubers and mushrooms was perfect; the meat was tough and the glaze too heavily salted for my taste; it's possible Haxe is not my thing.
The simple interior was brightened by chunky dishware from a local potter, and made airy thanks to the open timber roof. Buthmann says majority of the ingredients he uses come from a 100 kilometer radius. Indeed, when we inquired as to the provenance of the quince liquer on display, the friendly waitress pointed us down the road to the Linumer Landhof, just down the main village road.
The shop was a treasure chest of local jams, honeys, juices and more. Who knew yarrow syrup (Schafgarbe) could be so refreshing? Or that we, upon sampling glasses of Boskoop, Jonasgold, and pear juice poured by the friendly owner, would select a bottle of Elstar apple juice as our favorite? Their whole range of syrups, juices, and more is through their online shop. For those of you endowed with fruit trees, know that your bounty can be turned to juice at their juice press from the end of August.
We finished with a quick peek at the nature reserve next door. In the summer, it's very quiet, but come October, the skies fill with storks.
Berlin has left the season of cherries. Overhead, along shady avenues and in playgrounds, berries and stone fruits ripen. As we walked to Krumme Lanke with a picnic basket in hand, S plundered the front gardens of the silent Bruno Taut row houses.
We were on our way to look at some cupboards at Stacey's studio in Lichtenberg. On a summer Saturday, Kaskelstraße was quiet. The park beside Nöldnerplatz was shaded with common ash trees. A red-haired woman pumped the fountain until water spilled down the stones into the sand. Overhead there were apples; a row of blackberry bushes hugged the edge of the playground.
On summer mornings and evenings, Volkspark Wilmersdorf is alive with rabbits, munching cloer in trios. In the afternoons, the park beside the Goldenem Hirsh plays host to a half-dozen picnics. Walking home afterwards, the residential streets are heavy with fruit.
Krumme Lanke, Berlin-Zehlendorf (map) The lake can be unbearably rowdy at the weekends, whereas one almost always finds a quiet space of shore mid-week.
Rudolph Wilde Park, Berlin-Schöneberg (map) Children love watching the U4 trains whisk in and out of Rathaus Schöneberg stop, arguably the prettiest station in the city.