February Highlights!

Hello friends!

It is now online on its special page the complete February section of my monthly favourites! Link for lazy bums here

We start as usual with a music compilation, quite referring love, hope and patience:

Furthermore, I spoke about flowers, movies, artist, and also the  dish of the month, a pretty healthy one this time.

Thanks to your suggestions I also included some new favourites: book, radio program/podcast, tv series and photography (well, the best, or most significant, photo I took during Feb.). I hope to keep it sharp, inspiring and relevant. Oh, keep in mind that every section has a link if you want to know more about the topic. 🙂 Just click here…

Enjoy and bring joy with you, always.

Val

Berlinale Mitte

February 9th 2014 was a windy Sunday, ruled by Berlinale and spinning clouds in an intense blue sky.

I love the effect a film festival provokes on a neighbourhood, Mitte, usually runs by offices, bureaucracy and mass of tourists. This Sunday was different, with an incredible amount of young people rushing to get to the screenings, less tourists, ice melting on the lakes and a genuine, quiet, positive vibe that Spring is coming soon.

The light in ‘der Himmel über Berlin‘ was too amazing not to do a cheeky photo-session, and results were beyond my expectations, so I posted a selection on my Flickr page, the best media for sharing photos without have to lose the quality.

Here’s the link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/60353299@N08/sets/72157640746003013/

Bis bald.

Berlin Festival of Lights

It is delightful to enjoy my city in the dark thanks to this festival, running for 10 days in October every year. The buildings and monuments get a new shape, thanks to fantastic, recreational lights that tell a story, a music, facts and events connected to the city.

This year, like last year, shame that the city centre and Unter den Linden were still sacrificed and closed due to the construction of a new underground line but I found incredible the show at Posdamer Platz.

I leave you a generous amount of pictures (WordPress quality permitting) to judge yourselves.

 

Gendarmenmarkt

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Alexanderplatz

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Berliner Dom

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Brandenburger Tor (and its Microsoft-ish Powerpoint-ish show in a sea of admiring tourists)

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U.S. Embassy

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Potsdamer Platz – Yay Pop Art!

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See you soon..

Potsdam

Get on Sbahn S7 and cross the city centre, from East to West. Buildings, monuments, politics graffitis, Tiergarten, houses, railways and then BOOM: the forest. One of the best part of the trip to Potsdam is the ride, indeed.

The forest and its calm, then Potsdam and its glory.

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It is really worth a day there, even if – unlucky me – it was raining all the time.

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The city centre shows pretty little houses, delightful shops and bistros: the vibes are so amazing. And there is the Dutch neighbourhood, with its tiny red-bricks houses, ivy and flowers at the windows. LO-VE-LY.

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You can be well impressed just by the centre, and then you walk into the royal park. Oh my days. Gardens, creeks, flowers and centenarian trees. Sanssouci Palace is announced by a very beautiful fountain and stairs along the terracing hill full of fruit plants. I really like the effect of this hilly terrace with the one floor yellow castle because I think it’s a superb way to exhibit the power without being pompous at all.

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The garden then takes you to the other castle, in a delightful space: the general feeling is a very pleasant well being, without being ‘too much’.

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The tourist touch is, however, present and vivid, I saw a man playing a flute dressed up like, dunno, 1600 century gentleman. The local mill I guess it’s the most visited thing in Potsdam too. I am not a big fan of tourist stuff and queuing up activities, but this royal park offers so much space also a grumpy lady like me can’t really complain at all.

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General feedback? Go and visit Potsdam.  Really. Choose a late Spring or Summer day, enjoy a picnic, dedicate some time to the centre. And later, when you will take the Sbahn back feeling so regenerated you will feel the urge to thank me. You’re welcome.

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Apologies for the piccies, my mobile camera gives not its best during grey rainy day.

Sachsenhausen

I went few years back to a concentration camp and thought to visit another Lager whenever possible, despite it’s a pretty hard thing to do. Well, I frankly lied to myself, gutless to fell into the same sorrow, and never went to another one.

And then I had my brother living here with me; He is young, he needs to experience and see the differences there are in this as beautiful as scary world. I also wanted him, not German, to learn a piece of history right from the core, a German community, possibly in order to start a critical path of understanding, like here we all are still processing together.

Sachsenhausen was a lager/concentration camp for political prisoners just outside Berlin, northbound, used by Germans first, Russians after (see the huge communist obelisque opposite the entrance). I was overall happy I found time to visit it, I can only suggest anyone who visits Berlin for a couple of days to save some time and see with their own eyes how a camp was, how lethally brutal it was.

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Now, I don’t want to lecture or report the story I heard from my audio guide; I just want to leave a general positive impression about the organisation, everything was well-explained. It’s intense and never off-topic.

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I was there during a very sunny and windy day, dust lifting from the ground and spinning all over us, emptiness around. I struggled to keep my mind clear from a distinct bad feeling, something I would explain like a ‘darkness in the heart’.

A must seen, whenever you feel ready.

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Jewish Barracks

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Prison

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Russian Obelisque

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Monument at the Crematorium site

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Pathology Lab

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My brother:

Listening the audioguide

Listening to the audioguide

Lakes calling. Bike answering.

Nice weather calls outdoor activities. This week my bike went to visit the lakes surround South-West Berlin. This is what the purple friend captured by the tour, few words, just room for the images.

Here some pictures:

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Wannsee

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Nikolassee

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Schlachtensee

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Krumme Lanke See

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Grunewaldsee (dog beach)

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Hundekehlesee

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Hasensprung divides Dianasee (above) from Koenigssee (below)

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Lovely Herthasee and Hubertussee from even more lovely Bismarkallee bridge.

Latest integration: the forest next, and around, to those lakes. Bliss.

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Gärten der Welt: the world in a park

I wrote this for a trial at a company not so much time back, it’s addressed to budget travellers… but couldn’t wait to publish it because of the pictures correlated.. you know I embrace the #parklife style! Shorter than usual, I hope you enjoy it!

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It’s part of any travellers experience to find a genuine place in the city you’re visiting, without the help of your precious, detailed guide. It usually happens when you jump on a tram by instinct or take the wrong path or just get a hint from a stranger. Your choice might lead to a wonderful place.

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It takes a bit of time with public transports to arrive to Gärten der Welt in Berlin Marzahn but it’s worth the diversion from Berlin city center. This park is a lovely interpretation of a green, open, family-oriented space with six areas designed to experience different gardens from all around the world. While conceived to be a breathing break from the contrasting, outmoded, yet significant DDR’s buildings all around it, Gärten der Welt gives the possibility to have wonderful flights of fancy.

You walk and you are projected in an Italian terrasse during Renaissance;

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an Arab glance, with spouting fountains and ceramic tiles;

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a Chinese restaurant and lovely area, around the lake, where to sip a black tea;

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a Japanese zen portion, to find an inner balance looking at the wavy modelled sand;

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a Korean sanctuary to transport you back in time;

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a Balinese indoor space, where orchids take the stage in a steamy hot.

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Finally the newest element is a square called the ‘Christian Garden’ with suggestive open closter made of words from the Holy Scriptures, but also from philosophy and literature. Highly suggestive and incredibly inspiring for photo amateurs, like all the rest of the park.

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There’s is a small fee to pay (4 Euro) for this unique experience to get lost in time and space, while being comfortably pampered with cafes, recreational spaces and green fields to rest from the adventure that is Gärten der Welt, our world in a single park.

P.S. Yes, I had to take the pictures with my mobile phone, that is smart but doesn’t quite honour the place when it’s cloudy. Sorry for the quality, my camera, karma-foolish, died at the entrance just after I paid the ticket. Prost.

Arrivederci amore, ciao

I don’t remember the first time I watched “La stanza del figlio”, an Italian movie by director Nanni Moretti.

It’s a touching story about loss, fatherhood, conciliation and, maybe, hope. It’s quite a different story than the others Nanni wrote, directed and produced; more narrative, less a neurotic-flux-of-thoughts. Slightly, dangerously at times, not autistic like the others. There is a tangible pace of sorrow in there and it hits you so much to make you uncomfortable.

Is there a way to understand a loss? Personally, I still don’t know. In the movie it seems there is a turning point to first compensate, then understand it when at the end Nanni / the Father gives a car ride to his dead son’s girlfriend and her new ‘friend’. In that occasion, the car should have stopped at the certain known and agreed point, just it doesn’t. To proceed together, to face the after, I saw it as a shy hope for the future of that family.

Four in a car, they start singing an old song: the song talks about a goodbye between two lovers, where the woman is strong and confident that it’s over and she will be fine after all. There is a genuine spontaneity in the singing together and enjoying the moment despite everything. I recall this behaviour an important aspect of being Italian. Somewhere, somehow, Italians have always hope.

Lyrics are pretty strong: a persistent use of metaphors from the nature like clouds and water, showing a constant change in feelings as in the outside; a bitter sense of detachment; a sad, but firm, awareness the past is past, the new has already come. My favourite passage is when she sings:

E quando andrò devi sorridermi se puoi, non sarà facile ma sai, si muore un po’ per poter vivere.”

(And when I leave you must smile at me if you can, it won’t be easy but, you know, you must die a little bit inside to be able to live)

Clever lyrics. I’ve made them mine, quoting them when convenient.

Once I quoted the movie with a nice guy I had met before, but never spoken in depth. I was fascinated by his exotic and religious name, moreover by his story. Complicity of a home party and alcohol, we started chatting and never stopped since then. We found a common ground in the love for old movies.

That night caught ourselves laughing out loud and sharing secrets, tips and stories: when we both confessed the love for ‘La stanza del figlio’ we started singing the song together, at 3 am in a silent dormitory. It was a little nice moment, somehow similar to the movie scene in the car for its spontaneity, that I’ll enshrine in my heart.


The song’s name is ‘Insieme a te non ci sto‘ più by Caterina Caselli and if you’ll ever read this post: much love to you, Jesus (the one w/o the cross, I mean).

Britzer Garten in Berlin

When you live abroad it is easier to be amazed by your surrounding, especially when you take a path different from what the guide suggests or when you just follow the ‘locals’.

There is something magic when you get lost and just browse around, following your guts, spirit, mood, or simply people. I really trust local’s taste, as much as you know if a restaurant along the street is good from the number of trucks there are parked. So locals, as much as truck drivers know their stuff.

Two years ago, while wandering with my bike, I stumbled in this park, Britzer Garten, South Berlin. I went back in a sunny day and the wonder still lives there.

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It’s an amazing time for taking pictures right now, the light is good but not too bright, the days outside get longer and warmer and the blossom is pure joy for a pics-aholic. On a sunny day, this park is the perfect combination, highly recommended!

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Britzer Garten is a lovely residential neighborhood, between Mariendorf and Britz-Neukoelln where all around there are small houses and beautiful garden. Birds sing all the time. It’s quiet and human-sized. The location is out-of-peek for tourists, the result is the total absence of temporary ‘ich-bin-ein-Berliner”- claimers. And it is still nice to find place like that, in a big first-come-first-served city.

During May there is a kind of party going on in the park, people celebrates tulips: colourful wild tulips, choreographic tulips, mix-race ones. It’s a delight walking along the paths and admire the wild tulips and many other flowers, in lovely compositions: words cannot explain the feelings when it’s sunny. It’s pure life and balance. It’s the detail that gives meaning.

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The park itself show a perfect combination space/green/visitors, there are several fields, playgrounds and a functional services around the lakes, benches, platforms and chairs along the way. You can rest while watching funny ducks in love chasing one another on the water, kids playing on the fields, ladies having an ice cream or a bratwurst in one of the many kiosk. This park states: please come, walk, rest, have the best of time. And the pictures explain it better than words, indeed.

 

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 In a sentence: Britzer Garten, happy place for the soul.

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December, end of the journey.

The last month of the year was about going back to my roots.

It was an unexpected, lovely month, started with bad news, ended with good hopes. When I was there to write about a trip I programmed, I was blocked by snow. A December with snow sounds both magical than inspiring, and puts you on the right track for the holidays..

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Frankly, it has been a quite difficult year for me, as I experienced the hugest-for-humans amount of nos and disappointments, which put me poorly in a miserable state all the time; the snowflakes spinning and spinning over my thoughtful head could have been seen as another impossibility to move, to improve, to heal. Au contraire, I read it as a “take it slow, have a break” epiphany. That was the best choice, so to be able to enjoy the cold weather, take some quality time for photos, Christmas lights, markets and presents. Loads of presents for my family and friends (the secret is to wrap everything!).

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After several years I celebrated with my family, back from where I started with the dreams. I managed to clean up my old room, finding treasures from my teenage messy period.

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It was overall a feeling of tenderness, a sweet way to keep going and doing. Because. Because I’ve done a lot to get where I am now, because there are so many things to do and experience, so many words to find deep inside yourself.

Snow in Berlin, fog in North Italy. That cold Winter holidays time reminded me to find my own way to move, keeping my existence in action.

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Viktoriapark in the snow, Berlin

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Ponte degli Alpini in the fog, Bassano del Grappa

2013, I salute you with a smile, we’re going to do great things together. Onwards and upwards.