MILANO- NÖRDLINGEN – DESSAU – BERLIN 1/4 August, 2015

“we children from Bahnhof Zoo”; please NO

DISCLAIMER: this thing about “ah, in northern Europe there is free internet almost everywhere”, well, come´on. When it´s for free it´s automatically overloaded by cheeky Italians like you,

german station candy hell

therefore is useless: this comes to say that you are posting from a service station near Hamburg and using the phone, so any mistake/inconsistency/nonsense could be blamed on the auto-corrector and not only to my own dumbness.

Thursday evening, after dinner, you finally get the kids back. They are tanned, tired but happy after one month at the sea. You missed them, you would like to let them knock you down with their stories but you have to take them to bed soon, tomorrow you need to leave early.

But no: the next morning, a thousand of small glitches make you leave late. You wake up under a light rain, the kids are half asleep and until the Swiss border they will be on semi-comatose mode. After you pass by Lugano, you drive over San Bernardino pass and finally the sky is cleared up. You stop for a picnic in a meadow somewhere: you wouldn´t be able to tell exactly if it was Switzerland, Lichtenstein or Austria, is there anyone actually able to tell the difference? You allow yourself a little “siesta” in the grass while Mitia devours a book by Neil Gaiman

comfortable reading position

and the girls collect some branches, just so we can already fill the van with random stuff only three hours after departure.

You arrive to Nördlingen in the evening, one of the perfect medieval towns on the Romantiscischiskenkische Strasse or howthehellyoucallit, the kids love the colored houses with the pointed roof, the bas-reliefs, the flags with eagles and swords… A small German city, so perfect that it could have come out from the idealist brush of a Japanese cartoonist, with its “rounded”, friendly and a little bit awkward inhabitants.

not made with marzipan, you tasted them

In the morning you get a light shower while you take a walk on the streets invaded by a flömarkt that has attracted people from all around the region. You buy some relics from the 80s and you continue your way, the road goes through sleepy small towns and forests with red trunk larches and some birch trees here and there.

When you are about 100 km from Berlin you stop for a late snack at Dessau,

“dad, none of us wants to grow up to be an architect”

deserted and immersed in a surreal silence, illuminated by a nordic light that brings out every detail: perfect cornice for the meeting with the Bauhaus, which stands out metaphysically over the blue and clear sky. You stop for a snack, enjoying all the peace of that moment. You think that in reality it has all been that book by Argan´s fault that you had decided to study Architecture, long time ago: it´s not that you understand much about it now, but the rhythm and the lively simplicity of the Bauhaus were fatal for you. An all of that to find yourself, years later, designing boiserie and looking for golden WCs for… Well, let´s forget about it, that´s another story.

You arrive to Berlin in the evening, you are hosted by German friends who live in an elegant villa at Dalhem Dorf (quartier with the peculiarity of having an U-bahn stop that looks like the house of Bilbo Baggins).

probably trains are towed by ponies

The kids go to bed exhausted, while you chit-chat in the garden with the owner of the house, former Italian teacher now retired.

It´s hot in Berlin: you spend the Sunday on your friend´s boat over the Wannsee, the kids jump into the water every time they can, trying not to get caught by the German swans. In the afternoon you take them strolling around the city: the center has now become one of those free trade area for tourists that you can find in any european capital, even the big palaces after Alexanderplatz, with its squalid and romantic grayness, have been enhanced and filled with Zara shops and hipster coffee places. In some squares specifically after DDR, with the 35 degrees it feels like being at the EUR, only missing the watermelon and heroin kiosk.

You decide to get away from the center then, and you take the kids to Printzlauerberg, to eat an ice-cream in Kollowitzplatz. The gardens are full of young couples, German, American, Italian, French… with eighty kids each and as many tattoos. Maia starts playing with an English girl, communicating with her in some mysterious way, while you lay down in the grass staring at the fauna of this little Brooklyn. You finish the evening at Kreutzberg, with two typical ingredients of Berlin´s culture: the kebab, and a pair of Italian refugees. Ah, adored Kreutzberg, your first impact with Berlin was here and 20 years later it hasn´t change much: there are still stoned guys hanging around the streets, the smell of fried food everywhere, groups of turkish teenagers with Adidas sweaters, the stinky S-bahn…

kids in Görlitzer park

You spend the second and last day still hanging around: Maia even manages to drag the three of you to the Zoo (in front of which there are still, unbelievable but true, some heroin junkies, now reduced to a simple touristic attraction) where she strives to see a lemur live. A lemur. But from where the hell has this obsession come, it´s still to be discovered.

You have dinner with your hosts and their friends in the garden: the kids, the three of them, are happy and humorous, irradiating sympathy. You feel so happy for them tonight, and also a little bit for yourself. Or maybe is just the red wine?

You go to sleep now though; tomorrow you leave again and it will be less easy than here. The weather forecast for Denmark is rain, cold and wind…

I remember Berlin used to be a little, well, colder
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