Its Christmas Day in Berlin and for anyone that's not celebrating this poses a small question i.e. how to spend the day? The city's pretty deserted, since many of its inhabitants have either fled Germany (quite possible for warmer climes) or set off in their cars or on the Deutsche Bahn to make a festive pilgrimage home to relatives. All in all, the city's eerily quiet for a couple of days.
So what to do at this time of the year? Well, firstly, Christmas Eve (i.e. 24th December) is really the big day here in Germany, when families and friend gather, open presents, eat a large meal and generally celebrate. The following day, the 25th, is already less of a big deal. Still, most restaurants, stores and cafes will remain closed, since many of their staff (and local customers) Nevertheless, public transport's working as normal and you won't die of hunger or thirst (though I took precautions and spent an hour last week at Rewe supermarket, purchasing enough food to make my fridge groan).
As a reasonably observant Jew, Christmas doesn't mean much to me, so I made no big plans for today, preferring rather to wander a little in Prenzlauerberg, an area I loved back in the early 90s. At that time, it was becoming a 'hipster' area (I knew people moving there, who could see its potential, despite being warned off) - they were charmed by its beautifully preserved buildings and emerging music scene. Today, it's glamorous and gentrified and the techno clubs are long gone, replaced with cafes filled with yummy mummies, sipping lattes and blocking doors with their buggies. (I'm only half joking). It's also home to an old synagogue (and Jewish cemetery) and some funky restaurants and is a wonderful place to spend a few hours (or, in the summer, a long day).
Of course, I knew when I arrived there today that most places would be shut but it bothered me not - instead, I just wandered the streets, along with a few other waifs and strays (who, apparently, also had no Christmas lunch to attend) and soaked up the atmosphere. It was a wonderful way to spend 2 or 3 hours and my only real regret is that I couldn't sip a dram on a couch (see the penultimate photograph). Never fear, it's just a tram ride away and I will return!
1. Impala Coffee
2. Abode with no name
3. Katte Kollwitz Platz
4. Grandeur and decline on Katte Kollowitz Platz
5. Here or there?
6. Synagogue gates at Rykestrasse
8. Renovated facade
9. Fancy a drop of the hard stuff?
10. Pretty delivery van for a stylish French bistro