Freitag, 20. Mai 2016

Find me in my new blogging house:

After more than 5 years of blogging about Berlin, I decided that it is about time to add Berlin as part of my biggest travel adventure in a new blog:
As Berlin remains my big city love, I will often share posts and tips about my city, but meanwhile, I will keep discovering new destinations in Germany and abroad!
Thank you all for reading my posts and ope to see you soon to the new house!
For more social media fun, don't forget to follow my Instagram too: #ilanaontheroad and my Snapchat too: ilanaontheroad

Keep in touch with good travel news!

Donnerstag, 18. Februar 2016

Foodie Berlin: Bamboo Asian Restaurant in Zehlendorf

Out of all Berlin's neighbourhoods, besides Dahlem, Zehlendorf is one of my favourite destinations where I like to go as often as possible. Its classical architecture and slow life in the middle of the many green areas were one of the top reasons I chosed to relocate to Berlin. There are many restaurants in the area, but many of them Italian style, so when I discovered, at the ground level of a white classical house, Bamboo, on a side street close to the Zehlendorf S-Bahn, I just followed my love for Asian food and took a seat.
It serves Vietnamese-Japanese food, with a smile, although I found the service a bit too slow. But the friendliness can help excusing this downside. The interior is again not their strong point, with so much kitsch for the educated eye and very cheap furniture. It also has a lot of bamboo and many flowers which bring more warm to the ambiance. But this is maybe the disadvatage of the slow service, it gives you too much time to notice inconveniences. 
My first part of the order was simple, but relatively new for my usual menu in an Asian restaurant: An energizing matcha shake and yasai tempura, veggie tempura. The matcha shake was the star of the menu. Made from an apparently easy combination of milk and matcha tea, and some ice, it has the right portioning of matcha with that specific taste that I always love. It is energizing enough to not need to order any coffee or tea. Not even the Vietnamese coffee that I otherwise love so much.
The tempura was tasty, with a lot of Chinese cabbage include, but also cauliflower and other autumn vegetables like tomatoes or eggplant. Moderately fried, without too much oil and accompanied by a good soy sauce it makes you feel full and happy for new discovery tour of Zehlendorf. The seeds of black and white sesame bring even more taste to the plate. The other veggie choice I wanted was yaki veggie, tofu veggie skews with teryaki sauce, but my love for tempura won over.
The second part of the order was the unusual for me Philadelphia rolls: salmon sushi with Philladelphia cheese. As in the case of the tempura, all the ingredients were fresh and good looking, maybe the sushi was too stuffed with so many things and was looking a bit like blown up, but it was tasty and if you ignore the weirdness of the combination, it was really good. Plus, the slices of orange were a good add to the salmon taste so, besides a good meal and additional free wi-fi, I was also offered inspiration for my foodie wanderings.
The prices are moderate, with various lunch offers during the week. It is a great choice for families, as it have enough big tables and spaces as well as an aquarium that can keep children entertained for a couple of minutes. 

Mittwoch, 10. Februar 2016

Ku'damm shopping guide for Valentine's Day

Is this time of the year again, when intensive shopping or windows shopping are a must for finding this special thing for your special one and only. There may be other things going on in town right now, like the lovely Berlinale, but when love is in the air, you cannot resist the temptation to think about a special elegantly wrapped something to offer before or after the movie. As for me, I am so much in love with Ku'damm and this West side of the city, that I just used the journalistic pretext for another trip at the shops, accompanied by my little 4-month baby. From a very early age he should learn how to properly show his love so I decided to sacrifice myself for his bright future.

The good news is that there are sales everywhere this week, so there is possible to find always something interesting. Wolford or Agent Provocateur or the more affordable Palmers do have some interesting collections for bold people. If not, the traveller in me can be very happy with a travel-inspired scarf by Hermes. 

If the beautiful white dress by YSL or the skirts from the new collection by Botega Venetta are not up to your standards, no one can resist some beautiful flowers. 
Or some perfumes, both for him or for her, available at the Douglas store. The good thing with these stores is their professional customer service who is well trained to help the customers. More Valentine's oriented, the Occitaine en Provence shop sells creams and fragrances with a kiss touch. 
If looking for unique fragrances, the Delfi store has plenty of them, starting with the name of some - Juliette has a gun - and with various oriental aromas. Just a drop of perfume and you are in love. The ambiance inside makes you feel you are invited to be part of a secret perfumed experiment. I found many of the perfumes too heavy and sophisticated for my taste, but there are some fresh, fruity fragrances for people like me too. 
The famous German fashion brand Jil Sander, which happens to like very much, for its minimalist lines and clothes fit to the busy life, has two stores on Ku'damm and there are sales running in and out so you better watch your account out.  
More affordable, COS also has sales, but many of the products are sold very fast, so the better you visit the shop, the better. This urban style with pastel colours goes very well to any occassions, from shopping sprees to very important business meetings. 
Many of shops decorated the windows with season's greetings. As Valentine's Day and the Chinese New Yeare are the most important events of the week, expect a lot of monkeys and hearts in the windows these days. For unlimited budgets, the latest Dolce&Gabanna Collection has a lot of heart-shaped models and interesting ethnic prints for colourful personalities.Some of the Chanel shoes in the nearby window can go very well together. 
The lady in you will be delighted by the latest Mulberry is so delicate and gentle. It also suits very well the modest fashion. 
After the first 10 shops, my baby fell asleep. He woke up 10 shops later and when he realized that probably is no hope to see any car or toys stores today, turned back to sleep on the other side. Meanwhile, I was still undecided if I have to chose one of the beautiful sets from the Amazonia Collection by Villeroy&Boch, or to make a stop at the Sassoon Hairdressing sallon, or maybe to chose one of the colourful bags from Picard - but in this case it gets complicated as I need a new pair of shoes too. 
With or without a special gift, Ku'damm has many romantic places for a successful date: Either the historical Grosz, or the more elaborated Balthazar Restaurant with its Vesper bar, there are enough reasons to spend more time there and share special moments with your special someone. My motto is that you do not need a special day to celebrate love, as it is an everyday's exercise, but after all, why not use this opportunity for celebrating togetherness?

Samstag, 6. Februar 2016

A well kept secret of Berlin: Georg Kolbe Museum

Berlin is the city of special museums, but only few of them are on the usual touristic routes. Some of them are hidden in secret corners of the city, out of sight, but easy to be found by the real lovers of art. Take, for instance, Georg Kolbe Museum. It is situated in an area without high tourist attractions, but easy to be reached after visiting the Olympic Stadium, either by train - S-Bahn Heerstrasse and around 10 minutes or walking - or by bus. 
I wanted to visit this museum for a long time, but there were always new temptations around in my area so I left it for later. This autumn, without too many opportunities to go out of the city as often as I wanted to, and determined to see the Jean Arp exhibition - Navel of the Avant-garde - before closing, I finally made it. Representative of the Berlin Secession movement, Kolbe was considered one of the biggest sculptors of Germany. He collaborated with Mies van der Rohde for the building of Barcelona Pavillion and had a relatively limited collaboration with the far-right regime.  
The museum is the first open in West Berlin after the war, in 1950, hosted in the house that Kolbe used to work between 1929 and 1947.
Human bodies are spread all over the garden and the entrance, silent apparitions at human scale. Their tensed postures made you think that they are alive and ready to share with you some secrets.
Only the wild nature balances the wild energy of the statues. The huge trees put everything in a new perspective. It is so much strength and natural power everywhere that I start my tour with a long stay in the garden, trying to feel the synchronisation and contrasts between human and nature forces. 
The exhibition spaces are big,wrapped in the natural light coming out of the wall-sized windows. It also has a library. I met Jean Arp's work before, at the Modern Art Museum in Strasbourg. The exhibition at Kolbe Museum was focused on the pictorial sign of the navel, carved in stone, shaped in plastic or bronze, considered the humankind bond to nature. Arp puts into question many of the principles of the traditional art not only through sculptures, but also collages and paintings. 
Outside, more human bodies are watching the entrance, surprised in their private worlds but still keeping the sight outside, like a warning to the accidental visitor that they are there to stay.
From the terrasse of the Cafe K, serving vegetarian dishes and good coffees, I finished my museum trip spending more time looking at the forest of bodies. Nature not only inspires art but also show to the art and artists in general the right proportions. 

Mittwoch, 27. Januar 2016

Germany for refugees, the information level

I recently discovered at my local library a booklet published by and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung dedicated to introducing Germany to the refugees. It has a lot of useful - basic - information, in German and Arabic, but also many funny aproaches - to keep it diplomatically.
The package of information is also available as apps.

Montag, 25. Januar 2016

Jackson Pollock at Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle

I am not a big fan of Jackson Pollock and I've seen some of his works at museums across the world without changing my mind. As I always enjoyed the exhibitions at Deutsche Kunsthalle at Unter den Linden, I decided to give one more try and try to learn a bit more about the artist hoping that I will get closer from his philosophy too. 
The exhibition is focused on presenting the largest canvas the artist ever painted, a Mural, a summer commission from the art collector Peggy Guggenheim for the hallway of New York city hall. In order to bring more information about the artistic trend Pollock belongs to, photography or paintings by, among others, Gjon Mili, Aaron Siskind, Barbara Morgan or Andy Warhol, David Reed or Lee Krasner.
Pollock studied early under the American regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton. When it comes to mural work, he outlined the influence of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose Clement Orozco. Picasso was also a source of inspiration but he soon found his own way and focused more on the vitalist expressionism specific to most of his late and famous works. 
A pleasant discovery of this exhibition was the work of Lee Krasner, Pollock's wife and inspiration. More than once, she suggested a title for his works that he finished under inspirational trance. Her paiting is an emotional explosilon of red on the canvas, the colours looking as going out of the space of the painting for entering the outer space. 
The exhibition as such is very well organised, with many useful information, offering the chance to get to know not only Pollock and his work, but also the intellectual ambiance of his time.
Pollock mural is a chaotic conflict between colours and shapes, many of them repeating itself at least as a combination of the same colours. The aggressive strokes of black are well tempered by the salmon pink and the sweet yellows. The big traces of blue are like the rainbow after the storm. Practically, there is not a classical story or center as any part of the canvas has its own story and relevance for the painting. Such a vortex of contradictions may have offer a lot of discomfort to the workers of the New York City hall, I suppose. It may remind a lot about nowadays works of street art that most probably Pollock would have embraced it for its raw vitality and creativity. 
The exhibition is running till the 10th of April. Mondays, the entrance is free. 

Sonntag, 3. Januar 2016

Meiji Era in Photography

The Museum of Photography in Berlin is well known for the impressive collection of Helmut Newton works. However, regularly here are organised various exhibitions dedicated to extraordinary photographic works. One of them I visited this summer and still can be visited till the 10th of January and is dedicated to a place where I was lucky enough to live for one full year: Japan. It covers 250 photographies from Meiji era in German collections. Photography was considered a way to induce Europenization of the Japanese culture, similarly with the hot air balloons, gaslights or engine. The first example was given by the Emperor himself, appearing photographed in his new European uniform, the sending the main incentive for the well awaited change.
But the change cannot happen over night and the tradition and modernity will coexist till today. The art of photography will equally help the strengthening of tradition, widespreading images about kabuki theater, tattooed fighters or tea house girls - what we know as geishas. In a way, it also delivers to Europeans that exotism they were always looking for in this part of the world. The lady photographer featured as the representative image of the exhibition is a proof in this sense: a woman with the camera in a society where the social roles are clearly defined but dressed in a traditional way in the modest posture the society is waiting from a young lady.
The neo-confucianist line of the Enlightening era represented by Meiji was that a portrait was a symbol of visual praise for the achievement of a virtuous work. For me, the nature representations are by far one of the most beautiful snapshots. When simple communication fails, the nature can offer to the traveller the simplest way to be thankful. Beyond the politics and other strategical reasons, the beautiful Meiji photography brings Japan to Berlin.