Samstag, 29. Dezember 2012

Kringle in Berlin

I was not familiar with the Kringle Candles, but almost daily I pass by a Kringle shop and thus, a couple of months after the shop was open I decided to pay a visit.

It is located in a very nice and quiet area of Berlin, not at all a hub for big businesses, where people will rather go for a ride or take a walk with their children instead of shopping. However, the concept of the shop is quite appealing and if one of those living in the houses nearby Konstanzerstrasse will be interested to add more style to their long evenings, they will for sure stop at this small shop.

Compared with other similar candles, the prices are a big high, with at least 2.00 Euro investment in a parfumed candle that will last for around 2 hours. But the effects last and at least once in a while you must try it. There are several essences: foods, fruits, flowers. You can find one of the most creative cmobinations, such as breakfast, watermelon or various spices. 

The shops smells some of the essences of the candles, and the lady in charge was quite friendly and ready to help someone interested less in buying but in understanding the concept and its uniqueness for Berlin. I had a classical vanilla choice and enjoyed the pleasure of the new smell in the house.

A good idea for a weekly present or a surprise candle early evening for someone you love.

Donnerstag, 20. Dezember 2012

Free samples from Weleda

My collection of samples
If you visited lately any of the Bio Company stores in Berlin you might noticed a lot of samples from Weleda offered to the customers. I am not too much into homeopathic remedies, but when it comes to cosmetics, I always prefer those based on natural products. And as all my readers know, Germany is the place where homeopathy is highly appreciated, even despite obvious medical evidences. 

However, within some limits, the natural products could be good and I encourage their use.

As I went very often lately at Bio Company, I had the possibility to collect different samples, including lemon and pomegranate-flavored. I do not like too much the smell - this is the 'disadvantage' of using 'natural products' - but the skin reacted favorably, and got a nice velvet touch that I always expect to be produced by good creams. 

Overall, after trying all the samples for one week, I am tempted to have at least one Weleda product at home. The harsh German winter and the unfavorable weather in general affect considerably the skin and it is important to always use products designed for sensitive skins.

Mittwoch, 19. Dezember 2012

Chez Google

Yesterday evening, I spent some colorful time at Google Berlin. The offices in Berlin are situated in a very fancy old block of apartments on Unten der Linden. Once you are there you should use either your card or to be open the door by the security team. 

The presence in Berlin of one of my favorite companies is quite modest compared with the strong branding I am used with in other part of the world, but it seems that they are smart enough to understand how to address the local market. In other words, you know that you are big but the measure of your greatness is the way in which you can contribute to the local economy. For instance, the Google specialists offer a lot of support for startups looking to develop their advertising plans - via Google, of course. 

For Portuguese and Brazilian fans in Berlin

As in the case of many other communities living in Berlin, it is very difficult to estimate how many Portuguese and Brazilians live in the German capital city. But I've met a couple of them in the last four years and I saw several good shops with traditional food and even a couple of restaurants. 

The final element that I was missing was the bookstore and I finally was in time with my working schedule to pay a visit to ALivraria. It is a relatively small space, situated 10 minutes by foot from Rosenthaler Platz. When I visited the store it was around 2pm and except a lady who say 'hello' and asked me in Portuguese if I need something, was no one around. 

The most part of the space is taken by books. I was excepting a second hand bookstore, with many used books, but I found instead several good translations, mostly novels, but also cooking and history books, both in Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. The prices are expensier than in a normal bookstore, but probably this is because of the taxes and transportation expenses.

Unfortunatelly, you do not have too much space to stay and read 10-12 pages, but probably if you want a chair to spend more time, you can ask and you will have it.

In the second room you can find some local food specialities, with many beers and drinks, but also some corn-based products. Did not check the prizes but I suppose it is that kind of food that you will want to afford once when you are ready to cook a thematic cooking evening.

In addition, you can have various information about events in Portuguese, classes - for singing or learning German. I was told that some dating tips are also offered for the single boys and girls in love with Portuguese language, but I did not find anything like this when I visited the place. I am thinking about returning soon there for getting some Portuguese books to improve my language - included on my to-do-list for over 2 years without tremendous results.  

Montag, 17. Dezember 2012

Rocco @Charlottenburg

For an early morning gathering of business people from Wilmersdorf - there it is another one in Mitte, Rocco is not such a bad choice. It is situated close to the U-Bahn, there are plenty of places free and there is a lot of light.

The design is not the strong point of this bar as it looks very similar to many kitsch American-style bars from Texas. The menu is 'international' with pizzas and hamburgers and nachos and various types of breakfasts. The prices are pretty high, compared with what you can find in other good looking places. I did not try anything and do not have any intention to do it any time soon, but my simple cup of cappuccino was around 2 Euro and something.

The service is pretty good with friendly faces and fast delivery and the restrooms are clean. If you are rather the 'old school' and you want to network with your business contacts, you can use such a space. Otherwise, there are plenty of places to rent in the hip new office buildings in the East.

Lights in the city

Today was not the best day for the photographer in me, but at least I did part of what I planned for today, and even got some new stuff for my busy and not-for-profit writing life. Sure thing is that it is again that time of the year when the kitsch is everywhere and the tourists are happy to help the poor economy of Berlin to have a new boost for the next 12 months. 

Just to end in a positive note, there are many positive and good taste things to write about, but not in this post.

A reminder that I should avoid Wilmersdorferstrasse after 4pm

The trees are looking a big sad. I prefer the spring and late summer time  on Unter den Linden....

Freitag, 14. Dezember 2012

A crime in Charlottenburg - a local episode of operation Nemesis

As I am a proud citizen of Charlottenburg, I am always very curious to learn more about my piece of Berlin. And as I commute enough lately to have enough time to read, I have more and more opportunities to improve my knowledge about my city.

Only 20 minutes away by bus from my home, on 14 March 1921, a crime took place. Mehmed Talaat, the former Turkish Interior minister, accused as one of the main architects of the Armenian genocide, was killed by Soghom Tehlirian, an Armenian who went through the nightmare of the killings. 

Hardenbergstrasse 37
Till today, the Armenian case is a topic of high tension in the relations between Turkey and Armenia. Talaat, minister of Interior between 1913 and 1917 and grand Vizier till 1918, was accused of being directly responsible over the killing - by firing squad or starvation - of nearly 1 million Armenian. His discussion with amb. Henry Morgenthau, Jr. would be used soon by another criminal when planning the death of Jew as a sign of the indifference of the world to mass crimes: 'I have accomplished more toward solving the Armenian problem in 3 months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in 30 years'. 'When he was condamned to death for his crimes, in 1919, he was helped to suceed by the German generals who offered him the comfort of a submarine. 

Tehlirian was one of the few who escaped the nightmare and later joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Operation Nemesis, a Bosnot-based Armenian plot aimed to assassinate the Turkish leaders involved in the genocide. Talaat and Tehlirian were almost neighbors: the first was living on Hardenbergstrasse 4 and the former Turkish official at no. 37. Most probably, the buildings were destroyed during the war: at no. 37 you can find today buildings part of the TU campus, and on no. 4, there is a modern building, with glass and steel hosting a couple of shops. The locations are opposite and who knows how often the two of them met accidentally those tensed days. 

Hardenbergstrasse 4
In one of the parks around Charlottenburg, maybe it was Tierpark, who knows, Talaat was explaining to the British agent Aubrey Herbert the polices of the Ottoman Empire. Even though Talaat was exposed to what we call today 'diversity of cultures', apparently he did not have any moral barriers for thinking twice before ordering the killing of the Armenian population. 

The crime from Charlottenburg was followed by a trial attended by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew that will create the term of 'genocide' and who will play a tremendous role in the post-WWII setting of the human rights system. Lemkin was one of the many who knew about the killing camps where the Jews were killed and tried without success to convince the Americans to intervene against the Germans. 

Tehlirian tried for murder by a German court. He was defended by 3 defense attorneys, including Dr. Theodor Niemeyer, professor of law at Kiel University and at the end found 'no guilty' on grounds of temporary insanity. He will futher move to the US, where he died in 1960, in San Franscisco. 

After his death, Talaat's wife left the 3-room apartment in Hardenbergstrasse and moved back in Turkey. Her husband was burried in the Turkish cemetery in Berlin, and his remains were moved to Turkey in 1943. He continues to be keep at high esteem in nowadays Turkey, where many streets and mosques are bearing his name. There were a couple of attempts to keep his memory in Berlin and even to create a memorial place, but the opposition was to strong to make this wish reality.

At the time when the former Vizier was murdered he was writing his memoirs enjoying the fresh Berlin spring. At the other end of the street, Tehlirian was unable to sleep and was having epileptic seizures following the tragic moments he went through. 

Donnerstag, 13. Dezember 2012

Happy Chanukah from Ku'damm

It is the special time of the year when we need more light into our life!

Winter, again

It is not exactly a news that the winter is back in Berlin, and this happened a couple of days ago already. I did not write then, but at least I took some pictures. As for the transportation, if you want to be in time at your meeting, you better take at least 15 more minutes as the U and S-Bahn are ready to offer a lot of unpleasant delayed surprises.

Dienstag, 27. November 2012

Kosmos Kino, on Karl-Marx Allee

As a child in a communist country, one of the particular locations that helped me to find out my way through a forest of block buildings looking similarly was a movie theater called Cosmos. There it was the place where the big kids were going to watch Indian Romantic movies I was not allowed to go to. It seems that I was not the only one with a Cosmos movie theater in my life as very close to the Iron Curtain, in the DDR, Kosmos was DDR's first 'kino'. After the fall of communism, it was used for a while as a multiplex, but apparently there were not too many on the Karl Marx Allee eager to spend too much time there. Now, Kosmos could be rented for capitalist men and women interested in sharing ideas about IT and the mobile industry. This week, it was the location of two days of intensive networking and workshops, on the occasion of the BITKOM Congress. Times change, Kosmos changes only the destination and continues to be located on the same historical Karl-Marx Allee. 

Montag, 26. November 2012

Searching for a job in the Mercedes Benz show room

If you want to organize an event in Berlin, with a limited budget, you have plenty of opportunities, for less than 1,000 Euro. New office spaces are created or rebranded from scratch and at least for a while, you can take the opportunity to be part of the realtors' plans to advertise their location almost for free. Sooner, they will ask more and more money, but one of the predominant feature of a real Berliner is to do not care too much about tomorrow.

Over one week ago, I've been at a Job Fair - Job Messe, organized at Mercedes Benz showroom in Moabit. I've heard about the location only a couple of days before and went there for the first time. For me, it was the most impressive job hunting I ever attended. Not only the numbers of participants was huge, but most of them were really impressed to head hunt and to be head hunted. If I would have look for a job, I have had a lot of work to do. Instead, I took the occasion of the free entrance, of the photo opportunities and of the possibility of working while taking pictures. The networking was better than ever before - and the visual experience equally interesting. Even I will never drive a Mercedes Benz, I appreciated the opportunity and I am happy to share it with my readers.

A parking place for the Mercedes Benz flotilla

The exterior architecture isn't so spectacular

For the beginning, let's do some climbing.

Three stores full of companies and job seekers

Let's dream speed

The MBenz on sale

Catch me if you can - your favorite car between plants; the children have their playground a

Colors and words in Moabit

I don't go too often in Moabit, although I don't live too far away of the area. Last week, being around with various businesses, but on a Sunday day, I had some time to look around and discover some nice places that seem to be perfectly in line with autumn. I can hardly imagine admiring those streets in early summer.

Sonntag, 11. November 2012

Winter feeling around Potsdamer Platz

Winter is not officially here, but I feel the cold getting worse and more warm clothing are needed. I visited Potsdamer Platz last week, around 11.00 and the sky was grey. Honestly, did not see a serious ray of light for a couple of weeks. The snow slope is ready and the winter fairs were already open, even though it is more than one month before the holiday season is officially open. At that time of the day, there were not too many people around, but most probably during the weekend and late in the evening, the tourists will be tempted to have their hot wine and their currywurst in one of the most elegant corners of the city - to be read where money is made. 

As usual, I am fascinated by the combination of kitsch and innovation that this city can display. Nothing has to do with style here, but with the aggressive freedom of doing what you want to, even it means to shock visually the sophisticated European eyes. A kind of small America in the middle of Europe.

Understanding the intricacies of lines

Lost sky scrapers

Maybe the snowman will bring more order around?

Let's sky in Potsdamer Platz

Early visitors at 11 o'clock

Never too early for a little drink in the morning

The game of geometry continues

Everyting goes round and round and round

Even the trees need some artificial light

Freitag, 9. November 2012

Remember 9. November

Today is a day of memory for all those killed during the Kristallnacht and after. For all those 6 millions, many of them without a grave and without any other guilt that they were born Jews. We should remember day after day what do we stand for and why we should never forget. 

זכר קדוש לברכה

Yesterday, I visited with a friend the Information Center from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I did not visit the center before. The entrance is free, and after waiting in line for a couple of minutes and going through a basic security checking, you can enter the small underground museum. There are a lot of pictures from personal archives or from Yad Vashem, as well as from the German state archives. Audio-guides will tell you the story of some of the victims and will explain more about the context and the the facts. There were most tourists, but also some German teenagers and the place was pretty crowded, even if it was Thursday afternoon. As I will always say, it is never enough to remember what happened. In a cruel world as ours, when the Internet is crying hate and anti-Semitism. I wish that more people visiting such exhibitions and watching the terrific pictures and testimonies are strongly moved and feel the shock. 

Mittwoch, 7. November 2012

Autumn at the American Academy

As everyone on and outside the web is busy discussing about the results of the US elections - I missed last nigh party in town, I know - I will post some pictures I took a couple of months ago at the American Academy in Berlin. The debate and the results were watched there too, in a very high class ambiance that you can usually find in some sophisticated corners of Washington DC. The place is lovely, there is a perfect retreat that many American writers enjoyed lately. Among them, Nathan Englander, Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss - just to refer to my favorites visitors of Berlin in the last years. Besides supporting the personalities from the world of literature, the American Academy offers regularly fellowships to political scientists and international relations experts that are looking for a quiet place to write down their new books. The library is rich and the ambiance is very inspiring, whatever your domain of study is.

Here are a couple of snapshots took while being present at a discussion of Nathan Englander's latest book

Dienstag, 6. November 2012

Memories of the summer

Once upon a time, it used to be summer. And the days were longer. And it was so much green around...that I would have been happy to lay on a couch of grass with a good book and a cup of fresh coffee...Gone are the days. At least it is so much work to keep me distracted from depressive winter thoughts...

Sonntag, 28. Oktober 2012

Fresh from Expo Lingua

The residents of Berlin love to learn new languages
The same space, a different audience
The 25th edition of Expo Lingua ended today, but for me it was only the second experience.

The same place - the Russian House of Culture and Science - but a different audience compared with the last year. For instance, I missed Rosetta Stone that gave me a coupon for some introductory lessons in Chinese.

There were many offers for learning English, not few for encouraging people - like me - to improve and learn a better German, and many offers of linguistic travel - you not only go on a trip, but you take the advantage of immersing into the local culture - especially for Spanish and Chinese/Mandarin. 

New for me where: the offers of Japanese classes and the stand for study in Israel, where Ben Gurion University of the Negev was included. I did not observe if it was any special guest this time. 

A quiet Sunday afternoon at Expolingua
Probably because it was the last day, it was not very crowded and the scary guy that was checking  the bags the last year was replaced with someone less obviously careful to scan the shy girls and boys passionate about languages. The overall interaction was not so great, but I supposed that if you were really looking for something, it was possible to find it. As for me, I did not find too many new opportunities to improve my languages, but I prefer to calm down and work hard my poor German. 

India, Panoramen eines Landes

The Volkswagen Forum on Unter den Linden is an interactive place, where you can find a nice place for a cake and icecream, the latest models of Volkswagen, but also regular exhibitions, mainly focused on photography. 

As the company has a factory in India, they went in contact with the local people and entrepreneurs. The beautiful architecture and mysterious colours are the subject of the current exhibition, that can still be admired - for free - till 18 November.

Welcome to the Indian labyrinth
India's most important cultural and tourist objectives are featured in very inspiring photographies that invite you to include this destination as one of your favorites for the next year. You will not see exposed too much the poverty - that it is mentioned though in some of the descriptions of the photographs - but only what will attract anyone curious to find out more about this amazing culture. 

The future is somewhere in between and I know that both sides of the coin are a good lesson of life. The photographs are offering serious reasons to discover India and a good start into a different world. 

Singing in the street

Ansamblul Oltenilor din Berlin

There are many bands and individual singers on the streets of Berlin, mainly during the summer time - when the living is really easy. When the bad weather is back, you can find them in the S- and U-Bahn, singing for a couple of coins some Italian or French music. Those influences are the result of the relocation of many Roma from Eastern Europe - Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia - to Germany, after being expelled from Spain, Italy and France.

This funny band I saw a couple of hours ago, when it was still sun on Unter den Linden. Introduced as 'Ansamblul Oltenilor din Berlin', they were selling their CDs and singing various American rock'n'roll songs. What made me stop to see and photograph them was the expression on their faces: absent, focused on some outside points, the lack of interaction with their public and with the outer world in general. Each of them was looking in a different direction looking like their hands were doing the job more automatically, without any emotional implication. Singing human statues.

Two hours later they were still there, singing frenetically almost the same songs. People were coming and going, a big group every 3-4 minutes, but they were still there, doing their daily job.

Working around Unter den Linden

I have not been in the Unter den Linden/Friedrischstrasse area for a couple of weeks, but I noticed some massive works around. Practically, due to the works at a new/old U-Bahn station, you will cross the Unter den Linden direction Galeries Lafayettes, near the construction works. There is always something to build in this city but especially in the domain of transportation. Even though they found some creative pavillions allowing you to go safely to do your shopping without looking around at the construction site, it is still not a good memory for someone visiting the city for the first time.