Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Unter den Linden at midnight. It is the only place to be in Berlin on the new year's eve! Germany takes over the presidency of the EU. Romania and Bulgaria join the Union ... Fire flows from ontop of the Brandenburg Gate and te fireworks lit the sky.
In the 90's it used to be a famous squat. Artists mostly lived there but also the usual floatsome that they breed. Drugs alcohol and sex abounded. It was seedy, dangerous and dirty but alive. Today is a cheesy, dirty and touristy bar, cinema and artists' den. Dirt seams to be the mainstay and the apparent eternal nature of the building itself, It is huge! Those of us that are more familiar with the remnants of communism and the attitude it left behind perfectly understand the concept. Equally I understand the attraction of the place to western tourists and teenagers but for me it is just a pathetic reminder of things we left behind. All this veneration of fake socializmus is boring. There is by the way an incredible number of pro communism signs in Berlin. Trust me they have nothing to do with leftism but everything with the superficiality of packed ideas and ready made slogans. There are comparatively fewer signs denouncing Nazism. I hate that people forget the issues that were really at stake in divided Berlin. Clichés instead of ideas and slogans instead of books and articles. It is of course easier to be" radical" in Berlin by putting up a flag and a silly slogan on the destructiveness of capitalism instead of actually doing something or voting as a matter of fact. But then again ... all this maintains an aura that diminished once Berlin was united and stopped representing the free world facing dictatorship.
On Auguststraße just a few yards from Oranienburger Straße, Hackescher Markt and Rosenthaler Platz with the unavoidable tourist and bar hoper mix that permeates Mite today Cafe Ici is a welcomed oasis. Owned by a former ballerina, it serves equally as a bar and an art gallery. Taking pictures in Berlin is easier then in other capitals and most people actually enjoy it. As my policy is always to stop if I am asked so I like to be in a city were people do not give a dam.
Father and daughter had a blast "working" together at the bar of this cosy and simple Berlin restaurant. Basic Italian, pasta's, foccacia bred, olives and pizzas, cheep but decent red wine. Nothing exceptional but as with so many places in Berlin good quality for a bargain price and the plus of super nice service and people around. The father daughter couple were waiting for what it seemed an extended family (German Italian immigrants apparently) gathering. Right about when the restaurant was due to close they came in and got ready for a late family dinner. All this on a surprisingly good Romanian and Balkan Gipsy Music of a group named Bucovina that came from a CD the owner got from a customer!
Named in honour of the Bunuel film this West Berlin bar seems to have survived everything. And it did this well. From the yellow glass ceiling with brass frames to the wood of the bar alll the deccor has a welcomed patina. The patrons and the staff on the other hand are young but adult hovering around mid thirties. The bartenders are excellent and all our drinks came back from the bar rather late but absolutely perfect. I have tested an Apple Sour and I was ready to have more but I was afraid it does not mix well with the chipo Italian Merlot we had in the connected restaurant. It took us a few minutes to strike a nice conversation with people at the bar and the nearing table. The open, relaxed and honestly interested and curious attitude that permeates the city is constantly proven. As a footnote every night I discover a new "photographer"it seems to be the favoured art ...