Remedies against the rain in Potsdam

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Berlin and especially Brandenburg that I extensively explored in the last weeks offered me a gorgeous unexpected summer, but little by little, everything will become memories and eventually travel blog posts. The cold raining season is in full bloom and need to switch not only the wardrobe and shoes, but also the bags, big enough to welcome an umbrella. Regardless of how much I love to discover other places in Brandenburg, I have a big weakness for Potsdam that makes me want to come back every couple of weeks. This time I want to see a face I never explored it, which includes the cultural headquarters. I went out of the SBahn at Babelsberg station and from there, took the tram for a couple of stations till the port.

DSC01512As in many places in Berlin, this is a favourite area for bikers of all ages, unstoppable by the rain and any other bad weather signs. Following the arrows I am heading direction Schieffbauergasse and the artistic encounters on the way indicates that I am going in the right direction.  DSC01513In just a couple of minutes, I am in the middle of the cultural district of Potsdam, offering from concerts to dance shows and alternative theatre, plus some pubs and green eateries.DSC01515Everything is hosted in the Art Yard (Kunsthof) that because of the rain and the late afternoon hour it is relatively empty.DSC01516

The last visitors are busy to finish reading the information about the very interesting FLUXUS movement which has a dedicated museum in Potsdam. Encouraging happenings and spontaneity and oriented against the commercial art, the movement developped in the 1960s and had many similarities with the Dadaist and Suprarealist art streams.DSC01525

One of the buildings that I wanted to see and photograph for a long time is Hans Otto Theater, whose bold reddish silhouette I admired at different moments of the day during various boat trips I took in the last years. This time, I see it under a grey sky and from close it may look not only interesting, but also a bit threatening. Not it seems for the couples founding refuge from rain under the pagoda-like roofs. DSC01538

Armed with a pink umbrella I bought in Jerusalem, I ignore the insistent drops of rain and keep walking more around the lakes, trying to be careful not to stumble upon the very fast squirrels that started the harvest time for the winter. Welcome, autumn! DSC01539

Shortly, I am in another new place for me, at the New Garden, which I explored only partially a couple of years back when I was writing a travel guide about Potsdam. This time I stop in the part guarded by the so-called Gothic Library, a cold stone construction which also hosts couples refugiated against the rain. Potsdam seems to be a city of love, which I completely agree…DSC01542

Wish I can have time to have a short meditation with a view over the lake, but this time the view from the top of the stairs is enough to inspire me.  DSC01552

On way back to the central area, the architecture of some houses surprises me, a mixture of Dutch and reddish typical Brandenburg stones with blue windows frames. A couple of streets away, some new white apartment buildings, with high ceilings and small balconies, a sign that Potsdam is not only a place for students, teachers for oversea and history lovers, but also is turning into a posh place to live. DSC01553

The rain is about to calm down and I take my chance to get a bit lost on the long alleys of the 18th century New Garden, which is showing me another different side. The geometrically planned alleys reminding of the my favourite Brandenburg architect Schinkel are part since 1990 of the UNESCO World Heritage. DSC01558If you are looking for meeting artists and arts lovers in Potsdam, Cafe Matschke is one recommended places. The best is to go there during the summer and enjoy the artistic ambiance of the garden, but inside is also cosy and inspiring. DSC01560This time, I do not have time to stop to the 19th century Russian colony of Alexandrowka, but I still have pleasant memories about the pastry nuts filled with cream that reminded me so much of sweet childhood treats. DSC01562

I keep walking decided to both look for a place to stop before going back to Berlin, but also curious what new discoveries will have during this short Postdam trip. Hopefully there are so many things to discover that I don’t feel disappointed of too much walking.

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The diversity of architectural styles and materials used is rewarding and I keep looking to the right and to the left, keen to do not miss anything important and with the camera always in action. DSC01566

I finally get closer to the central area through one of the 6 gates (Tören) of the city, Jägertor, the oldest one, built in 1733. Smaller than Brandenburg Gate a couple of minutes away and less touristic maybe but situated around streets with many local restaurants. DSC01572

The architecture of this area is predominanly following the programatic principles of Schinkel which may look too corect and less spontaneous at the first sight. But if you know how to correctly use your eyes, you may find some surprises. DSC01573

As I have a sweet tooth, I hope to find some waffles or pancakes – or both – in the Dutch quarter. Built in 1733 by Jan Bouman, it has 134 red brick buildings hosting various vintage shops and coffee places. Unfortunately for me, after two full days of a local street festival, all my potential surces of culinary delight are too tired to keep open till late afternoon. Time for a change of plans…

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As usual, it is all for the good. For a long time I wanted to start the gourmet exploration of Potsdam and the French restaurant Jero was on the top. This time, the rain and the lack of options brought me here, and the expensive and high class bottles of wine covering the walls welcomed me into the intimate ambiance smelling of freshly cooked truffles. The SansSouci cold water was brought fast and most importantly with a smile, followed by a generous cappuccino and my sweet choice, a big cup of creme brulee, more expensive than the usual average sample you can find. Not an unforgettable taste, but nothing bad to say about it either – except that maybe for the 8 Euro you would have wait something a little bit special. However, I felt good enough to plan soon a new gourmet experience here, and maybe in other high class places in Potsdam tool.

All being said and planned, I can’t wait to be back!

In the tropical forest. From Potsdam

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The Celsius degrees are getting lower and lower each day despite the sunny appearances. I feel the autumn running away and me getting more and more annoyed by the prospects of the long winter. With a very busy week of intensive travel ahead, I wanted to say goodbye to Potsdam for a while, with a visit to a place I never been before: the tropical forest of the Biosphere.

I go to Potsdam at least once the month because I love being there more than anywhere else in Germany, but never been to Biosphere as it is relatively far away from the central area. However, with a direct tram from the Central Station, I arrived in less than 30 minutes.

As when I went it was Germany’s National Holiday, there were plenty of people on the street, especially children that made the most part of the public of the Biosphere. But the Biosphere is for every age category. It combines in a very smart way the complicated scientific explanations with practical experiences.

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The tropical forest was full of life: the dinosaurs are moving their head and screaming strange warning, the colourful birds are tweeting in their cages and the kids are running around asking repeatedly their parents if the lizards or the sleeping bats from the ceiling are real or trying to spot the snakes hiding under the sandy pieces of wood in the aquariums. On a table, in the tropical forest, bowls with different spices invite the visitors to touch, smell and taste the various types: ginger, muscat, cinnamon, pepper among them.

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I liked wandering in the tropical forest and looking up at the huge trees. The orange fish were jumping in a small lake and the flowers of different colours were bringing more life to the green background. I also spent some long minutes watching the rodents eating or sleeping all together in a small corner. But nothing compared with the experience of staying in the house of butterflies. A small room, with colourful butterflies flying carefree between the visitors ready to take pictures of them. I even saw the next generation of butterflies, some white caterpillars laying lazy on a big green leave.

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There are so many flowers in the tropical forest, but unfortunately, there were not too many details about what types of flowers I was looking at. The basic explanations are in German, but I also some presentation leaflets in English. As in the case of Kew Gardens, the Aquarium part is rather modest, but at the scale of the project of the Biosphere, the fish should be only a small part of the plan of explaining the nature. At the beginning and the end of the journey, short movies are introducing the world of the dinosaurs and the situation of the tropical forest, useful but I could not wait to be back in the real green area. Three hours went so fast, but time doesn’t matter too much when you enjoy every second of your stay.

For more images, check my Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/biosph%C3%A4re-potsdam/

The visit was kindly facilitated by Biosphere Potsdam, but the opinions are, as usual, my own