Sometimes a Cactus

Family, food, travel, other obsessions.

Berlin, Berlin

It’s COLD here in Berlin, but mighty festive.


I think I’m over jetlag, after 12 hours in bed last night, only some of which was spent sleeping, thanks to construction work in the neighboring apartment all morning. Grrrr…

Arrived last night after a too-long layover in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport. One of these days I’d love to spend time in the City of Lights itself. Amazingly, the airport is as close as I’ve ever been. But while there I enjoyed listening to French all around me, brushing up on my rusty French to order a pain au chocolat, and reading a little before boarding for Berlin. There are worse ways to spend four hours.


Once in Berlin my friend Andy and I headed straight to Dada Falafel.


I spend time dreaming of the little masterpieces that are created in this unassuming joint. I have yet to find another falafel that rivals Dada, which probably only means that I need to get to the Middle East sometime before I die.

Dada Falafels are made to order, so they are always singe-your-mouth hot, with a golden, crispy outside that gives way to a perfectly creamy-crumbly inside. The salads are impeccably crisp, and the house-made sauces a total taste explosion. There’s almost always a line, and the guys who work there are low-key and not even particularly friendly, but what they serve up is pure art, I tell you.


I’ll be back there as often as I can over the next few days to make sure I get some of their roasted eggplant, flash-fried goat cheese, and tabouleh.

On the wall they have the following truism attributed to French philosopher François de La Rochefoucauld:  “Essen ist ein Bedürfnis; Geniessen ist eine Kunst.” (Eating is a necessity; savoring is an art.)  Here’s to more art.

Spent time this afternoon in Dussmann, a book lover’s wonderland. Since I was last here they have also installed a stunning “vertical garden,” a huge roomful of green tranquility in one of the busiest places in this crazy metropolis.

Ate very good Chinese food later with Andy, before strolling along Tauentzienstraße to see some of the enormous Christmas light displays.


Got to Skype with Ted and Hal last night and tonight. They were happy to see Andy last night. He’s been a part of every Berlin experience they’ve had. Same for me. I met Andy through a mutual church friend almost 25 years ago. Andy is an Urberliner — a Berliner through and through — who knows the city like the back of his hand. He’s been a huge help and support every time I’ve come with students and has generously documented our previous visits.  You can see some of his amazing photography here. It’s always fun to listen in when he and Ted talk photos and gear. The boys can’t wait to be back here and see Andy again.

The main purpose of my visit is to see my Stasi files from when I worked at the U.S. Embassy in 1989. I filed a formal request almost 3 years ago and only received notice that they were ready to be seen a few weeks ago. Thanks to a generous gift of miles from my brother- and sister-in-law Sam and Neala, I was able to make short-notice plans to fly over. The file encounter happens Monday.

Stay tuned!


7 comments on “Berlin, Berlin

  1. Emily
    December 6, 2013

    totally jealous and hate that i’m not there with you and Andy!! Gruessen Sie ihn schoen von mir 🙂

  2. Swirling Leaf
    December 6, 2013

    It’s past 10pm, and the cafe’ review has left me ravenous. Thanks a LOT. I’m jealous of your Andy (everyone should have one), and still scared when you say Stasi (no one should have them). Enjoy the files!

  3. VisitSiena
    December 7, 2013

    lucky you 🙂 coming to Berlin after some days 🙂 hope will be not very cold 🙂

  4. Margie
    December 7, 2013

    Oh Mädchenfreund, enjoy. Can’t wait to hear what’s in the files. Possibly how they drove you nuts moving your flower/sugar canisters?

  5. Elaina
    December 7, 2013

    Such great descriptions of your travels. Try travel writing for your next career. Can’t wait to hear about your files.

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This entry was posted on December 6, 2013 by in Food lust, Travel.
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