I arrived back in Portland ten days ago from my travels around Europe, and it felt extremely nice to arrive ‘home’. It was a difficult two weeks in Berlin but there were many moments of lightness, in most part due to Joey’s cheerful countenance and constant chatter. My dad was let out of hospital briefly for a couple of days and going for a slow but steady stroll with him through Neukölln in the early twilight was immensely enjoyable. We walked past the eighties style (but still going) neon-flashing-sex-kino on his street, past the indie-bakery, along the dust and cobbles to the canal where we sat on a bench and admired the grand tenement blocks capturing the last fading moments of the days sunshine. Then round in a loop down Kottbusser Straße where we nipped into a Turkish restaurant for a much anticipated quick kebab (they are hard to come by in Oregon).
I had several other good meals out in Berlin which suggests to me that culinary fare is on the up in the city. I’ve always disagreed with my dad about food in Berlin (never thought it was any good) He, on the other hand, being a fan of schntizel and potato and wurst soup is a long term fan. But regardless, on his road alone I ate very nice tapas at a new Spanish bar and right opposite a really, quite delicious thai meal at a place called Jimmy Woo’s. I sat alone in the window, in the sun, and polished off an enormous three course meal, listening to lovers rock, whilst perusing their magazine selection, Der Spiegel, German ‘Hallo!’ und so weiter…Another observation, perhaps due to the nature of where I was staying, but I ordered several cola’s whilst I was in Berlin - the sugar kept me going - and I was never served Pepsi or Coke - always either Fritz Cola or Afri Cola - and they were very tasty…Perhaps a sinister portent if you happen to be a US mega brand?
A couple of days later we started on our long road home. We stopped in Scotland for a couple of nights to see family. It was lovely to be in Scotland and again I was reminded of the geo-physical similarities to Oregon. It was a markedly different couple of days to Berlin, aside from the cobbles, and included a visit a game keepers cottage in East Lothian (rifles on prominent display in the boot room, chickens in the courtyard, enormous dogs) and some good conversations about the big Scottish landowners (Duke of Buccleuch et al) and the money they make by renting their land out for the creation of wind farms…millions a year! Edinburgh was beautiful and we finished our travels with a visit from one of my oldest friends Catherine who travelled the east coast mainline for the day to have lunch with us. A lovely ending to our trip.