Sunday, August 5, 2012

Berliner Speckgürtel

I feel like a total copycat with this post because I just have to blog about the Café and Weberei that was so nicely written about on berlin reified. For the last days of my vacation, I deciced to hire a car to venture out into the Speckgürtel of Berlin - that's German for lard belt, which is the common name given to the rich suburbia surrounding cities. Now, the surroundings of Berlin are not necesarrily rich in money, but they are rich in fun places to visit. Some of those places are however almost out of reach for people who don't own a car and that group actually includes myself and most of my friends. Living in Berlin, you simply don't need one. Plus, there are plenty of car sharing companies to choose from (a bonus with them for instance is that you don't need to pay the parking fee).

Anyway, I have had the plan to rent a car to meander through the Berlin Speckgürtel for quite some time now so I was especially excited when I found the fabulous tips on berlin reified. 
The Handweberei Henni Jaensch-Zeymer in Geltow was my fist stop and when the sign outside said that the cake of the day was chocolate cake with black currant sauce, I immediately knew what to order. I love everything cassis, so of course I ordererd their cassis lemonade to go with the cake. The lemonade was more beautifully decorated than most drinks you would order at a hip and stylish café in Mitte and it tasted the perfect mix between tard and sweet. Likewise, the cassis-chocolate combo on my plate was lovely!
Their weaving products were just as exquisit. There was a black and white coat on display which I absolutely loved! Anyone feels like donating 750 euros? I also accept small coins ...and the coat will be mine in no time...

The next day, I ventured even further! Oranienbaum near Dessau was the destination I entered into the garmin (how did we ever find our way around when we where road tripping back in the days???)! Oranienbaum is a very small town which totally shows what happened to this god forsaken region after the fall of the wall... Let's put it this way: I could only live there if  I had an antidepressant drip invusion in my left arm at all times... During the 17th century, a poor Oranien-Nassau princess was forced into marriage and into a life there in the middle of nowhere. 
I here you ask: if the place is so horrible, why did you bother to drive there? Well, it just so turns out that this old dutch-connection still pays off today! The castle which used to be the princesses humble abode hosts an exhibition on modern Dutch design this summer. Unfortunatley, you had to pay to take photos inside the exhibition, something I don't support as a matter of principle.  The castle is undergoing renovation at the moment, but I actually liked the rooms that were not yet renovated best.

Outside in the big courtyard, there is a small restaurant which mainly served what looked like frozen tarte flambée (yiiiks) but they also had a cold cucumber soup on the menu. As my bloodsugar level was in the dark red area (people who know me know that that is right before I am willing to kill for food), I decided to give it a try. It literally blew my away - it tasted so refreshing and well prepared. Blame the fact that I didn't take a photo on my low blood sugar level, but just be assured that for the last two days, I have been experimenting in my kitchen to make a similar tasty cucumber soup so there might be a recipe popping up soon. The soup which by the way was served with delicious sourdough nut bread made me really wonder why they would have something that good on the menu together with frozen flammkuchen...

An old sun dial... pretty please don't restore-distroy it!!

I like the word Denkmal. It literally means historic momument but I always take it as an order to think! Denk mal! Think!

Painted-on windows on one of the castle's to love them!

Just when I was about to leave Oranienbaum, I deciced to walk to orange Ampelhaus which had a sign that read gallery posted outside.  
And this gallery made the trip to Oranienbaum even so much more worth it! The house was bought by a couple of Dutch artists who had travelled to Oranienbaum in connection with the official exhibition in the castle. They saw the house, bought it, put it back into a state of use, and turned it into a place that reminded me of Berlin Mitte in the 1990s even though the first time I went to Berlin was in 2000....
How brave of them to open a gallery featuring modern art and design in such a place! And what they did (and did not do) to the house!

Some rooms are almost kept the way they were when they bought the house. Am I the only person who thinks that different layers of color and ripped wall paper is art?

Or why not cut right through the existing bathroom if you need a passageway? The current exhibiton which will be on display as long as the exhibition in the castle is on display features objects and art works made from other objets. Such as the couch made from a rug. Or a lamp made from plastic cups. Or, art works made from littel white squares cut from imploded airbags (as in the picture with the couch). Just like they put the old house to a new use, so did the artists find creative ways to recycle!

There is even art work in the attic and the basement. I really urge you do go there and support the young artists! I don't know if I had the guts to start such a project in the middle of nowhere. They are also planning to stick around and continue there gallery with another show next year and there is also an artist in residence-programme. 

As Oranienbaum is only a short drive away from Dessau, I just had to swing by the world famous Bauhaus school.

I did however find the exhibitions there quite average, and I guess to really make the most of the visit, you should go on one of there guided tours for which it was unfortuantely already too late that day. It is very difficult to imagine that one if not the most influential design school of the 20th century was/is set in Dessau, which today, sorry to say so, is also not the place where the magic happens.... As a matter of fact, I found this overgrown basketball basket to be quite telling. 

There were also a bunch of oh-my-good-I-can't-belive-it-ugly houses right next to the Meister houses. At first, I wanted to take a picture of those ugly houses, but felt like it would not be appropriate to make fun of someone's house online. However, I still secretely would like to do an art project on ugly houses built in Dessau since 1990....Gropius would surely be making a three-sixty in his grave if he saw some of them...
So, instead of ugly houses, I share some countryside moments with you - the Elbe in Dessau and the fields around Brodowin.

copyright of all photos j.


  1. So very pleased you liked the Weberei! Wow, Oranienbaum sounds incredible -- I'd never heard of either place you mentioned there, but they both sound terrific. And oh, I've been dying to go to Dessau for ages! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Oranienbaum and Dessau are really doable in a day! If I'd go again, I would go to Dessau first as to not miss one of the guided tours in the Bauhaus.
      You will need a car though. I think it's impossible to go to Oranienbaum by public transportation. I rented a car for the day and had fun driving around!

  2. I found it so exciting that you're road tripping around Germany! I really want to go there for some months to practice German language (I'm currently learning it and hell! it's complicated) Did you find people that talks english over there or you really have to comunicate only in German? XOXO

    1. Dear Candy,

      nice to hear you're learning German! Keep up the work and the good spirits... I'm a native speaker, so I have no problems travelling aorund Germany. It always helps to speak the country's language, but in most parts of Germany, you should be fine with English. It's easier the bigger the town and the younger the people, but I'd say most people are also happy trying to help you find your way even if they don't speak Englsih.

  3. great travel log but hey, it's more 'Oranienburg'.Baum = tree, Burg = Castle. like "Charlottenburg" ;)

    1. Dear appetizer, sorry for having to be a typical German Besserwisser, but Oranienbaum actually is correct. Oranienburg is closer to Berlin, whereas Oranienbaum is about 1 hour away from Berlin. I have no clue where the name comes from (at least the -baum part, oranien comes from oranje, the Dutch nobility), but it it the name of that place...