Thursday, August 22, 2013

Goose-Feather Duvet

It's been 50 days since I returned to the motherland and with each passing day, I am becoming more and more entrenched in a place I only intended to stay for a little while. I am flying back to Scotland next week to see two of my closest friends getting married. And to pick up the rest of my belongings. It's a funny feeling - as is the concept, to be honest: You know, to ship the most random material possessions halfway around Europe just because they are of some sort of sentimental value. In my mind, I ceaselessly catalogue every single item yet to be brought back to Berlin, just to avoid a logistical MCA when things are getting real. Over the years, I have perfected the art of efficiently moving across continents and my old childhood room has become a bizarre storage space for traces I left elsewhere.

For practical reasons, I will also be bringing back a goose-feather duvet set I bought not too long ago. I love the duvet as it kept me warm during many cold Scottish winter nights. In the meantime, though, it has become the pinnacle of lunacy - and yet a perfect emotional representation of how I feel. Not only is the duvet far too big for my single-size bed in Berlin, but it will also be too warm. Just as out of place the blanket will be in my room, I feel in Berlin 50 days after I got here.

Truth is, I never anticipated it. After all, being German should come naturally. Somehow, though, I lost touch with the German Lebensgefühl along the way. I missed out on four years of a nation creatively redefining herself and it feels like I am meeting a long lost cousin. I am rediscovering what it means to be German - cultural stereotypes and clichés I faced aside. It is heart-warmingly beautiful. I listen to a lot of German music and I am watching pretty much every important German movie released during past four years. This morning, I found myself crying one-third through one of the best movies I have seen this year.* A little later, I was laughing hysterically at the jokes of my favorite German TV series - because contrary to popular belief, German humor is hilarious and witty. Sometimes it makes me sad that so many of my close friends will never be able to enjoy it with me.

The advances of fully embracing it all and letting myself be carried by the cloud of German Lebensgefühl, however, aren't as successful as I'd want them to be. Part of it is due a subconscious resitance because I am not sure I want to be here at all. An even bigger aspect of it is, though, that as much as I'd want to fully embrace it all, I don't think I can. At least not in Berlin. Ironically, the city that has become a synonym of freedom for not only my generation is nothing but a gilded cage for me. I feel suffocated by the expectations people have of me in this place. I long for the independence I used to have and I envy anyone moving here to live in the freedom of the city as it is something I'll never be able to do.

* For anyone interested and able to speak German, it is called "Heiter bis wolkig". Trailer can be found here. But even if you don't speak German, definitely watch it - even if it just for the extremely handsome male actors ;)

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


After watching a TV documentary about the Isle of Skye this afternoon, I was blatantly reminded of how I never shared the highlights of my time in Skye with you. So without further ado, here's a little summary of the trip.

My family and I decided to go to Skye for my 25th birthday. The Isle of Skye is the largest and most northern island of the Inner Hebrides and can most easily be reached by the Skye Bridge. The drive from Glasgow airport to our Bed&Breakfast in the Northeastern part of the island took about 7 hours, including multiple stops to take pictures. We drove through the West Highlands and the well known Glencoe, posed in front of Scotland's most famous castle Eilean Donan and marvelled at the not quite ordinary scenery.

Despite it being late fall, the weather during our 3-day adventure was absolutely gorgeous. The sun was shining brightly and we were spared rainfall. Solely the to be expected winds reminded us of where exactly we were located. Conveniently, a warm and knitted sweater proved to be excellent remedy.

We stayed in the sweetest little B&B, midway between Portree and the most northern point of the Trotternish Peninsula, facing mainland Scotland. The Trotternish peninsula is home to two of the most famous landmarks of Skye: The Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing. However, even off the beaten track, Skye wins over any traveller's heart. The interaction between Skye's breath-taking scenery and the ever-changing exposure to sunlight, is not only a dream come true for photographers but anyone willing to marvel at the beauty of God's creation.

I've had some of the best seafood while on Skye, which given its excellent location is not that big of a surprise. For almost every meal, I ate my fair share of lobster, shrimp and mussels - certainly enough to last me an entire year.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Saturday Morning Stroll

This past weekend my uncle and his girlfriend came for a visit. Both of them are from down South - where hills are actual mountains, milk is bought from a farmer and the beloved capital is dubbed Sin City. My uncle is no stranger to the vibe of the city, his new girlfriend... a whole 'nother story, my friend.  We spent most of Sunday morning strolling around the inner city, trying to at least cover the basics of big city life. While I enjoyed walking the streets filled with the air of summer and tourists, drinking ice-cold Berliner Weisse for refreshment, I took the opportunity to take some more pictures of this city I will never be able to fully love nor hate.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Cherry Crumble Tart

Earlier this week I made a cherry crumble tart. My parents visited friends of theirs over the weekend and brought back freshly picked cherries from their garden. Too sour to eat on its own, the only worthy alternative use of the cherries was to make a delicious cherry crumble tart. Mom and I cut every single cherry open to remove the stone - an act of bravery that left our hands stained in bright red. The smell of the crumble tart in the house reminded me of last year when there was hardly a week without someone in the house baking yummy goods. If you want to give it a try yourself, here is the recipe I used:

450g flour
200g sugar
3 drops of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
250g butter
at least 500g of cherries
icing sugar

Before you start, preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Then sift the flour and one after another add the sugar, vanilla extract, backing powder, eggs and butter. Rather than using an electrical mixer, use your hands to combine all the ingredients. Don't be discouraged, it will take some work to eventually make the crumbly dough stick together. Once the dough is more or less one big piece, take off 1/3 and put aside in the fridge. Grease a baking tin and then use the remaining 2/3 of the dough to make the base of the tart. Aim for the thickness of the base to be at least one centimeter. Add the cherries (obviously without the stones and as drained as possible). On top of that, spread crumbles made from the remaining 1/3 of dough evenly across the surface. This part can be a little bit tricky if the dough is still too warm, so if you find yourself struggling give the dough another 5 minutes in the fridge before starting. Put the crumble tart in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes. Once done and cooled down, add some icing sugar for a nice romantic look and some extra sweetness.