Thinking Outside the Tourist Attractions: Books and Wine for Rainy Days

Right now it is raining here. Thankfully I have a few good books and candles and tea to keep me company in my basement apartment. It started a while back and after trying to kill time inside a mall I realized that I couldn’t just stand there for ever and eventually had to get out there and take the cold shower of  urban rain water if I wanted to get back home.

But a few hours ago the sun was still shining and it was just a beautiful summer day. Over the years I noticed that most tourists spend their time in the city centre, together with all the other globetrotters. Places like the Alexanderplatz or East Side Gallery or the KaDeWe are the number one spots but sometimes even the other, more domestic spots in town a worth a visit, too.

Today I ran into a small bazaar in the district of Steglitz while eventually looking for the university campus.

These markets appear in town every now and then during the week. They are nothing special in itself. Just some stands with clothes and bags made in China but not the exact same ones you would find in a regular store. A few meters down the road you can find flower stands and people who will fix your watch for you and in case you forgot to drop by the grocery store, here is your chance to still buy fruits and vegetables.

For the tourists and hungry Berliners there are two or three food wagons. German curry sausages, fries and sandwiches are being sold right across from Chinese food and the Turkish fruit vendor wishes me bon appétit while I eat my fries with curry and he reaches for the sugar on the table to put in his coffee. These food stands in town are actually pretty good. They are cheap and believe me, there are enough calories in one serving in order to keep you full for a while.

Whenever I see something I like I usually have trouble to restrain myself from buying it. Same story at the antique shop down the road from the train station that sells antique toys and especially china dolls. If the shop would not have been full of boxes and if the shop keepers would have understood which doll from the display window I was talking about exactly, maybe I would have been €60 poorer but one Japanese porcelain doll richer. What a beautiful doll that was…

Just as I was about to end my city trip for the day, I passed by a book store. I would have kept walking but I noticed the old facade of the building and a sign that said ‘books and wine’. That sounded interesting. How would it look in there, I thought and went in.

The interior was old. Shelves of dark wood covered all the walls and what was not behind a shelf, was covered by a vintage book poster. Right across from the entrance was the display cabinet with different bottles of wine.

“That is an interesting shop you have here”, I said to the old lady that greeted me and asked whether I needed any help. “I liked the ‘ books and wine’ label”, I added.

“Me, too.  You are welcome to take a look at the samples. Only too bad that the shop’s best days are over the hill by now. Everybody keeps ordering books online.”

Even though I have reached my nineteenth year on this planet, I am still surprised how nobody, not even when I was sixteen which is the legal drinking age in Germany (for anything not stronger than wine), ever asked me to show my ID. The bottles looked pretty and the prices were okay. Nevertheless have I ever liked the taste of wine or alcohol in general and I surely never will, so all I did was have a glance at the old display case before I turned to the bookshelves. I can surely imagine though that a glass of Zinfandel would go very nicely with a good book on a cold and rainy day.

There were no antique books but for some of the modern ones there was only a specimen copy available. Buying two vintage post cards I said my good-bye, promising to come back soon.

 

If you want to see something other than the standard tourist hype in this city, I recommend a short visit to some of the districts outside of the center. It is indeed worth it for those who like to strike it rich.

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