Brussels/Berlin 2023

Thursday 20th July 2023 – Trawling the Bookshops

Today, after breakfast on my balcony I decided to stock up on literature. In particular, I was looking for a copy of “Christopher and His Kind”, the autobiography written by Christopher Isherwood that gives more of an accurate account of his life in Berlin than his more fictionalised “Goodbye to Berlin”. My first stop was an English-language bookshop on Worther Straße which stocked mostly second-hand books. The atmosphere of the shop was calm and it was inhabited by a friendly dog but did not have the tome I was looking for. I had a wander round a local market and visited a toilet that spoke to me before moving on.

Further research determined that if one really is in the market for literature then “Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus” is the place to go. This being the case, I trolled down there while listening to “Round the Horne: The Complete Julian and Sandy” on my headphones, hoping those passing would understand that my sniggering was not directed at them.

Dussmann turned out to be an impressive establishment. Stocked mostly with German-language books, it did however have a large English-language section which was essentially a stand-alone shop in its own right. I located the book I was looking for in “Novels” and subsequently owned it for the exchange of €12.50. I look forward to reading this as my adventure progresses.

I also browsed the German-langauge children’s section of the main bookstore, looking for a copy of the Alexander Haus picture book “Sommerhaus Am See” for the same very good friend who alerted me to this particular story and location. Alas I was unsuccessful in this regard. The shop assistant did offer to order it for me but given that I was only to be in Berlin for a few more days, this seemed a futile activity.

After leaving the store and enjoying coffee and a raspberry filled croisant at a local cafe, I strolled back towards the Brandenberg Gate, which I found being set-up ready for the “Christopher Street Day” event happening over the weekend. From the equipment being prepared and scaffolding being erected, it looked like this was to be a very grand event indeed and I looked forward to seeing it all go “live”.

Before heading back up to Schönholzer Straße, I had a brief browse of the free “Topography of Terror” exhibition in Niederkirchnerstraße. Similar to previous exhibitions I had seen on this subject, this was a very honest retelling of the events of the Naz-era. The location was particularly apt as this was the site of the former Gestapo headquarters. Again, I was pleased to see this story being told lest it be repeated.

For my evening meal, I had an adventure at the “Wurst” counter of the local “Rewe” supermarket. The products of this I enjoyed very much along with some “kartoffelsalat”, tomato, cucumber, bread, and some paprika crisps. I have no idea why this flavour of crisp is so prevolant across Europe but not in the UK. I considered this over a glass of German white wine finding myself less and less able to come up with an answer to this conundrum as the evening progressed.


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