Archives for the month of: November, 2011

St. Kilda Hair Salons with Decorated Roofs

It’s the end of spring in Australia. There have been a few rain showers, but for the most part, the weather in Melbourne couldn’t be more beautiful. The long days are a welcome relief from the short cold days of Portland. In Australia, summer officially begins on the first of December.

Another Hair Salon
About 6km (3.5 miles) from central Melbourne is St. Kilda. It’s described by the locals as a shabby-bohemian beach town. Last year, when I visited Bondi and Manly beaches in Sydney, I wasn’t that impressed. Manly and Bondi were certainly lovely places, but they had a sort of pretentious vibe. Not so in St. Kilda. From the moment I stepped off the tram, St. Kilda had a welcoming feel.

Fairy Penguins
There are restaurants ranging from the glitzy to the cheap. There are also a surprising number of cake shops with wonderful displays, and a few interesting retail shops.

The Esplanade hugs the beach with a historic pier. At the end of the pier is a Fairy Penguin refuge. At sunset, we were told, the penguins come out in force and you can hear their distinctive chatter. We happened to be there at mid-day; even so, we were lucky enough to spot three young chicks hiding in the rocks. It’s the first time I’ve seen penguins in the wild. No flash photography please (it frightens the birds and also damages the retina of the chicks)! Fortunately for us, it was bright and sunny, and we had no need of a flash.

Luna Park and Me
One of the first things you see when you arrive in St Kilda, and impossible to miss, is Luna Park, an amusement park with an old fashioned wooden roller coaster, and a dramatic entrance.

Inside the Esplanade Hotel
Nearby, and easier to overlook, is Hotel Esplanade. Once a chic and fashionable hotel, it’s difficult to describe its current condition. It’s been broken up into several bars and performance spaces. The whole thing is so informal that it actually feels like you might be walking through an abandoned building. Yet, there’s a bar with people having drinks on the balcony and there’s a restaurant near the entrance. The run-down look of the place has come about the natural way, not contrived by some faddish designer. It wasn’t my thing, but it was worth seeing.

Galleon Cafe
in Background
Perhaps, the best find in St. Kilda came about when we overshot our tram stop and made one of those serendipitous discoveries, the St. Kilda Galleon Cafe. The Galleon Cafe is a real neighborhood diner full of locals. Crowded and full of life, the Galleon has atmosphere and really good food at affordable prices. Try the sweet potato, basil, feta hash served with wilted spinach and chili chutney. Absolutely delicious!

t
St. Kilda Pier. The Penguin Refuge
in Background

I highly recommend St. Kilda for an enjoyable day trip. I hope to return next week and go kite sailing!

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St. Kilda Hair Salons with Decorated Roofs

It’s the end of spring in Australia. There have been a few rain showers, but for the most part, the weather in Melbourne couldn’t be more beautiful. The long days are a welcome relief from the short cold days of Portland. In Australia, summer officially begins on the first of December.

Another Hair Salon
About 6km (3.5 miles) from central Melbourne is St. Kilda. It’s described by the locals as a shabby-bohemian beach town. Last year, when I visited Bondi and Manly beaches in Sydney, I wasn’t that impressed. Manly and Bondi were certainly lovely places, but they had a sort of pretentious vibe. Not so in St. Kilda. From the moment I stepped off the tram, St. Kilda had a welcoming feel.

Fairy Penguins
There are restaurants ranging from the glitzy to the cheap. There are also a surprising number of cake shops with wonderful displays, and a few interesting retail shops.

The Esplanade hugs the beach with a historic pier. At the end of the pier is a Fairy Penguin refuge. At sunset, we were told, the penguins come out in force and you can hear their distinctive chatter. We happened to be there at mid-day; even so, we were lucky enough to spot three young chicks hiding in the rocks. It’s the first time I’ve seen penguins in the wild. No flash photography please (it frightens the birds and also damages the retina of the chicks)! Fortunately for us, it was bright and sunny, and we had no need of a flash.

Luna Park and Me
One of the first things you see when you arrive in St Kilda, and impossible to miss, is Luna Park, an amusement park with an old fashioned wooden roller coaster, and a dramatic entrance.

Inside the Esplanade Hotel
Nearby, and easier to overlook, is Hotel Esplanade. Once a chic and fashionable hotel, it’s difficult to describe its current condition. It’s been broken up into several bars and performance spaces. The whole thing is so informal that it actually feels like you might be walking through an abandoned building. Yet, there’s a bar with people having drinks on the balcony and there’s a restaurant near the entrance. The run-down look of the place has come about the natural way, not contrived by some faddish designer. It wasn’t my thing, but it was worth seeing.

Galleon Cafe
in Background
Perhaps, the best find in St. Kilda came about when we overshot our tram stop and made one of those serendipitous discoveries, the St. Kilda Galleon Cafe. The Galleon Cafe is a real neighborhood diner full of locals. Crowded and full of life, the Galleon has atmosphere and really good food at affordable prices. Try the sweet potato, basil, feta hash served with wilted spinach and chili chutney. Absolutely delicious!

t
St. Kilda Pier. The Penguin Refuge
in Background

I highly recommend St. Kilda for an enjoyable day trip. I hope to return next week and go kite sailing!


Unlike American TV, which has become an abyss of schlock, German TV still has some thoughtful programming. Last night, I watched “Es ist Nicht Vorbei” (“It’s not Over”), an excellent TV drama about the infamous Hoheneck Prison in the former East Germany.

It didn’t take much to get sentenced to Hoheneck (for example, an exit visa offense), and as the title suggests, memories of Hoheneck can last a lifetime. Twenty years after leaving prison, Frau Weber’s memories of Hoheneck return when she attends a dinner party hosted by Dr. Limberg. Is Dr. Limberg, the prison doctor who injected her with powerful psychotropic drugs, which, as she puts it, “left black holes in your head, making you barely able to walk, and leaving you in a state of blurred reality?”

The movie is part mystery, part documentary, and part thriller. Do we believe Frau Weber? Can she really remember a voice from twenty years in the past or is she delusional and accusing an innocent man? The mind can sometimes play tricks.

Anja Kling is compelling as Frau Weber and Tobias Oertel is excellent as Dr. Limberg. Two fantastic performances! The film also has Ernst Georg Schwill who plays the former Stasi Officer, Weihe. In real life, Mr. Schwill was once a member of the Stasi (East Germany’s notorious secret police). The film is available for viewing for a limited time on Das Erste. Even if you don’t understand German, watch a few minutes.



Unlike American TV, which has become an abyss of schlock, German TV still has some thoughtful programming. Last night, I watched “Es ist Nicht Vorbei” (“It’s not Over”), an excellent TV drama about the infamous Hoheneck Prison in the former East Germany.

It didn’t take much to get sentenced to Hoheneck (for example, an exit visa offense), and as the title suggests, memories of Hoheneck can last a lifetime. Twenty years after leaving prison, Frau Weber’s memories of Hoheneck return when she attends a dinner party hosted by Dr. Limberg. Is Dr. Limberg, the prison doctor who injected her with powerful psychotropic drugs, which, as she puts it, “left black holes in your head, making you barely able to walk, and leaving you in a state of blurred reality?”

The movie is part mystery, part documentary, and part thriller. Do we believe Frau Weber? Can she really remember a voice from twenty years in the past or is she delusional and accusing an innocent man? The mind can sometimes play tricks.

Anja Kling is compelling as Frau Weber and Tobias Oertel is excellent as Dr. Limberg. Two fantastic performances! The film also has Ernst Georg Schwill who plays the former Stasi Officer, Weihe. In real life, Mr. Schwill was once a member of the Stasi (East Germany’s notorious secret police). The film is available for viewing for a limited time on Das Erste. Even if you don’t understand German, watch a few minutes.


Das Lenindenkmal, circa 1980s

I recently wrote how the French following WWII wanted to destroy the die Siegessäule, one of Berlin’s most famous and historic monuments. Luckily, that didn’t happen. However, another famous Berlin monument wasn’t so lucky. Twenty years ago, on November 8, 1991, the Lenin monument (das Lenindenkmal) was disassembled into 129 parts and buried in a sandpit outside of Berlin. Following German reunification, many people felt that a monument dedicated to Communism had no place in a democratic Germany.


Overhead View of Lenin Square
Located in the former Lenin Square (renamed Platz der Vereinten Nationen), the Lenin monument was erected in 1970, stood 19 meters high (approx. 62”), and was made of Ukrainian red granite. More than 200,000 people witnessed its unveiling, including representatives from over 100 nations. When it was decided to remove the monument, many East Germans, including prominent artists and politicians demonstrated but without success.

The former Lenin Square Today

Today, an undistinguished stone fountain is located where Lenin once stood. The fountain, surrounded by five granite blocks symbolizing the five inhabited continents of the earth, rarely attracts attention and is easily overlooked. 


The Head Weighed 3.5 Tons!

The Lenin monument was certainly a piece of East German culture and art. East Germany lasted for 40 years, and Lenin shaped much of the 20th century political landscape. East Germany was no nirvana. It quashed political dissent, practiced systematic terror, and permitted little economic and personal freedom. It wasn’t a symbol of good.


Nevertheless, how would you feel if the country you grew up in, totally vanished: its social fabric eradicated and symbols destroyed? We learn from the past, and symbols serve as reminders of both good and evil. Simply eliminating those symbols doesn’t change the past or improve the future. Yet, should all symbols be preserved? For example, should a statue of Hitler or Stalin be publicly displayed? I’m not sure I know the answer. 


Unlike the USA, Germany places greater restrictions on symbols and political parties. America has always leaned toward more expressive freedom. Let the people decide what’s good or bad.

Recently, on the 20th anniversary of the monument’s dismantling, a few local residents voiced support for re-erecting the Lenin monument. Link to the video. It’s in German, but I think you’ll understand its meaning. 

Das Lenindenkmal, circa 1980s

I recently wrote how the French following WWII wanted to destroy the die Siegessäule, one of Berlin’s most famous and historic monuments. Luckily, that didn’t happen. However, another famous Berlin monument wasn’t so lucky. Twenty years ago, on November 8, 1991, the Lenin monument (das Lenindenkmal) was disassembled into 129 parts and buried in a sandpit outside of Berlin. Following German reunification, many people felt that a monument dedicated to Communism had no place in a democratic Germany.


Overhead View of Lenin Square
Located in the former Lenin Square (renamed Platz der Vereinten Nationen), the Lenin monument was erected in 1970, stood 19 meters high (approx. 62”), and was made of Ukrainian red granite. More than 200,000 people witnessed its unveiling, including representatives from over 100 nations. When it was decided to remove the monument, many East Germans, including prominent artists and politicians demonstrated but without success.

The former Lenin Square Today

Today, an undistinguished stone fountain is located where Lenin once stood. The fountain, surrounded by five granite blocks symbolizing the five inhabited continents of the earth, rarely attracts attention and is easily overlooked. 


The Head Weighed 3.5 Tons!

The Lenin monument was certainly a piece of East German culture and art. East Germany lasted for 40 years, and Lenin shaped much of the 20th century political landscape. East Germany was no nirvana. It quashed political dissent, practiced systematic terror, and permitted little economic and personal freedom. It wasn’t a symbol of good.


Nevertheless, how would you feel if the country you grew up in, totally vanished: its social fabric eradicated and symbols destroyed? We learn from the past, and symbols serve as reminders of both good and evil. Simply eliminating those symbols doesn’t change the past or improve the future. Yet, should all symbols be preserved? For example, should a statue of Hitler or Stalin be publicly displayed? I’m not sure I know the answer. 


Unlike the USA, Germany places greater restrictions on symbols and political parties. America has always leaned toward more expressive freedom. Let the people decide what’s good or bad.

Recently, on the 20th anniversary of the monument’s dismantling, a few local residents voiced support for re-erecting the Lenin monument. Link to the video. It’s in German, but I think you’ll understand its meaning. 

I heard this rumor that there was a Kneipe (local neighborhood pub) in Neukölln that had an authentic “American Breakfast.” I’m not sure what’s an American Breakfast, so I decided to find out.

Neukölln is a neighborhood that I rarely visit. It‘s home to a large Turkish population; but increasingly, it’s becoming a popular place for young people as rents in other parts of Berlin are skyrocketing.

I was told that Lagari’s owner was from California and that the chef was Scottish (an interesting combination). I was also told that the service was exceptionally slow; but having lived in Portland, I’m used to slow service.

I’m not sure I can adequately describe my experience at Lagari. It was neither bad nor exceptionally good. In a word, it was surreal. I was in Berlin; yet from the moment, I entered Lagari, English was the predominant language. The waiter greeted me in English, the menu was written in English, and the customers were having conversations in English (albeit with a German accent). I tried to order in German, but the waiter replied in English.

The menu included blueberry pancakes with Canadian maple syrup, Heuvos Rancheros with black beans, French Toast, a vegan plate, and some egg dishes. I guess these items qualified as “American,” but why Canadian maple syrup? Isn’t Vermont maple syrup good enough?

The place was definitely a neighborhood bar, but there were additional touches intended to give it an American feel (checkered tablecloths, film posters). Hmm?

Despite the warnings, the service was excellent. It was friendly, quick, and efficient. Certainly better than most places in Berlin, and, without a doubt, better than any restaurant in Portland! The food, on the other hand, was unexceptional. I ordered the “egg plate dish.” The hash browns were okay, the pancakes mediocre, the Canadian maple syrup watery (they should have used Vermont syrup), and the toast not really toasted. The eggs were fine but how bad can eggs be?

To be fair, I didn’t order Lagari’s specialties: the blueberry pancakes or Heuvos Rancheros. I’ll certainly visit again. According to its website, Lagari also has exhibitions, music events, and even a pool table.

I heard this rumor that there was a Kneipe (local neighborhood pub) in Neukölln that had an authentic “American Breakfast.” I’m not sure what’s an American Breakfast, so I decided to find out.

Neukölln is a neighborhood that I rarely visit. It‘s home to a large Turkish population; but increasingly, it’s becoming a popular place for young people as rents in other parts of Berlin are skyrocketing.

I was told that Lagari’s owner was from California and that the chef was Scottish (an interesting combination). I was also told that the service was exceptionally slow; but having lived in Portland, I’m used to slow service.

I’m not sure I can adequately describe my experience at Lagari. It was neither bad nor exceptionally good. In a word, it was surreal. I was in Berlin; yet from the moment, I entered Lagari, English was the predominant language. The waiter greeted me in English, the menu was written in English, and the customers were having conversations in English (albeit with a German accent). I tried to order in German, but the waiter replied in English.

The menu included blueberry pancakes with Canadian maple syrup, Heuvos Rancheros with black beans, French Toast, a vegan plate, and some egg dishes. I guess these items qualified as “American,” but why Canadian maple syrup? Isn’t Vermont maple syrup good enough?

The place was definitely a neighborhood bar, but there were additional touches intended to give it an American feel (checkered tablecloths, film posters). Hmm?

Despite the warnings, the service was excellent. It was friendly, quick, and efficient. Certainly better than most places in Berlin, and, without a doubt, better than any restaurant in Portland! The food, on the other hand, was unexceptional. I ordered the “egg plate dish.” The hash browns were okay, the pancakes mediocre, the Canadian maple syrup watery (they should have used Vermont syrup), and the toast not really toasted. The eggs were fine but how bad can eggs be?

To be fair, I didn’t order Lagari’s specialties: the blueberry pancakes or Heuvos Rancheros. I’ll certainly visit again. According to its website, Lagari also has exhibitions, music events, and even a pool table.

Paul-Lincke-Ufer

in Neukölln, Berlin


Paul-Lincke-Ufer

in Neukölln, Berlin