Mrs. Kinch and I have just returned from Germany where we had a wonderful time. We spent most of it drinking gluhwein and buying the odd Christmas decoration. Hanover was a bit of a washout as Hurricane Xaver meant that everything closed. We managed to find a relatively secure gluhweine spot and watched the snow billowing. Mrs Kinch was completely enchanted with all the lights and stalls and music.
When we arrived in Berlin, I nipped off to Berlin Zinnfiguren. What a wonderful place! I was surprised that there were so many books. It was great to see, but I managed to keep my wallet under control. I got Mrs Kinch some painted flats that are Christmas decorations. The stuff I was interested in was so expensive that I could legitimately look at it without desiring it. The only other thing I was tempted by was a Prince August crib set - trust me to travel to Germany and fancy something from Cork!
While we were wandering around Hanover, we came across this Steif bear window display, complete with marching bears.
Just before the storm hit, we went to the medieval market near the Market Kirk. It was quite lovely with lots of folk in costume. There were a variety of stalls, one of which was a stall where one could shoot a crossbow for a small fee. My father in law and I gave it a whirl.
All I could think of was that we would never get away with this at home...
...someone would definitely end up with a quarrel in the eye.
Ernst August of Hanover
And curiously enough 3rd Earl of Armagh, though he was the last Hanoverian monarch to hold a title from the British Isles.
A medieval scene in flats from Berlin Zinnfiguren - beautiful, but an eye watering €445
While we were away it was extremely cold and it started to snow. Snow is something of a novelty to Irish people, I've seen it at home three times in thirty three years.
While we were walking through Hanover, it began to snow and Mrs Kinch was so happy she started to dance. I managed to get one picture, but I think this may be my favourite picture of her.
A Panzer Nashorn or Armoured Rhino
Unfortunately we were unable to go to Hanover Zoo, which is excellent, and to which we have been before because of the hurricane. So we went to Berlin Zoo instead. We rather like zoos on the whole and are quite lucky to have one of the best in Europe in Dublin. Sadly, Berlin Zoo is not quite up to that standard, but we did have a good time. We saw some interesting animals, though I thought the big cat and elephant enclosures were very, very small.
I was particularly taken with this armoured rhino which was an animal I'd never heard of.
And suddenly Durer's rhino who I always thought was a bit fanciful makes a great deal more sense.
If you've ever wonderful what a baby rhino tantrum sounds like - it sounds a bit like this. The small rhino is a year old and isn't happy about being weaned.
Mrs Kinch running away from an ornamental bear
Fatou, the matriarch of the Berlin band of gorillas. She looks rather well don't you think?
One doesn't like to ask a lady's age, but these things are done differently in Germany.
Sally Bowles screamining under a bridge while a train passes over head.
I read "Goodbye to Berlin" by Christopher Isherwood in my early twenties and it formed my entire picture of Berlin, even Len Deighton's Harry Palmer hasn't managed to wrest my imagination from its grip. It was only when I met Mrs Kinch when I was 24 that I learned of the musical and the film of the book.
We had to wait ages for a train...
Because of the hurricane, our time was brief and my trip to the Zeughaus museum (where they do not allow photographs) was very brief. The day after we got to go to Charlottenberg, the palace built by Frederick the Great's mum, Sophie Charlotte. It is an extraordinary place and worth a blog entry in itself. I shall glide over some of the highlights here.
The palace contains a vast collection of ceramics, including a great deal of chinoiserie. This particular display is only a very small part of a huge room completely covered in china.
A picture of Alte Fritz himself hanging at the entrance to the palace's chapel.
General Zieten of Waterloo fame.
"I like it, but I don't think it would go with the carpet in the parlour." Mrs Kinch examining the furniture, it was rather cold hence my jacket. I doubt she will thank me for putting this picture up.
I have no idea who this chap is - there was something of a shortage of labels.
Our last meal in Berlin and probably our best, this place was amazing. The interior is a glittering Art Deco confection and the food was superb. It was a wonderful end to a really enjoyable trip.