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Updated: Jan 14, 2023


And a Wonderful Week in Berlin

When I left off in the middle of my story, it seemed a fitting place because Lana was leaving us after such a lovely three weeks together. Her departure was very early in the morning of 19 October, and Ted and I were both up to see her off until next year. Mickey missed her the most, but Ted and I were also in something akin to a state of mourning. We feel increasingly these days that we truly could not take for granted that we will see anyone again and we must make the best of both the activities and the memories of those events. We are having some glorious weather, so we walked in Élysée Park. As we sat on a park bench enjoying the sky, the trees and

some very unseasonably gorgeous flowers planted in a circle around a beautiful fountain, we decided that this was the time and place to scatter Siegfried's ashes. After all, it had been nearly five years since his death. So we went home and the next day we returned to the park with the box that contained Ziggy's remains, which had been prepared for us courtesy of our vet.

Another perfectly sunny day with mild weather and hardly a whisper of wind, and this park, which was so open to animals on and off leash that we felt very comfortable putting Ziggy to rest in this lovely garden that would always be here and would be replanted each season of every year. Walking home after a long sit on a nearby park bench, Ted and I paused at a jewelry store, which was not unusual and he asked me which earrings I liked the best. What was unusual is that I actually answered. Not the insensitive "I don't need any more jewelry," but instead I pointed to a pair that caught my eye. They weren't anything spectacular; On the contrary, they were simple, smallish rings made of gold and platinum that sparkled like diamonds. We continued on our way home, stopping for our habitual coffee at the lovely covered café in the Village Royal passage,

and we returned home to an ordinary evening with Mickey snuggled between us on the small cream-colored leather reclining loveseat in what had temporarily been Lana's room, and we watched a wonderful concert from the Berlin Philharmonic. This time we were excited not just about the music but about the fact that we would be in Berlin in less than a month to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary and Ted's 74th birthday, substituting wiener schnitzel for turkey on Thanksgiving day, a holiday that doesn't really exist for us anymore here in Europe, but that day still brings back years and years of wonderful

memories of family dinners that always included friends and stray friends of friends and family who had no place to go for the holiday. A dinner that takes 12 hours to prepare and barely 20 minutes to eat and is just the same whether it is cooked and eaten by four or forty guests! We still had several days to enjoy the blissful weather here, which was destined to become cold and rainy just around the time we were going to Berlin, which would be even colder and rainier, if not snowy.We spent a lovely evening listening

to our friend Terrence sing his heart out for a respectable audience at the Madison hotel, which he calls "the stork club on the Seine." We hadn't eaten a thing before we went, so we stepped into a small café around the corner and had a light bite while listening to a group of buskers across the street singing and playing jazz with soul. They were really good and we stayed longer than we would have, owing to their talents in song and dance.

The following day we decided to drive over to the left Bank and to spend the day strolling through Luxembourg park. Here too the brilliance of the flowers were unseasonable. For those of you who have had the pleasure, you may have realized that this is a park that you can enjoy all day long with cafés or plenty of benches and lots of rolling hills of green grass to lay a picnic blanket and enjoy a nice lunch, if you were so inclined. When we arrived at the enormous fountain basin at the back of the Senate building, we sat just chatting for quite some time until our good

friends Alain and Monique appeared before us. Of course, it was a weekend, and they too had the day off and don't really live very far from park. We enjoyed a brief exchange and then they went their way since Alain was in the process of producing his next book and needed to go home and write. We were searching for something we had never seen before, The Medici Fountain, which is indeed a wonder to behold. Many tourists visit the famous Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th Arr. just to admire its exquisite landscaping, to watch children playing with toy boats on its circular basin, to enjoy the more than 100 statues and other monuments scattered throughout the park’s nearly 57 acres, and the ornate Luxembourg Palace, which today serves as home to the French Senate.

However, one of the true gems of the Luxembourg Gardens is not as frequently visited—the stunning Medici Fountain. The Medici Fountain, built in 1630, is one of the most beautiful monumental fountains in all of Paris. But its off-to-the-side location in a somewhat secluded nook of the park and the fact that it can be difficult to spot through the grove of tall trees surrounding it means that many park visitors inadvertently miss it.

And that’s a shame because besides being exquisite (and making for great photographs!) the Medici Fountain is deeply rooted in France’s rich history. The fountain was built to adorn the grounds of the

Luxembourg Palace, once a private residence, and became the home of Marie de Medici, the widow of King Henry IV. Medici had the palace, gardens, and fountain crafted in the Italian Renaissance style of architecture to honor her roots in Italy’s dynastic Medici family. Architect Tommaso Francini, the intendant general of waters and fountains to the royal court, was tapped for the design and construction of the new fountain, and he crafted a large water-filled basin leading up to an enormous carved fountain, which was topped with statues of two nymphs pouring water from pitchers. The fountain was considered a marvel of its time, particularly for Paris’s Left Bank where there had been no free-flowing water in the quarter until the

construction of an aqueduct in 1623; Until then, all water supplies for the Left Bank had to be carried by hand from the Seine River. (This lack of flowing water also was the main reason that most of Paris’s urban growth, up until the early 1600s, occurred on the Right Bank where the underground water table was much more easily accessible.) After Medici’s death, the palace and gardens passed through the hands of a series of owners. By the middle of the 18th century, the entire property—including the fountain had fallen into serious disrepair. The neglect was so severe that the fountain’s statuary are missing (possibly stolen) and the supporting wall behind the structure was so badly eroded that it was nearing collapse. Fortunately, Napoleon in 1811 directed architect Jean Chalgrin, who designed the Arc de Triomphe, to repair the historic fountain and the nearby Luxembourg Palace.

The following weekend after we had met in the park, Monique and Alain and our mutual friends, Beatrice and Philippe, came to our home for a lovely dinner. We had so much fun preparing the table and the meal, but the aftermath \wasn't quite as enjoyable and kept us up until 3 AM putting everything back in place. Even still, we enjoy these kinds of dinner parties and wish we had the energy to do them more often. During the evening, Ted and I were so busy that neither of us remembered to take photographs until the day after when all that was left were the flowers. The next day, Ted and I took a walk to the park and decided to have supper at Caspia on the Place

Madeleine on the way back home. It is quite a deceptive establishment as the ground floor appears like it is a shop that just sells champagne and caviar, but the upstairs is the most elegant dining room with an equine theme and we were the only ones there

because of the time of day! When we arrived chez nous, the latest issue of the Journal of Child Psychoanalysis appeared on our doorstep with my last published paper on 'The Importance of the Role of the Father in the Development of the Infant.' I was excited and honored and especially thankful for the translation in French accomplished by Prof. Didier Houzel, a dear friend and the Editor.

On 23 November we took a very short flight from Paris to Berlin; the first air travel we had undertaken since the beginning of the pandemic. Right from the first day, Jeffrey was so very considerate and sent us photos of him and Mickey cuddling all over the house to put our minds at ease.Our plans were for a week and our main interest was to spend that entire time exploring the wonders of Museum Island, a unique ensemble of buildings on Spreeinsel (Spree Island) in the heart of Berlin. It encompasses five large Berlin museums built under the Prussian rulers as well as a reception and exhibition building, the James Simon Gallery, opened in 2019. Built from 1830 to 1930 by order of the Prussian Kingsaccording to plans by five architects, Museum Island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 because of its testimony to the architectural and cultural development of

museums in the 19th and 20th centuries. It consists of the Altes Museum Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, the Bode-Museum, and the Pergamonmuseum. As Museum Island includes all of Spree Island north of the Unter den Linden, the Berliner Dom is also located here, near the Lustgarten. To the south, the reconstructed Berlin Palace houses the Humboldt Forum museum and opened in 2020. Since German reunification, Museum Island has been rebuilt and extended according to a master plan. In

2019, a new visitor center and art gallery,

the James Simon Gallery, was opened. The last time we were in Berlin, we had a very short time to do any museum crawling, and so we saw a little of this and a little of that and took a long visit to the Gothic cathedral on the island. But this time we planned to explore one and every museum on the island, and even that is not nearly enough time as readers will see by the sampling of the pictures that I have included here.

On the 24th we attended a wonderful concert at The Berlin Philharmonic. We had been there (virtually through streaming on Digital Concert Hall) nearly every week from wherever we were, but this was our first actual visit to hear Micha Maisky and Martha Algerische playing Beethover, Debusy, Schubert, and Schuman.

On the 25th we discovered a wonderful tavern, right next door to our hotel.The friedliness and warmth of the staff and the delicious food and Beer are so typical of many places we've visited in Germany.Our waitress was espiciall sympatish and we enjoyed her frequent visits to our table throughout the evening.

On 26 November it was Ted's 74th birthday, and I had arranged for us to have dinner at the amazing restaurant Lorenz Adlon Eszimmer, where we dined at a table directly in front of the fireplace with a huge bronze freeze of Kaiser Wilhelm above it and view out the window of the

Brandenburg gate. In honor of Ted's birthday, the restaurant sprinkled red rose petals all over the white linen tablecloth adorned with candles, and we dined like a Kaiser, and met the charming young chef who came to our table at the end of the meal to congratulate Ted and to chat..

After anther day of museums on 27 November, we ate Weiner schnitzel at Einstein's, the original one which is quite a bit away from the center of town in a very old and cozy building where the waiter said that we were so cute he had to take pictures of us. The food was incredible, just as I had remembered it,

and the apple strudel divine. Afterward, we went to the Komische Oera for a spectacular and unusual performance of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman.

The next night was our 40th wedding anniversary, and Ted had arranged to take me to a very special restaurant that dated back to the 18th century, and it was a truly authentic Viennese-style affair, including dishes prepared with fresh game. The service was excellent, and we almost felt like we had flown to Vienna instead of Berlin.

On our last day, we visited some of the Christmas spots around town to soak in the

flavor and the sights of the season.Our favorite CHurch, The Christmas Market at Potsdamerplotz, KaDeVe for a lunchtime snack, and the Shop that specializes in Christmas ornaments to find one to add to our collection.

On the 29th we flew back to Paris and we were so happy to see Mickey even though we knew that he was OK because unlike the time of our summer vacation Jeffrey sent us Beaucoup selfies of he and Mickey snuggling and cuddling everywhere in the house.

The day after our arrival home we were invited to a wonderful Christmas tea by a friend of ours who is originally from Berlin and actually had been there overlapping our visit to see her sister. It was a nice reminder of everything we had encountered in Germany on this trip.

Neighbors Monique and Daniel, who live in the apartment below ours. They are a little older than we are but since the beginning have been very friendly and at times we would get together for a lovely afternoon and the champagne and hors d'oeuvres We call Apero here in Paris. The apartment was

already very festive with the tree and all the decorations that Jef had put up just before we arrived home. What a lovely surprise! We also had an evening at the ballet to see a production of Meyerling at the Palais Garnier. And before Christmas, there were two more joyful events. The first was a visit

to the palace of Versailles where we attended a magnificent performance of Handel's Messiah. The soloists and choir were all extraordinary and the Director a ball of energy. Of course, the orchestra

was the palace orchestra, but the choir came from Barcelona in Spain. The ensemble was perfect and the setting, the chapel of the palace, was the perfect baroque background for this work to be performed. The last event before the holiday was a Christmas Musicale presented by the small protestant chapel in the 6th are. Our friend Antoine not only belongs to this church, but he met his current fiancé there and we were delighted to hear that the wedding date has been set for June 3. The wedding will be taking place in the chapelle. The Chapelle takes up two floors of a beautiful stone interior at the back of the Théâtre Nesle, and is made of the same beautiful old stone fully restored with exquisite beamed ceilings painted in a renaissance style. The evening was filled with

song in which the congregation sang along, And I was so glad to be able to sing all of the Christmas carols I know in French. The orchestra made up of members of the church provided a special accompaniment, and various members took the place of the two chanteuse solos who both happen to fall ill just before the Nativity.. If you hadn't known there was a change in the program, you would think thatt had been planned that way it was so lovely. Seeing Antoine and Lexia again in their environment was a real joy and their happiness enhanced our own. Today I am preparing the dinner for Christmas Eve. Yes, it will be just me, Ted and Mickey but I wanted to do something special, so I am making a beautiful pot roast of venison. I'm not quite sure whether the meat came from Rudolph or Bambi, but the slow cooking will make it tender either way. And on Christmas day we

will celebrate by walking to the Palais Garnier to hear Mozart's opera the marriage of Figaro. We feel so lucky even though we miss the big crowd we used to have at home on Christmas Eve, but we have each other and our little Mickey for a baby to cuddle when we're home we have little in the way of worries.I hope your holidays were as satisfying and that you enjoy a happy, healthy and safe New Year.

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Judith Mitrani
Judith Mitrani
Dec 31, 2022

Another great post!

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