A trip to Berlin, Germany

We just got back from an European trip and it was soooo wonderful. I love Europe, it’s history, it’s old, interesting buildings, streets and I would happily travel there every year.

We travelled via a bus tour, our first time and it was really great. No worrying about schedules (someone else did that for us), traffic, directions or parking. But we had alot of time on our own, which made us very happy.  All in all, it was a very stressless holiday.

The itinerary was Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. And with a few town/cities in between the major stops.

Today, I’m sharing Berlin, which was our first stop and where we stayed for 3 nights.

I wasn’t overly excited about visiting Berlin, but the closer it got, and the more I read about it, the more intrigued I got. I had just finished reading Ken Follett’s series on the WWII, in the summer, so that was a good history refresher for me.

We arrived after the loooonnng overnight flight and jumped on our bus to get to our hotel. We stayed on the Western side of Berlin and I loved our hotel.  Here’s a few pics from the lobby and our room. The bathroom was very funky with it’s overscaled art on the glass door.

H10 Berlin Ku'Damm       H10 Berlin Ku'Damm

H10 Berlin Ku'Damm    H10 Berlin Ku'Damm

On the way to the hotel, the history lessons started when we stopped at the Olympic Stadium where the 1936 Olympics were held.

Olympic Stadium Berlin

That night we met up with our fellow travellers for dinner and to get acquainted. The next morning we started off with a bus tour of the city for the morning. A great way to get your bearings in a new city and we saw the double row of bricks that designate where the Berlin Wall had stood.

Berlin wall

We also walked along the part of the wall that is still standing. It has been graffitied and beautified by art. The wall ran pretty much along the side of the Spree river, which divides the city in the two parts.

Berlin Wall Berlin wall

Not far from the remaining parts of the Wall is the Oberbaum Bridge which is an amazing red bricked double deck bridge that crosses the Spree (built in 1894).

Oberbaum bridge

We visited the Brandenburg Gate and saw Bellevue Palace (the residence of the German President) and also Berlin’s Konzerhaus (Concert hall) where a busker was blowing huge bubbles to the delight of many kids and adults.

Brandenburg gate

Berlin concert hall

Checkpoint Charlie was another stop and I have to recommend the museum at the checkpoint, it seemed a little small and gimmicky when we first went in, but it actually was huge, it just goes on and on, and we easily could have spent half a day there. So many stories on how German’s coped during the war and how some managed to escape East Berlin and some that didn’t.

Checkpoint charlie

We then visited the Holocaust Monument, (also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), it is a stark and cold place. The artist did not give any explanation for the monument so we are left to interpret it on our own. I think he meant us to feel stark, cold and alone. The long tunnels and maze like structure were built to allow us to feel what it is like to be caught in a maze and to keep trying to get free and into the light.

Holocaust Monument, Berlin Holocaust Monument, Berlin

Literally a block and a half away from this monument is the site of Hitler’s bunker, where he committed suicide. There is no building or even a plaque on this site, it is a parking lot. The only way you know it was there is there is a sign describing what had lain beneath the concrete.  It felt like, Germany has vowed to not let any of these sites become a memorial to him.

Hitler's bunker site

We also went down the huge boulevards that run throughout Berlin and saw typical communist apartment buildings, that were built during the 50’s – 80’s.

Berlin

Berlin

On a lighter note, we also visited Charlottenburg Palace, the German palace that was modelled on Versailles. If you’ve been to Versailles, you’ll see the similarities in these pictures. The grounds were also beautiful but at that point, our feet were done, so we didn’t do too much exploring of it.  I’m thinking I’ll do a full post on this palace at a later date as the flooring and chandeliers were Ah Mazing!

Charlottenburg palace

Charlottenburg Palace Charlottenburg Palace Charlottenburg palace

We also stopped into the sixth floor of the KaDeWe mall that is legendary in Europe for it’s amazing selection of any type of food and drink that you could desire. We of course, bought some amazing pastry to enjoy.

KaDeWe

KaDeWe

The Sony Centre is another cool sight in a city that doesn’t stop.

Sony centre

Did I mention that the bars in Berlin have no closing hours and also you can walk along the street with your beer or alcoholic drink of choice with no issues? It’s definitely a party city for the young and the young at hearts.

We also saw these crate sofas…. crate beds??? in at least two places in the city. (I’ve blurred out the faces as best I could).

crate sofas crate beds

Bears are everywhere, sort of a Germany’s mascot, they are often standing on their heads and are always painted in interesting colours and designs. Art and creativity are everywhere in Berlin.

thumbnail

There is also Museum Island, which comprises 5 different museums. We didn’t get to all five, but we did manage to get to the Pergamon which is one of the most famous ones. It houses classical antiquities, such as  archaeological treasures such as:

the Market Gate of Miletus, it has reconstructed from the ruins found in the Middle East.

Pergamon museum

And the Ishtar Gate of Babylon also reconstructed from ruins. Pergamon museum

The last day we were there we went on a boat cruise on the Spree river and it was a fabulous way to see the city. I took way, way too many pictures of the Berlin Cathedral as it was just so photogenic.

Reichstag from Spree river Boat cruise, Spree river

Boat cruise Berlin Cathedral

That night we also saw the Reichstag dome. This is the glass dome at the top of their Parliament building. After you get to the top by elevator, you read the history of their government, by circling around the centre column. Once that is done, you can walk up the long, twisting ramp to get to the outdoor viewing area and are treated to an amazing view of the city. It was pretty spectacular to do this at night.

Reichstag

Reichstag Reichstag

Reichstag

The blue seats you see below are their parliament seats.

We ate well in Berlin and enjoyed their very welcoming citizens. People were always quick to help and get us going in the right direction when we looked lost. We enjoyed a couple of hours lounging in this very casual and cool bar, right on the side of the Spree river, near the Island Museums, where we were serenaded by talented musicians. I could have happily stayed there for another few hours.

bar on the banks of the Spree river

And one last beautiful photo of the Cathedral.

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin surprised me with it’s beauty, creativity and history and I’d definitely go back in a heartbeat. So if you get the chance to visit, go.

Lisa

Two mantels, two different looks

Mantels are one of the best places to decorate for the holidays and if you are like me, you love looking at different ones and different styles to get some ideas for your own.

I’m lucky enough to get to do two totally different ones every year, just for me.  Here’s my cottage mantel that I keep pretty minimal and rustic, totally appropriate for the country setting that it is in.

RUSTIC COUNTRY CHRISTMAS FIREPLACE

 

Photo credit: Justin Frost

RUSTIC COUNTRY CHRISTMAS MANTEL RUSTIC COUNTRY CHRISTMAS MANTEL RUSTIC COUNTRY CHRISTMAS MANTEL

 

I used lots of fresh local greenery, some pinecones in a vintage apothecary jar, some antique encyclopedias (which I have sprinkled around the entire place), some sparkly grapevine balls, a birdcage and of course some candleholders. Honestly, this mantel took me all of half an hour to do. Quick, simple and rustic, just the way I like my country Christmas mantels.

Now for my city house, I went with a more sophisticated style.

CHIC AND CLASSIC, GREEN, BLACK AND WHITE CHRISTMAS MANTEL

CHIC AND CLASSIC, GREEN, BLACK AND WHITE CHRISTMAS MANTEL

CHIC AND CLASSIC, GREEN, BLACK AND WHITE CHRISTMAS MANTEL

Some similar elements here, fresh greenery and some dried magnolia leaves (they do last a few years, if you are careful when you store them), some fairy lights and of course candlesticks and candles. I may just tuck in some white and clear christmas balls amongst the leaves, at some point.  Pretty, simple and classic, perfect for my home in the city.

Merry Christmas!

Lisa

 

 

How to hang a wall full of plates

It feels so much like spring here, even though it is really still a few weeks away, but that’s okay we will definitely take it.  When spring hits, I always get a little bit of spring decorating fever. Are you like me and want to repaint the entire house and change up all the accessories?

Well, the last few weekends I’ve kept myself busy redoing my dining room plate wall at our cottage.  And I’m absolutely loving the results below.

Blue and green plate wall

When we purchased the cottage, the wall looked like this.

Before - plate wall with plate railsI loved the idea of decorating with plates, but I wanted to modernize it and give it more of a free flowing feel.  So here’s the step by steps on how to achieve your new plate wall.

First off, I removed the plate rails and filled all the holes in the wall. Then after a quick coat of paint on this wall, I got started.

Oh yes, before I forget, I purchased these Plate Hangers from Ebay.  I didn’t want to use regular plate hangers as I wanted a more clean and modern look, but feel free to use whatever hanging method you prefer.

41QxI28V5pL

1.  You want to gather all the plates and lids (I used one casserole lid that was minus a casserole bottom) that you would like to hang. I would suggest keeping a somewhat cohesive theme, like I did with mostly blue, green, and white plates. But don’t be too rigid, a few surprises are always a good thing.

2. Measure out the width and height of the wall area that you are looking to cover. Once you have these dimensions, tape out these measurements on a flat surface, a table or perhaps the floor, and start playing with the plate placement.

3. Tips for plate placement –  I placed the larger plates first and then added the smaller plates. I also tried to disperse similar colours evenly throughout.

Blue and green plate wall

4. Next, I cut out newspaper templates of each plate and labelled it with the plate colour. I then followed the instructions for the plate hangers and left them to glue on the backs of the plates overnight.

5. Mimicing the plate placement on my table, I taped the newspaper templates on the wall (with painter’s tape) and stood back.  I adjusted them to ensure a fairly consistent space between the plates and kept standing back to see how it looked overall.

Blue and green plate wall

6. Once I was happy with the placement on the wall, I measured the back of the plate, from the hook of the plate hanger to the edge of the plate, and marked the corresponding measurement on the newspaper template, so that I knew exactly where to place the screw.

7. Once I had each screw in place, I removed the newspaper and hung the corresponding plate. I worked from the top to the bottom and it went really, really quickly.

So here it is ALL DONE! As you can see, there is lots of room to grow. It is my perfect excuse to hit up the antique/vintage stores and garage sales this spring/summer to fill it all in.

Blue and green plate wall

Blue and green plate wall Blue and green plate wall

Blue and green plate wall

Blue and green plate wall

 

Lisa

And it’s open – Artemano in Ottawa

Artemano’s grand opening last night was a great evening.  Lots of wonderfully dressed people came out to welcome this new store to Ottawa’s design landscape.

photo 1

Vintage pieces like the door above, mix with the organic.  Btw – I took these pictures about a week before the event so that I got clearer views.

photo 2 copy 2

  photo 2

This daybed was a favourite spot to sit and get your photo taken.

photo 3 copy photo 3

This little desks are just the cutest things.

photo 4

These bell lanterns had me at HELLO! I am seriously bothering the better half to get one installed at the cottage.

photo 1 copy 2

photo-7

This bedroom was my favourite space, from the textured, stacked wood wall, to the moody blue/gray walls, to the Leonard Cohen quote (which coincidentally I had on my website for many years), to the huge and glamourous mirror, to the dramatic basket lights, and finally to that BED!

photo 1 copy photo 2 copy

IMG_6980

It was a great evening, filled with fabulous wine, great food, wonderful live music, and lots of very thrilled Ottawans to have another great furniture store in the Capital.  Thanks to all who attended!

IMG_6977

PS.  I also wrote a short write up for Ottawa at Home’s blog, click here to read it.

Lisa

A fire table and a photo gallery wall

Well, I’m happy to report that the fire table was up and running this past weekend, just in time for our wonderful avalanche of guests for the next month.  Click here to see my previous post which shows our inspiration for the table.

We christened it on Saturday night with some good friends and a little bit of Prosecco, they were kind enough to bring.

photo 3 copy 2

Here’s a little better shot of it the next morning.  My hubby did such a great job of it.  I picture many evenings here with a glass of wine….sigh….

photo 2 copy

photo 1

So totally in love with it, but a little disconcerting when later Saturday night, the bugs just kept flying right into the flames.  We are now nicknaming it,  the insect crematorium 🙂

And on another note, I’ve started a photo gallery wall in the upstairs  hall.  It’s been a long time coming, since I wanted to do it ever since we moved in.  Keep in mind that it is just in the beginning stages and it will be added to in the years to come, as it’s a very long hall.  My friend, Mary Anne was kind enough to donate some of her antique finds and I thought they would be a great addition to the gallery wall.  I always like to mix it up and not just have photos and artwork on a gallery wall.

Here’s my process, first I trace the outline of the frames on to newspaper and then cut them out.  With painters tape I arrange them on the wall.  This way you can change it up until you like what you see.  Much easier than putting a huge amount of nails in the wall.  This picture was taken after I had already hung some new frames, I did use the newspaper trick for them as well, just didn’t get a shot of it :-/

photo 21

And the semifinished wall. Sorry for the blurred out faces but I just don’t feel right posting pictures of my kids on the internet.

photo-2

I’m off to help out my son and his fiancé, with their own art gallery wall tonight. Should be fun!

Lisa