Postcards from Berlin
Valerie’s Gallery… on the road
This week I write my weekly column from way across the pond… in Germany.
I was honored to be asked to host the third annual Healing Summit, produced by the Healing Hotels of the World, in Berlin. The Healing Summit is a two day event with speakers from literally all corners of the globe discussing how to create a soulful economy with the backdrop of professionals steeped in holistic modalities. Fascinating discussions by individuals including neuroscientists, economists, physicians, and eastern medicine practitioners took place.
Last time I was in Berlin, the wall had just come down about eight years before I arrived, there still was a feeling of division between east and west Berlin, and I was beyond intrigued by the city’s history and the lifestyle of a country I had never before visited. Returning so many years later, I was anxious to see how Berlin had changed. And has it. The construction that had begun when I was there in the late 90’s has born huge amounts of retail and commerce. Checkpoint Charlie now features two guys dressed as American soldiers positioned there with the express purpose of taking photos with tourists. Not exactly my idea of an appropriate way to mark a historic landmark, but hey, neither is the Naked Cowboy in Times Square.
I was so happy to be invited to stay at a most exquisite hotel, where the summit took place,
The Hotel de Rome, part of the Rocco Forte Hotel group. This boutique and specialized hotel company, based in Italy, provides excellent service at all times, stunning modern design elements, and incredible luxurious comfort.
After working for several days and completing my duties, I had a chance to get out and experience a part of Berlin. There is so much to see and do, especially if you want to absorb the history of this
fascinating location, and spend time honoring those whose lives were shattered by an incomprehensible regime. From historical museums to classical concerts to opera to amazing bakery offerings and friendly people, Berlin is truly a New Yorker’s paradise. In fact, on the plane coming over, the cover story of Air Berlin Magazine compares Berlin to New York and questions, which one is hipper? (I think it’s a tie.)
Places I had to see included the plethora of graffiti artwork that adorns the remaining portions of the Wall that happily became an opportune place for artists’ impressions. Prepare to spend time looking at the numerous paintings that detail history.
For restaurants, you can’t miss Katz Orange, in the old Jewish section of the city, now bustling with galleries and eateries. Katz Orange is located past an alley in a courtyard in a most attractive setting, and offers delicious food and wine as well. The food is local and yet is prepared with completely unique flavors. My cocktail combining gin, champagne, lemon and lavender syrup was such a happy start to a meal!
This appetizer of calamari with fennel, red pepper and candied ginger was amazing.
Moving on to Cologne, or Koln, Germany, where I am currently staying (as I write this week’s article,) to attend a wedding. The hotel to book is the Excelsior Hotel Ernst. Another spectacular example of attentive service and gorgeous design details. When traveling, feeling tired, with feet hurting and back aching and that ever present jet lag, there is nothing better than to be greeted at a superb hotel where you can relax and rejuvenate. The Excelsior is old world gorgeous and sumptuous and truly top notch.