Curiosity got the best of me as I wondered about the coffee at The Barn. Was it worth the hype, I wondered as we sat in the U2 and rode half an hour to our destination in Prenzlauer Berg. Twenty stops later, we were at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.
Without Internet access during this trip, other than the connection at the flat, I had to recall the Google map I glanced at last night on my iPad. There were two stops on either side of the coffeehouse and we exited the first one. I knew we had to cross a main street but I failed to write down the address of The Barn. As soon as I saw the street name Schönhauser Allee, a sound of familiarity rang in my mind.
We passed a sign letting us know we were now entering Prenzlauer Berg. "Mama, why are you photographing the sign", asked Saffron. "Is it so you know how to get back", she continued. It was a valid question since she's seen me photograph signs with my iPhone in case we got lost. No, this time I simply thought the sign was interesting in the sense it was part of the story of our day together.
The first thing I noticed in this part of the city wasn't the graffiti, albeit graffiti graced the walls along our walk. The large picture windows with the people sitting in front of them and looking out were the first thing I noticed. Seeing how it was also a nice part of our story - and not wanting to seem obvious about taking a photo of the two women who were already eyeing me - I had Saffron sit on a stool in front of the window as I photographed the scene.
The signboard outside the door mirrored the simplicity of the indoor décor - sparse, neutral in colour, and devoid of the adornments of some coffeehouses. The charm was in the rustic feel of the country, complete with grey blankets on benches and barnlike lumber throughout. A cozy fireplace would have made the place more charming and worthy of staying longer. Regardless, it was a memorable experience.
The white walls were bare except for the few wire cage lamps hanging on them. Small black and white signs along the picture window walls read "no laptops" in lowercase letters. Minimalistic is how I would describe the place. No plates, merely wooden boards on which the slice of carrot cake was served.
The cake was good. Saffron kept pointing out the large pieces of carrots and almonds. We split one slice as it was fairly large for one person to eat. She told me I should develop a recipe for carrot cake. "You should call it", she paused to think, "carrot almond cake". I smiled at her and drank my flat white.
The reviews online stated the coffeehouse had no sugar anywhere within sight. I always add raw sugar to any coffee I've ordered and I dared not ask for any. On The Barn's website they state the reason for the lack of sugar is they feel it distracts from the flavour of the coffee. I decided simply to try it and see if this flat white was worth the twenty train station rides. It was. The coffee was not bitter. It was smooth and pleasant. An opinion merely my own.
Having eaten our cake, we were ready to leave. I had my mind set on walking about the streets. Saffron, however, had other ideas in mind. An eight-year old is not interested in seeing the sights. At least not my eight-year old. She wanted to look at toys at the toy store. Not buy them. Simply look at them.
"Walking is boring", Saffron exclaimed. I assured her our next stop would be Alexanderplatz to look at toys but not before we spent a little more time walking up the street. Along the way, we observed more graffiti. She was happy to pose for me again albeit the cold was biting at her fingers. I held her hand and encouraged her to enjoy the walk and the surroundings for a while longer.
I was beginning to realise how going to Prague with her would not have been as great an idea as I had initially thought. She is simply too young to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of new places. I explained to her the significance of her being able to go live in another country at such a young age - or any age for that matter. One day, I hope she will realise the great opportunity she had.
We approached a hair salon with a sign board outside advertising children's haircuts for 15€. Not minding the fact the sign said something about appointments; I walked in and asked, in German, about getting my daughter's haircut.
As in typical German fashion, "no" means no exceptions and don't you dare ask. In other words, "We are German and we bend the rules for nobody". Not that they were busy as there were only two clients in the little salon. We walked out and continued our stroll up the street.
Upon our return, I stood in front of the window and had no problem photographing the pink cushions. I admired them as we passed them by and did not want to leave without photographing them.
As promised, we went to the toy section at Galeria Kaufhof on Alexanderplatz. But not before we walked through the greatly organised food section downstairs on the ground floor. We left without buying any chocolates, but we sampled a dark and light nougat bar. In the wine and liqueur section was a lady offering samples of Slivovitz from the Czech Republic. At home, I have a bottle of Croatian Slivovitz I mix with honey and lemon juice for times I have a bad sore throat. I knew of the strong taste. Nonetheless, I decided to have a sip. Even a sip was too much.
Having accomplished the mission of satisfying my curiosity about the coffee without sugar at The Barn, we headed home for a late lunch. Above in the cloudy skies, the Berliner Fernsehturm was a beautiful sight as it was embraced by fog. A symbol of Berlin, it is a striking tower with beautiful views of the city and is worth another trip to Alexanderplatz to show my daughter the views from above in the rotating restaurant.