Today’s destination was unplanned. What had started out as a simple walk to buy another croissant to share with my daughter, ended with “a thousand million miles” of walking – according to Saffron. At the last minute, standing on Bismarckstrasse, I decided I needed coffee.
The sunlight poured in through the windows this morning as we sat at the dining table for breakfast. It was noticeable as the previous week clouds ruled the sky. Despite the sun being out, it was still too cold to eat breakfast outside even though Saffron sat at the table on the balcony and started eating the croissant we bought a few minutes earlier.
“I’m cold”, I heard her say. We moved indoors and she continued savouring the croissant whilst I poured lemon yogurt into a bowl. Saffron assured me she could eat the entire contents of the 250g container. I was skeptical until I heard her announce “68!”. It took her 68 spoonfuls to finish the yogurt.
Ten minutes before the 10:00 taxi arrived this morning, we said farewell to the beautiful flat where we spent the first seven nights. We would have stayed the next four nights as well had the place not already been booked, but plans changed at the last minute and we had to resort to another place. I still wished we would have gone to Prague, but my daughter made her wishes clear about not wanting to go.
As soon as we dropped off our bags and backpacks and food, we locked up the “dungeon” and set out to buy another croissant. I decided another croissant would have to wait. I wanted coffee. Not from the place on Zillestrasse – which would have been a two-minute walk – rather from another place recommended by a site I found this summer.
Thus began our “thousand million mile” journey for Five Elephant. Since I was not planning on going there today, I did not take the time to glance at the map again or write down the address. All I knew was it was somewhere near a green area on the map, the U-Bahn station began with a “G”, and the street name started with an “R” and was long. I knew as soon as I saw the name, I would recognise it.
Standing at the U2 station at Bismarckstrasse, I wondered which U-Bahn we had to take to get to our final destination. I knew we had to change lines somewhere so we simply boarded the next train in the direction of Nollendorfplatz.
Once on the train, I studied the map posted inside and figured we needed to get on the U1 towards Warschauer Strasse. I then recognised the station beginning with a "G" as I saw it two days ago on my iPad when I wondered where the coffeehouse was located. We then exited at Görlitzer Bhf and started walking.
I recalled the coffeehouse was nowhere near the station so we turned right as we descended the stairs of the station and continued straight until I found some sort of green area as I remembered seeing on the map. None of the street names looked familiar and the area was not as nice as other parts of the city we've seen. I considered turning around and going back to the flat but I was determined to see if the cheesecake lived up to the raving reviews.
After 15 or so minutes, we made a right onto Glogauer Strasse. We walked until we reached a street with an "R" which was long. Reichenberger Strasse was the street name which now looked familiar. It was at this point where the mistake was made. Should we turn right or left, I wondered.
Left. We should have turned left. Instead, we walked for at least half an hour in the opposite direction only to turn around and end up where we started another half hour later. Saffron was tired and did not wish to walk anymore. At one point I asked a lady where the Elephant House was. It was only later I realised I'd remembered the name incorrectly. I was about to give up and turn around when after one more block I spotted the name on the window along with an elephant.
We sat outside after having ordered and waited for our food and drink. Saffron wanted a big chocolate chip cookie which she greatly enjoyed. She fed crumbs to the little birds which gathered at her feet.
I ordered a flat white coffee to which I added a small amount of raw cane sugar as it did not need much sweetening.
The cheesecake was the real reason we had embarked upon this journey as a review I read stated it was the "best in the world". I looked toward a table on my right and noticed a younger couple as they started in on their slice of cheesecake. I asked the lady how she liked it. She commented on its amazing taste. I decided to stop photographing the cake and simply eat it. It was truly amazing. Creamy and smooth with a simple graham cracker crust and what appeared to be some sort of sour cream topping. It was very similar to the recipe I use from Cook's Illustrated.
The day was warmer than previous days and the sun shining through the leaves above us was a beautiful sight. But my daughter was cold and wanted to sit indoors.
I first realised people in Kreuzberg do not care to clean up after their dogs whilst sitting outside waiting for our food. I placed my camera bag on a chair and noticed "mud" on the strap. Then I noticed it on my jeans. Mud it was not but luckily I could clean up most of it inside the coffeehouse bathroom.
It was also a time I realised renting a flat without a washing machine whilst traveling is not a good idea. The first flat had a Miele washer/dryer combo. This flat has nothing. But travel is not meant to be convenient or comfortable, so we make do with what we have.
Once inside, I contemplated a long time about getting another piece of cheesecake. I knew I would not be returning to this place anytime soon. I decided to keep contemplating whilst I asked the guy at the counter what other coffee he would recommend and what was the coffee I saw served in small juice glasses. A cortado, he informed me. It was two shots of espresso with warm milk. I ordered one of those for myself and a glass of cold milk for Saffron.
As I was waiting, I decided to photograph the window. Saffron commented on the name "FIVE ELEPHANT." and said they had it wrong. "It should say elephants, not elephant. That doesn't make any sense", she insisted. "They need to put an 's' and take away the dot", she stated.
She was correct. Grammatically it makes no sense but not everything needs to make sense.
As I paid for the two drinks, I decided to order another slice of cake to take with me to eat tomorrow. Once outside, Saffron noticed the white bag in which was the slice of cheesecake. She stated the bags also need to be changed. We observed the guy stamping the bags at the counter when we moved inside.
At the end of the street, I photographed the two street signs of the coffeehouse location so I would remember it if I ever happened to return to the area - which I later discovered we were in Kreuzberg.
It was time to make our way back to the U-Bahn station, which turned out to be another long quest.
Saffron took Bela the kitty with her on our journey. The kitty she pretends is real as she had it drinking some of the milk from her glass at the coffeehouse before we left.
On the way to the coffeehouse, Saffron spotted a playground she wished to visit. On the way back, we stopped here for 20 minutes as she explored this new playground.
As we continued along our way, we came across graffiti on every building. Windows, doors, walls were covered with graffiti - more so than we noticed at Prenzlauer Berg.
Saffron asked what was "graffiti", as she heard me call it. I told her it was colourful art.
We noticed tools imbedded into the sidewalk. There were many of these types of blocks with various tools. One had a bicycle chain as well.
Somewhere along the way, I ended up taking a different direction which caused us to walk further away from our initial stop. I wondered if I should ask somebody for the closest U-Bahn station but decided against it. We kept walking until we saw the welcoming blue sign with the white "U". Somehow we ended up on U8 and we figured out how to get back home.
Outside Moritzplatz station, as I was changing lenses, I noticed a bike hit a car. I did not witness the actual impact but saw the girl on the bike trying to get the driver of the car to pull over to inspect the damage. Saffron and I continued on our way home as nobody was hurt.
We returned to Wilmersdorfer Strasse four hours after we initially set out on our unplanned journey.
After a stop at the flat to put the cheesecake in the refrigerator, we walked around the corner for the pony ride I promised Saffron. This was the highlight of her day.
She smiled and waved at me as she rode the five rounds on the coveted white horse. I also smiled as I thought how proud I was of my daughter to have endured the four-hour long walk of our unplanned quest for the "elephant".