the steiff museum

sorry about that, i didn’t mean to leave you on a cliffhanger for so long after the last post! so here you go, my favorite part of april’s roadtrip was…

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…the steiff museum! :D museums are usually not my thing but this one… boy, was it good! it had a great story, interaction, big cuddly stuffed toys, and even a slide! i don’t even know how to write about it without gushing!

first, some context. margarete steiff was born in 1847, in giengen, a small town in the south of germany. when she was just a baby, she got high fever, and ended up being paralyzed. her parents were distraught, but margarete persevered. her siblings took her to school on a hay cart, and she learnt how to sew and worked with her older sisters as a seamstress. and then, in 1879 she made a small stuffed elephant as a pin cushion…

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and the tiny elephant was so popular, she started doing more, selling them at fairs… and pretty soon the steiff brand of soft toys was born. but it wasn’t until 1902 that a really popular bear came along, and they named it “teddy bear“, after theodore roosevelt, president at the time. the bear, designed by richard steiff (margaret’s nephew) had movable arms and legs and cuddly mohair plush, and was such a hit at the leipzig fair that an american buyer ended up ordering 3000 of them… the rest, as they say, is history!

ok, enough of that, let me show you the museum! :D

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it’s as immersive and interactive as they get. you step into steiff’s workshop to be greeted by 55PB, the bear that started it all. he’s the one who narrates the story for you, as you are transported into a series of different worlds where all the characters are cuddly plush toys…

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i don’t want to share too many photos of this part to avoid spoiling the surprise, but you dive into the deep sea, trek the arctic, float in space… and when you reach the apotheotic end of your journey, you’re presented with… more plush! plushes big enough for you to cuddle and climb on, which all the kids and grownups do… and a slide! oh, it’s magic!

one floor lower, you can see the masters fixing really old and beloved teddy bears, and learn more about the history of the company. did you know that all their toys have a little button on their ear? that’s their trademark! :)

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and of course, the exit is through the gift shop, where you can buy all the plushes you want!

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oh, and as if big cuddly bears weren’t enough, take a look at their original factory, with its translucent glass curtainwall facade:

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this remarkable building is from 1903! let that sink in… 15 years before bauhaus came along (and those guys were already way ahead of their time), richard steiff just wanted a building with lots of light to increase productivity and so, he made one, by removing the walls and replacing them with glass. it’s still there, over 100 years later — and it’s exceptional.

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ok, that’s it! i hope i’ve convinced you to go there — you won’t regret it! :)


polaroids from the romantic road

a plot from clever marketeers to increase tourism in the region, the romantic road is a route connecting different picturesque towns in the south of germany. i’m a sucker for a good roadtrip, and this sounded like a great one — so around easter, we packed our friend’s jorge car and the three of us drove all the way down there to check it out.

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we started in würzburg and made our way south until füssen, where we visited the “castle to rule them all“. on our way, we passed rothenburg ob der tauber, feuchtwangen, dinkelshbühl, nördlingen, giengen and augsburg, before turning back up and heading towards munich via wies, then finally nuremberg and bamberg.

we visited castles and walked on ancient walls, ate an overwhelming amount of sausages, slept on tiny b&bs with generous breakfast spreads… it was perfect on all accounts. the south hides exactly the kind of hidden medieval germany that one reads about in fairy tale books :)

we took some polaroids on the way, to keep track of the sights and facades… thought i’d share them here.

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aaaaah… that brings back some really nice memories! this was also the roadtrip where we crossed the european watershed and saw all the postcrossing bags… but the best of it all? i’ll tell you about it on the next post! :)


analogue wednesday #27

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every year, there’s a little bit less of furadouro’s beach left after winter – despite the town hall’s best efforts to make up for it in summer. the tripa though, it’s still popular and going strong!


plan secretly and without respite

“You must always have a secret plan. Everything depends on this: it is the only question. So as not to be conquered by the conquered territory in which you lead your life, so as not to feel the horrible weight of inertia wrecking your will and bending you to the ground, so as not to spend a single night more wondering what there is to do or how to connect with your neighbors and countrymen, you must make secret plans without respite. Plan for adventure, plan for pleasure, plan do pandemonium, as you wish; but plan, lay plans constantly.

And when you come to, on the steps of the presidential palace, in the green grass beside the highway, in your cell’s gloomy solitude, your secret plan finished or foiled, ask your comrades, as your cellmates, ask the wind, the waves, the stars, the sea, ask everything that ponders, everything that wanders, everything that sings, everything that stings- ask them what time it is; and your comrades, your cellmates, the wind, the waves, the stars, the sea all will answer: “It is time for a new secret plan. So as not to be the martyred slave of routine, plan adventure, plan pleasure, plan pandemonium, as you wish; but plan, plan secretly and without respite.”

- from one of last week’s listserve emails.

the listserve is one of the best things we’ve discovered this year. it’s just a simple email lottery: every day, one person is selected at random among the subscribers and gets to address the “crowd” per email. the result is random and magical – and once in awhile, really, really good.


zimt & mehl

i’ve wanted to write about this place around the corner for ages now… it’s a very normal café & bakery, the kind of place you have in practically every corner of berlin, filling the street with the smell of baked gluten at certain hours. the pastries are the opposite of fancy, the coffee is very meh… it isn’t hip or cool at all and for a reeeally long time, the background music was exactly the same. every. single. day.

and yet, we love it so much (and come back so often) they already know how we take our coffees without asking… it’s lovely!

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there are 2 things rather special about zimt & mehl. first of all, it opens at 6am! in a city where a café that opens before 10am is hard to find, this is extraordinary. it allows us to come in early and do one of my favorite morning rituals: the early morning study sessions. we show up as early as 7am, get a coffee, sit down and just study something, while all around us, people read their newspapers and grab their coffees-to-go and sandwiches before heading off to work.

sometimes friends join us, and for one hour or so we go over online classes or educational podcasts, translate ted talks, study languages… anything goes, as long as it is learning or working towards a specific (not work-related) goal. right now i’m studying gut flora, paulo is doing a course on stocks and bonds and our friend max is learning korean. i’m an early morning kind of person, so i find it nice to jump out of bed and right into something.
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second, they make omelets! big, fluffy omelets! you pick the ingredients, and they’ll make them for you. yes, they still come with bread (or this wouldn’t be germany), but if you skip that or push it towards the other end of the table, you’ll be fine for a no-frills, gluten-free meal. for people who are a bit picky about that, this is nothing short of a small breakfast revolution. plus, eggs are pretty much still my favorite thing – so this makes me happy.

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and there you go: our favorite café in the whole of berlin! sometimes it’s the little things that count the most :)