To tell the truth, Berlin and I have been going through a rough patch as of late. It’s not that I’ve fallen completely out of love with the city, but any affection is currently smothered under a deep heap of winter-induced misery. Berlin is really, really hard to love in the winter. As if the seeping, bone-chilling dampness and claustrophobic lack of natural daylight weren’t enough, everyone else in the city appears to feel the same way I do, their sour, sallow faces reflecting back to me the misery I’ve already got plenty enough of on my own. It’s grim.
Yesterday, however, on New Year’s Day, Berlin pulled a very welcome surprise out of the proverbial hat. For starters, the first day of 2015 was, against all odds and expectations, an exceptionally gorgeous day, with cloudless blue skies and bright, abundant sunlight that didn’t quit from dawn (8:17 a.m.) ’til dusk (4:03 p.m. This sunrise/sunset chart tracking our lengthening days is everything to me right now).
Eager to take advantage of this oh-so-rare occasion, I set out on what I thought would be a simple little walk, just over city limits in pretty Potsdam, where I stumbled upon my favourite discovery since a long while.
Kleines Schloß is a restaurant housed in a charming mini palace built by the Hohenzollern royals of the Prussia of yesteryear. It’s set on the shore of the Tiefer See lake in Park Babelsberg, with four small, interconnected rooms facing the lake that are each decked out with stately wooden furniture, silver candlesticks, antique prints, and pink drapes.
It’s nothing short of incredibly charming, with enough pomp to hark back to the regal past of this “little palace” but stopping well short of prissiness. It’s a welcoming little spot that, on this sunny holiday, was doing a bustling trade in Kaffee und Kuchen. We went for a Gulaschsuppe instead, which was delicious, as was my “Heißer Christoph” — hot chocolate with a shot of espresso. (Note to self: try the rum-spiked hot chocolate next time.)
Park Babelsberg is generally overlooked in favour of that other, more famous Potsdam park, Sanssouci, but it’s well worth a visit. Like Sanssouci, it’s dotted with a variety of sometimes striking, sometimes quirky palaces, chateaus, and towers to stumble upon and marvel at, and the swooping green lawns offer great views as they slope down towards the water. Thanks to this day at the park, I’ve now got a small stockpile of sunlight and warm vibes to tide me over until the next sunny Berlin day, or until springtime — whichever comes first.
Kleines Schloß | Park Babelsberg 9 | Website