Earlier this week I caught a train up to the Olympic Stadium with a visiting friend who had never seen it.
The stadium itself was, as ever, a pleasure to stroll through and around – although the bell tower, annoyingly enough, is always closed whenever I’m there. But one of the more magical aspects of our trip occurred as we walked back to the city via the bustling, snow-flecked boulevards of Kaiserdamm and Bismarckstrasse.
No sooner had we left the stadium and started discussing our mutual urge for a warming yet very unlikely schnitzel and beer lunch on this cold winter day, than a restaurant named Wiener Restaurant Bar literally loomed up in front of us.
Simultaneously stunned and delighted we had no choice but to go inside and sample their wares. The Art Deco interior was tasteful and welcoming and, this being the relative outskirts of town, the ages of the clientele ranged from 50-80. Hipster Mitte, this was not.
We took our seats and watched one white-haired gent read his newspaper through a magnifying glass and another – dressed immaculately in a suit and perched on his own at the handsome, curved bar – tuck heartily into an Apfel Strüdel.
It felt like we had slipped back in time. And indeed, as the waitress delivered us a perfect slice of voluptuous veal, the breadcrumb casing baggy and crunchy as it should be, she informed us that the restaurant dated back to the early 1960s, when West Berlin was a-swingin’ (to some extent).
Well, that did it. Suddenly the wrinkles sloughed off the faces of all the old timers around us, and their whitened hair grew thicker and darkened. Magnifying glasses and crutches clanged loudly onto the floor and before we knew it, our rejuvenated companions were up and dancing together around the tables: cigarettes in one hand, Martinis in the other, and all waves and air-kisses across the crowded room.
Unsure what to do and feeling wholly underdressed and out of place, we finished our schnitzel, paid and left.
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