Sunday 29 July 2007

The Quest for the Jug

I love living in Berlin, and one of my favourite things to do here is to go mooching around fleamarkets on Sunday morning. There is one near us, at John F Kennedy Platz in front of Rathaus Schöneberg. This is, incidentally, the place where Kennedy gave his 'ich bin ein Berliner' speech. I buy books there mostly, and have come across many a great read for a euro or fifty cents.

But today, Claudia and I were on a mission. Staying at a friend's house recently with two kids and two dogs, Claudia discovered that a large water jug had been broken by some two- or four-legged culprit. So we went hunting for a replacement.

We went first to the fleamarket at Fehrbellinerplatz. This is a very pleasant and popular market, adjoining a lovely café, and many of the sellers there are people who actually are trying to sell off stuff that's cluttering their home.

As we were on our way back from a walk with the dog around one of the lakes, Claudia and I were a bit peckish so we gave in to the temptation of bratwurst for me and leberkäse for Claudia.

There, we saw a few potential jugs. At one stall, Claudia spoke with a man about a jug he was selling for five euros. It was smaller than what we were looking for, and Claudia asked if he would be there next week as we might decide on buying it. The man said he might be but the jug would not - he would smash it at the end of the day as it wasn't worth the bother of repacking.

We soldiered on. Our next stop was a very large indoor and outdoor fleamarket over in the East at Trepower Park. The people there were obviously selling for a living - if a living could be made from such trade. We saw one potential replacement there for Claudia to think about, but for me I mostly enjoyed the atmosphere of the crowded place.

And this guy's wonderful stall!

From there we went on - in traffic with Berliners, who I believe are the unfriendliest drivers in the world - to a small funky fleamarket in Boxhagenerplatz at Friedrichshain.

This area of town has a lot of young people and the difference is very noticeable. We found nothing vaguely like what we sought. But the atmosphere was very pleasant.

We journeyed on through a grey and wet Berlin, finally getting to the Ostbahnhof and the fleamarket behind it.

This was also a pleasant area with a lot of interesting stalls - though again these would have mostly been people operating at some professional level. At this stage, we were seeing markets only in terms of water jugs and there was only one possible candidate.

Heading home, we decided to have a look around our local Rathaus Schöneberg fleamarket. It was already past 3pm, and so - particularly as it was a wet day - many people were wrapping up their wares and preparing to leave. The guy I buy my 50 cent books from was not there and probably hadn't bothered to show up as the day was so wet. There was no potential replacement there - though I was very taken by an old ornate milk can that Claudia didn't like.

Claudia's recce done (she will make her choice next week) we could have headed home. Instead we went back to Fehrbellinerplatz. There was a man there she wanted to ask about bringing a larger jug to his stall next week. And before we left, we had to do one more thing. We went to the guy with the five euro jug. It was still there and it was close to the time when the market would close and it would get smashed. We bought it and brought it home. How else could such a story end!

Here's our newly adopted jug sitting on our balcony. If you ever meet him, don't tell him he cost only five euro and was saved from being smashed because no one wanted to buy him.

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