It’s hard to find a place without any trees in Berlin, they’re everywhere, even important buildings like Humboldt University in what used to be East-Berlin – the Berlin featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain, a place much less horrid than the film, he must have been drugged throughout the entire production, or even at the time when he was reading the script, why would anyone shoot such a boring mess, anyone, I ask you, but I wildly digress – anyway, even this architectural gem is partially covered in leaves and blossoms of a majestic chestnut tree, actually, all of Berlin is covered in trees, up and down every place and street, they’re flourishing so opulently you can’t make out the trunk at times. I wonder who planned this urban jungle, some green spirit way ahead of its time – whoever he was, I proposed a toast to him today, with my little bird friend and my soy caffè latte venti at a very treed Starbucks.
One day, that is, if one day I win the lottery, I’ll move to this place on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, it’s not too big nor too small, quite manly, elegant, it screams old money, it’s not Monceau at all, only close by, nobody will suspect you bought it from your lottery win, the house next door has a beautiful red door, not Elizabeth Arden’s though, a little more to the oxblood side of red, it’s near to Miromesnil and Rue La Boétie, Boulevard Malesherbes and Saint-Augustin isn’t far away either, I’ve practically spent days watching these crossroads while having an endless series of cafés au lait, also a highly recommandable salade norvégienne at Saint-Augustin’s, I call that area my natural habitat, including the Starbucks on Boulevard Haussmann, I’m not a snob, I like to have my soy caffè latte when ever I feel like it, and an iced americano in summer, venti, always venti, and once they had that matcha cake, so good, so green, anyway, whoever lives there now, will have to move out, at once, sorry, but it’s beyond my control, ainsi va le monde, ce n’est pas ma faute, I’m just hoping I picked the winning numbers.
This February, Mousey and I went to Paris, I in my Balmain caban, he in his Sonia Rykiel-ish outfit, stuck somewhere inside, not compromising my military allure, representing the Swiss battalion of the Balmain Army, we went goose-stepping through the streets of my favourite town, starting in the Marais, ignoring the cold and the endless drizzle, but rather enjoying emptied side-walks, no bumping into tourists when they suddenly stop to take selfies, just some slim silhouettes of Parisians, slim as their black umbrellas, crossing the river to get via Île St.Louis to Saint-Germain, and crossing it again to get to the Tuileries, admiring their elegant tristesse on such a day, void of flowers, colours and people, the Louvre’s glorious façades and rooftops just in front of you, the Musée d’Orsay on your right, on the other bank of the Seine, an architectural ensemble you find nowhere else in the world, breathing it all in while stepping over puddle after puddle, to get to Galignani’s on rue de Rivoli, the best bookstore in the world.
One thing, however, I took no account of. My lactose intolerance. After all those cafés au lait I had to warm up from the cold, my stomach became bloated. All of a sudden, I was nine months pregnant. The military shape of my jacket was gone, not only did I look like I had no self-control, I lost one of my buttons, it just popped off my jacket, the one moment I forgot to tuck my belly in when admiring Goyard’s window display. But hell, it was worth it. The French know how to make a good coffee.
Anna Wintour and I have something in common: we love coffee from Starbucks. I, however, was sipping it with much more style when living in Hamburg. On Jungfernstieg, not far away from Chanel’s, Gucci’s and Prada’s flagship stores, I was an ever so frequent customer at the most exquisite Starbucks coffee house you can possibly imagine. Situated in a restored Kontorhaus from the late 1800s, a true architectural gem, opulent neo-renaissance with the original ceiling and its most stunning coffering which you can almost touch when you’re seated on the second floor. It’s a feast for anybody only slightly interested in interior design and architecture. Vienna’s Kaffeehaus Demel, Venice’s Caffè Florian, or Rome’s Caffè Greco may offer better coffee, less absurd varieties and much more high toned a bill, but their ceilings can’t compete. Despite the fact I had become a vieil habitué over the years, I never stopped sipping my Soy Caffè Latte Venti looking up, on the brink of neck fracture, every bit as much impressed as when looking up at Michelangelo’s David in Florence. Well, I’m exaggerating a little, but he comes close.