Etikettarkiv: Berlin

Blessings in Berlin

Saint Anthony
Saint Anthony

I am cleaning my office and a small card falls to the floor. It is a sweet painting of a saint holding a child and some white lilies. It brings back memories from our journey last year.

When Kerstin and I were in Berlin last fall, walking to our hotel, dressed in our 1840s long and wide dresses and colorful shawls, we passed by a woman who was similarly dressed, sitting on the sidewalk, begging. She also had a wide skirt and a large shawl. We passed her a few times. She smiled at us and we smiled back. The next time we walked by, I gave her a euro and she gave me the small card. She said something in a language I couldn’t place but it sounded like a blessing. I put the card in my reticule and didn’t think more about it.

Today, I decided to research the painting. I copied some of the text from the back of the card into Google Translate:   “ochrzczono go imieniem Ferdynand” – it was Polish and translated as “he was baptized with the name of Ferdinand”.  Maybe the woman who was begging was a Roma from Poland?

Kerstin in our hotel in Berlin
Kerstin in our hotel in Berlin

Then I read up on the saint. Saint Anthony of Padua was born in Lisbon in 1195. In art, he can be recognized by carrying the infant Jesus and holding a white lily, representing purity. The US city, San Antonio, got the name from Saint Anthony.

Why did the woman choose this card? Maybe because Saint Anthony is the patron saint of travelers. She was obviously a traveler, sitting on the sidewalk in Berlin, begging. And we were travelers, following in the footsteps of our great-great grandmother.

Detail of painting by Sir David Wilkie
Detail of painting by Sir David Wilkie

I wish we would have been able to communicate. And I hope Saint Anthony is watching over her wherever her travels may have taken her.

Marie Taglioni, the Swedish ballerina

In July of 1847, Augusta and her mother visited the opera in Berlin.

Berlin, 3 July 1847

After we had left Kroll’s garden, we went to the Opera where we saw the best arranged ballet I have ever seen, and where we had the opportunity to admire Madame Taglioni’s enchanting pas.

So what ballet did they see, and who was Madame Taglioni? After a lot of googling, I still can’t find what performance they saw.

But Madame Taglioni was a super star.

Marie Taglioni was Swedish, born in Stockholm in 1804. Her father was a famous dancer and choreographer, and he was also her teacher. Marie and her father left Sweden for Vienna in 1818 and she had her first performance in 1822.

Marie Taglioni’s foot

In the early 1800s, ballerinas started to dance on their toes. Marie Taglioni was the first ballerina to dance a full-length ballet en pointe. However, at this time, there were no pointe shoes. There are anecdotes about Marie darning the front of her ballet slippers so that they would provide more support.

Her most famous role was in La Sylphide in 1832. She was soon as famous as her Swedish contemporary singer, Jenny Lind. Colored prints and etchings of her in various roles were in high demand.

How exciting it must have been for Augusta to see Marie Taglioni at the Royal Opera in Berlin in 1847. Marie Taglioni was at the top of career – she retired later that year.

Portrait of Marie Taglioni with lapdog. 1842. Edwin Dalton Smith (U.K., 1800-1866)

Read more about Marie Taglioni’s life and about the history of Romantic Ballet at the blogs and links below. It’s a window to the past:


Exactly a month until we travel in Germany

Dresden Opera House
Dresden Opera House

In exactly a month, on the 28th of September, Kerstin and I will be boarding an early morning train at Stockholm Central station to trace Augusta’s journey though Germany. Obviously, there will be no steam engines and no hustle and bustle on the platform; no carriers of large trunks and no women in elegant Victorian attire – except for us! We will be there, dressed in our fall dresses, capes, and bonnets – a la mode of 1847 – mingling with morning commuters.

The train ride south is the start of our 2-week, European journey. We are going to travel like two sisters would have traveled in 1847, and with Augusta’s diary as our guide book.

But before we take off on this exciting journey, we have to finish our wardrobe. We need outfits for all kinds of weather and for opera visits and mountain hiking – all the things Augusta did on her journey.

The Wooden Bastei Bridge in 1826
The Wooden Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland

We have no idea what clothes she brought or how she packed. So far, I have made one fall dress with a matching wool pelerine (short cape) and bonnet, and a ball gown in fine muslin (aka Walmart $4 cotton). I have 2 weeks to make a silk ball gown and 2 more dresses! But how wonderful it will be to hike in Saxon Switzerland National Park, in a dress with several layers of petticoats. And I am hoping for brilliant fall colors.

The journey has been planned in detail and we are going to visit all the churches, palaces, and museums that Augusta described. Besides hiking, we will take a steam boat on River Elbe and a steam-engine train in Dresden. And we hope to get tickets to the opera as well.

We are looking forward to meeting a lot of interesting and interested people on our journey. That is something we experienced when we did the Göta Canal cruise – you make new friends along the way.

Our time table looks like this:

Time Table

If you happen to be in the surroundings – let us know! Maybe we can have a cup of caffe or a glace together.

But rest assure – we will be uploading pictures and blogging during our journey!

Lite ljus över Augustas besök i Berlin 1847

Jag har gjort flera försök att hitta det café som Augusta besökte i Berlin juli 1847. Hon hade hört talas om det fantastiska ”Juchs sein caffé” eller möjligen Yuchs eller Zuchs, ibland är Augustas handstil i dagboken lite otydlig. Men om det nu var så omtalat, borde det finnas beskrivet någonstans, tycker jag.

”Då vi återkommo från Potsdam var det ännu tid att ta en glace i det för sin spegellyx och sin rika gaslysning så mycket omtalade känt för sina speglar ”Juchs sein caffé””

Jag ger inte upp mitt sökande. Jag söker och söker, på historiska kaféer, spegelsalar och gaslyktor. Jag söker på olika stavningar, på min skoltyska, engelska…. Men än har jag inte hittat det upplysta spegelcaféet.  Men…

Mitt i allt sökande hittar jag något annat intressant. Det brukar bli så när man sitter med näsan i datorskärmen och hittar trådar att nysta i.

1847, det året Augusta besökte Berlin, installerade staden Berlin en naturgasanläggning som kunde försörja de 2 055 gaslyktorna som lyste upp Berlins gator.

Nu kan det tyckas att jag blivit lite för nördig, att gasanläggningar inte är särskilt intressant.

Men det intressanta är att det finns en del av dessa gaslyktor kvar. I en del av Tiergarten finns ett hundratal gatlyktor från 1826 och framåt uppsatta längs vägarna.

Gaslaternen-Freilichtmuseum Berlin – ett utomhusmuseum, där man alltså kan gå i samma ljus som lyste upp Augustas vistelse där 1847 och där alla lyktor har egna namn! Så även om jag inte hittat Augustas glasscafé som ändå säkert försvunnit under något av alla de krig som drabbat Berlin, så kan vi få se ett ljus i mörkret.

Det måste vi bara göra när vi är i Berlin i början av oktober. Jag kan se framför mig hur lite oktoberdimma smugit sig ner och bildar ringar runt de gamla lyktorna där vi går i våra nya höstklänningar.

Men jag fortsätter leta efter glasscaféet också. Jag ska hitta det!





The First Train Ride

The Railroad to Berlin
The Railroad to Berlin

After having spent a week in Lübeck, Augusta and her mother leave for Berlin. The weather is rather miserable but they enjoy passing the “enchanting” little town of Ratzeburg. After Ratzeburg, the landscape is flat and infertile, but the scenery is not important to Augusta – she is excited about getting to Schwarzenbek where the railroad starts.

There were no railroads in Sweden in 1847 (the first local railroads opened in 1856 – after Augusta’s life time – and the railroad from Stockholm to Göteborg didn’t open until 1862).

I can almost envision Augusta and her mother when they finally are about to board the train – the novel and controversial mode of transportation. Augusta is waiting to step up into the train compartment, following her mother. Her mother’s wide dress fills the entire entrance to the compartment. When it is Augusta’s turn to step up, she gathers her skirt with her left hand. In her right hand, she is carrying a fashionable little reticule, a rolled-up travel blanket, and a parasol. The rest of the luggage has been left with the porters.

Now she will get to see the interior of a train car; this is what she has been looking forward to – and to experience the dizzying speed of a train ride. She is almost overwhelmed by what she sees and wonders how she will describe this luxury to her friends back home. She will not have a chance to write it down in her small diary until they have arrived at Hotel de Rome in Berlin and she has a desk to write on.

”Quite curious whether the journey in the so highly praised steam cars would please me, I waited with the utmost impatience for the train, which soon arrived. The first entrance in the wagon pleased me immensely. One was by Monsieur le Conducteur locked in a small delightful cabinet, with a ceiling lamp and four stuffed sofas, two and two against each other. The train started and I felt like I was flying through the air. In the distance, however, one could see the objects one passed, but as the whole of the Prussian countryside was ugly, I did not pay any attention to the scenery but instead conversed with my neighbors who, with the usual German talkativeness, informed us of everything we wanted to know for our stay in Berlin.”

Maybe the compartment looked like the one in Abraham Soloman’s 1854 controversial painting of flirtation in a first-class cabin while the girl’s father is asleep.

Abraham Soloman. First Class - The Meeting (original version) 1854
Abraham Soloman. First Class – The Meeting (original version) 1854

Soloman then re-painted the scene according to Victorian morals – now with the young man talking to the father.

Abraham Solomon (1824-1862) First Class - The Meeting (Revised Version)
Abraham Solomon (1824-1862) First Class – The Meeting (Revised Version)

Or maybe the compartment looked like the one in August Leopold Egg’s 1862 famous painting: The Travelling Companions.

The Travelling Companions
The Travelling Companions 1862

Now Kerstin and I are planning our travels by train through Germany. Hopefully the compartments will be just as cozy and the trains alot faster.