Back in December 2014 I was in Karlsruhe in Germany performing a play at the Jakobus theatre with my good friend Emma Brown. When we weren't rehearsing, performing or knocking back a few drinks at the Café Bleu opposite the theatre we could often be found in 'our' café. People say that don't they? 'Our' café, like it exists just for them - a little haven away from the hassle of the crowds - somewhere to gently sip a cup of coffee or have a slice of cake or a tart and a read of the papers, even though they are in complex German. Well, perhaps a look at the pictures in the papers anyway and maybe some of the words - especially if they strike us a funny. "Look, they call XYZ Hinkelbonkel!"
Well Emma is my good friend and I like to show my friends places I have thought of as being particularly cosy or restful and to share that with them. Karlsruhe, is and was, in the unfortunate circumstance of being in the middle of a gigantic restructuring of their tram system in the city centre and beyond. The very centre of the city is a huge whole in the ground into which - one year soon - will fit a new underground metro system to compliment their already complex tram system - the Strassenbahn. Emma and I know all about the Strassenbahn. Don't we Emma? It featured rather heavily in my play!
One day I introduced her to Café Am Markt - café on the marketplace. This is quite an old fashioned resting spot for the some of the older people from Karlsruhe. It is a typical café of the region in it being very clean, compact and has great service with a smile. It mainly serves the German favourite - coffee and cakes (Kaffee und Kuchen) but will extend its menu to some hot food and other drinks. We went there a few times and it became 'our' café.
This is currently a café with a view to weep over. I'm not talking German Romanticism here. There are no snow peaked mountains outside with men and ladies in lederhosen rounding up friendly goats to glory over as you sip your hot beverage. You may well choke on your Mandeltorte, get the pip with your Apfelstrudel or lose it with the Pumpernickel Brownies as you turn in your wooden seat to see the view. Here it is: the view out across to the charming market place.
And from the other side we get this view.
So the windows steam up in Café Am Markt and another hot drink helps the minutes go by pleasantly. On returning from the loos we each spy the very serious looking lady from Berlin on the next table who freaks us out somewhat as she mentally sucks the sugary coated plums from my Pflaumenkuchen. I can almost see them floating in the air from my plate to her bitter lemon mouth leaving in their wake a fairy dust of fine dusting sugar dissolving in the air. I wolf it down so there is no chance of this happening! Then Emma gets out the pills we have just bought from one of the many thousand pharmacies on each strasse. These are for a sudden frozen shoulder complaint. The pills come with ten yards of toilet paper advice on what to take them with, what not to take them with, who to call if you die from them and how long they take dissolve if you go the rectal route. We love Café Am Markt!