From ethnic German to revisited retro, you can bet these “country girls” (as the ladies behind Pomeranza Design Ranch like to describe themselves) know their urban trends. Janet Tempel and Sabine Bulkeley, respectively, an industrial designer and a landscape architect sell a tasteful, hand-picked and entirely exclusive mêlée of odd and international objects: traditional German Grubentücher (dish towels); Ossie piggy banks and candles; jewelry from Australia or Russia; field notebooks from America - even travel and courier bags made from the soft tops of old convertibles. All of this is displayed on stylish furniture and shelves, in accordance with quarterly themes: after “Luck”, “Here Everything Is Beautiful” or “On The Way”, Pomeranza began its “Friendship” season in November; it runs until the end of December. With Christmas around the corner, you might want to delve into this treasure trove for one-of-a-kind gifts. There's bound to be something for everyone, and every purse. Prices start as low as €1.20 for a German kiddie classic, the Pustefix bubble-maker, and end at €209 (the cost of a large dothebag-label bag). One exception is a leather bench priced at €1000 - but it's not just any kind of bench: it's a redesigned pommel horse. The cozy café corner serves Berlin's Andraschko coffee, shortbread and delicious miniature cakes. Glühwein will be served Advent Sundays all December long, when the store will be open.
Pomeranza Design Ranch | Raumerstr. 19, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Eberswalder Str., Tel 4849 5760, Mon-Fri 10-19, Sat 11-18, Sun 13-18 (for December only), www.pomeranza-shop.com
The book room
On December 8, London transplant Sharmaine Reid is launching Dialogue Berlin, an English bookstore tucked away at the back of a tea shop. Although there are already a number of established English-language bookshops in Berlin, Reid hopes to fill a special niche by pairing her literary tastes and insider knowledge (she's a former publicist and has been a bookseller for over a decade) with an open ear to the city's literary community. She aspires to the kind of personalized engagement that could inspire a ‘dialogue' between buyers and books - and heck, why not authors too? The shop is to be an ongoing experiment: it will evolve with the shifting tastes of Berlin's literary community and, hopefully, keep readers on their toes at the same time. As well as children's books, graphic novels and the usual bookstore standards, Dialogue Berlin offers more exceptional genres - Food (mainly British cooking), Cultural Studies and a Theory section concentrated on Art, Film and Literature. The T Room café and gallery, where it is housed, provides a cozy ambience (and, of course, tea and scones). There will be a 10 percent discount off all books from 16-18 on December 10 and 17, and perhaps even more alluringly, the promise of mulled wine and mince pies.
Dialogue Berlin | Christinenstr. 27, U-Bhf Senefelderplatz, Tue-Sun 11-9, www.dialogueberlin.com
Christmas market fun
There are more Christmas markets in Berlin than toys in Santa's sack, but with a little discretion you can find more than tacky trinkets and rowdy, Glühwein-chugging hordes. Pretend you're in a village in days of yore at Domäne Dahlem, a working farm within the city limits that's accessible by U-Bahn (it's near the Freie Universität). This quaint market offers plenty of traditional handmade crafts and beeswax candles, with activities for kids and Yuletide tunes in the afternoons. The children's Christmas market in the medieval fort Zitadelle Spandau is another satistfyingly old-fashioned affair, with plenty of rides, a petting zoo, kiddie entertainment, and a historical craftsman's market. For three days each Advent, the small Alt-Rixdorf market springs up in the loveliest corner of Neukölln, complementing Richardplatz's quaint, old-world feel with an excellent selection of vendors and pony rides under the kerosene lanterns. Weihnachtzauber, at the foot of the Konzerthaus in the regal Gendarmenmarkt, is Berlin's fanciest Christmas market: skilled artisans craft their wares while you watch; a stellar stage programme features jugglers, acrobats, fire-swallowers, dances troupes, choirs, and various classical, jazz and gospel ensembles; and the food never fails to delight, with top chefs providing much more than just Bratwurst and Grünkohl. Order your organic Christmas goose and find pretty, unique ornaments (and the tree to put them on) at the all-organic, fairtrade Grüne Liga Adventsmarkt on Kollwitzplatz - the succulent waffles alone are worth a visit. The Lucia Christmas market in the Kulturbrauerei has a Swedish flair (Glögg, with a nice kick, instead of Glühwein) and is beloved by the throngs of Prenzlauer Berg children and their parents that make a beeline for the bungee trampoline and cute carousel rides. Santa visits punctually at 17:00 every day. Normally, Christmas markets are more about eating than shopping (sausages and steak, Lebkuchen, Pfannkuchen - donuts! - Kartoffelpuffer, candied almonds and roasted chestnuts, yes please!), but at Holy Shit Shopping (photo) you can actually come away with quality gifts (including a few for yourself). More than 150 young designers and artists sell their wares for two days in Postbahnhof: funky clothes and jewelry, photography, art, books and comics, candles shaped like the Fernsehturm... The “shopping lounge” is presided over by DJs and, although this one feels more like a club than a Christmas market, there is still Glühwein to be drunk under twinkling lights - keeping the dark at bay and Christmas in your heart.
Adventsmarkt der Stimmungsvolle | Domäne Dahlem, Königin-Luise-Str. 49, Dahlem, U-Bhf Dahlem Dorf, Dec 5, 6, 12, 13, 11-19. Entry costs €2 (kids are free)
Berliner Kinderweihnachtsmarkt | Zitadelle Spandau, Am Juliusturm, Spandau, U-Bhf Rathaus Spandau, Sun-Thu 11-20:00, Fri 11-21, Sat 11-22. Through Dec 23
Weihnachtsmarkt Neukölln Alt-Rixdorf | Richardplatz 28, Neukölln, U+S-Bhf Neukölln, Dec 4-6, Fri 17- 21, Sat 14-21, Sun 14-20
WeihnachtsZauber | Gendarmenmarkt, Mitte, U-Bhf Franzosiche Str., Mon-Sun 11-22 (Christmas Eve 11-18, New Year's Eve 11-1). Through Dec 31. Entry costs €1 (kids under 12 are free)
Grüne Liga Adventsmarkt | Kollwitzplatz, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Senefelderplatz, Dec 6, 13, 20, 12-19
Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt | Kulturbrauerei, Schönhauser Allee 36, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Eberswalder Str., Mon-Fri 15-22, Sat, Sun 13-22. Through Dec 22
Holy Shit Shopping | Postbahnhof, Straße der Pariser Kommune 8, Friedrichshain, S-Bhf Ostbahnhof, Dec 12, 12-22, Dec 13, 12-20