There is absolutely no trace of the religious aspect of the Feast of the Three Kings in Berlin whatsoever. Had it not been for the Sunday mass in the morning, I would have overlooked the Feast of the Epiphany, which would have certainly earned me a frown from my parents. As a child in Mexico, Three Kings was a big thing to us, as this was the day all the children received their toys. My parents had no trouble adapting to the local culture back then, not just for my sake, but because it was in tune with their religious culture. As I grew older and moved away from Mexico, the importance of January 6th diminished as a social celebration and remained simply as a holy day of obligation for Catholics, transferable to the closest Sunday.
Personally, however, Three Kings is still a reason to do something special. Since my daughter is with me this year, and the sun shone for the first time in several days, we decided to indulge in urban exploration while the weather held up, knowing we would not get another chance so soon.
After wrapping up the business with my last Christmas cat-sitting, we took the bus down to the quaint little district of Alt Kladow. It is really hard to believe that this is still part of Berlin, especially since it boarders with Potsdam. This corner of Berlin that dates back to the 12th century has a distinctly village feel to it, blissfully devoid of malls, no large buildings, just individual shops, quaint houses, and a lot of open space! What drew us there, however, was the promenade that runs along the Havel River. My soul and camera were thirsting for creativity.
Physical needs, i.e. thirst and hunger, drove us into a restaurant before undertaking any exploration or photography. During summer, this area is full of hikers, bikers, seekers, rowers, and more, making it quite a challenge to find a seat. It is a whole different story in winter and some of them were still closed for the holidays. We ended up in a cosy little Italian place called La Riviera, with gorgeous service, a basic menu of Italian specialities and a good selection of wines. It was warm, quaint, the food was good, and the tiramisu was to die for.
Once body and soul were glued back together, we walked out onto the promenade and were blessed by the heavens with a fantastic light. The ducks were out in full force, since enough people milled around with bread for them, with a couple of swans, river coots, seagulls and crows joining in. It was a serene and relaxing afternoon, which we capped off with an additional walk along the Havel River in my part of Spandau.