Kollektiv – Soviet feel in Leipzig

Entering Kollektiv, a small restaurant on a corner at Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 72, felt to me like stepping into my grandparents house. Everything from furniture to cutlery is from 60s-70s era, resembling the same as at my grandparents house. The same can probably be said about thousands of other ex-Soviet households.

Leipzig was East Germany, formally the German Democratic Republic or GDR, was a state within the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War period. From 1949 to 1990, it administered the region of Germany which was occupied by Soviet forces at the end of the Second World War. Like in Estonia, a slight nostalgia seems to have taken over and more and more places can be found with former Soviet plates or household items being put back into use.

Kollektiv is an excellent example. Very comfy chairs, extremely helpful staff and heart-warming food.

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The first item on the menu, Köningsberger Klopse, was something very similar to something I used to get for lunch at school at primary school – meatballs in white sauce with capers, boiled potatoes and picked beetroot salad. Maybe not my favourite at the time, but gosh it sounded tasty when I read it from the menu. However, instead I felt adventurous and had a Steak au Four, which was an interesting version of pork steak cooked with onions and cheese sauce. The plate was very considerately divided into quarters, with fried potatoes on one side and peas on the other, making some dominant space for the steak.

It looked something like that:

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The meal was very filling and then again you never know when you get to eat again, right. Yet I didn’t have any space for a dessert, which did sound like they were meant for the adventurous type.

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They didn’t have any apple tea, which spectacular in Germany, so instead they suggested to prepare me some hot apple juice with a mini compote fruit inside it. Very tasty.

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The whole meal for four people with drinks (bottle of wine, beers and digestives) came up to €100, which we though was very reasonable. Once leaving the restaurant, it felt like we’d stepped 30 years into the future. That’s how realistic the whole concept  felt.

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So if ever in Leipzig. Here’s the link: http://www.gaststaette-kollektiv.de

Leipzig Zoo – visiting the tropics in Germany

Gerald Durrell’s book “My family and other animals” inspired me to have a zoo one day when I was little. I did try, but it only got as far as three cockatiels, three lovebirds and a couple of canaries.

However, if I was an animal living in a zoo, I’d most definitely like to live in the zoo of Leipzig.

The environment which has been created is incredible. Indoor space they’ve named as Gondwanaland  resembling that of a rainforest has been created for tropical animals, which you can explore sitting on a boat (!)

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There is also Pongoland, a whole indoor space for gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. All with very different characters, but very playful and curious.

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Oh of course, and then there are the elephants.

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Little tip, if you don’t want to spend the whole day there and not benefit from numerous restaurants inside the zoo, go after 3.30pm, when the entry fee is discounted to €12.

Vietnamese Berliner style

When in Berlin, going to small breweries and eating proper German food, is probably the thing to do. However, after the Christmas feast, something healthy looking and oriental might be a better option.

I was recommended one restaurant in Berlin by a friend, Chen Che. Vietnamese food, but Berliner style. By chance it was also near our hotel Circus.

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We were greeted with a friendly smile in a dim-Iit restaurant. The centrepiece, a huge Asian style chandelier, for which they had to take down part of the wall to get it inside, got a lot of our attention.

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The menu was surprisingly brief of a Vietnamese restaurant, compared to places on London’s Kingsland Road. The staff explained that this is to ensure that all the ingredients are most fresh. Furthermore, the drinks menu for teas, coffees and funky looking non-alcoholic cocktails took over many of the pages.

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We chose dishes with baby aubergine and coconut rice, for mains green curry with chicken and one with tofu. All in all it was pretty amazing and very filling. Really enjoyed that place. Hidden away on a small alleyway near Alexander Platz, Chen Che is a little gem to discover.

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Omorovicza Perfecting Lip Balm – Product of Hungary

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Winter is the time of the year when one notices the importance of lip balms.My lips tend to be very dry and broken very often, so I was quite excited to get an Omorovicza lip balm from my Liberty advent calendar.

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Sleek and elegant packaging definitely won my heart. The eucalyptus gives the lips a pleasant tingling feel for quite some time and the ingredient palmitoyl oligopeptide promises to increase lip volume over time, which I haven’t noticed yet, but will add a note here, if proven right and my lips resemble the likes of Angelina Jolie.

With a £32 price tag, this is definitely an investment. It should last over the winter, making it worthwhile. And my lips still tingle!