Episode 281 – The 39 Steps

It’s not just a classic 1935 noir thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, or a perennial community theatre stage play – it’s how many interior stairs we climb to reach the heavy wooden entry door to our Berlin apartment, in addition to 10 exterior metal stairs from the courtyard.

L to R: Our entrance from the street, the interior route through the “front” building to the courtyard, and the entrance from the courtyard going into our building. The complex is made up of an L-shaped building plus 2 other 3-story buildings, connected into a square.
The other wing of our “L”.

Elevators in buildings of this vintage (1873) are rare, and we knew when we booked our accommodation that we’d need to haul suitcases (and groceries!) up 2-1/2 flights of stairs, which made travelling with carry-on size cases even more important.

That’s HALF a flight of stairs on the left; each flight has a 180° turn. Our 8 foot tall door on the right, left ajar a bit so I wouldn’t get locked out while photographing it (it locks automatically).

We’re on the “second floor”, which in Europe is what we in North America would consider the 3rd floor. Here the designations are: ground floor, 1st floor, 2nd floor, etc. Additionally, our building has a level that is only half below street level, in which a lovely Italian restaurant is located, so even our “ground floor” is slightly elevated. All of that, in combination with very tall ceilings, means 49 stairs total to get us to and from “home” each time we go out.

Once inside, the apartment itself is tiny by North American standards: just an all-purpose area, bedroom, and bathroom. The main area incorporates living, dining, and food prep. There is no TV in the living room; Germans prefer to visit over coffee and drinks and just talk!

The doorway visible in the photo on the left leads into the bedroom. In the right hand photo, you can see the white wardrobe inside that same doorway.
Yes, that’s the entire kitchen, with its 2-burner stove – and no, there is no oven!

The bathroom contains European style laundry facilities (more about that after I’ve read the manual!), and the bedroom is just big enough for a European double bed, nightstand, free-standing closet and a chest of drawers on which the television sits.

Notice the heated towel drying rack in the left hand photo – they’re ubiquitous! The real porcelain tub is huge and very deep, a real “soaker” tub, but I’m glad it has the hand-held shower option.
Off the bedroom is a lovely little deck (right) perfect for morning coffee or evening wine overlooking the courtyard (below)
Everyone’s bicycles are parked in the courtyard. It doesn’t seem like a car is needed here in the centre of the city. If you look closely, you can see the beginning of the outdoor metal staircase in the bottom right hand corner of the photo on the right. Our wing matches that shown with the red tile roof.

Our windows are new, but, in keeping with a 150-year old building, were required to be of the original style. We’ve seen these before, in the old hotel in which we stayed in Munich in 2016.

When the window handle is pointing down, the window is locked. When the handle is horizontal, the upper and lower hinges release to allow the window to open sideways like a door. When the handle is turned to point up, the side hinges are released, the bottom hinge engaged and the top released to allow the window to “tip” open. There are no screens on any of the windows – fingers crossed that one of the many small birds we see everywhere don’t fly in!

It’s a cozy place, in an excellent neighbourhood … and provides its own exercise facility by way of those 39 steps!


  1. Germans pay taxes on how many rooms they have. The reason closets aren’t free standing is because if they are built in, they will be taxed as if it’s a room.


  2. It really has everything you NEED! Bakeries, restaurants, walking attractions vs big stay-at-home space! You know your priorities! ENJOY AND THANKS FOR LETTING US ENJOY WITH YOU! Love you It’s amazing how functional everything is. I was impressed with Oliver’s windows.


    Liked by 1 person

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