The café mentioned in this article has now closed - there are other cafés in the Hackesche Höfe, or you could try Barcomi's Deli in the Sophie-Gips-Höfe, on the other side of Sophienstraße.
Going to the TV tower in the morning was a good idea in theory; on stepping out of Alexanderplatz station, it was obvious that it wouldn't be such a great idea in practise.
A mist had descended, shrouding the top of the tower in grey. Not so great for the view.
So, with my small tour party of friends and family in tow, I set off for the Hackesche Höfe to find somewhere to get a late breakfast.
The Café Aedes came up trumps, with this rather nice platter of cheese, cold meats, bread and jam.
It's quite common in Germany to have Aufschnitt like this for breakfast (and indeed at other times of day too). I think it makes a nice (and deceptively filling) start to the day.
The Hackesche Höfe take their name from the nearby Hackescher Markt, named after Hans Christoph Friedrich Graf von Hacke, a Prussian general who, as town major, oversaw much of the building work in the surrounding area in the mid 1700s, the square gaining the name Hackescher Markt in 1751. The Höfe are a series of interconnecting courtyards (Hof being the German word for courtyard) opened in 1906, the largest complex of its kind, according to their website (in German). It was made a listed building by the East German authorities in 1977, but time was still allowed to take its toll on the buildings and it wasn't until 1995 that work began on a full restoration.
It's well worth a wander through them, as they're home to many interesting shops and restaurants, plus a cinema and a theatre. The ceramic façades of Hof I by architect August Endell are particularly noteworthy:
There's also a small piece of Ostalgie (nostalgia for East Germany) hiding away in Hof V:
This is the East German Ampelmännchen, the little man from East Germany's traffic lights. This particular one is a decorative lamp for homes, rather than a traffic signal, though! I'll try and get a picture of him and his red "don't cross" counterpart when I get a chance (most of the time, when I'm stood looking at them, it's because I want to cross the road rather than take a photo!). They were designed by traffic psychologist Karl Peglau in 1961 as part of an effort to reduce the number of traffic accidents. They were created to make them easily visible and easily identifiable, hence features like the hat, which provides a larger illuminated area. After German unification, they started being taken down, to be replaced with West German pedestrian signals. Markus Heckhausen, an industrial designer from Tübingen, noticed this and decided to start producing lamps from them; they became a cult item and now, all manner of different Ampelmann items available from his company. The Ampelmännchen are now safe from eviction from their homes on the pedestrian crossings of the former GDR (apart from on major roads, where traffic directives apparently rule that only the western kind can be used) and occasionally appear on crossings in the west too.
Moving on to Hackescher Markt, it was obvious that Berlin is getting prepared for Christmas:
This red and green toilet paper is being sold with the advice that "It'll be festive everywhere at your place". A nice way of making things more comfortable when grumpy relatives tell you where to stick your Christmas decorations, at any rate...
The S-Bahn station by Johannes Vollmer (opened 1882) is worth a look for its ornate brickwork, even if this picture doesn't show it off to best effect: