Tea 80, Loads of Yunnan Green Superior for study support!, the apartment, Warsaw
Day 79, well, what happened on this day? I guess not a great deal, we did go and pick Marta’s coat up from the dry cleaners and then wandered around in the sunshine, it was a little windy today so much of our time was spent trying to avoid the wind tunnels between buildings. We wandered around Jana Pawla for a while visiting the places we didn’t manage to go to the night before, the little tea shop, which is a bit expensive, then into the XX1 gallery to see the show that is on at the minute, although I think it might be shut now. ‘Transfusion’ by Pavel Novak, apparently the Polish version of a super common name such as my own! He had presented a few paintings alongside a sculptural glass installation of clear glass heart casts. The work looked good in the space, especially with the sun beating through the window, glistening from and through the glass casts. They weren’t exactly presented perfectly in the space though, somewhat ‘plonked’ on the end of white poles. The press release seemed to say they should appear to be floating at heart level, but they weren’t floating.
Day 80, Thursday, we didn’t really leave until late, later than we had intended really. Marta was studying for a job interview most of the day, I did pop to Galleria Mokotow for a short while to buy some eye moisturizer stuff from the pharmacy, as I had managed to lose my other one somewhere between Torun and Warsaw. When we did eventually leave we headed straight to central and to a photo development shop where we dropped off Marta’s first ever medium format Holga film! That was very exciting, and they had it ready in an hour, which amazed me, stuff like that in the UK usually takes about 2 weeks! While we waited we went back to Zacheta, to see the newly installed sculptural installation show called ‘New Sculpture?’. The show is good, I’m glad I got to see the other spaces in this gallery. There were various large scale works by a number of artists including Martin Boyce (giving me a sentimental thought of Glasgow) and Mai-Thu Perret, as well as others. We wandered around in there for a while, attracting various suspicious glances from the guards. The security guards in Poland are pretty hardcore, even more so in the health and beauty stores, Rossman’s is the worst, they may as well handcuff you as you walk through the door, and don’t even think about going in for a simple browse, not unless you are a massive fan of the serial voyeur!
Show seen we headed back outside, then had a whistlestop run around the old town to try to find a shop we had been to before that sells a great almond cake, we found the shop but sadly no almond cake! Then we had to rush back to the photo shop to collect the film, but not without a quick diversion to the donut place on Chmielna to fulfill our sweet cravings. We were both quite excited about the Holga results. We really didn’t know what to expect, especially as the film that Marta had bought was such a cheap one that we didn’t even know if we had put it in around the right way to begin with! But we were not disappointed! The results were very pleasing, though we both realised that we had been a bit foolish, Marta had been using the different colours of the flash when she had taken the photos. But it turned out we had both totally forgotten the film was black and white! Needless to say coloured flashes are utterly pointless in this case! Two of the photos are below, so I must credit Marta for them!
Day 81, the last day of employment for Marta! And also a job interview for her too! She had headed for this very early in the morning, I just about remembered to wake up and wish her good luck, before crashing back into sleep again. When I eventually awoke I spent some time on the computer before deciding to head into town. This was made a little difficult, I had been locked in! Marta had accidentally taken the keys with her to work. I sent her a message asking where they were, she looked in her bag and there they were. Luckily she managed to get permission from her work to come back and free me. Once that fiasco was sorted I went into town and walked around the shops for a while. The biggest thing on my mind was (and is) a hunt for this camera, a DIY lomo (yes, Marta’s Holga experience has inspired me). But this is a little different, one you build yourself from total scratch and that uses standard 35mm film. It’s called a DIY Recesky Twin Lens Reflex (or TLR), and looks like it could be good fun. I spent a lot of time searching around in the camera and gadget and toy shops, but to no avail. I think I am going to have to buy it online when I am in Berlin, the problem is the delivery times, but I will still keep looking for the next few days I think.
After the fruitless search I went and met Marta outside her work. She arrived carrying a load of stuff including some leftover cake from her goodbye cake collection and a goodbye present she had been bought, the fantastic teapot you can see above. The cups are double-walled to keep the tea warm for longer! A really great present, in my opinion! We christened it with some Sencha Sakura, a floral, delicately flavoured tea (she had been bought this as well as some Chinese Sencha and two flower teas). The tea was good, delicate and green, a very good sencha, and the flavoured aspect was very well balanced and didn’t take away from the tea too much!
So, monday was a bit of a write off, the only reason I left the flat was to go and do a bit of food shopping and come back again. So, not much to talk about there, and no photos either I’m afraid.
Straight onto Tuesday then, and a bit more eventful. I started the day with a little trip to Raclawicka again, to show Marta the little second-hand bike shop and to wander around in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day with loads of sunshine, though a bit windy. After a while walking around there, into a second hand shop where Marta bought a lovely red hooded coat with black toggles for a bargain price, we started to head towards town. We popped into a little photo shop to see if they develop medium format film, Marta recently invested in a Holga and has used her first roll of film! She also got her photo taken for her US Visa application. The place was tiny and dark and smelt like many decades worth of cigarette smoke had seeped into the walls. The guy looked like he has propped up the counter for his entire life too.
Back out into the daylight I had a sudden craving for an ice cream, the bright sunlight stirring that primal ice cream eating monster inside us all! A chocolate Magnum made it into my stomach in double quick time, and we carried on walking. We walked through Pole Mokotowskie, and then into the city centre, on the hunt for a launderette for Marta’s new coat. We didn’t manage to find a reasonably priced one before making it to Central Station, where we stood in a queue for ages and I bought a ticket to my next destination, Berlin next monday.
Ticket bought and we intended to get a tram up to the old town and to stop for a coffee in the cafe where I had the great Turkish Coffee, cafe Adi. All the trams were totally packed though, so after attempting to get onboard 3 we decided we would just make the most of the sunshine and walk. We did so and made it to the cafe whilst the sun was still streaming through the open window. It was so warm and lovely in there, and the turkish coffee was really good again. The place started to suddenly get really really full of well dressed pensioners, who were probably waiting for a show at the theatre across the road. We had finished our drinks so we decided to leave.
We then continued our walk, it was still sunny and quite warm so we walked up to the huge monument to the Polish Resistance and the funny multicoloured Pegasus’s ( Pegasuses? Pegasi?? ) that sit outside of the national library and the supreme court.
Then we headed West and ended up on Jana Pawla, where we managed to find a cheap launderette for the coat. We left it there and carried on our walk, south now and back towards the city centre, we stopped off in a few shops in search of some Ciechan Honey Beer, which seems to be in short supply at the minute. Unsuccessful we headed back to the Metro at central, at the minute and until the end of April part of the Metro is shut down so you can only get as far as Central from the stations south and only from Ratusz Arsenal north. You have to get a tram or bus between Central and Ratusz Arsenal at the minute. But this didn’t really affect us, just meant a slightly longer walk, we bought some chocolate covered raisins to sustain ourselves!
Back home via the Marc Pol store, where we successfully got some honey beer, though not Ciechan, but another brand, we ate some food and drank some beer and then the clock decided it was high time we headed for the sack!
The first and only full day in Torun. Marta, her Mum and myself all went into the city centre in the morning for a little bit of a walk around (mostly in shoe shops for Marta and her Mum’s amusement), but also to the old Teutonic Castle ruins, past a little model of a dragon where the world’s only confirmed sighting of a real dragon was made, also a sight of a screeching pair of Peregrine falcons flying about their nest just across from the castle. I wonder how long Peregrine’s have lived near the castle? Maybe they are a medieval throwback!?!?
Then we went into this cafe / chocolaterie called Madame Chocolat. This is a fairly new place in Torun apparently. The decor is a little basic and plain, I think because it is so new, and it is potentially slightly naively named, and decorated also… We ordered: Green Pepper Hot Chocolate, Advocat Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Fondant cake, Chocolate Advocat cake, and another chocolate cake, whose contents I can’t really remember, but it was very tasty none-the-less! The chocolate was tasty and rich, nice and thick. Sadly the green pepper part was just some fresh green pepper on the top, it hadn’t been cooked with the pepper in it, so it hadn’t really got any chance to infuse the flavour. But it was still quite good hot chocolate, nice and thick. The cakes were all very good. My fondant came with a nice, but small blob of ice cream and a chocolate twirl.
After this rather indulgent start to the day we went for a bit more of a walk, to burn off a bit of the sugarific-ness. We ended up in a Gingerbread shop along with a crowd of rather merry polish guys out on a team building weekend. They appeared to be buying the who shop up, gingerbread gift baskets were flying off the shelves! All for their boss apparently, though I’m pretty sure lots were for wives and girlfriends too, an apology for the horrendous hangover they were likely to be suffering the next day…
We then headed back to the car and back to the house where lunch was being prepared. Another huge meal with everything you could imagine, including another traditional wrapped Polish dish called Gołąbki. Minced meat, rice and spices are all wrapped in boiled cabbage leaves. They were very good, despite looking a little anaemic initially. We ate until we were royally stuffed, as usual. Then sat in the beautifully sunny garden for a while drinking tea and eating (more) cake! This all took a couple of hours and then we decided to head back into the town, to visit the Centre of Contemporary Art, or CoCA. We got back in the car and were dropped off. The gallery is a nice space, surprisingly large and the work on show is of a good quality generally. There is a show on at the minute entitled The Fourth State of Water: from Micro to Macro. This is obviously all about water. It’s a strange show, a bit hit and miss and some of the curatorial decisions are a little dodgy, but it is a definite improvement on the work I saw in Krakow! The other show on at the minute is called People and the City, a collection of photography, video and the occasional painting. There are some big names here, Henri Cartier Bresson, WeeGee, Wolfgang Tillmans and Peter Blake to name a few. The collection of works is good, and is put together in a straightforward, simple, but effective way. This space is much better than the other. More open and higher ceilings.
We eventually got asked to leave the gallery, the place was closing, but luckily we had made it around everything. They shuffled us out pretty quickly, but I still managed to get a photo of this hilarious sign declaring that the gallery had been estimated as a very good gallery…
We left the gallery and went for a walk around the town as the sun began to set. The town was quite quiet for a Saturday night, that was until a group on bikes cycled past us with music blaring out from a speaker system being pulled along by one of them. We went to see Copernicus’s residence, then to this leaning tower which I fully expected to be an actual tower but turned out to just be a four story building, but it was definitely leaning…
Then we got picked up again by Marta’s mum who had been on a trip with her gran to visit the grandfather’s gravestone. We then drove across the river and found the panorama, a spot across the river where you can get a really wonderful view of the whole of the old town. Postcard perfection!
Back home and more food was prepared, pierogi’s, bread, cheese, salad. Everything!
Tea 74, Green Tea (not pictured), Torun
Today I travelled with Marta and her Mum to Torun, a town on the Unesco World Heritage list, founded by the German Teutonic Knights and the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus. The day started with Marta rushing across the city to pass on a birthday present to a friend before we left. She got this cool bracelet in the style of an Octopus arm from an online store run by her friend called oohandy.com.
I then met her at Dworzec Centralny at about 11 and we got a train at 1130 that took us to Zyradow, a station on the outskirts of Warsaw where Marta’s mum, Hanna, met us with the car. We all piled in and off we went. The journey to Torun took about 3 hours, the views are very nice, a part of it tracks a very pretty part of the Vistula river. Though lots of the road surfaces aren’t exactly friendly! They are building a whole new motorway infrastructure along this part though, that was intended to be ready for the Euro 2012 competition: take this as fact… it won’t be!
We made it to Torun at around 4, and were dropped off in the city centre. We then wandered around the town a little, soaking up the sunshine and then we went to this pancake place called Manekin, where we met Carolina and Mike, who had also come to Torun for a couple of days, though they were there waiting for the bus back to Warsaw.
After the pancake and a pint to drink Carolina and Mike had to leave to catch the bus, so we all left and Marta and I took in a bit more sightseeing, with the light failing and the stars appearing in the sky. Eventually we too decided it was time to leave so we headed to the bus stop, got on a bus and went to Marta’s uncle’s house somewhere in the Torun suburbs. We spent the evening chatting and eating, another huge weekend of food was ahead of me! And then Marta’s uncle got out a few of his spirits and we drank a little too, cherry liquor, quince liquor, and one make from aronia, or chokeberries. All of them very tasty, if I had to pick my favourite, I’d go for the quince!
A proper tea day today! Hoorah! Finally, not only have I been neglecting my updating, but also my decent tea related blogging!
First things first though. Shoes. The trainers I brought with me on this trip are now completely busted, so it was high time for a new pair! Especially as it’s no longer the weather for by huge walking boots. So the majority of todays daylight hours was dedicated to finding a new pair of trainers. This, eventually, resulted in the purchase of some nice high top Puma ‘First Round trainers in the home away from home store that is TK Maxx. Anyway, enough about shoes already.
After that long, long search I met up with Marta after her work and we decided to head to the other side of the river to Saska Kępa district and back to Herbaciania Gander, or Gander’s Tea House. This was the place I visited a couple of weeks ago and had the amazing Armenian layer cake. This time I decided upon an interesting sounding Darjeeling variety of Green Tea, called Puttabong. This was rich and very green in taste, quite heavy on the tannins but it didn’t suffer from that. It was very good, served in a nice parcelain teapot and filter, and poured out in a delightful golden greenish colour. Marta decided upon a flower tea, I have forgotten it’s name. It was good though, very delicate and not too floral in taste as they sometimes can be. I still think that too often these things become too much about the visual and not enough about the tea though, but this was of a good quality, as I have already come to expect of the tea from Gander’s. We sat there for a couple of hours, enjoying the tea and I had also ordered another layer cake, this time a ginger and cinnamon one. It was good, very light and not too sweet. Loads of cream too, but again, not heavy at all.
After that we went for a walk around Saska Kępa, and then walked across the river, a long busy bridge, buses and cars flying past as we took some photos. The great cityscape shining out, the new Euro 2012 football stadium lit up and shining brightly. Making it to the other side we took a bus then got back on the Metro and home. My legs were tired and heavy from the days walking, but the tea had revived me and my spirit was feeling good again! I love TEA!!!! 😀
More shameless self promotion; if you don’t mind, visit my sponsorship campaign page on kickstarter and check out (and hopefully pledge??) a little towards the summer studio project! If you donate I’ll even throw in a bit of tea to your reward package! CLICK HERE
Today I went for quite a long walk again. Starting in the area around Metro Racławicka I first searched out a little bike shop called Milou, that specializes in dutch style bikes, the sit up and beg variety. They have some lovely looking old frames, including a great looking Gazelle which seems to be my perfect size, but I’m not too sure just how practical riding a sit up and beg all the way to Berlin is!
After that I headed East through some of the back streets to Puławska, I meandered up the street for a while, looking in shop windows and watching the trams buzz up and down. Then I turned off and wandered around some of the back streets again. The streets are dotted with lots of old grey blocky buildings, a great old antique shop sits perfectly on the ground floor of an old antique of a building, an ideal match. There is a vast old grey warehouse, with the symbolic Warsaw Mermaid resplendent on it’s Facade. It looks like it is now a storage space for street sweepers and gritting trucks.
A bit more meandering, and I crossed Puławska and went through a small park, park Morskie Oko, and made it to a busy main street with sporadically placed shops and hotels and apartment buildings. A big grey communist styled concrete block houses a bank and a cinema. It’s roof dotted with aerials. A huge yellow hotel sits nearby, dominating the skyline, called the Belvedere. Walking past that and along the appropriately named Belwederska, and then onto Jana Sobieskiego (South bound now), more concrete blocks line the street. One, set back a little from the street, is built like a stepped triangle, with a gap in the middle, and actually looks really cool, but seems to be totally empty now. It seems that it could still be utilised and improved some way though. I kind of hope they don’t demolish it. It’s like the architect was actually given a bit of creative license with this one! On my right, the opposite side of the street are a lot of allotments, each divided up, some set up like little gardens, others more for veg and fruit growing. I ended up back by the street with Fort Legionow on it, so I decided to go back along it and head for home. I made it back to Puławska and hopped on the 31 back home. I also made the lovely cheese and herby scones (brie and parmesan), they were pretty tasty, though the outside texture wasn’t quite right, needs more development…
Don’t forget, if you don’t mind, visit my sponsorship campaign page on kickstarter and check out (and hopefully pledge??) a little towards the summer studio project! If you donate I’ll even throw in a bit of tea to your reward package! CLICK HERE