Tea 92, Yunnan Green Superior.
also; Tea 91, Power Tea, , Tea 93, Japonska Wisnia.
Day 90, Sunday. Today the sun was shining and it was almost warm, but i still felt the need for some gloves. I left the flat reasonably early, around 10, in order to get to the Mauerpark Flea Market. This is up to the north of the city centre in a district called Prenzlauer Berg. There is everything you could imagine in this market, from a huge bric-a-brac stall, full of boxes of what is mostly junk and broken stuff, but with the occasional highlight, a few box-brownies for instance, to food stalls, bikes, camera’s. Everything you could imagine (almost). So I spent a while meandering up and down the aisles, all the time it was getting busier and busier. I almost bought quite a few things, but actually came away with nothing, despite the efforts of quite a few people… I then wandered in the sunshine, and relative peace to another market just a few streets away. This one, Arkonaplatz, is much smaller and the quality of things they are selling is generally higher, and due to the popularity of Mauerpark this one is much gentler and more peaceful. Some more browsing and yet again away with nothing I walked slowly in the sunshine back towards the apartment, but taking a few little side streets and a much deviated path back, ending up by the TV tower and then back onto my main route back to the apartment. This seems like a short day now that I type it, but I had spent a long time getting to and then around and back from the markets. The weather turned a little bit cold by the afternoon too. Also, due to it being Easter Sunday, almost literally nowhere was open!
Day 91, again today, very little was open. But I made the most of my day by embracing tourism once again and heading out to the Brandenburg Gate, or Brandenburger Tor. The walk there was very pleasant, in the sunshine most of the time, when I stayed on the right side of the street. It’s quite a simple walk from Kreuzberg there too. It also takes you past the section of the Berlin wall still standing. I’ve walked past this before, but today was the first day I took a photograph of it. Then I carried on towards the Gate. In the area of the gate, which sort of acts, or acted like an entrance to the Tiergarten, is also the Holocaust Memorial, or as it is really called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I spent some time wandering amongst the huge concrete blocks. It’s an interesting place, with lots of children playing and smiles and laughter happening amongst the stones. This seemed somewhat strange to me, considering the context of the thing, but there was actually something strangely refreshing about this kind of atmosphere in such a place if I’m honest.
I then walked to the Brandenburg Gate itself. This is a big disappointment, not with regard to the gate itself. But they may as well charge entry and called it ‘Das Disney Welt’ if you ask me. There’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse, a big Teddy Bear, breakdancers, a sexy soldier girl with a flag, and Darth Vader! I can totally understand why the performers are there, they need to make money, but why on earth people would want to see these things here is another thing entirely! I soon made my escape from the circus and took some peace and sunshine from the Tiergarten. I sat by a little pond, people buzzing past on bikes and with their cameras. I saw what was only my second red squirrel ever! I sat for a while and wrote some of my thoughts down before heading back towards the river and past the Berlin Philharmonic hall and a few of the larger galleries, one was shut, the other open, but rammed with people so I decided to avoid it. I don’t know why but ever since arriving in Berlin I’ve actually lost my appetite for looking at art!
Onto day 92, Tuesday. Shops are open again! This lead to a celebratory visit to Lidl to buy chocolate! Then, with the first day for a few that can actually be described as warm I ventured back into the city centre, with no real aim other than to enjoy the sunshine. Today was Abigails birthday, so we had spent the morning chilling out and eating the chocolate before she went to see Sergej who had unfortunately had to go and work on a pitch for the next day. So I took myself out into the sunshine and just people watched. I did visit Berlin Carre, a funny little shopping centre with only a few shops on the inside (most actually face the street, but head inside if you want what I imagine is a reasonably authentic East Berlin experience!) I bought a snack in the supermarket and then went back outside.
There was a tiny protest happening at the Neptune Statue next to the Rathaus and the TV tower. It seemed to be about banking and they had a lot of colourful umbrellas all painted with slogans. There were less than ten of them, but still had the beady eye of the police on them constantly. It was a strange protest with no chanting or marching around or anything, they just seemed to make little structures from the umbrellas, which the police then told them they had to keep behind a certain line that he drew with chalk. Very odd. Anyway, I let that play out for a while before wandering a bit more, visiting a huge second-hand clothes store, then I bought myself a new pair of sunglasses and went back to the apartment.
Day 93, and I’m sorry to say no photos of today. Abigail and I had to put our heads down good and proper for the day, working on the Hello Collective, getting the plan of action down ready for the summer residency / studio program. And also trying to figure out what will happen if we don’t reach our sponsorship target. But hopefully we will. http://kck.st/GD326Q Click the link if you are interested in the project and can maybe help by pledging a little. If you let me know that it’s through my blog that you have donated I’ll send you some tea as a thank you!
Tea 88, Fresh Mint Tea, Ankerklause, Berlin
Day 87, Thursday. Today I spent the day wandering around for ages, Abigail had gone to her studio so I decided to explore the city centre. It was one of those days of loads of inadvertent walking. I walked back to Alexanderplatz in an, ultimately futile, attempt to find a tourist information, god knows where it is! I should probably check the internet, but I keep on forgetting before it’s too late. I did by a little notebook with a map in it though, so that is helpful to me. It also makes checking maps in a more incognito fashion easier! From Alexanderplatz I walked West and past a large area of museums and tourists. I eventually, accidentally, made it to Checkpoint Charlie, the place was heaving with tourists carrying cameras and beggars carrying cardboard begging scripts. I didn’t really hang around here for any time at all, the crowds of people putting me off. There are two men standing in American Army uniform pretending to guard the checkpoint, which was one of the most tense and symbolic border crossings between East and West.
I escaped up a quieter street, which was a bit of a relief, walking past a car museum / rental place called Trabi world, the Trabi (or Trabant) was the most common car driven and produced in Eastern Germany. This little place is filled with cars that you can hire and drive around the city. Very old school…
A bit more of a wander, I thought I was on my way towards the Brandenberger Tor, although I never actually made it in the end, I think I did manage to walk all the way around it though! Much more walking around in a large loop around the city before I made it back home.
That evening Sergej and I went out for some more drinks, where some of his workmates and an old friend were hanging out. The place was so so smokey! By the time we got home I totally stank and had to have a cold shower to get the stench of smoke out of my hair and skin. It still surprises me that most places allow smoking anywhere in Berlin. And it is kind of weird to see advertising for cigarettes, especially that still promote them in a life giving kind of way!
Day 88, Friday. Today was a slow morning, Abigail and Sergej have gone away for the weekend, sort of for her birthday, which is next week. Eventually I got up and started some work on my website, which is part of the reason for these belated, bunched up posts. All the shops were closed today, it was Good Friday, though not the cafes and restaurants. I met up with one of Abigail’s friends, Ulijona, and we went for a cup of tea at a cafe called Ankerklause. This place is quite popular, and I am told, a good place for celebrity spotting (it’s apparently one of Quentin Tarantino‘s favourite places). The sun was mostly out, so we sat outside and I had a nice Fresh Mint tea and we chatted for a while about clubbing, Berlin, art, etc. Then we both decided that we were hungry so Ulijona took me to the place she considered to have the best Falafel (I imagine there is a lot of opinions for a lot of different places!) But it was good, I had Falafel with Halloumi and it was pretty good, and possibly better than the first place I went to, though mostly because the Halloumi had been cooked properly here. After that Ulijona went home and I walked around trying to soak up as much sunshine as possible, though it was a little cold in the wind. I got home and did a bit more work on my website and some more pondering about the future, which seems to be dominating a lot of my thoughts right now.
Day 89, Saturday. So, finally! A post that happens on the day it happened! Today I woke up and had breakfast and then left fairly quickly, compared to usual. However, as I got to the door and opened it, I was greeted by sleety, snowy freezing rainfall. I decided to leave anyway, although changed my original plan (which was a walk through the Tiergarten!) and went back towards town and browsed in bookshops and found the Lomography shop which I had a little look around (Marta’s experience with the Holga has still inspired me to look for something of my own to use) I basically did a big loop and wandered around some of the smaller streets, filled with high class galleries, and expensive shops. Then I got back home, via the Chinese market where I bought some rice crackers and a can of Aloe Vera juice. I sat and rested my legs for a while. Then the sun peeped it’s head out so I went out again to try to catch it, I wandered around the remnants of a little market next to the cafe I visited yesterday, most of it had been packed away, but there were still a few stalls left. I walked some more whilst the sun stayed up and then came back home, via the supermarket where I treated myself to some over priced Peanut butter, it was far too expensive, but I have been craving it for long enough to make it seem worth it!
Time for more work on the website.
Also, don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter Campaign, if you don’t mind.
So, day 84 was spent travelling from Warsaw to Berlin by train. It was about a 5.5 hour journey which was reasonably comfortable, there was only one incident of an altercation with a woman and an incorrect seat choice. But it was fine, though she seemed very angry for a woman who then started to read an esoteric book about Auras!
I made it to Berlin at around 3:30pm and met Abigail, the woman I run the Hello Collective with. We took a few trains to get to her place, in Kreuzberg district, the current hub of the creative world in Berlin, apparently. Also the heart of the Turkish community in Germany. There must be more Falafel, Halloumi and Baklava shops per square meter than anywhere else in the world! Including the middle east! We got home and I dropped my stuff, finally met Sergej, Abigail’s boyfriend to whom I have only ever existed through Skype (and visa-versa)! We sat a chatted for a while and then popped to a cafe around the corner for a coffee and Abigail had a pizza before she had to disappear off to a German lesson. I went back to the flat and chilled out for a while. When Sergej arrived back from his studio we started to cook a bit of food ready for Abigail’s return. She didn’t get back until late (normal for her German lesson days) and we ate, then went out for a little drink.
Day 85, Tuesday. We woke up and went out into the local area, a little market by the river, then I went to see Abigail’s studio and we carried on walking to the Neukolln area and visited a few art spaces and then ended up in a place called Agora, a cafe which is also home to a few artist’s studios. We sat with a coffee for a while and chatted about our plans for the summer residency program and what needs organising, including the fundraising issues! Another reminder about our Kickstarter campaign, please visit our page and if you can donate a little. Some guy made 3.8million dollars for a computer game development, so SURELY we can make a modest $2500! CLICK HERE!
We met up with Sergej for a bit of lunch, an aubergine Halloumi wrap, which was tasty, though very messy! The rest of the day seems to be a bit of a blur… hmm… We basically explored the city a bit more, then Abigail had another German lesson and I went towards the city centre, making it to Alexanderplatz for a while then headed home. After a while we decided to leave and wandered around a while longer then headed home. Later that evening we met up with Sergej and his brother and went for a couple of drinks in a bar around the corner.
Day 86, Wednesday. We spent the morning do more Hello Collective things, trying to get some more emails out to people to try and drum up a little more sponsorship and trying to investigate other avenues if we don’t manage to make it to our target. Then in the afternoon Abigail took me on another little tour of the area, taking me to this amazing arts supplies store called Modular. Everything you could probably imagine! Quite cool, though maybe a bit ikea arts ish?
We then went for a tea in a place called Betahaus, a very cool space near to Modular. It was very nice and chilled out in there though, and the green tea, though standard, was of very good quality. We sat there and chatted for a while, and people watched. A funny situation developed when a woman arrived, put her things down and went to get a coffee, whilst she was away from the table another gentleman arrived and sat at the same table. When the woman got back from ordering her coffee she approached with a rather confused expression and went to the table. The man had obviously not noticed her stuff on the seat and there was a funny looking (though unheard) conversation that took place before the man got up and went to another place.
That evening we had a night in and watched a film, the 80’s childhood classic, Flight of the Navigator! I love that film! Though it was maybe not Abigail’s cup of tea, for Sergej it seemed pretty nostalgic, one of the first American films he remembers seeing when Eastern Germany left communist rule.
Tea 83, Hot Chocolate (another tea deviation!), A cafe whose name I can’t remember, Warsaw
Happy April Fool’s day (belated)!
Today was, very sadly, my last day in Warsaw. It’s very strange to be leaving, I am still really loving the city and the people here.
We decided to go for a wander around the Praga district, to have a proper look around on the other side of the river. We managed to get one bus all the way from Wilanow to Praga, so that was pretty good. The day was very cold again, with loads of snow once more, but very sporadic with beautiful sunshine in between, very British style weather (though that would probably be rain instead of snow which is worse I think). We got off the bus in central Praga and just began to wonder, the streets and back courts are dotted with murals and Madonna’s, some of which are kept in wonderful condition, whilst others have slightly more bizarre surroundings.
We wandered around a little more, our original intention was to visit the Vodka Distillery, but this is shut at the weekends, though we knew that before we set off. But we got a good look at it from the outside, before heading into an entrance way where I took one photo that then resulted in a slightly fraught conversation with a security guard about the private property aspect and not being allowed to take photos. Marta managed to hold her ground pretty well though, then we made our escape. We wandered around the outskirts of this same area of derelict land, coming around the opposite side we could look through a gate and see what all the fuss was about, but it was all just literally piles of rubble and the remains of one last building. We took some more photos just to spite them!
We then popped to the shopping centre nearby to answer a call of nature. I managed to enter a situation where a man appeared to have locked himself in one of the cubicles and was possibly doing more than his fair share of drugs, the cleaners were calling for security to come and sort the situation.
Managing to escape another strange situation we headed out of the shopping centre and then found ourselves wandering around some more old, old streets. We managed to find an open door to one old tenement which we explored a little, with some beautiful old railings and a butchered bike on the top floor. Then we found a nice little cafe selling lots of cookery books too, and with some great photographic and fashion magazines. So we sat with a hot chocolate and read whilst we waited, in vane, for the weather to improve. Back out into the cold we wandered some more, bought some crisps/chips and then got on a tram back to the old town on the other side of the river.
We got off at the first stop in the old town then made for the University Library building. On it’s roof is a huge garden, which anyone can freely and easily explore. It is pretty cool, even at this time of year when not too much is growing, though it is great to be able to see the buds on the trees starting to bulge with leafy life. We then decided we were getting a bit hungry so we had a look in a few of the university cafeterias to see if anything took our fancy. There didn’t seem to be too much, so we walked for a while along Dobra and in and out of a few shops, a great bookshop/cafe where I managed to convince Marta to buy a copy of Alain De Botton‘s ‘The Art of Travel‘. I hope she will enjoy it! This place didn’t have much savoury food on offer though, so we carried on walking. We eventually made it to a branch of Rue De Paris cafe. This one was decorated pretty roughly with lots of colourful lampshades and bare brick walls, a nicer atmosphere compared to many. We had a Goats cheese tart and a Camembert and Walnut tart between us. These were good, though were a little disappointing when you are literally just presented with a tart on a plate, no salad or garnish even for visual effect!
We ate and people watched for a while then had a slow and relaxed wander back to the city centre and then home.
We were late leaving the flat today, as Marta decided to have a bit of a spring clean. When we did leave it was time for a late lunch, so we headed out, into the freezing cold, and SNOWING (!) air, we jumped on the metro to central and headed for Kebab King. I had a huge craving for Falafel! So we went to the large branch of Kebab King on Jerozolimpskie and basically stuffed our faces, I had Falafel, Chips and then we both shared some Baklava for dessert! (One Pistachio and one Coconut sweet treats)
We got totally stuffed and then headed back outside. Whilst we had been inside eating the sun had been out, shining through the window, but, as sod’s law so often dictates, as soon as we left the rain and hail began beating down on us. We ran around the corner, cut through Empik and then waited for a bus from Foksal. We took the bus to the stop nearest to Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, the centre for contemporary art in Warsaw. We walked briskly here, the snowy hail was pouring down on us.
The main show that is on there at the minute is a semi-retrospective / archival project about the AKADEMIA RUCHU. entitled AKADEMIA RUCHU. CITY. The FIELD of ACTION. This charts the history of one of Poland’s most prolific and active arts collectives. They began life in the mid 70’s and have created numerous performative installations in public spaces ever since. The show charts pretty much every project they have ever conducted, through photography, film and text. It was really great to discover this group, who have made, and strive to make important, thought-provoking and enlightening work for their whole existence. This section of work on show at the centre took us quite a long while to tour around, so if you plan to go, definitely give yourselves time. The show ends in a small basement space where some more of their video documentation is shown and they are running a little tea stand, with free tea or coffee and a lucky dice roll to try and win a glass of wine (sadly me, nor Marta managed to roll the correct amounts to get any wine)… We did have a cup of tea and coffee though and sat and watched some more of the videos, and spoke to the guy serving the tea, who is a member of the Akademia Ruchu. There are apparently only 5 of them left now, there were 22 originally. It seemed a little odd to discover that, as I had walked around the show thinking that Akademia Ruchu was more organic than that and that maybe they had a membership that was constantly evolving across the years. It seems a shame that one day it will cease to exist…
The other parts of the building house two more exhibitions, one part is showing POSTDOCUMENT (they seem to enjoy capital letters here…) This is a show of photographs charting the Polish Transformation following the fall of the Soviet Empire from 1989. There are some really great photographs in this show, and some really interesting works and perspectives. Really worth seeing. We could have spent much longer in the show, walking around seeing everything in more detail, but we had spent so long in the first part that we were running out of time. The next part isn’t so interesting, a collection of Cognitive artworks from the CCA collection. There are some works from Yoko Ono and a work by Magdalena Abakanowicz.
After the shows we were both ready for home, so we walked in the cold air back to the Metro, Politechnika this time, via a shop to buy some juice. Then we hopped on the train home. Back home and we just chilled out basically, drinking some more tea via Marta’s wonderful new teapot and then headed to bed.