So, Marta had never had Macarons/Macaroons before, and we came across this little stall in a shopping centre that was selling them, so I decided to get some as a little treat. Previously she thought they were some sort of wafer with a flavoured centre, but despite my attempts to explain them I couldn’t quite describe them properly. I guess you really do just need to taste them to find out. These ones from the company Le Roy & Louis (maybe an attempt at ‘poshing up’ the name Leroy?!?!) were pretty good, nice amount of crunch on the outside with a good squidgy centre. The Pistachio and the Chocolate were the best, the other two (Raspberry and Blackcurrant) were also good, but I think the Pistachio and Chocolate are a bit more classic. We munched them down with gusto when we got home, alongside a nice cup of Sencha Sakura tea.
That night there was the most spectacular thunderstorm, I have literally never seen or heard anything like it before. The amount of lightning strikes was just amazing, the whole sky was lighting up like a strobe in a smokey nightclub. It was just amazing. We went to the top floor of the apartment block, 10 stories up and watched the three storm formations circle around us. Despite the number (literally hundreds) of strikes it is surprisingly hard to take a photograph of the lightning. It took me the best part of 700 photos to get just three shots of the lightning, and only one of those was really something special. They are all below.
This post is really image heavy, so they are just down here as thumbnails, but you can click them for the full size images. So please feel free and enjoy this little collection of images taken in Berlin, Cologne and Warsaw using either the Agfa Agnar Silette LK, or the LOMO Smena 8M, which are both pictured above! Have fun!
My first Tea post in a long time, and I’m sure some of you may find Bubble Tea Sacrilegious! But on such hot sweaty days like these it is certainly refreshing, and there is something very fun in the struggle to get each and every last bit out of the cup! For those of you not too offended by the Bubbleyness, then mine was the one on the right, and it was a Matcha Milk Tea with Apple and Pineapple bits in the bottom! Does the fact that it’s Matcha make up for any purist annoyance out there??
We also visited Zacheta, the Art Gallery, and being as it was a Thursday entry was free. On show at the minute is a collection of works and histories of the Warsaw art School, with pieces by professors and students alike. There are some great pieces, the highlight being, in my opinion, the posters from the mid 30’s. There is a great amount of Poland’s history wrapped up in this exhibition, and I would recommend it to everyone!
That was all followed up by a wander around town, quite a lot considering the heat. We found ourselves near Plac Trzech Krzyzy, or ‘Three Crosses’. There was a fountain of water spraying out onto the street from an orange pipe. We definitely didn’t need any encouragement, and dove right in to cool off. Apparently they do this on purpose on days like these to help people cool down, in the winter they set up small fire places by the Bus and Tram stops. I’m a bit worried about the waste of water, but I guess there is no denying that it is quite a good, and kind, idea.
The local super(cheap)market has started selling seriously strong Cheddar cheese! Amazing! After months of strange pastey cheeses and rather poor imitations of brie and the like I’ve gotten my hands on some lovely proper cheese! Don’t get me wrong, Cheddar has never been my favorite cheese in the world, but at least it has some character and flavour, a very welcome addition to the refrigerator! At last some decent cheese on toast is on the horizon! If only I could get my hands on some Lea & Perrins!
After the cheesey delights we headed out for an evening amble, which I will break up into a couple of posts, as there are lots of pictures. First on the agenda has to be the Tram Depot, where many of the trams have their night time naps. Looking at the second image below you can see just how seriously Warsaw takes the sleep of their Trams, REM level or above only!
Signs of an old Tram line, caught up in an avenue of trees.
Rapid Eye Movement essential!
Another roasting hot day was met with gusto as we headed out into the city centre. We had arranged to meet up with two couchsurfers who were visiting Warsaw for a few days and were looking for good, vegan food. I recommended the brilliant Lovin’ Hut on Jana Pawla II, and they kindly invited us to join then for a spot of lunch. The food has never disappointed me there, and it still hasn’t, though I did have to have a second choice because the first was sold out (quick tip, get there early if you want to a chance to sample something from the whole menu). This time I had ‘Teriyaki Island”, and it was very very good as usual, the soy dressing is really well done, and their little rice piles perfect for the size of dish. I would recommend this place to absolutely anyone, no matter what your diet or eating preference, even the strictest carnivore can’t fail to be impressed or satisfied here!
After lunch we went our separate ways and Marta and I headed to the Jewish Graveyard, to see it in the sunlight, and hopefully to cool down. The place was really beautiful in the sunshine and the trees made the light dappled and beautiful, as well as making the temperature bearable. The biggest problem however was the abundance of hungry mosquitos, baying for our blood. But we just about survived, though the next day my legs looked like someone had filled them with pink ping pong balls! (toothpaste and lemon seem to be doing the trick at keeping the itching down a bit though)
We jumped on a tram, intending to head straight home, but stopped off in the city centre and ended up inside the old children’s hospital on Jerozolimskie, ‘Szpital Omega’. This is slowly being turned into artist’s studios and there is access to the building thanks to a tiny boutique that has opened up on the 3rd floor. The whole building is pretty accessible if you don’t mind the piles of rubble lying around and we had a good old snoop throughout the place, which has got some creepy stuff still kicking about. The picture above is of the old oxygen cabinet, and there are some more photos below, which gives you a bit of an idea of how cool it is to explore this place, before it all gets neatened up.
Tired and sleepy we headed back home to enjoy the cool flat and some nice cups of tea. I have, at long last, got myself a bag of normal green Mate, which is very very welcome at all times of the day and a good change from the roasted one that I have been drinking lately. I do wish I had brought my Bombilla from home though, the ones in Warsaw are all rather expensive. That’s exoticism in Poland for you!
A really amazing tombstone, possibly my favorite!
This post is pretty picture heavy, which is kind of a surprise because, in reality, it seemed to me that there was really very little to see or do in poor old Katowice. The city is pretty shabby and is all over the place, something which is not helped by the rebuilding of the railway station and some of the tram lines in the ‘city centre’ (in inverted commas because it is actually quite hard to tell exactly where the city centre is…)
We stayed at a friend of Marta’s. An old flat that she had inherited and has sat mostly empty for the past six years, meaning it is full of dust and causing some major allergic nasal floods the whole time we were there. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday wandering around the city in the sweltering heat, it was a rather exotic 34’C! Thank goodness for Biedronka and giant cartons of Ice Tea, and their delightful portions of chocolate halva (extremely dangerous)!!
The city isn’t a complete bore though, there are some interesting buildings, from every era, starting with the old German-Bavarian mansions, to the huge UFO of a concert hall from the 1970’s right up to the library building, which seems to be carrying on the tradition of being plonked right in the middle of where you would least expect it to be.
The city is, on the whole a rather poor place, and there are plenty of rather dodgy looking characters unafraid to eye-up your camera and back pockets, but it does definitely have it’s interesting bits that are worth visiting, though try and avoid the hottest days of the year!
Oh, and the trams are a bit like being on a scary rollercoaster (scary because you could fall off the tracks at any point…)
Hot-Dog? Bon Appetit!
The library building
Beware of fire-tailed Goats?
This installation, by the artist Julita Wójcik has moved from it’s temporary home in Brussels to it’s new permanent (I hope) home on the super trendy, hipsterville of Plac Zbawiciela. You can read more about it by clicking here.
Next a just a smattering of photos from my latest trip to Radom, there was a huge thunderstorm in the night, and although I didn’t manage to catch an actual lightning strike, I did do some long exposure photographs that have a strange glow in them when the lightning struck part way through the exposure time.
Tea 114: Sweet Chai, Hallmackenreuther, Brüsseler Platz, Cologne.
Day 113. My first day in Cologne, and quite a easy going one. Usually my first day in a place is spent having a short explore around the local area to get my bearings. I had a wander to the park just around the corner, the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Park. There were people jogging and walking dogs as well as a few rabbits hopping around munching on the damp grass. The air was heavy with misty rain filled clouds, but luckily it didn’t rain. I wandered part way towards the city centre and then back again, to the park first, where I decided to feed the ducks in the strange big square pond, with water that is a strange shade of turquoise (I later found out that I’m apparently not supposed to feed that ducks here, but luckily no one stopped me), there are carp in the water too, so despite it’s colour it must be capable of sustaining some life, although apparently a few years ago they had to totally refill the thing because the water had gone toxic and was killing the ducks.
Walking past the flat and along the little high-street. Then back to the flat I met with Regina as she had finished her first day back at work. We went and did some food shopping at the asian supermarket. We had thought about cooking this prawn, fennel, pasta dish (with fake prawns as Regina is a vegan), but we couldn’t find the fake prawns anywhere so that recipe quickly changed into a Pak Choi, Green Tea Noodles, lemongrass and tofu invented dish, which turned out to be very very good, if I do say so myself.
After eating we spent some time unpacking boxes from Regina’s basement, most of her stuff is still down there as she has only just got back from traveling around for the past year.
Day 114. Today I wandered further into the city centre. I found a few galleries, most rather commercial, but one quite nice space called Galerie Karsten Greve. This is a big space with about 4 levels, and very, very clean and tidy. The work on show at the minute is by Jean-Michel Othoniel. Glass sculptural hanging pieces. They are clean and sleek, but I’m not sure of the artists intent with them, I got the impression they are simply meant to be pretty objects.
After that I wandered back towards the flat, via a bicycle / sports shop. Then Regina arrived home from work again and we decided to head out to buy a few things and then went for ice cream at this good italian ice cream parlour near the city centre. I had a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of Pistachio, delicious!
Then we wandered to the ‘Belgian Quarter’. To a little square with a church called Brüsseler Platz, and we stopped at a cafe called Hallmackenreuther, and I had the above tea, a Sweet Chai, with fennel and liquorice and cardamom. It was good, though not amazing, possibly because I had wanted a different one, that they didn’t have, oh well.
We went home after that and cooked a traditionally German Asparagus dish. The asparagus is the same plant as I am used to, but they dont allow it to grow out of the ground and turn green, so it is yellowy-white in colour. We made a vegan bechamel sauce and potatoes to go with it, and it was very tasty.
After dinner we met up with Regina’s work mate in town and went to a gallery called ‘Museum Ludwig‘. This houses a large collection of modern art work, some huge names, and therefore a very expensive collection. Currently there is a sort of retrospective of the work of Yvonne Rainer. There is so much there that it’s impossible to do it all in a day, let alone two hours. This day was a special day where people who live in Cologne can get into the galleries for free, and due to the time we arrived I managed to get in for half price too! There is also Cosima Von Bonin’s CUT! CUT! CUT!, a show that has toured around and grown, and is now in its ‘final resting place’, at Museum Ludwig. I’m not too sure what I really think about this show though. I’m going to reserve opinion on that one for the minute.
There is also Henrik Olesen on show. Who’s work ‘Mr Knife and Mrs Fork’ has won the Wolfgang Hahn Prize 2012. I actually saw this work for the first time a few years ago, when it was installed in a much rougher space in London. It was good to see it again, and quite strange to see it in a much cleaner and ‘official’ situation, with clean floors, and weirdly carpeted walls. The whole piece was set up exactly the same, except for the space and the way you enter the space. It was a kind of surreal experience to see it again!
After the museum we headed to a bar, a traditional Cologne pub where we drank Kolsh, the Cologne beer that comes in short 200ml glasses and is refilled until you signal by putting a beer mat on top of your glass. It is light and smooth, and pretty good.
After a couple of those we headed for a snack and then home!
OH MY GOODNESS!!! I must really apologise to all the people who have been waiting and hoping for my update!! But at long, long, long, long, LONG last here it is!
This first post takes us from the 12th of April until the 21st, days 94 – 103! Some days are a little sporadic in note form, I hope this is ok with you guys!
12th A long and slow wander around the Tiergarten, I got approached by two people wielding a video camera, who then asked me to eat a chocolate quark cake thing and talk about what I thought, so, basically anyone could get me to eat chocolate if they just asked, so I went for it. A rather funny situation, I was expecting to be asked questions but I just had to say stuff, as it came to me, so it was all a little awkward. But I think I got away with it!! After that I wandered the length of the Tiergarten and then back towards the city centre, and this time on the way back I visited the Russian memorial, a large imposing structure right near the Reichstag, I wandered around the rear of the monument where there is a short, but interesting history of. Then I wandered to the Reichstag and took the usual touristy photo, then to the main train station to check out times and prices of trains to various onward options, then I headed home, though moved out to stay with another pair of friends for the night. We went to the opening night of a show, which had some work by an artist that my friend is assistant to
13th The next day I actually moved into a place to myself, just for the next two weeks, it’s nice, a good size for one and has a balcony and lots of lovely sunshine pours in through the large windows. No photos of this day I’m afraid.
14th A nice walk to Friedrichshain area of Eastern Berlin and around shops and markets. Then I wandered down Karl Marx Allee, a long, long, beautiful street, the sun was shining brightly, I made it to the fountain and sat next to the statue of Karl Marx for a while, enjoying the sunshine and the passers by taking photos. More shops and wandering after that, found a Club Mate ‘Ice Tea’ version (image on previous post). Not much different, maybe a little stronger in taste. That evening I met up with Annett, a good old friend of mine, who, it turned out I’ve not seen in 3 years!, and her new boyfriend for a drink. We had some good chat, they seem very besotted with one another, which is sweet.
15th, My friend Marta arrived in Berlin for a few days. I spent the wandering around some more before I went to meet her at the bus station, and show her where she was! Whilst I waited I had a tasty Green-Oolong Milky Bubble tea with popping lychee balls! Bubble teas seem to be all the rage in Berlin at the minute, they are quite expensive, but this one was quite tasty and the popping lychee ‘QQ’ were novelty enough!
16th, Today I took Marta to Friedrichshain to try to find film for her Holga camera, which failed because it was all far too expensive. But it was a lovely wander around. We wandered along the East Side Gallery, the largest stretch of the Berlin Wall which has been recently repainted, but with the same images as the original murals created, so it is looking really great. We stopped of and had cake in a Turkish bakery near to Schlesisches Tor.
17th, A quick visit to the market that stretches along the canal around the corner from where I am staying, it sells mostly food stuff, veg, cake, cheese, bread. Followed by a long walk to Victoria Park and the Kreuzberg monument, after which the area is named; Kreuzberg translating literally into ‘Cross Mountain’ basically a big green pointing thing with a cross on the top at the top of a tall hill, with a fake waterfall built onto it. Then walked further West into the Shoneberg district, had a hot chocolate in a little old ice cream parlour that looks like it has existed forever, really old school decoration and wooden walls. Then walked to Kliest park, and then found an old war time bunker as well as the area where the sports hall once existed that Hitler used to give his big speeches, including the one where he asked the crowd whether they want total war and the crowd cheered in agreement. It is now a housing development.
18th, A walk to the city centre. To the TV tower and Neptune fountain, then down towards the Brandenburg gate meandering about and finding old churches and other old buildings, the old Aeroflot office, that Marta told me used to still have the Hammer and Sickle on the sign, but not anymore it would seem, the Russian embassy, just a little way down the road though, still does have the hammer and sickle on its façade! Then to the Holocaust memorial and found the area that once had a lot more of Hitlers bunkers, as well as the one in which he, and Eva Braun committed suicide, before their bodies were removed and burned. Then also found the North Korean consulate / living quarters. Strange place, seemed to be just normal flats and apartments, but totally caged in and then people came outside whilst we were taking photos of the place… Coffee and cake at Checkpoint Charlie in Einstein’s. A little expensive but the cake was very good, and huge slices too! Walked home via international supermarket and through a really nice area of Kreuzberg, near a synagogue, that has a 24 hour guard and gates and fences up everywhere, seems mad that such a place still needs protection! But the general area is beautiful, with some great apartments looking out onto the canal.
19th, A day trip to Charlottenburg, the old palace and gardens, there was really beautiful, properly warm sunshine, wonderful flowers and atmosphere everywhere. Walked around gardens then went for pizza in this little place next to the Rathaus, made totally from fresh in front of us. Service was a little shakey but otherwise the food was very very good, Gorgonzola and Spinach pizza was great, Marta had one with anchovies, capers and fresh parma ham. Then we walked in the sun to zoologisher garden underground, found a place for more Bubble tea! Green tea with Passionfruit and tapioca balls, and Green Tea with mango and coconut cubes. Then we went into a big shopping place with lots of tea, very expensive; basically the same as somewhere like Harvey Nichols. They had a huge space with tea in big urns, and lots of the dry tea out in cups to smell, and also to potentially slip a few of the pearl style ones into your pocket for sampling later…
20th Walk along the landwehrkanal, a beautiful day and a lovely walk, reasonably easy going after all the crazy amounts of walking done so far! Lots of people out, jogging, dog walking, drinking by the river. Lovely jubbly.
21st, Walked to a market near Boddinstrasse, in Neukolln, and I bought a new old camera! An Agfa Agnar, for a hopefully bargain price of 4 euros! It even has a little shutter release lead with it for photos of yourself! With a shiny reflective viewfinder too! A little walk through Gorlitzer park, slow easy paced day, not to over do it before Marta headed back home on the bus that night.
IMAGE TIME!!! (they are smaller than usual because there are so many, but they are clickable for the larger versions!)