Better late than never

What better time to post my pictures of the first day of the Euro 2012 Football Cup than on the LAST day of the Euro 2012 Football Cup?  The Fanzone in Warsaw has been a great place to hang out and watch the games, the atmosphere has so far been great and the people all very happy and sociable.  Despite peoples reservations about how they would be treated and regarded in both Poland and the Ukraine, I should thing almost everyone has been pleasantly surprised, and I hope many of them have realised what a gem they might have been missing if they have never travelled to this part of Europe before.  Polska Polska, Bialo i Czerwoni!!! (Poland, Poland White & Red!!!)

The cheerleaders, however, could have done with a little more practice, and a little more stamina….

Definitely Polish…

Quite possibly British…  (we aren’t all like this I promise!)

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Day 115 – 116, Cologne, May 4th & 5th 2012

Tea 115: Green Yunnan, Regina’s Apartment, Cologne

Thursday promised to rain in the afternoon, and so the morning I went for a short wander up the high street, mostly to see if the photos from my new old camera had been processed yet, they hadn’t so the delights of the Agfa are still a mystery to me.  Then whilst it was still sunny I decided to help by starting some gardening, mostly ‘harvesting’ dandelions to try and prevent them from dropping too many seeds onto the ground.  The person who had stayed in Regina’s flat whilst she was away was supposed to keep the garden clean and tidy, but it has turned into something of a jungle.  So I spent a while doing that before the promised rain did indeed arrive.

That evening a few of Regina’s friends came for dinner, which lasted a good few hours, well past 1a.m.  There had been a slight disaster with a savoury pancake mix that resulted in a last minute change of plan and therefore a bit of a delay in the food.  But we did eat – Avocado with a raspberry sauce, then sweet potato with a coconut sauce and sesame coated asparagus, then a great ginger carrot cake with more coconut and fresh fruits.  Tasty!

Saturday.  Today we had a slow morning then headed into town to buy some tickets for a gig that Regina found online that she wanted to go and see.  A band called Cursive, I’d never heard of them before, so thought I’d give them a go.  We went and bought the tickets, then looked in vain for a particular bicycle shop.  Then we stopped for a cup of coffee (sorry, tea sacrilege I know!).  We left for the gig later in the evening, around 9 and watched the band play.  The gig was kind of short, but the band seemed to be enjoying themselves.  The bassist and lead guitar are pretty old and tubby, so I think these guys have been doing the rounds for a few years now.  I can’t help imagining they probably work in Estate Agents or as salesmen during normal life!

After the gig we went back to the flat for a little while, I had a ‘power nap‘, then we headed to a club for a bit of a dance.  The club was good, though the predominant DJ, (the one we had not gone to listen to) was playing pretty crap stuff.  Someone informed us that he had been drinking solid for the past few days.  I think he might of noticed my looks of disgust at some of his choices though as I caught him staring at my undoubtedly blank face a couple of times.  The guy we had gone to hear ‘DJ Action Mike’ (ironic naming here) played some better stuff and we got some dancing in, though I didn’t manage to break into a sweat…


Day 104 – 112, Berlin & Cologne, April 22nd – May 1st 2012

Tea 104, the ‘free sample’ tea from the department store mentioned in last post, ‘Silvery Pearl Mountain’.

22nd, A slow steady day, with just a little wander around the Warshauer Street / East Side Gallery area, enjoying the sunshine and relaxing.  Nothing much remarkable to talk about really.

23rd and 24th were spent working on a few projects and things like that, not even a photo to show from these two days I’m afraid

25th, and just some more walking around, back to Gorlitzer park and around that area.  Still relaxed and nothing new to report.

26th, Today I decided to head to Treptower park.  I had read at the Russian monument a week or so before about the graves and memorial that had been built there in memory of the lost Russian soldiers, as well as housing mass graves of over 7000 soldiers.  The walk there was along the canal and was very pretty and sunny.  The park is huge, a big open space of grass then you wander around or through this and ‘come across’ the memorial.  I say ‘come across’, you do sort of find it, as it is surrounded by tall trees and in some ways hidden.  But the place is absolutely huge.  A massive area of almost perfect symmetry.  At one end is a statue of ‘Mother Russia’, where you enter the memorial from.  Then you come across two pylons designed to look like lowered flags, with two kneeling soldiers, one on each flag.  Then you enter the burial area properly, with 5 areas of grass, beneath which lie the graves.  On either side are 8 white plinths with varying images of war carved into them and quotes of Stalin written on them, Russian versions on one side, German translations on the other.  Then at the far end is the main piece.  A huge structure of a man holding a child and a huge sword, standing over a destroyed swastika.  The sculpture is amazing, it is so huge, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a tall modern statue!  You can walk up the staircase to the feet of the sculpture and, although there is a locked gate, inside there is a small circular room with a mosaic mural to the soldiers.

27th, A day before the deadline to the residency program so I just worked and a little walking around.  Not much to talk about, just food shopping etc etc.

 28th, The sunshine was so hot and wonderful today.  I decided to walk back to Karl Marx Allee and to the fountain, which is basically a roundabout.  I sat on the edge of the fountain for a while soaking up some sunshine and dipping my feet in the water, which was surprisingly cold!  But very refreshing on my well walked and tired feet!  That evening I went out for a walk in the hot night air.  It was so warm even in the dark and there were people out and about everywhere!  I took some photos, one of which made a petrol station look like something from the film TRON (one of my favourites), complete accident but I like it!

 29th, Today, my penultimate day in Berlin, I decided I wanted to go and find the graveyard that contains the lying places of the Grimm brothers.  This is called the St. Matthäus Kirchhof Cemetery, in Schoneberg.  It is quite an impressive place, with some old, and some very rich people buried there.  The graves of the Grimm brothers (there are four there altogether, though the ones of the fairy tales are Jacob and Wilhelm) are actually very subtle and not as in your face and imposing as you might imagine they could be.  I was pleasantly surprised by this.  I wandered around and sat in the peace and quite there for a while, it was a Sunday and there were quite a few people there tending to the graves and making them neat and tidy, it seems to be something that is taken quite seriously, after visiting a couple of other cemetery’s in Berlin, which all seem to be very well looked after.

 After that I walked back to the flat and had a late lunch before heading back out to Hasenheide Volkspark.  I’d been here before and decided to pop back in order to take pictures of the animals they have in this petting / rescued animal area.  There are camels, llamas, emus, storks, deer.  All sorts.  Many of them look a bit shabby and there’s a pair of Australian Black Swans that look terribly sad, but I think, I hope, they are rescued and basically have to be there.  One of the camels looks like it has a bad case of mange!

 30th, The day arrived to move out of the apartment I had rented for the last two weeks.  So I spent the day making sure it was all clean and tidy, taking the rubbish out etc etc.  Then I just went and sat by the river, to write and wait for the guy to arrive back so we could swap keys and deposits.  That all went off without a hitch, the guy even gave me some Bulgarian tea to add to my collection!  Excellent!  Shame to leave such a great little flat, but it is definitely time to move on.

 1st and a delightful 5:30am wake up followed by a trip across town to get to the bus station, to get my 7:30am bus to Cologne!  The bus trip itself was totally fine, and actually arrived a bit early which was great.  And by the time we had made all the stops there were only two of us left on the entire coach!  Like a huge limousine!  I met Regina at the bus station and we headed to her apartment, had a drink then went for a walk in the evening sunshine with the dog!  The sun was warm and the city feels peaceful and calm, a stark contrast to Berlin, and a welcome one!  We went for some Thai food that evening and had a cocktail then headed home and baked scones at midnight, as Regina returns to work after her sabbatical tomorrow, so needs to take exciting cakes!  They are vegan orange scones and they taste great!  Scones are amazing!!!

 That’s it, I am finally, and at long last up to date!!  I do apologise again for the huge break in posting, but the distinct lack of internet in Berlin, as well as trying to work towards the summer project has been a big issue in terms of updating.


Day 87 – 89, Berlin, April 5th -7th 2012

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.

<CLICK HERE>


Day 84 – 86, Berlin, April 2nd – 4th 2012

Tea 86, Green Tea, Betahaus, Berlin

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.


Day 77 & 78, Warsaw, March 26th & 27th 2012

Tea 78: Turkish Coffee & Green Tea with Mint, Cafe Adi, Warsaw.

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!


Day 71, Warsaw, March 20th 2012

Tea 71: Yunnan Green Superior, the apartment, Warsaw.

So, more delayed postings…

Monday, today the majority of my day was spent organising stuff for the Artist’s Residency that the Hello Collective will be running in the summer.  We are trying to get some funding together to make the program more open and affordable to the artists that we will invite to the space.  If anyone here who is reading this doesn’t mind this shameless bit of promotion then I would ask, indeed beg and plead with you to check out our campaign page, watch our short video and if you can, then please please donate a little to our project!  Every little will be really really appreciated!  Like you would NEVER believe!  To check it out please visit our campaign page by CLICKING HERE!

We would be eternally grateful!

Anyway, after all of that stuff was sorted out, which took most of the day believe it or not, form filling, spell checking, mail outs, I then went for a walk in the early evening, as the sun was beginning to set.  I went back to Park Arcadia and took a few long exposure photo graphs of the ponds there.  I also fed the ducks, which was fun as it is some thing I’ve not done since I was a kid.  This little Moorhen even plucked up the courage to eat a bit of bread from my hands.  They have the funniest little feat, as if each toe is made of one individual feather.  Strange.  I then tried to find this old fort I had seen on a map, but it was all shut off and it looked pretty scary in the dark so I decided to head back the way I had came.  I found myself at another viewpoint out over the twinkling city, right next to what seemed to be the american ambassador residence or something like that, they must have a really great view from there.  A few more photos of the city and I started to get cold and hungry so I went back home.  A short day in terms of sight seeing, but I did see some good things.