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 82, Warsaw, March 31st 2012

Tea 82, Yunnan Green Superior, the Apartment, Warsaw

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.


Day 72, Warsaw, March 21st 2012

Tea 72: Chocolate Pu Erh with cheese scones, the apartment, Warsaw

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