Day 23, Tallinn, February 1st 2012

Tea 23:  Black Tea with Red Berries, A deli in the old town, Tallinn

So today I totally forgot to get the name of the place where I got my tea!  I blame it on the biting cold adn the aching fingers.  The cold is also to blame for the steamed up image, the lens on my camera totally steamed up and I didn’t want to wait for it to clear up before taking the photo…..

So, yes, today I headed first for the Old Town.  Wrapped up as warm as possible I left the apartment and soon discovered that as warm as possible was most definitely NOT warm enough!  I think today’s high temperature was -10, but I am fairly certain this was optimistic.  It was the coldest day so far I think, I had icicles all over my face!  And leather / suede, thick lined gloves are totally ineffective it would seem!  On positive factor was the sunshine though, and the, albeit psychological, warmth it brought was very welcome.  There also seemed to be tiny bits of snow, which has now turned into proper snow, floating about in the sky glinting in the sunlight like glitter, despite a seemingly cloudless sky.

It took me around 10-15 minutes to walk into the old town, through the pretty little Tammsaare Park and you are there.  The ancient medieval gate towers at this entrance are very impressive.  Then it’s up hill towards one of the three main churches that stand atop of the the hill.  Winding cobbled streets weave a rabbit warren of multicoloured houses, cafes, restaurants and millions of souvenir shops.  Make it to the top of the hill and you will probably arrive at the orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a Russian built impressive and imposing looking building.  I wandered inside to be quite shocked at just how small the place is.  The inside space is tiny, magnificently decorated, but how they ever hold services in there I do not know.  There were about four people in the place and it felt full!  I only stayed in there a short while before heading back outside.  I turned right out of the entrance and up a small street (ok, they’re all small) past what seemed to be a ballet school and a drama and music school then past another church and onto a viewing platform that looked out over the west of the city.  Views of modern buildings mixed with modernist buildings mixed with the old, whilst factories billowed out smoke from chimneys into the clear blue sky.

I was now starting to get really cold, so I went in search of food.  There are quite a few nice looking restaurants around the old town, and you can eat from many different country’s cuisines.  After spending much too much time procrastinating, again the cold not helping brain function, I went into a deli whose shelves were filled with lovely looking things.  I went for a Goats Cheese and Spinach lattice type thing and a cup of the above-mentioned tea.  I sat down, took my gloves of and tried to move my fingers.   They were so cold I could hardly hold my tea it felt so hot.  Eventually they warmed up and I drank it up, it was nice a mellow, not too acidic with the fruit and the right flavours to warm the cockles!  By the time I had finished my Spinach thing and was thinking about leaving the girl from behind the counter came out and started putting discount stickers on some of the cakes… So clearly I took that as a sign I should stay and have one.  I treated myself to a Sacher (or Sachertorte as research has now found out), a traditional Austrian cake which basically consists of chocolate cake, apricot jam and then a layer of chocolate to cover it all up.  It was delicious!!!  The perfect thing to get me back into the frame of mind to face the outside.

I was now heading back east to KUMU, the art museum, to hang around there until 6, when a documentary about Olaffur Eliasson’s New York City Waterfalls project was being screened.  The gallery is an amazing building.  Shaped and lit really well.  It basically goes chronologically through time showcasing numerous works by Estonian artists.  Many of the pieces are really great and for the first time in a long time I am once again enjoying looking at classical painting.  I think it may be down to the fact that most of these artists, if not all, are completely unknown to me, and also just their subject matter, and their motivations are different from the more western European styles, although they do clearly have the same influences and come from similar schools.  I can’t really put my finger on it, but it is nice to be able to enjoy looking at these things again.  The top floor is currently showcasing works by various contemporary Danish artists, some of which is really very good, other’s not so good. A noteworthy has to be Jacob Kirkegaard, whose video and sound installation is excellently executed, completely enthralling.  I also enjoyed the work of Rolf Notowny and Marie Kølbæk Iversen.  After a few hours spent wandering around in there, and only just realising I had missed a large space, though I wasn’t too keen on the work, so it wasn’t so bad, it was time for the film.  The auditorium was packed, but i guess that’s what happens when you show a film by an artist like Eliasson.  The film entitled ‘Olafur Eliasson: Space is Process’ was good, charting the ups and downs of his planning, developing and eventual execution of his project to change the new york city environment and to create ‘one more story for the city’.  It was intriguing to see into the world, and to some extent, the life of such a well respected and prolific artist.

Ingrid and I then visited Kom Pot, a lovely little restaurant serving traditional but modern fayre, in a lovely space, filled with jars of their own compote (I’m assured a traditional Estonian foodstuff and pastime), light fittings made from graters and colanders, clocks from spoons and forks, and a feature sofa area dolled up like a Soviet 50’s household.  The food was really good, I had a traditional Estonian meatball dish with Beetroot salad and sea-buckwheat sauce, whilst Ingrid had another dish consisting mostly of pork crackling and mash-potato, but it was very tasty despite how it sounds.  For dessert I had a great compote dish with Kama Mousse.  Kama is basically the Estonian equivalent to porridge I think, but as a mousse it was very tasty and the mixture of fruits in the compote was delightful!

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Day 7, Denmark & Sweden, January 16th 2012

Tea 7: Earl Grey, Tom’s Apartment.

Today I left for Stockholm on the train. Packed up and now on the second leg of my travels.  Was sad to say good bye to everyone who had given me such a lovely week in Copenhagen, and such a gentle introduction into my travels.  My train left at 1137 from Kobenhaven H (Copenhagen Central station) and arrived in Stockholm Central at 1650.  The journey was comfortable and quiet, I even managed to get a little sleep.  The train service was much better than our UK equivalent.  The carriage was clean, comfortable and despite being near to the toilet you actually couldn’t smell it!  The journey was pleasant, very flat and easy going, the view was good, but nothing of huge note apart from one small town, I think called Nässjö which was beautifully picturesque. Set on a currently frozen lake with traditional Scandinavian buildings coloured yellow, but totally dominated by the 324m television mast that pokes up from the top of a hill behind the town.

I arrived in Stockholm and was greeted by Jessica, my host for the next few days, in the main hall of the train station.  We headed down onto the T-Bana and got on the metro train to her home in Skärholmen, to the west of the city.  At her home I was introduced to her flatmate and friend Tiffany.  A warm cup of black tea was made for me and a wonderful dinner of Tortellini pasta and sauce.  I’ve just met the Budgies, Conan and Candyfloss and am looking forward to a good nights sleep in a real proper bed!!!

Tea this morning was an ‘A.C. Perch’s The-Salon’ Earl Grey, fragrant and deep and enough caffeine to get me up and ready to face the fully laden rucksack!


Day 6, Denmark, January 15th 2012

Tea 6: Chai Tea, Props cafe, Blågårds Plads.

Sorry for the terrible photograph of the tea, it looked much better on the camera screen for some reason.  Anyway, I guess a wee bit of last night before we go into today’s activities…

The Cuckoo’s Nest Cabaret at Byens Lys, Christiania.  What an amazing night!  We arrived a little late and missed a couple of acts, and just about managed to get in as the venue had been closed because it was so full, but gladly Inga’s skills got us in the door.  The pictures are from my phone so aren’t great but the first shows the MC at work, like a russian burlesque circus master she was brilliantly funny and an excellent performer, introducing all the acts perfectly.  There was everything from a fantastic brother and sister couple doing impossible things 15ft above the ground with only a pole for support to a fantastically risqué burlesque striptease and the amazing fire hooping tricks (second picture).  It was a brilliant night and really felt like I had seen something and been in something properly ‘Christianian’ and it was great to meet some of Inga’s friends who were all warm and friendly and seemed like great people.  As well as that I managed to meet ‘The Creature’, a performing arts piece that Inga has had past involvement in, its writhing and pulsing, screeching and moaning was mesmerizing and the experience was something I didn’t expect but very much enjoyed.  The event was held in Christiania’s Byens Lys, an old cinema venue with sand all over the floor and smoke in the air.  A brilliant space with a great atmosphere, after a short dance we headed home at around 2a.m. in the cold night air.

Today I headed to the Carlsberg Elephant Gate (Elefantporten), the main gate that sort of leads to the factory, though it seems to just split it in two really.  The Elephants stand as supports for an old building overpass.  They are basically life size and very impressive.  After managing to find my way there, almost got lost once but figured it out in the end, I headed into Søndermarken, a park with lots of trees and an art gallery, the gallery is closed in January, but it was nice to have a wander through the park.  I then desperately needed some food and to empty my bladder so I headed back into the city centre and grabbed a bite to eat, and after spending some time chilling out and warming myself back up I met up with an old friend from Glasgow, Ane, who took me for a short walk then for tea in a little cafe called Props, in the Nørrebro district of the city.  I had a chai tea and she had a coffee, after a little bit of surprising misunderstanding when two Danes attempted to speak Danish to one another, then resorted back to English!!!  The tea was warm and spicy, served in a glass and perfect for thawing my frozen fingers.

On the way home I stopped off for some Falafel in a pitta bread from Beyti, a good quality Kebab house just on Nørrebrogade.

Tomorrow I head for Stockholm!

A link to some really great photos from the Cabaret, not taken by me….


Day 4, Denmark, January 13th 2012

Tea 4: Yunnan Green Oolong, Tom’s Apartment.

After waking up at around 9:30am I decided to take myself out into the city and do some classic touristy photog-ing whilst Tom slept off his hangover from his mates leaving-do the night before.  The sun was shining and the air was chilly and the city felt calm and relaxed.  Walking around on my own was a nice experience, being in the mode of the tourist as well.  I usually hate ‘feeling’ like a tourist, and although I still felt a little self-conscious it was nice to not be so bothered.  I wandered around by the train station, the currently closed Tivoli amusement park, and through the small sculpture garden of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek with it’s steadily greening Auguste Rodin‘s The Thinker, watching a few German tourists doing the posing in front of it.  Then back towards the flat via ‘Tiger’, an ikea type small store with everything from headphones to Yahtzee sets, I stocked up on Chocolate, Crisps/Chips, and, of course, TEA!  (Power Te, no doubt a photo feature soon)

Last night I stayed in whilst Tom was out on the town spending a small fortune! Almost ended up going to a club called Drone with Tom’s flat-mate Inga, and if I had of found Tom’s key to his bike I would have gone, but alas, after too long spent searching there was no luck, so I sat and twiddled my thumbs before heading to sleep.  Inga has invited me to some Cabaret event in Christiania on Saturday night, so hopefully I will make it to that and see some interesting things.

Tea was another helping of my Yunnan Green Oolong, this time I treated myself to a pot and fancy cup, managed to make a nice delicate mix.  Looking forward to the Power Tea, though imagine it will be for mornings only due to the Guarana and Gingko Biloba…..


Day 3, Denmark, 12th January 2012

Tea 3: Green Darjeeling, Cafe in Christiania.

Today, the first rainy morning, my first stop was in Christiania, Denmark‘s infamous ‘free town’ within Copenhagen’s city limits.  It has caused a lot of controversy and debate during it’s history. The land it sits on, as well as most of its buildings acted as an army barracks until that was closed and Christiania as it is today ‘opened’ in 1971 when residents and hippies of the surrounding area, Christianshavn, began to take over the buildings. Famed for the hippy lifestyle it aimed to develop, the cannabis it sells openly on Pusherstreet, and the various riots, political issues and suchlike during its history the area now seems to be a curious mix of families trying to bring up their families in a supportive, open and friendly communal environment and the seedier side of the cannabis stalls and the gangs that now seem to be running that side of life in Christiania.

The rain had disappeared by the end of my cup of tea and visit to Christiania, but had been replaced by bitingly cold winds.  I walked back through the town, taking in a few sights through my cold streaming eyes and ended up back at Tom’s pub, The Olde English.  Played a good session of darts and came out on top.  He is now on a night out for a friends leaving do, I will try to join up later if I figure out whether I can afford it.

Tea in Christiania was a Green Darjeeling variety, nice and refreshing and warmed the hands whilst sitting in the cafe surrounded by veg, salad and falafel.  Slightly heavy on the tannins by the end of the cup.


Day 2, Denmark, 11th January 2012

Tea 2: Green & White Tea with Mint, Tom’s Apartment.

Today was a big day of walking, tried to visit Den Hirschsprungske Samling, as it was advertised as being free on a Wednesday, however it wasn’t due to a ‘special exhibition’ being held, so instead I had a nice walk through the grounds of the Statens Museum for Kunst, and wandered to The Little Mermaid.  The famous sculpture is a massive draw for tourists, but luckily, due to it being winter it was nice and quiet, despite the beautiful weather.  After that I walked along the riverside, past the star shaped Kastellet (fortress / army barracks), taking in views of a battle ship, submarine and the amazing opera house.

Wandered through the streets and the Amalienborg Palaces, it still doesn’t feel as though I have really left the UK.  Soldiers wearing bearskin hats, McDonalds, Rolex, Burberry, the Olde English Pub (Tom’s place of work, a nice, extremely English joint, and he seems to work with some good guys who are all good fun, they certainly have welcomed me warmly).

After a late lunch I visited the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, which featured a show by Simon Starling who is currently living in Copenhagen. Managed to stumble into a talk with the artist and a guy who he has collaborated with from the Copenhagen Marionet Teatret for one piece.  Got a bit stuck in the whole anxiety of wanting to leave but feeling rude.  Overcame that eventually though.  There is also a show on by Danish artist Nina Beier, who works in Berlin, her first scandinavian show.

Tea this evening is a Green and White Tea mix, with Spearmint and Peppermint, in a bag.  The mint is delicate and comes in as more of an aroma and aftertaste.  The Green and White combination is pleasant but not particularly noticeable.  Induction hob totally figured out.


Day 1, Denmark, 10th January 2012

Tea 1:  Yunnan Green Oolong, Tom’s Apartment.

Denmark so far has been a little cold, quite expensive but otherwise a nice relaxed place.  I arrived at the airport yesterday and took the Metro to Norregard station.  The Metro reminds me a lot of the MRT system trains in singapore, long, open plan trains with little merry-go-rounds in the middle.  The biggest difference though, is quite obviously the temperature.  And the cleanliness.  Not that its dirty, but just not ‘Singapore clean’.

Today i visited Arken, Denmark’s contemporary art gallery, situated near to the Ishoj train station and a stones throw from the coast, beautiful views of the sea from the gallery cafe and a chilly but pleasant wander from the station through marshlands with howling basset hounds and rosy cheeked locals.  I managed to catch the last day of the Warhol Basquiat exhibition, a dive into the collaborative practice of the two artists, featuring numerous works and really quite interesting documentary on Warhol’s life.

My first tea was from my own supplies, in Tom’s flat, once I’d figured out what pan would work on an induction hob…..