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…

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Day 38, Kaunas, February 16th 2012

Tea 38:  Green Mint tea, Lina’s Apartment, Kaunas

My hosts have made me so welcome it’s really great. Lina and her husband Anglis (this is probably spelt awfully wrong, but will check tomorrow…) made me a great breakfast of traditional porridge like stuff, but this one was made with barley grits, there was also bread and cheese and yoghurt.  Lovely.  We then headed out into the town centre.  Today, luckily enough, is one of Lithuania‘s Independence Days.  This one commemorates the first independence of 1918.  There was a parade with flag-bearers and little brass bands, and then a in the centre of town there was a big stage set up with traditional songs being sung, the national anthem, flags everywhere and people dressed in military uniform or traditional Lithuanian dress.  Some of the material pattern of the skirts is quite similar in design to that of the Scottish Tartans, and this Scottish link seemed to be a theme of the day today.  Anglis is currently thinking about applying to study a Masters at Glasgow School of Art, where I studied.  People were often buried in mounds much like the Scottish ones, and even sometimes with cairns or structures built on top.  There is a type of Bull, now extinct that makes up part of the Kaunas Flag, which, it would seem may be similar to the Highland Cattle in some ways, though this is just a presumption.  Even tonight we ended up playing cards with some pack advertising a Scottish Whisky!

Anyway, during the events of the morning we popped into the war museum, which although free today, is mostly shut as they are currently renovating / restoring many of the exhibits, it won’t be fully open again until the summer.  We then went towards the Kaunas Picture Gallery, which houses various works, but what I am most interested in seeing is the Jurgis Mačiūnas FLUXUS cabinet.  Alas this was also shut until the afternoon, partly due to the festivities, but also because today the award for artist of 2011 was being presented.  I will try to go back tomorrow and check it out properly.

A few days ago it was Lina’s Birthday and so today many of her family were coming to celebrate and get together over food and drink.  We popped into the supermarket, bought some stuff then headed back to the flat to prepare some food.  I made sandwiches, nice and traditional Salmon and Cucumber triangle classics!  whilst they others tidied the flat up for the arrival of the parents.  They all soon started to arrive and we began to gather around the table, a buffet style spread was set up and everyone helped themselves.  The atmosphere was lovely, the sun was shining through the beautiful wide SW facing windows and everyone was having lots of laughs.  We ate, and drank for, basically, hours!  We then started to play a board game called DIXIT.  For her birthday Lina’s mum had made her the game, which looked to have taken a lot of work as there are many cards involved and lots of little elements.  I won’t try to explain the game as it will probably take ages and not make any sense, but it was good fun, and I think my team came second out of six, so not a bad result!  We then had some tea and coffee, Anglis’s Dad had brought some of his home mixed tea, a good home grown mint, mixed with a little Green tea. It was lovely, delicate mint flavour, and the perfect after dinner drink, especially with the extreme gluttony that had just taken place!

By around 7 or 8 people started to leave.  We tidied up a bit then headed to a bar called Kultura, part of the same gallery I mentioned before, and therefore somewhat obviously or maybe ironically named!  We sat over a beer for a while, listening to an ‘interesting’ choice of music selected by the DJ, and apparantly one of the best Architects in Kaunas / Lithuania.  Though apparently traditional, yet modern songs, the choices were not quite right for the bar, with lots of very mellow, not depressing, but relaxing tracks.  But we kind of wanted to dance a little, even if just on our seats.  We spent a while there, I drank a nice, unfiltered Vilnius Beer, which was golden, slightly cloudy and smelt strongly of honey.  Very tasty!  We came home and relaxed for a while, a couple of games of cards, and now I’m in bed…