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 90 – 93, Berlin, April 8th – 11th 2012

Tea 90, Al-Otour, the apartment, Berlin.

Tea 92, Yunnan Green Superior.

also; Tea 91, Power Tea, , Tea 93, Japonska Wisnia.

Day 90, Sunday.  Today the sun was shining and it was almost warm, but i still felt the need for some gloves.  I left the flat reasonably early, around 10, in order to get to the Mauerpark Flea Market.  This is up to the north of the city centre in a district called Prenzlauer Berg.  There is everything you could imagine in this market, from a huge bric-a-brac stall, full of boxes of what is mostly junk and broken stuff, but with the occasional highlight, a few box-brownies for instance, to food stalls, bikes, camera’s.  Everything you could imagine (almost).  So I spent a while meandering up and down the aisles, all the time it was getting busier and busier.  I almost bought quite a few things, but actually came away with nothing, despite the efforts of quite a few people…  I then wandered in the sunshine, and relative peace to another market just a few streets away.  This one, Arkonaplatz, is much smaller and the quality of things they are selling is generally higher, and due to the popularity of Mauerpark this one is much gentler and more peaceful.  Some more browsing and yet again away with nothing I walked slowly in the sunshine back towards the apartment, but taking a few little side streets and a much deviated path back, ending up by the TV tower and then back onto my main route back to the apartment.  This seems like a short day now that I type it, but I had spent a long time getting to and then around and back from the markets.  The weather turned a little bit cold by the afternoon too.  Also, due to it being Easter Sunday, almost literally nowhere was open!

Day 91, again today, very little was open.  But I made the most of my day by embracing tourism once again and heading out to the Brandenburg Gate, or Brandenburger Tor.  The walk there was very pleasant, in the sunshine most of the time, when I stayed on the right side of the street.  It’s quite a simple walk from Kreuzberg there too.  It also takes you past the section of the Berlin wall still standing.  I’ve walked past this before, but today was the first day I took a photograph of it.  Then I carried on towards the Gate.  In the area of the gate, which sort of acts, or acted like an entrance to the Tiergarten, is also the Holocaust Memorial, or as it is really called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  I spent some time wandering amongst the huge concrete blocks.  It’s an interesting place, with lots of children playing and smiles and laughter happening amongst the stones.  This seemed somewhat strange to me, considering the context of the thing, but there was actually something strangely refreshing about this kind of atmosphere in such a place if I’m honest.

I then walked to the Brandenburg Gate itself.  This is a big disappointment, not with regard to the gate itself.  But they may as well charge entry and called it ‘Das Disney Welt’ if you ask me.  There’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse, a big Teddy Bear, breakdancers, a sexy soldier girl with a flag, and Darth Vader!  I can totally understand why the performers are there, they need to make money, but why on earth people would want to see these things here is another thing entirely!  I soon made my escape from the circus and took some peace and sunshine from the Tiergarten.  I sat by a little pond, people buzzing past on bikes and with their cameras.  I saw what was only my second red squirrel ever!  I sat for a while and wrote some of my thoughts down before heading back towards the river and past the Berlin Philharmonic hall and a few of the larger galleries, one was shut, the other open, but rammed with people so I decided to avoid it.  I don’t know why but ever since arriving in Berlin I’ve actually lost my appetite for looking at art!

Onto day 92, Tuesday.  Shops are open again!  This lead to a celebratory visit to Lidl to buy chocolate!  Then, with the first day for a few that can actually be described as warm I ventured back into the city centre, with no real aim other than to enjoy the sunshine.  Today was Abigails birthday, so we had spent the morning chilling out and eating the chocolate before she went to see Sergej who had unfortunately had to go and work on a pitch for the next day.  So I took myself out into the sunshine and just people watched.  I did visit Berlin Carre, a funny little shopping centre with only a few shops on the inside (most actually face the street, but head inside if you want what I imagine is a reasonably authentic East Berlin experience!)  I bought a snack in the supermarket and then went back outside.

There was a tiny protest happening at the Neptune Statue next to the Rathaus and the TV tower.  It seemed to be about banking and they had a lot of colourful umbrellas all painted with slogans.  There were less than ten of them, but still had the beady eye of the police on them constantly.  It was a strange protest with no chanting or marching around or anything, they just seemed to make little structures from the umbrellas, which the police then told them they had to keep behind a certain line that he drew with chalk.  Very odd.  Anyway, I let that play out for a while before wandering a bit more, visiting a huge second-hand clothes store, then I bought myself a new pair of sunglasses and went back to the apartment.

Day 93, and I’m sorry to say no photos of today.  Abigail and I had to put our heads down good and proper for the day, working on the Hello Collective, getting the plan of action down ready for the summer residency / studio program.  And also trying to figure out what will happen if we don’t reach our sponsorship target.  But hopefully we will.  http://kck.st/GD326Q  Click the link if you are interested in the project and can maybe help by pledging a little.  If you let me know that it’s through my blog that you have donated I’ll send you some tea as a thank you!


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 76, Torun – Warsaw, March 25th 2012

Tea 76: Green Tea with Cactus Flowers, Torun

The majority of sunday was filled with more travelling back to Warsaw, most of the day was spent in the car and then the train.  We got back to Warsaw safe and sound though and then headed home, totally starving having not had lunch, not that we had been hungry at lunchtime due to the sheer amount of food consumed over the weekend!  But we got home then went about making a good tasty salad with feta cheese and all kinds of lovely things.  Then we went to meet Ola, a friend of Marta’s, at a club / pub near Pole Moketowski.  This was a student bar which we unfortunately had to pay to get in, but once inside the beer was cheap.  There was also another turn up for the books when Marta found 20 Zloty on the floor that no one wanted to claim back, so that paid for our entry!  The music was some Rock and Metal, taking me back to my teenage years, both with music and looking around at the fashion, which hasn’t changed very much in the past decade…. apart from the occasional bit of nu-rave neon…

Needless to say we stayed for a few pints and did a lot of chatting, and of people watching, especially of this guy who was part of our group but who seemed eager to pull at least two girls, at the same time, in the same conversation… good luck to him, he didn’t seem to be doing too badly!

We probably got home around two in the morning and collapsed in a heap.  There are no photos from this day I am afraid, so instead comes a little Torun photo recap!

ALSO!  Please don’t forget to check my campaign page and if you like the project, the blog, and would like to support a really great project and cause then every little would be massively appreciated!  I even offer tea handouts to people who donate that read my blog!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hellocollective/hello-collectives-summer-studio-2012


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


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.


Day 62 – 67, Warsaw, March 11th – 16th 2012


I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!  TEN whole days without a posting!  That is awful!  And now I’m even going to role those ten days into one post!  even more awful!  As you can probably tell, internet availability has been somewhat lacking.  Hoping between wifi cafes has not been ideal for posting up stuff.  But I will try to be more active now that I have got a little more stable internet back again.  It even made me miss Mother’s Day it would seem, so here is a public apology to my mum for that!  I am sorry!

So, what have I done since being back in Warsaw.  Well, hmm, mostly tried to find internet it would seem! One major occurrence was the haircut I gave myself!  At long last I now have short hair again!  It had got to that point when the hair on the sides starts to curl upwards and I look like I am sporting a nice set of wings like Hermes or Mercury!  So, yes, a good chop with a pair of kitchen scissors and I felt positively refreshed!

The first thing I did on my first day back, a Sunday, was to return to Maharaja, the indian restaurant.  I took Marta, who is kindly looking after me again, on the hope that the Thali lunch was still on.  Unfortunately it is not on over the weekend, but we stayed anyway and I ate a really great sweet and sour fish dish with a Vegetable stuffed naan.  It was really really good!  So much food, too much really and I should of taken some of it home, but I ate it all instead!  We then walked around the city in the cold sunshine and took some photos, Marta had taken her holga with her, the new love of he life.  We found a small statue of Jesus that was in a rather strange position, in the little courtyard of an old tenement block.  The building is one of the ones that has survived the war, but it still bares a lot of the scars.  We managed to get inside, the doors were open and went up the staircase to the top and got a good view of a few rooftops.  The inside looks like it hasn’t changed much since the war either!  A great building, but it needs some work doing to it if it is to survive much longer!

Later that afternoon we met up with Carolina, one of Marta’s best friends and we were intending to visit cafe Vincent, the french bakery on Nowy Swiat, when we go there though the place was totally rammed with people (this was not a surprise), so we crossed the street and went to this little ice cream parlour directly opposite.  This place is a little gem, mostly for people watching.  We ordered some cake and I got a coffee and we sat and chatted whilst little old ladies snuck into the place, past us and then to the toilet.  Some of them stayed for ice cream, some not.  One really amazing lady seemed to be having the time of her life with her ice cream.  Spoon after spoon disappeared into her mouth, the pace was incessant, and it seemed as though she had a never ending ice cream.  I have never seen so much concentrated enjoyment on an adult face in my whole life!  After this little place Carolina and Marta were still craving vincent, and something savoury.  So we tried again, this time we managed to get a seat, and I ordered a tea whilst they both ordered a ciabatta and more tea.

We sat and drank tea and ate for a while, then decided it was getting late so we left.  Eventually we decided to head to Carolina’s place for a while, so we got on a tram, or two, bought a bottle of wine, a rather unusual Moldavian variety, and went to her flat.

The next day was a rather quiet one for me, I left the flat late and went for a small wander around the town, I did buy a new tea, from the 5 o’clock tea shop in the basement of the horrible shopping mall in the city centre.  It is a Yunnan Green Superior.  I bought it mostly as an everyday tea, nothing special.  It is good, but i think the leaves have been ripped up too small, it is lacking the smoothness that bigger leaves can give it.  I also popped to the supermarket and bought some food for dinner.  That night I made a Moussaka, and I have to say, it was the best one I have ever made in my life, and possibly the best I have ever tasted!  (this probably means that it didn’t taste anything like a real Moussaka, but it was goooooood!)

Tuesday now…Again, I went into town late, I spent the morning working on a few things.  But then went in to meet Marta, I had a little walk around the embassy district while I waited, the ponds in the little park there were still frozen despite the temperature being above zero for the past few weeks.  I then met Marta and we went to Green Coffee for a drink and a bit of internet access, we checked emails and just did the little things that needed to be checked.  That was about it for Tuesday I think.

Wednesday, Marta had the day off for a doctors appointment so she dragged me out with her to the shopping centre where her doctors is (yes INSIDE the shopping centre!).  This place is called Blu City, and is just full of the usual shops, Saturn, Empik, McDonalds etc etc, and lacking in customers which is probably more normal now than we like to admit.  After my wandering past and through a few of the shops Marta reappeared, we went back home, and I am now struggling to remember what we did for the rest of the day (see, this is exactly why I need to keep updating daily!)

Thursday, the same problem, exactly what I did during the day that wasn’t spent on working towards the residency  I do not know.  But in the evening Marta and Ania’s landlady came over, so I made myself scarce for a while and wandered to this park called Park Arkadia.  This place has got a great view out across the East of the city, the sunlight was fading and the lights were beginning to twinkle from the flats and high rises.  The park falls down a steep hill where there are a couple of ponds, which were still frozen, the ducks skidding about avoiding an enthusiastic chasing dog.  A few people were there, wandering around or sitting on the benches with a bottle of beer or two.  One guy with two girls on either side of him looking rather happy with himself…  Then I went back to the flat, via a shop to buy loo roll.

The next day I spent most of the day working at Hello Collective stuff, but then in the late afternoon I met Marta and we went for a wander around the old town, we got on the tram for a couple of stops and got off near Metro Swietokrzyska.  We wandered around in the low yellow sunlight for a while, before we decided it was too cold and it was time to head home again.

Ok, time for a new post…