The past few days have been a bit of a mixture really. My 120th day, May 9th, involved me returning to a bike shop I had visited the day before. There had been a bike there that I had liked the look of, but it wasn’t ready to be ridden, so I returned on this day to give it a spin. Needless to say it seemed like a good ride. I gave it a going over and then left the shop, still strongly considering it. Trying to figure out what I would need as well as the bike and trying to see if I could get a deal. The way back I decided to pay another visit to the Melaten graveyard. I hadn’t given it SO much attention the day before. There had been a funeral going on, and even though the place is absolutely huge and they probably weren’t aware of my presence, I still felt a little weird about being tourist in such a situation. This time I stumbled upon some interesting graves, including one of a really well detailed and ‘life-size’ (?) grim-reaper. There are some other really amazingly crafted gravestones and sculptural pieces here, so if you are interested in these things I would say it is well worth the visit. There are so many trees that it would probably be ok in any weather except maybe the heaviest rainfall.
Day 121, I decided to head back to the Dom (cathedral) today, this time with my camera’s memory card safely installed! I went via the city centre where I was researching tents and compasses for consideration in my potential bike adventure. The day started out a little cloudy with the odd bit of rain, but it brightened up later in the day. I took Regina’s bike with me too, to try and figure out whether my yearning for bike travel was founded in anything. It seems it is…
The Dom looked quite good against the grey sky, it’s moody blackened facade contrasting quite nicely with the pale grey. I wonder if they will ever try to clean it? I hope not.
After that I took the bike down to the river bank and followed the Rhein for a little while. There I discovered a chocolate museum. Despite the temptation to pay the entrance, I decided to just visit the shop instead. The museum looks like it’s basically run by Lindt, so I’m pretty sure they couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know… The shop was pretty good though, and I might pay it another visit before I leave Cologne. For some weird reason, opposite the museum, on the river, is a huge representation of Noah’s Ark! Proclaiming to be Europe’s first Bible story theme park, the place looks mental, a huge Orangutan hangs out of the front, whilst Noah and his son are carved out of wood at the entrance. An impressively bizarre thing.
A little further along the river I tried to use my gallery map to find a photography museum, but failed, so I headed back towards home, I stopped off at a little bakery and bought a ‘Musli‘. Basically a bit like granola, a huge circle of oats, seeds and dried fruits dipped in dark chocolate. It was great! I munched it down pretty eagerly and headed back to the flat.
That evening I at long last tried the 12 year old mystery Pu Erh that I had been given such a long time ago in Tallinn, Estonia. The taste was really great, smooth, almost sweet and, for a Pu Erh, surprisingly delicate. From my experience of these teas so far I think they older they get the smoother and more refreshing they become.
The 11th, and I have to say one thing only, after all the umming and ahhing, the procrastination and trepidation, I finally made the decision to buy the bike…!!!
The 12th. Tomorrow will be Regina’s birthday. So today was spent preparing stuff for the next days barbeque and park party. We did some shopping, some cooking, Regina went and met a close friend in the evening and to see a gig and I did some work at the apartment and then met another of her friends, Boris, who had come from Berlin to see Regina for her birthday. When he arrived that evening we both went into town and met up with Regina after the gig. We planned to go into a bar called KGB bar, though this is a new name, it was formerly HoteLux. The place was completely full of people though, we could barely put a foot through the door. So we went for another place, the first choice was one that appears to have shut down inbetween Regina being away and coming back, so we ended up in a bar opposite. This was totally busy too, but a good atmosphere. I was wondering where all these people had come from, the city seems much busier and fuller at night time! After a drink there we headed to another place, a quieter one, where we could get a seat and have some good chat. On the way home we stopped at a place for Falafel, and I must say that this one totally beats any of the Falafel I had in Berlin!
The 13th arrived and Regina’s birthday! We woke up fairly early and prepared some more food for the barbeque. I was on vegetable parcels. Courgette, tomato, peppers and mushroom in little foil packages with oil, cumin, and some mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Regina made some really amazing looking, smelling and tasting pizzas. We then headed to a nearby park at around 2:30 and set up the stuff and people started to arrive from around 3. The weather was really really amazing, the perfect day for the barbeque, as well as for a birthday. We sat and chatted, cooked and drank until around 10pm. The sky was clear the whole time and it stayed warm pretty late, though eventually the last few of us that remained got a bit chilly.
Day 125, Monday. Regina had to wake up early again! She normally has mondays off from work, but today was a leaving do for a colleague, so she had woken up early to cook yet more food (Coconut pancakes) and headed out. She got back around 12:30 and we all (Regina, Boris and I) all headed out for a little jaunt into the countryside. We went to a place called Laacher See, a large lake near to the city of Koblenz. The weather was still perfect. When we arrived we walked a little way to a restaurant called Bockhaus and had a little lunch. I had a ‘German speciality’ called Toast Hawaii. Basically ham and pineapple on toast and totally coated in cheese. It was actually quite tasty and reminds me of when my mum puts a slice of pineapple on top of Gammon steaks (but with added cheese). After that we walked for a while trying to find the edge of the lake, which we did when we eventually found the end of the huge caravan park that seems to have a bit of a monopoly over this part of the lake’s shoreline. After that we headed back to Cologne, the sat-nav tooks us on a good route, that involved taking a ferry across the Rhein! As well as some lovely views of the hills, which are covered in vineyards, some of which seem so steep I don’t think harvesting can be the easiest job in the world, you’d probably need to pay me danger money! In Cologne we dropped Boris off at the train station, me off by Regina’s bike (which she had left in the city centre on saturday night), she drove home and I cycled her bike back. That evening she did yet MORE baking, raspberry tray bake cake thing. It looked and smelt amazing! But this was for her workmates to celebrate her birthday once again!
Tea 104, the ‘free sample’ tea from the department store mentioned in last post, ‘Silvery Pearl Mountain’.
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.