This post is really image heavy, so they are just down here as thumbnails, but you can click them for the full size images. So please feel free and enjoy this little collection of images taken in Berlin, Cologne and Warsaw using either the Agfa Agnar Silette LK, or the LOMO Smena 8M, which are both pictured above! Have fun!
Riot Squads, Police Vans, Russian and Polish football fans. The air before match between Russia and Poland was full of anticipation of some rather major violence and aggravation. Before the match the Russians had planned to march to the Narodowa Stadium in celebration of the Russian national day, this march was halted, though there were still a number of people and there was some violence, as you would probably expect whenever anyones passions and anticipation gets stoked up. There were a few crowds, people throwing stuff occasionally and a lot of (harmless) ‘explosions’ (or just loud bangs really). The police did well and controlled the situation and during all of the time we spent in the city centre that night we never really felt in danger or under threat. The situation was dealt with extremely well in my opinion, and the city should be proud of how it handled itself (largely).
The result? A rather democratic 1-1.
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.
So, I know that the Brits are famous for talking about the weather, but please forgive me this once.. Three seasons in as many days!??!?! Today was grey, drizzly and dull. The sunshine of yesterday was long forgotten and positively autumnal weather has taken over! The day before yesterday was winter, yesterday was summer, and today autumn, when is spring going to arrive!?!?!??!
Ehem….moving on… Because of today’s greyness I didn’t really have much incentive to leave the apartment, so I stayed in and did some work for a few hours and then at around 2:30 I left, I ate lunch in the flat in an attempt to reduce my costs and then caught the tram into town. I got of a stop or two before Centralny today and walked East, past various forms of architecture, new, old, decaying and decayed and found my way to Marszalkowska, the main traffic street in this part of the city. I just sort of wandered for a while, the drizzle hitting my face despite the umbrella. Eventually I found my way to Raster, one of the more independent and contemporary galleries in town. It is hidden a little way along Wspolna Street, number 63. They are currently showing a piece by Michał Budny called Zywica. He had spent some time installing the piece, playing with different compositions and designs of the space and has landed with a superbly minimal and interesting work. Sheets of polythene hang silently from the walls, a plastic covered square piece sits above the lintel like a clock, the noisy door opening and closing with a bang and screech. It was a work I couldn’t quite get hold of to begin with, I think because I have seen so many noisy and chaotic pieces lately, but I spent some time in the work and it began to evolve, and the atmosphere developed over time, people entering and leaving the space, the receptionists light keyboard tapping, the temperature.
After some time in the space I left and went back into the grey, drizzly day. The space seemed to reflect the grey, muffled silences that the drizzle creates in the city. I walked for a while back north east, towards the palm tree and the old town. After more little derives along streets and window shopping I headed to Zacheta, the contemporary art gallery for another attempt at getting in for the free thursdays (last week the gallery was shut). This week I did manage to get in, but only to see the new exhibition ‘7 Rooms’, by Rafał Milach. This is photography and stories of Russians born during the USSR period and their opinions and experiences comparing then to now. The show is fairly documentary, and does exactly what it says on the tin. The photographs are varied and some do have a great deal of beauty in them. The rest of the gallery would seem to still be shut. I presume they have a permanent collection, but there is a cordon up across the staircase and beady-eyed guards making sure no one makes it up. There is basically no information to say what exactly is going on though, so I can’t say when or even if the permanent collection will be back on show…
That done I decided I needed a sit down, I thought there might have been a cafe in the gallery but alas there is not. So I headed for the old town, walked past a cafe that looked OK but carried on in the hopes of a cozier looking place, but this never happened, so I came around in a loop and went back to the first place I had spotted. I took a seat and ordered a hot ginger, lemon and honey drink and sat and wrote on the back of a press release, trying to figure out the next step of my journey. A little while later, at around 6:45 I met up with Marta and we wandered to yet another part of Warsaw that I had still not discovered. This is the old Jewish district. There is one street that still has some of the old buildings that date back to before the war, and are still potted with bullet holes and some still have their old shop signs. The street, which is now ghostly and silent was once the bustling heart of the district and is now in ruins. The buildings had been left as some sort of document of the past, and also because of anyones reluctance to renovate, it seem that now there is some kind of work going on, one side of the street is blocked off by steel fencing and there is a crane and building materials dotted about. This place is also where they apparantly filmed The Pianist, the film about a Jewish man who managed to evade capture by hiding out in the Warsaw Ghetto. We went into a little cafe that sits on the end of one of the buildings, somehow managing to survive in the crumbling tenement block. Called Cafe Prozna (on Prozna street), this is a nice little place with wooden tables and chairs, though very modern in style. We ate some food, Marta had a sorrel soup whilst I had a tasty quiche with salad. I enjoyed the food though Marta wasn’t very impressed with her soup.
We then went for a walk in the dark, but multicoloured city lights, ending up in the original Wedel chocolate cafe. The walls are decorated with paintings and old photos, the building itself is capped with a big illuminated Wedel sign, so it is pretty hard to miss. I decided that it was dark enough and cold enough to justify having a hot chocolate with rum, whilst Marta had the traditional chocolate. She has lived in Warsaw for basically two years and this was her first time here!!! CRAZY! It is a nice little place, and the chocolate is really great. There was a very good helping of rum in mine and it did the perfect job, chocolate high with a rum filled edge… We sat there for a while chatting and talking about what Marta will do now she has resigned from her job and then we decided to walk around the city some more.
The drizzle had abated a little and we walked back towards Nowy Swiat. Then further East to outside of the Chopin Museum (today was his birthday and there are various things happening, many that seem to involve carrying around Polish flags…) The building is all lit up at night, like most of the famous and big buildings in the city. From there we walked across a footbridge and down a staircase and then down onto Dobra Street where we walked South towards the railway and tram bridge (Poniatowski Bridge), then along the side of this bridge, up the staircase and back into the city centre. We caught a tram home and got in around 11pm.
Tea 44: Dark Hot Chocolate, Wedel Cafe, Warsaw.
Today was a huge day of walking, I’ve no idea of how far I walked, but it was FAR! I left the flat, which is in the south of the city and wanted to head to this graveyard I had read about, and Evangelical place, in the North West of the city. This walk took me about an hour or so I think. Walking along the wide Woloska Street. Glass fronted buildings mixed in with unfinished constructions, mechanics, petrol stations. Trams buzzing up and down and cars hurtling past, the gentle rain fall melting the piles of snow into huge puddles, forcing you to walk in a zigzag up the street. I eventually reached a little park ‘Pole Mokotowskie‘, wandered around the icy patches and the puddles, a few people were walking their dogs, some taking their lives in their hands cycling over the ice. I walked through and found myself by a huge main road. Cars rushing past and the spray from the rain and melting snow going everywhere. I crossed the road and went through a little area of houses and woodland, a bit like some bits of Brighton in some way. The area is called Filtry and seems quite pretty and a bit artsy in places. finding my way through the small streets I got back onto another main road, Towarowa, this was a long long road, with loads of traffic and more mixed up buildings of various ages and uses. The low clouds obscuring the tops of various sky scrapers that dominate the sky line, the hazy rain fall softening the traffic noise and making everything seem grey and dark.
Eventually I made it to the graveyard. Although the first few gates I tried were locked, I almost gave up, thinking I had wasted my time walking all that way, but then I found the proper main entrance. The graves and tombs in this place are really crazy, so many of them squeezed into such a small place, but so many of them being huge structures. The amount of money and design that must have been poured into these things is totally unimaginable, it made me think that maybe whoever got buried there must of just left their fortune to their own grave! One tomb, which was just for one person, not even a family tomb like many, could have easily house a family of four! There is a great mixture though, some being very dour and sad with skulls and crossbones or weeping angels, others more unique and celebratory, a stone carved loosely into the image of a man and woman kissing, a great blue wave and a simple dry stone cave. I wandered for another 45 minutes or so; weaving in and out of the graves, gawking at the sheer expenditure in the place, something I find pretty incomprehensible: except the case for the potential of it all being the dead party’s last laugh.
Walking back East towards the town centre, along Zyntia and Nowolipie, then South onto Al. Jana Pawła II, I found a largish food market called Hala Mirowska. Fruit, veg, chicken, sausage, cake, all you could ever really want I suppose, if you looked hard enough. There were some great characters in there, dour faced women hunched over cauliflowers, merry butchers whistling and having a little dance whilst wielding their hatchet over chunks of meat.
Back onto Al. Jana Pawła II and I came across a small gallery called Galleria XX1. It was nice to be a little independent art space again, it feels like a while since I have seen something fresh and new. The show has various red and black constructions floating about in the space, one wall is covered by a huge black and white print of an old fighter plane wing, with more of the strange objects superimposed onto the image. There is another small space in the back of the gallery, which had an object installation, tall, human-scale grey structures. Looking something like a small, metallic henge. I couldn’t really figure out what they were made of, but metal and construction foam seemed to be involved. Back out onto the street again I decided I wanted to warm up a bit with a drink. So I headed to the Wedel cafe in the dreaded shopping centre. One more thing to add to the good reasons for their existence, the other being free use of the toilets…
I ordered the dark hot chocolate, Gorzka (meaning exactly that). The chocolate was rich and bitter, really great. You have to drink it using the little spoon provided unless you want to get you face covered in rapidly solidifying chocolate… It was pretty good, not too cheap, but worth it! Warmed up and a small chocolate high beginning in my cheeks I wandered around a little more. Then I walked back to Mokotowska, the area Marta works and met her after she had finished work.
We went for some food in a ‘Milk bar’, the place most Polish will go to eat, traditionally frequented by the poor or homeless these places are dotted throughout the city and are going through something of a renaissance. Called Bambino Bar, on Krucza Street, the food is good value, satisfying and traditional. We ordered from a little man behind a screen who handed us our receipt which we then handed to a woman through a kitchen hatch, who takes it and a little while later passes our food to us through the same hatch. We sat with our food and ate it up. I had barley ‘grits’, what the British would call ‘Pearls’ (to make it sound more appetizing and to charge more for it probably), a piece of broccoli (basically half of one ‘bulb[?]’), and some Pierogi Ruski (the Russian variety stuffed with cottage cheese and potato). These pierogi were MUCH better than the ones we had from the little touristy place in the old town. I would recommend going to a Milk Bar over that place any day.
We left the bar and then got on a old tram from the 60’s back home. But first via the post office, Marta had finally tracked down her parcel, which turns out to be a Holga Camera, she is very excited about getting it up and running, but first she needs to get batteries for the flash to work! We were going to go back into town to see the city in the darkness, but I’ve totally tired myself out!