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.
Today was another major work day, the residency I am running in the summer, Hello Collective Summer Studio, went open to applications today, so 6 hours was spent on Skype getting all the posts sorted out and started to be advertised. Anyone interested? Click here.
By the early evening I was finished and so Marta and I went out for a couple of hours into the city centre. We made it to the tram stop fine, but a couple of stops later the rain began to fall. Luckily enough I had managed to remember the umbrella so by the time we got off, at Nowolipki, with the rain still falling we had a little shelter as we seeked out the tea house we were heading for. Herbaciarnia is situated in the arches below the church on Nowolipki street. It is only open at the weekends and only from 6:30pm – 11pm. The space is cozy and dark. Red bricks with Toulouse-Lautrec and Mucha prints dotted over the place, old furniture and TVs from the 50’s and 60’s. We found a little recess with a sofa and a low table and looked through the teas. They have lots of options, many of them mixes of floral and fruity stuff, and also a list of core ingredients for you to create your own bespoke tea experience. We ordered a couple of teas, initially Wisniowy Sad and Miraze Robinsona, all the teas are named after famous books. The first was with cherries and raisins and rum flavouring, the second was with mango, orange, sunflower petals and strawberry. The guy took our order, although seemed to laugh at our indecision over cake and pie… We went back to our sofa and a little while later the guy came over and suggested we would like to try a different tea, to swap the Wisniowy Sad for a tea called something like ‘Herbata u Kapelusznika’, basically Mad Hatter’s Tea. This had Hibiscus, cherry, raisins, rum, apple in it at least. It was good and the hibiscus gave it a lovely sweetness, I’ve not had hibiscus tea to aaaaages so it was nice to have it again. We stayed in there for hours, the tea pots were HUGE and we must have got through about 2 liters of tea. They were reasonably priced too, and if you don’t want a whole pot you can order it by the cup instead.
Leaving the cafe after our long stay the church must have been holding mass or something, as we had arrived we could hear singing, and as we left everyone else was leaving too. We walked in the rain for a while, taking shelter under the buildings that line Jana Pawla II street. Then we decided we were a little hungry so we went into a little turkish kebab place with interesting decor (see panoramic photo). I had this tasty Courgette patty in a wrap with salad and spicy sauce, and Marta had a classic mixed meat wrap thing. They were tasty and very satisfying, especially with the rain pouring down outside and the car lights reflecting through the spray from the road.
We ate up, got on the tram and came back home.
Many apologies for a two day in one day blog… I feel genuinely guilty. Yesterday was another travel day, and so I didn’t get chance to take many photos or to document my tea, but needless to say it was another lovely Estonian Herbal tea, brewed to perfection by my wonderful Pärnu hosts. I took the bus from Pärnu to my current location, Riga, Latvia. The bus was luxury compared to the bus from Tartu to Pärnu, a good few inches of leg room beyond my knee caps, and a comfortable seat, and even some sporadic internet access. I arrived in Riga, met my new host and we went to her apartment to the East of Riga city centre. After a sit down and a little bit of relaxation we headed into Riga, myself, my host Kristine, and her flatmate Linda. We wandered around for a while, showing me a few of the sites, mostly around the old town and the Latvia Statue of Liberty / Liberty monument. We then stopped in a cafe for a coffee and a small but glorious slice of nutty, praline type cake. VERY good stuff! I had a coffee instead of a tea, mostly because I needed a caffeine boost, but also because their tea selection wasn’t up to much, doubt me if you will, but a cup of ‘Hot Love‘ tea certainly wasn’t my, well, cup of tea! We then headed back to the apartment, got some food and I went to bed.
So, day 33. Today I woke up around 9 and spent the morning Skype-ing family and doing internet stuff. By lunchtime I had finished catching up with modern life stuff and headed into the city centre. The weather was still cold, but not as bad as it has been, probably helped by being in a massively busy, bustling and somewhat polluted city. I wandered to central station then up towards the north-east of the city, just to wander around streets and get my bearings mostly but also in search of tea. Unfortunately this search was a little fruitless. I had had some suggestions but had forgotten their names and was hoping that they would jump out at me, but, today, they did not. Fingers crossed for tomorrow…
After a wander around this district, with it’s pretty little parks offering some peace from the traffic-filled streets, I went back towards the old town. More wandering around these cobbled, higgledy piggledy streets, souvenir shops and tourist trapping restaurants. Then I got a call from Linda, to meet her at central station. I headed there and met up with her and her boyfriend and we hopped on a train to a little town called Jelgava. There we met up with Kristine. The plan was to visit the Ice Sculpture Festival. This is an annual event, apparently run in tandem with a Sand Sculpture Festival in the summer months. Before we got there though we went for a tea and a bit of cake to warm up and give us a bit of energy. The weather in Jelgava was palpably colder than in Riga and it didn’t take long for us all to cool down much too much. We stopped in a little cafe / restaurant called Silva. I had a lovely cup of Green tea with fresh lemon and ginger, not an amazing tea but a great cold weather tea. I also had some kind of layered cake that tasted a little bit like a mild lemon meringue pie. Warmed up once more we headed for the festival ground. In the site are loads of ice sculptures that have been created by many different people from all over the world. There had been a judging contest and the winning one was this huge spire of ice with a figure reclining half way up the spire. It was very impressive, they all were. The time and effort stuff like that must take is unimaginable. It has to be a full time careers for some of these guys who have honed their skills so well. Seahorses, pocket watches, an amazing Chinese New Year Dragon, an Owl, a Dinosaur Skeleton, all things imaginable, and not. Wandering around we took in all we could with the cold biting heavily at our toes, a short but sweet firework display and then we decided to head back towards home. We stopped off in Silva once more to warm up and then made for the train station. We hopped on the train, got back into Riga, and the rest, as they say, is history, or the future…
P.S. You get extra pictures today to make up for the lack of yesterday’s posting…