So, those of you who have followed me from the very beginning will know that this blog all started with a tea everyday, and usually a little something was said about the teas. This hasn’t really been happening in a while, but I just want you to know that I have not abandoned tea, far from it in fact. This is a little round up, a tea-cap if you will, of all the teas currently doing the rounds in my cup. Some have been with me a long time, some are much newer, some are good, some less so. But here you go!
The Golden Chariot tea above is not very good quality tea at all, hence it costing so little, but I bought it because I really love the packaging!
I bought this Mate in Berlin for 1Euro. It is a roasted variety and is quite pleasant, being much smoother and less bitter on the palate than a normal Mate, but it lacks the magic punch and stimulation of the unroasted variety.
This tea, which is not strictly ‘mine’, is delicate and sweet, with the smoothness of the Sencha balanced well with flower blossoms.
Definitely just for night-time!
I’ve not tried this yet, and it is again not strictly mine, but I will let you know when / if I get my hands on it!
This is probably my most coveted tea, from Estonia I have been carrying this around since February. It is excellent, you can steep the leaves several times and it is delicate yet nourishing. If you happen to leave it a little long the Ginseng, in which the Oolong has been rolled, will start to create an odd, but not unpleasant, sweetness.
I love Mate, ever since I found it tucked away in a little farm shop in the middle of nowhere in England when i was about 16. This one is good, actually quite delicate in flavour, but it definitely does the job!
Last, but by no means least, is my Yunnan Green Oolong. I brought this with me when I started my trip and it has been perfect every time. I am running extremely low on it now so will only drink it occasionally. It is perfect for lifting the spirits and refreshing the soul. This tea is a life saver!
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 118, Apple Ginger, Cologne
Tea 119, Lavender & Camomile, Cologne
Day 117, Sunday. Actually managed a trip to The Netherlands! The day was spent with lazing about and walking the dog. We cooked a very good coconut curry, with courgette and peppers and black Soya Bean noodles. Sehr Gut! Then in the late afternoon we headed to a town in The Netherlands (which isn’t actually so far from Cologne) called Nijmegen. The purpose of our trip? To go and see a band that Regina really enjoys and had bought tickets for, called Dry The River. The gig was good, the town very very small, but there was a good atmosphere and we got some good fries with satay sauce for our pre-gig snack. Then at the gig I went for an extremely hardcore drink choice of an Ice-Tea with a nice slice of lemon and a stirring stick! The gig was good fun. The band played well. Then we headed back to Cologne.
Day 118, Monday. A bit of a disastrous day in terms of photos. I walked all the way to the Dom, Cologne’s Cathedral, took my camera out of my bag, switched it on to find the lovely message of ‘No Card’…. BRILLIANT! So absolutely no photos were taken on this day, including on the Agfa because I’d chosen to leave that at the flat instead of carrying it about. Anyway, I obviously walked to the Dom, enjoying the sunshine, then around and to the Rhein. I sat there for a while, mostly to eat a packet of onion rings (mmm a nice nutritious lunch!), and just to sit and contemplate stuff, as you do.
Dinner was mashed potato (white and Sweet varieties), onion gravy and these crazy ‘lupin fillets’. They are made from the seeds/peas of the Lupin plant. They tasted kind of cakey, but worked well with our home made onion gravy.
That evening me and Regina met up with a couple of her friends and we wandered around the town in the evening as the sun was going down, with a bottle of beer in hand and some chat. It was a fun evening.
Day 119, Tuesday, also the official end of WW2, or VE day. A bit more success in terms of carrying my camera with me at least! I visited Melaten, a large, neat and well kept cemetery. I wandered around it for a while, there was a funeral happening in one part. So this made me decide not to be around snapping photos for too long so I left and went back to the area we walked around the night before. We had seen a bike shop there that sells second hand bikes too. I checked a couple out and will head back tomorrow for a test ride of one they were in the middle of fixing up… we’ll see…
I came home for some lunch then headed back into town, though avoiding the demonstration that was meant to be happening at a nearby mosque… (I had been told that there might be some violence, especially from the right wingers) I just explored the quieter areas a little bit using Regina’s bike. It was good to use one again (though the seat is too low for me and so it wasn’t the most comfortable experience!)
The evening has seen me sit on the sofa and drink tea whilst Regina carries on unpacking boxes and sorting out her bookshelves! I also sneakily fed the dog (Lumpi) some peanut butter…
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…
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!
We were late leaving the flat today, as Marta decided to have a bit of a spring clean. When we did leave it was time for a late lunch, so we headed out, into the freezing cold, and SNOWING (!) air, we jumped on the metro to central and headed for Kebab King. I had a huge craving for Falafel! So we went to the large branch of Kebab King on Jerozolimpskie and basically stuffed our faces, I had Falafel, Chips and then we both shared some Baklava for dessert! (One Pistachio and one Coconut sweet treats)
We got totally stuffed and then headed back outside. Whilst we had been inside eating the sun had been out, shining through the window, but, as sod’s law so often dictates, as soon as we left the rain and hail began beating down on us. We ran around the corner, cut through Empik and then waited for a bus from Foksal. We took the bus to the stop nearest to Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, the centre for contemporary art in Warsaw. We walked briskly here, the snowy hail was pouring down on us.
The main show that is on there at the minute is a semi-retrospective / archival project about the AKADEMIA RUCHU. entitled AKADEMIA RUCHU. CITY. The FIELD of ACTION. This charts the history of one of Poland’s most prolific and active arts collectives. They began life in the mid 70’s and have created numerous performative installations in public spaces ever since. The show charts pretty much every project they have ever conducted, through photography, film and text. It was really great to discover this group, who have made, and strive to make important, thought-provoking and enlightening work for their whole existence. This section of work on show at the centre took us quite a long while to tour around, so if you plan to go, definitely give yourselves time. The show ends in a small basement space where some more of their video documentation is shown and they are running a little tea stand, with free tea or coffee and a lucky dice roll to try and win a glass of wine (sadly me, nor Marta managed to roll the correct amounts to get any wine)… We did have a cup of tea and coffee though and sat and watched some more of the videos, and spoke to the guy serving the tea, who is a member of the Akademia Ruchu. There are apparently only 5 of them left now, there were 22 originally. It seemed a little odd to discover that, as I had walked around the show thinking that Akademia Ruchu was more organic than that and that maybe they had a membership that was constantly evolving across the years. It seems a shame that one day it will cease to exist…
The other parts of the building house two more exhibitions, one part is showing POSTDOCUMENT (they seem to enjoy capital letters here…) This is a show of photographs charting the Polish Transformation following the fall of the Soviet Empire from 1989. There are some really great photographs in this show, and some really interesting works and perspectives. Really worth seeing. We could have spent much longer in the show, walking around seeing everything in more detail, but we had spent so long in the first part that we were running out of time. The next part isn’t so interesting, a collection of Cognitive artworks from the CCA collection. There are some works from Yoko Ono and a work by Magdalena Abakanowicz.
After the shows we were both ready for home, so we walked in the cold air back to the Metro, Politechnika this time, via a shop to buy some juice. Then we hopped on the train home. Back home and we just chilled out basically, drinking some more tea via Marta’s wonderful new teapot and then headed to bed.
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…