So, Marta had never had Macarons/Macaroons before, and we came across this little stall in a shopping centre that was selling them, so I decided to get some as a little treat. Previously she thought they were some sort of wafer with a flavoured centre, but despite my attempts to explain them I couldn’t quite describe them properly. I guess you really do just need to taste them to find out. These ones from the company Le Roy & Louis (maybe an attempt at ‘poshing up’ the name Leroy?!?!) were pretty good, nice amount of crunch on the outside with a good squidgy centre. The Pistachio and the Chocolate were the best, the other two (Raspberry and Blackcurrant) were also good, but I think the Pistachio and Chocolate are a bit more classic. We munched them down with gusto when we got home, alongside a nice cup of Sencha Sakura tea.
That night there was the most spectacular thunderstorm, I have literally never seen or heard anything like it before. The amount of lightning strikes was just amazing, the whole sky was lighting up like a strobe in a smokey nightclub. It was just amazing. We went to the top floor of the apartment block, 10 stories up and watched the three storm formations circle around us. Despite the number (literally hundreds) of strikes it is surprisingly hard to take a photograph of the lightning. It took me the best part of 700 photos to get just three shots of the lightning, and only one of those was really something special. They are all below.
So at the weekend we decided to escape the city a little, and ventured south on the bus to the Park Kultury, a bit of forest and fields and holiday ‘huts’. The sun was shining hard as it has been for the last week or two, but the bus was nicely air-conditioned (apparently if the drivers don’t have it switched on they are getting fined). We arrived at it was as though the whole of Warsaw had descended on the place. There were men, women and children everywhere, all fairly scantily clad burning nicely in the midday sun.
We arrived and took a little walk through the park, then to the forest area where there were far less people. However it soon became apparent why people might not be populating the more covered areas, MOSQUITOS! The Polish ones are MASSIVE!!! And they are incessant! You’d think living in Scotland for the past 6 years would of hardened me against midges and all thing Vampiric, but these guys are a whole different class! And, what was worse, the so-called ‘repellant’ we had bought with us (thinking ourselves to be very clever) actually seemed to be ATTRACTING the bloomin’ things! They buzzed around my head like some sort of tiny version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre! We escaped as quickly as we could, Mosquitos in hot pursuit. We finally made it out the other side and fended off the last few brave enough to head out into the heat of the daylight.
Walking trying hard to resist the urge to scratch the various parts of our bodies, we were treated to some lovely views of long strips of land, all planted up with different crops, from Cabbages and Wheat to a lovely field of Potatoes. We managed to ‘liberate’ a few from the edges of the field to take home and cook, just to see what they were like. Then we headed back to the main part of the park, where the number of bodies to mosquitos lowered our chances of being bitten. We sat in the sunshine for a while, watching people of all shapes and sizes stroll around the park, playing volleyball, chess or cards and drinking over priced beer. We stayed until the temperature lowered enough to bring the Mosquitos back out, and then we headed back to the bus and homewards.
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!
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!
My first Tea post in a long time, and I’m sure some of you may find Bubble Tea Sacrilegious! But on such hot sweaty days like these it is certainly refreshing, and there is something very fun in the struggle to get each and every last bit out of the cup! For those of you not too offended by the Bubbleyness, then mine was the one on the right, and it was a Matcha Milk Tea with Apple and Pineapple bits in the bottom! Does the fact that it’s Matcha make up for any purist annoyance out there??
We also visited Zacheta, the Art Gallery, and being as it was a Thursday entry was free. On show at the minute is a collection of works and histories of the Warsaw art School, with pieces by professors and students alike. There are some great pieces, the highlight being, in my opinion, the posters from the mid 30’s. There is a great amount of Poland’s history wrapped up in this exhibition, and I would recommend it to everyone!
That was all followed up by a wander around town, quite a lot considering the heat. We found ourselves near Plac Trzech Krzyzy, or ‘Three Crosses’. There was a fountain of water spraying out onto the street from an orange pipe. We definitely didn’t need any encouragement, and dove right in to cool off. Apparently they do this on purpose on days like these to help people cool down, in the winter they set up small fire places by the Bus and Tram stops. I’m a bit worried about the waste of water, but I guess there is no denying that it is quite a good, and kind, idea.
After a day spent indoors avoiding the extreme 35’C heat we headed out in the evening, when the sun was getting low and the temperature a bit more reasonable. Most days all you have to do is walk out of the door and you are soaking in sweat, sorry to be so graphic! This evening, the same one as the Tram evening in the previous post, we headed vaguely North West out of the flat, past the Tram depot and some lovely allotment gardens, then ended up alongside the train track and eventually stumbled upon what must have been allotments in the past. We discovered beautiful pink Sweet Pea flowers growing wild as well as a few old cherry trees that were offering up some lovely ripe fruits, which we gobbled with smiles on our faces. They were juicy and sweet, with just the right amount of sourness in them. We walked a little more, then the Mosquitoes woke up and seemed hungry, so we did an about turn and headed home.
The local super(cheap)market has started selling seriously strong Cheddar cheese! Amazing! After months of strange pastey cheeses and rather poor imitations of brie and the like I’ve gotten my hands on some lovely proper cheese! Don’t get me wrong, Cheddar has never been my favorite cheese in the world, but at least it has some character and flavour, a very welcome addition to the refrigerator! At last some decent cheese on toast is on the horizon! If only I could get my hands on some Lea & Perrins!
After the cheesey delights we headed out for an evening amble, which I will break up into a couple of posts, as there are lots of pictures. First on the agenda has to be the Tram Depot, where many of the trams have their night time naps. Looking at the second image below you can see just how seriously Warsaw takes the sleep of their Trams, REM level or above only!
Signs of an old Tram line, caught up in an avenue of trees.
Rapid Eye Movement essential!
Another roasting hot day was met with gusto as we headed out into the city centre. We had arranged to meet up with two couchsurfers who were visiting Warsaw for a few days and were looking for good, vegan food. I recommended the brilliant Lovin’ Hut on Jana Pawla II, and they kindly invited us to join then for a spot of lunch. The food has never disappointed me there, and it still hasn’t, though I did have to have a second choice because the first was sold out (quick tip, get there early if you want to a chance to sample something from the whole menu). This time I had ‘Teriyaki Island”, and it was very very good as usual, the soy dressing is really well done, and their little rice piles perfect for the size of dish. I would recommend this place to absolutely anyone, no matter what your diet or eating preference, even the strictest carnivore can’t fail to be impressed or satisfied here!
After lunch we went our separate ways and Marta and I headed to the Jewish Graveyard, to see it in the sunlight, and hopefully to cool down. The place was really beautiful in the sunshine and the trees made the light dappled and beautiful, as well as making the temperature bearable. The biggest problem however was the abundance of hungry mosquitos, baying for our blood. But we just about survived, though the next day my legs looked like someone had filled them with pink ping pong balls! (toothpaste and lemon seem to be doing the trick at keeping the itching down a bit though)
We jumped on a tram, intending to head straight home, but stopped off in the city centre and ended up inside the old children’s hospital on Jerozolimskie, ‘Szpital Omega’. This is slowly being turned into artist’s studios and there is access to the building thanks to a tiny boutique that has opened up on the 3rd floor. The whole building is pretty accessible if you don’t mind the piles of rubble lying around and we had a good old snoop throughout the place, which has got some creepy stuff still kicking about. The picture above is of the old oxygen cabinet, and there are some more photos below, which gives you a bit of an idea of how cool it is to explore this place, before it all gets neatened up.
Tired and sleepy we headed back home to enjoy the cool flat and some nice cups of tea. I have, at long last, got myself a bag of normal green Mate, which is very very welcome at all times of the day and a good change from the roasted one that I have been drinking lately. I do wish I had brought my Bombilla from home though, the ones in Warsaw are all rather expensive. That’s exoticism in Poland for you!
A really amazing tombstone, possibly my favorite!
The sun is out constantly, the air is hot and humid. Sometimes I struggle to believe I’m still in Northern Europe, this weather is a far cry from what I was so used to in Scotland. Thunderstorms roll in most nights, which aren’t usually that unwelcome, as they clear and refresh the muggy air. 32-34’C average the last few days, BRILLIANT!
Park Lazienki, the Royal Park is currently hosting a little bit of China along one of it’s avenues. Two long rows of beautiful red Chinese lanterns line the path way and cross a little bridge where some (rather stylized) Chinese characters sit. The lanterns are really beautiful, with so many different designs it’s impossible to count. During June they were lit up between 9 and 11 every night, but now we are in July they are just being lit up on a Friday Saturday and Sunday night, but it is worth a visit, and to wander around the whole park at night is quite beautiful experience. There are pretty much no other lights in the park apart from the lanterns, so it is very very dark if you are still there by 11. It does make for a really nice evening out though. The second to last image is probably the best for demonstrating how beautiful some of these lanterns are.