Monday, 5 December 2011

Berlin's best Christmas markets

As we are coming up to our third Christmas in Berlin, we have had tens of cups of glühwein at different Christmas markets around Berlin and can with some expertise present our favourites:

Weihnachtsmarkt an Gendarmenmarkt – Perfect for tourists and parents! Entry costs one euro, but the market is surrounded by beautiful buildings and has the most magical, Christmassy atmosphere of all the markets. There's constant musical numbers being performed on the little stage, and the food and drink stands are all tempting. You can also purchase jewellery, crystal vases and fancy wines.

Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt – A great location in Prenzlauer Berg, near the U2 line. The market is in a courtyard sheltered from the wind and to warm up you can pop into the Rewe supermarket or you can sneak in to use the toilets in the cinema. The theme at the Lucia market is Nordic and you can buy Finnish, Swedish or even Austrian glühweins rather than the German kind that I don't like so much. Besides food items, glühwein and absinth you can buy Finnish honey, Swedish candy, hippie jewellery or Christmas lights.

Adventsmarkt auf der Domäne Dahlem  – A bit outside central Berlin, but easily reached with the U3 train, this cute little market is less commercial and mass produced than most. Along with the necessary glühwein and roasted chestnuts stands, you can also buy horse meat salami or deer sausages, home-made spirits flavoured with blackberry or herbs, mustard seasoned with beer or whiskey and fresh organic vegetables. The Herrenhaus, the oldest residential building in Berlin, from 1560 and in the former stables you find little exhibitions like an old-fashioned shop that now sells hand-made hard candy or cute little pottery and knit shops.

Berlin with dad - Tadjiki tea and Tintin in 3D

My dad was in Berlin for a visit over the weekend. He and his wife have been to Berlin only once before, precisely two years ago. For the life of me I can't understand why they keep coming to Berlin when it's cold and dark here! Despite some light rain and a few gusts of Siberian wind, we had a wonderful weekend and manage to do things that were new to A and me, as well.

On Saturday afternoon, after a cosy cup of tea and coffee in our kitchen, we took of to Dahlem to visit the Christmas market at Domäne Dahlem. It was rainy and cold, so the market wasn't crowded and we didn't have to queue for marzipans, glühwein, roasted chestnuts or mustard. For a meat-eater there were interesting things on offer, like horse and deer meat, or organic boar sausages. The museum and the little atelier shops around the market were open, so we could get warmth and shelter when we needed it. All in all, it was my favourite Berlin Christmas market and we had a lovely time.

On Sunday we visited the Tadschikische Teestube – a place we wanted to see already on dad's last visit. The little tearoom is hidden in plain sight on the second floor of the Palais am Festungsgraben, next to the Deutsches Historisches Museum. Since it appears in many guide books it's well known and very popular, so a reservation is advisable. We managed to get a table with cushioned floor seating by being there exactly when the Teestube opened, which is at 3pm on the weekends. Most of the tables were reserved but we could sit down at one that was reserved for 5pm. Almost immidiately a queue started forming at the doors. The tea selection at the the Tajik tearoom is extensive and ranges from smoky Russian tea to iced Japanese cherry tea. The kitchen prepares a few Russian dishes like pelmeni and blinis, both sweet and savory. Dad and M were really impressed and we realised that we now have to bring all our guests to the Tadschikische Teestube for a pot of tea.

Through work I tried to get us tickets to see Rigoletto at the Komische Oper, but had no luck. Instead we went to see The Adventures of Tintin in 3D at Cinestar Original im Sony Centre. My dad hadn't seen any modern 3D film before, so even if we ended up at the dubbed-into-German film version, we all enjoyed the experience and the film a lot. And we all understood almost all the German!

It was a fun weekend and now I feel geared up for shopping for Christmas presents, for the office Christmas party on Thursday and for the last deadline of the year at work.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Glühwein season uncorked

Yesterday we had the first glühweins of the season at the Nordic Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in Prenzlauer Berg. When we met D and S at the Kulturbrauerei it was crowded and it was raining. After having waited for them for almost 30 minutes I was in rotten mood. And the longest queue of the whole market? At the Finnish glühwein stand where we wanted to get a cup of glögi. We marched over to the Swedish punsch stand and after just a few sips, the world was a better place again. And even better when I realised that we were standing next to Herr Nilsson's stall – our favourite Swedish candy shop!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The guilty shopper

After finishing my article on Berlin's new veggie restaurants and their ethics, I can't go into any shop without assessing the ethics of each product there. So, naturally, when I stepped in to the new 24colours shop on Alte Schönhauser Straße the first thing I wanted to know was where the clothes come from – knowing that the answer wasn't going to be nice, since the prices are so low. Sure enough, their cool clothes are made in China, but the sales girl assured me that no child labour is used. But what about employees rights and the chemicals used in the fabric dyes? Well, I shut my eyes tightly, pulled out seven items from the racks and bought them. Oh, the guilt. At least 24colours is a local, Berlin-based, design company. I don't know how I'll explain it to myself when I find myself there next time? Except by that I found myself a cotton sweater for €8.90 (on sale), skirts for €12.90 and €16.90, a casual cotton top for €15.90 and a sleeveless print top for €13.90...

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

New: Raw food in Berlin!

As the weather is getting colder (only +5C now), it's natural to think of nothing but eating. I got the opportunity to write an article about new vegetarian restaurants in Berlin, so the past week and a half my life has revolved around food. 2011 has been a great year for vegetarians and vegans in the city: NINE veggie restaurants have opened since February. When my mom was here, I dragged her along to Lucky Leek and Kopps, and since then I've been exploring raw food with A. There are two new raw food restaurants in Berlin: Gesund & sündig in Wilmersdorf and café style LebensfRoh in Kreuzberg.

Gesund & sündig
Germany's first raw food restaurant opened in June. The location and the opening hours reveal that most of the diners at Gesund und sündig come from the sports centre that the restaurant is connected to. Luckily it's along the Ringbahn and thus within reach even for a Friedrichshainer. A more central location is under consideration for the new year, we were told. Everything on the menu here is raw and vegan. As a starter we share a plate of delicious "Sweet and sour sushi" (€7.90): a mixture of sunflower seeds and sauerkraut replace the rice, and the centre is carrot, zucchini and pineapple sticks – because of the seaweed, it still clearly tastes like sushi. In Pizza Crudo del la Casa (€7.90) the base is made with dried seeds and has a slightly bitter, nutty flavour which the tomato sauce and roasted vegetables balance with their mild and sweet taste. The "ricotta" on top is made of cashews. Pasta is replaced with sliced courgette in the "lasagna" (€8.50), and the side salad is instantly a new favourite: rucola and pear with a garlic dressing. Everything is as bright and colourful on the palate as on the plate. I tried a super healthy green smoothie (€2.80) while A played it safe with a fresh apple juice (€3) – we pretended to be health nuts and skipped beer and wine. Gesund & sündig is definitively not just for hippies, but dinner there was delicious, interesting and filling. If only it was a little closer to home: I'm certain we'd visit again and bring tons of adventurous friends with us!

This homely café opened next to Görlizer Park in August. They're not very busy on the Tuesday morning when we've decided to have breakfast there. The café is filled with sunlight and the lonely voice of Kurt Cobain singing from the Unplugged album – I had the song "Jesus don't want me for a Sunbeam" stuck in my head all day afterwards. For breakfast the choice is between raw müsli (€4) and chestnut porridge (€3), but a plate of raw food crackers with assorted spreads, olives and veggies sounds like Berlin breakfast to me (small plate, €5). The porridge is nice: slightly sweet, sticky and a little grainy. For another euro it comes with fresh fruit or warm fruit puree. The Hertzhafter Teller is simple: two crackers piled with different spreads, a salad, olives and some grapes. They're out of many items, and so I'm asked if it's ok to use a milk-based spread, too, rather than vegan. The plate is nice, but not exactly as filling as a Berliner might expect after having paid €5. If I'm around the area, I might want to pop by again to try their raw courgette pasta or one of their daily dinner specials to really make up my mind about LebensfRoh.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A city in the cloud - or - Vegetarian Dinner Club visit

All of Berlin was covered in a beautiful cloud of fog today. I wanted to take photographs of everything I saw: the TV tower disappearing into whiteness, the windows of the Park Inn Hotel slowly fading into invisibility, the Volksbühne's outlines blending with the grey veil around it, the traffic lights glowing insistently, multiplied by reflections in the fog particles. It was a beautiful day, even if you couldn't see much more than a few buildings ahead.

Work was a hurried affair. Lately, I've been up reading all night and today I had turned off my alarm and slept until noon. And then I closed my eyes again and slept another hour. At work I noticed that I had double-booked myself by promising to sit in on a meeting at 2pm, as well as have a tandem lunch with K. Back in the office at 3.30, my colleague W reminds me that I made dinner plans with him only yesterday – for 5pm.

I've wanted to check out the Kurukshetra Vegetarian Dinner Club for over two years now: ever since I saw their flyer in Mauerpark. W and I lock our bikes outside an Indian shop that looks just like any other hippie store specialising in incenses and wooden pearl bracelets. A blond girl with markings painted between her eyebrows tells us that if we're here for dinner, it's through the backdoor. She opens it for us and points us in the right direction: take a left after the yoga hall. Luckily we get some help and we find the homely dining room decorated with a half of a straw hut and pillow strewn chill out corner.

The dinner club serves a vegetarian all-you-can-eat meal for €4.50 every work day between 5-8pm. Each day of the week has it's own menu that you find out there, or by signing up to the newsletter. As we take a seat, an older woman with long, gray hair comes to ask us if we want some of her own blend of magical herbal tea. We politely accept and I ask her if how long the Club has been around? She tells us that she's native American, a wold citizen who's travelled everywhere, teaching and uniting people in peace and love. I compliment her tea and ask her if there's licorice in it – there are six herbs in it, that's why it's magical, she replies. The conversation is interesting, but not very informative. We are brought a plate of pasta and tomato sauce each and dig in. The sauce has a great taste, but the pasta is watery and over cooked, so I leave most of it. We converse about Norwegian black metal bands and mass-murderers, as well as about work and ecstasy parties. Another plate appears in front of both, this time with a veggie burger and a stuffed bell pepper. The veggie burger is fantastic: it has great texture, great flavour and is completed by a slice of cheese, tomato and cucumber. I'm so stuffed that I can barely look at the bell pepper, but out of curiosity I have a bite anyway. Luckily I concentrated my efforts on the burger, because the pepper is really bland. We get a refill of the magical tea and dessert bowls with a generous cut of chocolate cake. Somehow, neither one of us has a problem with finishing the whole piece. Even if not every single component was to my liking, everything was all right – and when the dishes were good, they were fantastic. If we were only served the burgers, cake and tea I would have been happy to pay €4.50 for that alone! Surely this is one of the best dinner deals in Berlin.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Vegan restaurants with mom

After a week-long visit I walked my mom to the TXL bus stop on Alexanderplatz. Depending on how you see it, my mom is a really easy or a really difficult guest: she doesn't want to do much and has no demands. She's been to Berlin four times and prefers to stay local and take it easy. For me it's really trying, because it means that we sit around our flat a lot and all the little things that annoy a daughter about her mother stew. But all in all I was a well behaved adult for the whole week – I found that a glass of wine worked wonders on the nerves!

We did do something; a visit to TK Maxx in Charlottenburg (the Neukölln shop is nicer and less crowded), coffees with my friends who are learning Finnish, watched Christiane F. – Kinder vom Banhof Zoo, spent a Sunday afternoon at Mauerpark... And I managed to lure my mom and A with me to try two new vegan restaurants in Berlin: Lucky Leek in Prenzlauer Berg and Kopps in Mitte.

Lucky Leek
Lucky Leek offers sophisticated vegan food in a cosy, candle-lit, basement. We arrived early and the only other diners were a tourist couple, seated in a candle-lit corner. I realised that they, too, are Finnish and they try to stay quiet as not to get caught. That's how I know, because that's how Finnish people react to meeting other Finns abroad. The menu is short and sweet: four starters (€4.90-7.90) and four mains (€11.90-12.50), two dessert options (€6.50 each) and the daily specials. Tofu, seitan and soy are given the spotlight in only one or two dishes. In order to sample as many dishes as we could, we went for starters, mains and desserts. My Balinese spiced tofu, topped with a chive pancake and apricot chutney, was refined and hit all the right notes in terms of balance and texture. A's essence of shitake mushroom turned out to be a bitter broth with root vegetables and pearls of barley – the only disappointment of the evening. The mains were all wonderful: linguine with zucchini mini-schnitzels, pumpkin maultaschen with fried mushrooms and a creamy (vegan!) hollandaise and a roasted aubergine and bell pepper picatta served with thick chestnut noodles and a flavourful ragout of tomato and orange. Our plates were practically licked clean when our waiter came to clear up. Asking if the amazing nougat-chocolate tiramisu really was made in-house was clearly an insult: all the desserts are home-made. My mom said the tiramisu was the best dessert she ever had. I would not recommend anyone to skip dessert at Lucky Leek!

Yesterday we tried Kopps, a vegan restaurant and bar that opened in September. It's great that vegan restaurants don't settle for a homely or a hippie look: Kopps looks like a designer hotel bar with soothing dark wood tables, sleek blue walls and upholstery in sophisticated greens. The menu sounds generic, mid-range: tuna salad, schnitzel, goulasch, roulade, mashed potatoes, serviettenknödel and blaukraut. The difference is of course, that Kopps serves only vegan food – not even your milchkaffee will be made with cow's milk here – which means that the menu has a lot of soy in different forms. The service is prompt and comes with a smile from the healthy looking, tall, german guys, all clad in black. As our drinks arrive, we have already gotten a basket of bread and a bowl of an interesting, butter-like spread that tastes of eggs and fresh onion – but apparently made of chick peas and pasta. I went for the three-course evening menu of pumpkin soup, cordon bleu and a selection of desserts (€19.50). This time it was A who had the highlight of the meal: battered fresh field mushrooms with a dill-remoulade and lemon (€5.90) – the best battered mushrooms I ever had! I'll go back just for those, I think... And they set the tone for a rustic, hearty meal. The braised vegetables with polenta (€8.90) represented the vegetarian dish that you would find on the menu in many ordinary restaurants: not very exciting (except that the roasted polenta comes in slices cut to look like toast halves – fun!). To my joy the cordon bleu did not taste much like processed soy and the crispy breading together with the beefy mash made the dish into real comfort food. The goulash (€11.50) that had me so excited before our visit, had great flavour, but the soy pieces had an unpleasant texture and that distinct taste of cupboard that soy has. The trio of deserts was plenty for the three of us: a little bowl of cremé brulee, marinated pears and a chocolate-orange brownie. The cremé brulee was amazing, the other two were unnecessary: just get me another bowl of the brulee, please!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Paleo dining with the inlaws

When we bought Blitzdeal vouchers for three course dinners at Sauvage, we decided to take A's parents out for a special dinner when they visit. The parents were here last week, with A's nieces in tow, but it was the middle of print week for me so I didn't get to see them much. But we did go for a paleolithic dinner, and I do think we gave them something to talk about at home!

Sauvage opened last spring in Neukölln and is the first paleo restaurant in Europe – probably even the only one. The concept is home-made, sugar-free, gluten and grain free, organic and transfat-free food, and  nothing is processed, sprung from agriculture or a domesticated origin. Be prepared for a whole new dining experience!

The menu is short but sweet. On the night we visited, the mains ranged from about 12-19 euro and for a vegetarian option the rump-steak, chicken fillet and swine medallion could be swapped for fried mushrooms to accompany the inventive side dishes. This was a bit surprising since the portion became considerably less filling. Three of the four vegetarians among us instead opted for the large antipasti selection for a main dish, but that, too, had to be specially ordered as vegetarian. I didn't think cavemen had access to so much meat.

While we waited we curiously tasted and analysed the starter of crackers served with rucola and tomato dips and a tapenade. One of the most exciting things at Sauvage is really their breads: held together by vegetable puree, nuts and seeds replace the wheat and grain you'd usually bake with, and the taste is nutty and full. The main dishes were all delicious and I can warmly recommend the adventure that is the antipasti plate. The only disappointment was dessert – maybe we were just too full to appreciate our hefty slices of carrot, orange and ginger cake, but it tasted like cold baby food mash, spiced with cinnamon. Next time I'll order the intense, unsweetened, coconut-milk hot chocolate and share the big glass with A for a dessert instead.

The atmosphere is very cosy and we didn't even realise that we'd spent four hours at the restaurant until we had to hurry to the U-Bahn to make sure we caught the last train home.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sunday at Stroke.Artfair 2011

Today we had to admit that we need to turn on the heating in the apartment. Even for just a few hours per day. It's cold. I'm wearing mittens when I cycle to work. But the sun has been shining a lot and the trees still have most of their leaves, so it's not feeling too grim.

Today we slept in – it feels like we haven't seen each other for ages – so we just laid there and chatted and laughed until it was already well into the afternoon. A made us breakfast sandwiches from the insanely good carrot and walnut bread we ordered with our organic veggies.

The only goal of the day was to make it to the urban art fair, Stroke.Artfair 2011, at Postbahnhof. It was on the whole weekend, but since A is building a new studio space with T, he's been busy playing Bob the Builder. Probably because it was the last hours of the art fair, it was packed. I found it impossible to concentrate on any of the graffiti, illustrations, comics or graphic design pieces on display because of the bustle: people kept scurrying past between the paintings and me, and there was no space to step back and really look at anything. It was a pity, because there was a lot to look at. Maybe next year we should try to get out of bed a little earlier...

Monday, 10 October 2011

African food at Yaam

Even if it's now apparent that the last days of indian summer are over, I hope we get another chance to go to Yaam and eat domoda again, the Gambian peanut stew we had there when A came to Berlin a week ago. Our friends tipped us off already ages ago that the food alone at Yaam is wort the visit, and especially this peanut sauce. I was very disappointed to not get to try any deep fried plantain, though, because they were out. But that alone is a good reason to eat there again!

Girls' visit

It was ten days of coffee, cocktails and chuckles when the girls came to Berlin. A, my oldest, bestest friend came all the way from Lisbon; she staid five days with her brother and E and five days at ours. S came for the girls' trip from Helsinki and K all the way from Finnish Lappland.

We were so excited to see each other that things got a little bit out of hand once in a while, as it so easily does for us Finns. On Friday we were at my colleagues house party and I realised that this was the seventh day of drinking... But you could tell we're too old for that: we were all really tired and went home at one, after a midnight Halloumi in Brot.

We did not just go to bars and party, we had some dinners at home, too: a pancake party at E's and A's and an Indian dinner at ours. We did some shopping and on Thursday we even took our guests outside of Friedrichshain and went to see the Hokusai exhibition at Martin-Gropius-Bau. All in all, I was sad to see the girls go, even if it's now nice to rest a little. I slept until 1pm today...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Vegan weekend in Berlin

Last weekend our mutual friend K was visiting E here in Berlin and since she's pretty much vegan, it turned into a vegetarian delight.

One of the best breakfasts Berlin has to offer is the Sunday vegan/vegetarian brunch at Morgenrot in Prenzlauer Berg. We sat down there at just after 11.30 – exactly the same time as everyone else seemed to have arrived. And by 1pm, when we were done, the place was all quiet again. Lesson learned!

We continued to Mauerpark, where I found a really pretty but useless hand made glass bowl for two euro. Unfortunately the park is so popular now that it's not a very relaxing Sunday afternoon spot – but you can always skip the market and just enjoy the sun on the grassy slopes.

Thanks to K I also tried a few new things this weekend. Since we were already in P'Berg, we walked a bit further up north and checked out the vegan supermarket Veganz that's opened on Schivelbeiner Straße – one of the first ones in Europe! It turned out that the shop actually isn't open on Sundays, only their café is, but the girls there were nice enough to let us shop a little anyway. I was happy to find gluten flour because we've been searching for it around Berlin's organic shops in order to attempt to make home made seitan.

For dinner we ended up at Yoyo in Friedrichshain, where we decided to finally try the vegan pizzas – we always say we will, but end up getting one of their amazing burgers instead. To get the full experience we all ordered different pizzas: one salami, one tuna and one with rucola. They were all ok, but the pizza without any processed fake meat was the best one (of course). Also, the tomato sauce was in need of some more love. Next time I'll order a burger.

After a late night with white wine yesterday, today we hung out for one last coffee before K had to fly back to Finland and managed to make that a vegan affair at Cupcake, the American cupcake café on Krossenerstraße in Friedrichshain. I must say that this pink raspberry cupcake was the best one I've ever had and the fact that it was vegan was just unbelievable! It was fluffy, moist, creamy... delicious. The frosting was on the hyper sweet side for us non-Americans and so the cupcake was perfect for sharing.

"The girls" are coming for a visit to Berlin next week and I'm hoping we'll get to try out a few other new veggie haunts then, like the newly opened Lucky Leek in Prenzlauer Berg, Vegikreuz near Ostkreuz, the legendary Cookies Cream restaurant/club and the much applauded Café Vux cake café in Neukölln... And, and, and... :)

Monday, 26 September 2011

Veggie delivery

On Friday our doorbell rang at about 1.30 when our first Regionalkiste was delivered. A crate filled with fresh, regional, organic, fruit and veg from the company Märkische Kiste was handed over. How exciting it was to unpack and find incredible apples and plums, crisp lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, parsley and swiss chard (mangold). The smallest crate size costs about €12 and you can set up a standing order for a weekly delivery. The delivery day depends on what area you live in – Friedrichshain gets its produce on Fridays.

It's like being on Top Chef and getting a mystery box to cook with! I've never cooked with red cabbage or swiss chard before, so these were particularly exciting finds. I can't wait for it to be Friday again, so we get another delivery!

Sunday, 18 September 2011


Today I woke up to the sound of rain pattering outside the window. We were supposed to go to our friend's house for a leaving-Berlin-sale at 11.30, but there was no way we could muster up strength to hurry to Rosenthaler Platz. Instead we gave ourselves more time to go voting in the local elections. I'm so impressed that we foreigners get to vote here, even if limitedly: just for the party and only for the district we live in – and it didn't require any special effort besides showing up. This probably only applies to us lucky EU citizens, I think. After proudly registering our vote, we strolled over to pick out breakfast supplies at the bakery.

Now A and S are in the bedroom/studio working on a pitch for a coffee commercial tune and I'm on my way to have election day cake at S and L's. A perfect Sunday will be topped off at the Indian vegetarian/vegan restaurant Satyam in Charlottenburg, where the brunch buffet is available until 8pm and we get to enjoy the ever so interesting company of K, with whom the conversation is always on a pretty intelligent level, but the laughs are constant.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

ROA in Berlin

Last week I was in a lot of pain and I went to the doctor again on Friday. I got prescribed more ibuprofen for what apparently was inflamed muscles over my ribs – from all the coughing. As a result I didn't use my free tickets to the annual Preview Berlin and I declined the opportunity to be sneaked in to Berlin Festival, but tried to take it easy and rest a bit. A decision I slightly regret.

On Sunday I, none the less, went to the finissage of the small Skalitzers Contemporary Art gallery in Kreuzberg who were showing an insanely cool collection of art from their 2011 artists. I wanted to see the incredible work by ROA, Belgian street artist extraordinaire. After the gallery visit we decided to go across the street to view some more of ROA's work: at the bottom of a sand pit, the very Pippi Longstocking-esque biergarten called Kjosk (at the corner of Oranienstraße and Skalitzer Straße), is defined by a white brick wall covered in large, black, hand-painted, dead animals. They're very impressive and make this makeshift biergarten worth a visit; we enjoyed a good chat and a cold OBC – Original Berlin Cidre.

Later I also ate at Yellow Sunshine on Wiener Straße for the first time, and in my slightly hung over state their Lappland Cheese Burger was just the best fake-meat burger I've ever had... Mmmm...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


Two weeks ago, at the Screen Print Festival 2011 in Stattbad Wedding, our new friend R told E and me about Open Design City, a space in Kreuzberg where you can rent tools and appliances and get help for your more ambitious design projects. We were particularly interested in screen printing possibilities, but also curious to know what other things can be made there, like with laser cutters or soldering equipment.

The ODC is a part of Betahaus, so to familiarise with ODC you have to go on a tour of Betahaus, a shared office space where you can rent a desk by the day or by the month. Tours are available twice a week and are free of charge. I now know three people who work there, so I was curious to see what it's like.

E and I were on time like proper Finns tend to be – R was nowhere to be seen. Later I saw her message on Facebook, saying she'd been held back at the office.

Betahaus is very impressive: it's big, it's airy, it's light. If it wouldn't sound so corny, I'd describe it as an inspiring environment. The Open Design City space, on the other hand, seemed small. There was no one there to explain precisely what tools are available and what the possibilities there are, so that part of the tour was very disappointing.

As we sat down in the downstairs café afterwards, an American girl who'd also been on the tour asked to join us. We had a nice chat among graphic designers and as we were leaving AS wanted us to reveal which guy from the guided tour we would date if we HAD to. She was quite taken with the amount of cute guys she spotted at the premises. We made diffuse plans to meet up at an art gallery later in the week – so if nothing else, I made another friend today!
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