Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A shopping and beer drinking weekend

It was another rough weekend. Nice, too: my friend K was visiting Berlin and we got to catch up a bit: she's getting a divorce, is planning to move to Melbourne and has a new romance going on. I felt really dull in comparison.

Straight from the airport we headed for Kaufbar for coffee and breakfast that instead turned into four beers and a pack of cigarettes. Like I said, there was a lot of catching up to do! On our way to Kaufbar we took a detour to the lovely Broke & Schön shop on Krossener straße and did some unplanned shopping. I've wanted to go there for a while because I was told it's a great new shop where everything is really cheap and cute, which it was.

In the evening we attended the goodbye-dinner for the clever Dr. R, who had to head back to Finland after almost two weeks of celebrating getting her degree. Somehow she always ends up in Paule's Metal Eck and Rosi's, so it was only fitting that that's how her last night in Berlin ended, too. From Rosi's we walked her to the S-bahn: she was pretty drunk and we were seriously concerned that she wouldn't make it to the airport in time for her 7am flight – but she did. Yesterday she did confess to me on Facebook that it had been a bit tricky, since she was falling asleep everywhere!

After a night of very little sleep, we weren't able to do much on Saturday. We had breakfast/brunch at one of our Friedrichshain favourites, the book shop and organic café, Cafe Tasso, on Frankfurter Allee. That's pretty much it. In the evening we tried to go for drinks, but only got as far as to drink one "Bauernhochzeit" drink at Szimpla before feeling overwhelmingly tired.

I was almost glad when Sunday came along and we could just chill at Mauerpark in the sun, until it was time to take K back to the airport...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Party monster (spring in the air)

This past week I have been celebrating way too much. I've had good reasons, of course: Friday was R's dissertation party at my favourite crazy bar, Zyankali (home at 4am). On Saturday we celebrated S' 30th birthday (home at 6am). On Tuesday we had deadline drinks with colleagues (home at 10pm), and on Wednesday we had a work party – that got seriously weird and crazy with English writers proposing and with friends hooking up with male nannies (home at 6am). On the bright side, I now know that spring is so far along now that at 6 am it's bright and the birds are chirping! This has meant that I have been eating mostly crap, sleeping at odd hours and not checking my emails. Sorry.

Today I was a nice between-parties-day, and A and I got some veggie hang-over food at Vöner – a vegan döner restaurant on Boxhagenerstraße 56. Best french fries in Berlin!!! Good seitan döner, too, really fresh and with great sauces, but slightly let down by the dry dürum bread.

K arrives to Berlin for a weekend of fun tomorrow: she's getting divorced and needs to be cheered up – and Finnish girls like to drink. So after Sunday I can finally try to say: 'I'm never drinking alcohol again!' and pretend to mean it.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A night at the theatre

Yesterday we felt very adult as we were going to the theatre. Schaubühne in Charlottenburg is hosting an international theatre festival, F.I.N.D (Festival Internationale Neue Dramatik), until the 13th. By chance I came about a press ticket for Hilda, a play by a French writer and performed by a Finnish cast.

Since we're rarely in Charlottenburg, we wanted to go for dinner in the area. Just across the street from Schaubühne is a traditional Italian restaurant, Frantucci (Kufürstendamm 90), known for their big pizzas and great atmosphere. The first thing we saw when we walked in was a huge display filled with different kinds of home made pastas. Frantucci's is also a wine bar. For a Friedrichshainer the prices were on the higher side, but I bet that for Ku'damm €37 for a meal for two isn't too bad. I had a focaccia with mascarpone, mozzarella, scampini and pine nuts, A had a pasta with mozzarella, spicy tomatoes, garlic and pine nuts. Both were excellent. For dessert we shared a panna cotta with fresh fruit and I had an espresso, so that I'd stay awake in case the theatre piece was boring.

The play was not boring, but in fact really good: experienced actress Minna Haapkylä portraid a desperately unhappy Madame Lemarchand who manipulates her handyman, Franck, into giving his wife, Hilda, to her employment as a housemaid. Franck squanders all the advance payments Madame Lemarchand gives him, he looses his job and so his family is in the hands of the domineering housewife who has a greedy, unhealthy obsession with Hilda. I really liked the visual aspect of the play: the colours were slightly surreal and plastic and the actors movements were jumpy and doll-like. I'd love to see this play again, to get another chance to understand the complicated nature of Madame Lemarchand.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Basteln basically means to do arts and crafts, which usually I hate. I don't have the patience: I concentrate, I try, I'm ambitious, but in the end something always goes wrong and it all looks like crap and I loose it! The project (whether knitting, sewing, card-making or cake-baking) goes in the bin and I'm in a terrible mood for the rest of the day. So when my friends invited me to go along to a pearl shop where you can make your own jewellery, I wasn't sure I should go. I thought I'd just tag along and buy some pearls as presents for my more talented friends who love that kind of stuff.

When I walked in the shop, I realized my friend A was there to make jewellery, not just shop and then go for coffee. I strolled aimlessly around, staring at the endless rows of pearls and materials. Not a single good idea of what I wanted to make came to me. Meanwhile A had already picked out her pearls into a little dessert bowl, had sat down and started to chop pieces of wire into earrings. I had to decide on something, and saw a pre-made pair of earrings that I could copy the idea from: with a hook, a piece of chain and a pearl dangling at the end. I'd be out of there in no-time, hahaa!

But once I sat down, something happened. It was fun! It was really fun! The girl who works in the shop helped me to make little links to attach pearls to the chain with, and to attach the chain to the hooks. I went back to the rows of pearls with my little bowl and picked out more colours, more sizes. I could have sat there all day, making earrings for all my friends. Unfortunately the shop is really popular and we had to give up our seats at three o'clock. My earrings cost €6: that included all the pearls, materials and the help I got. And they didn't look home-made, either! On my way home I ran a few errands, and when I got home and proudly showed off my earrings, A pointed out that some of the pearls had fallen off. Typical! So much for my talent at crafts! But I liked it so much this time, that I'll go back and fix them, make more earrings, too – but be sure to ask the pros to check my links and loops before I go!

I promised A and A, who showed me this great little gem, that I wouldn't share it's location. If you do want to know where it is you can ask and I can send it to you via email.

Lisbon. Pause.

So, after Lisbon I have failed to muster up any inspiration to write. Probably because my weekend visiting the besties was so great: filled with late nights in the Bairro Alto district and morning mojitos. I was wrecked when I got back. Now I'm sufficiently recovered and can put together a sentence or two again :)

Adamastor: hippie hang out with a view
Morning mojitos by the jug
Buying Ginja-liqueur at a traditional Ginja kiosk

I flew to Lisbon with KLM via Amsterdam, because the airlines who fly directly (AirBerlin and EasyJet) only do so on a few days per week and would have cost me about €240, where as KLM could take me there for €170. Transfers are of course an extra-hassle, but just in case I only packed hand-luggage and in the end there was no stress at all; on the way to Lisbon the transfer was 1h 45 minutes and on the way home only 45 min. KLM also serves sandwiches, snacks and free drinks, which is nice!

This must have been my fourth time in Lisbon, so there was no need to visit museums or see sights. We could concentrate on the essentials. I love eating at the local tascas (traditional Portuguese restaurants) like Restaurante Estrela, where food is simple, affordable and the salads are served with plenty of olive oil, vinegar and salt. Yum! Also before dinner one of my favourite things to do is to have a glass of Ginja from one of the tiny little shops that sell it by the glass or by the bottle, while deciding on our plans for the night. Every night ended up in Bairro Alto, the party quarters.

I regret that I didn't take a single photo of A's little bunny rabbit! I got addicted to petting her, and got a serious case of should-we-get-a-bunny-fever while staying at her's. It passed pretty quickly once I got home, hehe.
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