Goldfinches again!

After a nice discovery last year (that Goldfinches like cornflower seeds), i made sure i had plenty of cornflowers in my window boxes this year. And they came again, and keep coming!

Grunewald

Grunewald is a forest in Berlin. We went there for a walk. There were mosquitoes… a lot of them. One couldn’t stop even for a moment, as they would momentarily sit and eat. So we walked very briskly and I couldn’t really take any pictures. So no pictures from the forest, only from Drachenberg, which is a very pleasant hill nearby. We are planing another trip to Grunewald, but probably in Winter.

Surprise guests

I was expecting some wildlife in my window boxes, but this really exceeded my expectations!

Spring is coming after all

I’m very happy to announce that there will be Spring this year, and maybe quite soon. And here’s the proof.

Praha

5 days in Prague. Yeah, again. I felt like i had to go back after a short visit in summer. And 5 days it’s not enough, of course, but I think I used the time well. I stayed in Žižkov district, which is very close to the center (2 tram stops or 20 min walk), but much cheaper, and feels like a normal city, not a tourist circus you have in the Old Town. It has very interesting parts too. There’s a an ugly TV Tower, with David Černý’s babies crawling up and down. There’s a Jaroslav Hašek’s  monument. A cubistic chapell. Franz Kafka’s and Ota Pavel’s grave at the New Jewish Cementery.

I fell into a pleasant routine. A walk in Žižkov in the morning, and then visiting museums in the center of town. In the late afternoon – lunch/dinner in Moment, and later a beer in Republika Žižkov. I went to U Vystřeleného Oka once, but, as much as it felt very much as a local pub, it also was filled with a thick cloud of cigarette smoke. So instead I was going every night to the only non-smoking pub in Žižkov.

Museums. Mucha Museum, Kafka Museum, Stone Bell House, Museum Kampa, Veletržní Palác, Hollar Gallery, Bílkova vila. A lot of really good Czech (mostly, but not not only) art, most of the artist I didn’t know before. I was very happy to see some Vladimir Boudnik’s works (he was a friend of a writer Bohumil Hrabal (which I love)) I was really impressed with collection in Veletržní Palác. Went there twice, it’s too much to do it all in one go.

In Republika Žižkov they had a very good beer from Kocour Brewery, I also tried something which could easly become my favourite winter drink – hruszka z hruszkou (pear with pear): warmed up pear juice infused with a pear schnaps. I was very lucky to meet the owner, Pavel Trojan (historian and lover of Žižkov, author of a Žižkov guide), apparently he appears there only once a year. I spent a very nice evening bothering him about zizkov and Czech movies (but apparently he likes polish ones better!)

There is one thing I am really impressed with in Prague, and it’s a public transport. Almost as good as in Berlin. But much cheaper. (Which I suppose levels whatever might be worse)

And… I would like to go there again. Maybe in the spring…

Salsa

 

We grow chilli in our windowboxes – 2 plants of jalapeño and one of bhut jolokia. Most of them are ripe so we decided to make salsa. Actually 4 different salsas. I made 2 very mild and Johan made 2 very spicy ones.

Prague

A very nice few days in Prague. Of course a few days is not enough to see even a fraction of what this city has to offer. We had a very good time. Old Town and Castle bit too crowded, but I spent a very nice day in Libeň, trying to trace some place associated with Bohumil Hrabal, one of my favourite writers.

Johan and I climbed Petřínská Rozhledna, from which we saw wonderful panoramas of Prague.

We are planning on going again, as it’s just 4,5 hours by train from Berlin.

Wonderful visit

A very nice visit of a friend from London. We have similar tastes and interests, so sightseeing together was a delight. Two highlights.

And now I have a cold. No, not because of visiting. I have it from Johan. Johan had it and he gave it to me and now I have it.

Fruit!

Last Saturday Johan and I spent a very nice afternoon at friend’s allotment. Help was needed with fruit. I hoped there would be sour cherries.. and they were! We were told to pick as much as we want. So, with me being greedy, we got about 8 kilo. It’s good we had a tubtrug with us (i thought i was being overoptimistic, but apparently not!). Also we got red currants. Otherwise known as Johan’s berries. (they are called Johannisbeeren in german). So following Sunday I spent on washing fruit (2 hours), searching my neighbourhood shops for sugar (found only 1 kilo of sugar i liked), removing currants from stems (3 hours), stoning cherries (6 hours). umph…

But all the hard work was worthwhile. I have 7 jars of currant jelly, 2 liters of cherry syroup, 8 jars of cherry preserve and also big jars with cherry liqueur and currant liqueur in the making. Yummy!

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what we saw in Warsaw

 After our previous visit in Warsaw, while checking something on googlemaps, Johan exclaimed “how come we didn’t go to see the planes!” (you can see them in google earth). Indeed, there are planes in an open air exhibition in the Polish Army Museum. So this time of course we went to see the planes.

We also visited the place I haven’t been to for 20 years – Wilanów. It’s a french style palais and garden complex. It was a summer residence of the polish king Jan III Sobieski and his wife, Marysieńka. It’s being very nicely renovated (with EU money). There is a lot of wildlife in the gardens. We were very lucky and we spotted a Kingfisher. Although it was in a great hurry so what we really saw was a blue smudge speeding through the air. So, no picture of it, but there are pictures of palais (which kindly didn’t move).

There is a relatively new museum in Warsaw – Polin, Museum of the History of Polish Jews. I think it’s one of the best museums I have ever been to. On their website they say “you’ll need at least 2 hours for the exhibition”. Our friends, who were there, told us that it’s rather 5 hours. They were right. Actually, 5 hours is not enough. I would recommend to go twice. There is so much information, all very interesting, presented in all kind of forms, a lot of it interactive (for example – you can ‘mint’ a virtual coin with your name). They say it’s a museum without actual exhibits. Well, they managed without them exceptionally well. There is even is a virtual online exhibition. Architecture of the building is amazing too.

And we walked around a lot too. We went to Łazienki Park. Translation of its name is a constant source of amusement for Johan, as it means “King’s Bathrooms”. Well, I suppose it might be a bit funny. Although you just get used to names. (English example: Liverpool. Pool of livers??). There was a very good exhibition of dutch posters on the fence of the park.