Berlin days: Ai Weiwei, Westberlin Cafe, and 3D IMAX

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This Ai Weiwei exhibition at Martin-Gropius-Bau just opened and there were big queues to get in, it’s one of those must-see blockbuster shows. We thought it was great, really interesting work. Due to the crowds it was a bit hard to navigate around, I even saw someone trip over one of the sculptures!

A good place for a cup of tea after this was Westberlin. Kind of surprising that such a nice place is just along from Checkpoint Charlie in such a tourist area. They sell magazines and books too, I bought a Berlin Inspires guide there.

We walked over to the Neue Nationalgalerie, I love this building, but we didn’t fancy what was on and we had tickets to the CineStar IMAX at the Sony Centre. We saw the new Spiderman in 3D IMAX in English. That cinema in the Sony Centre shows lots of films in English (without subtitles).
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AliceBerlin days: Ai Weiwei, Westberlin Cafe, and 3D IMAX

Berlin days: neon museum and street food thursday

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After a slow morning we got a snack from Alpenstueck for lunch, I had the apple strudel and Simon had a chocolate croissant and coffee. I enjoyed my strudel, not too sweet, nice pastry, and Simon was happy with his. We were in the area purely for our stomachs but on our way to the S-Bahn we came across this interesting area with information and art about the wall outside Nordbahnhof. We then headed over to the Buchstaben Museum. It is a museum of the old neon signs of Berlin. It reminded me of the neon boneyard in Las Vegas, though on a smaller scale. Great for type and sign fans. This was one of Simon’s picks, on trips he often finds places that I wouldn’t have thought to visit but that turn out to be great.

After this we went on a long walk over to the iconic Oberbaum Bridge, stopping for a drink in a place by the water. Then, sufficiently worn out and hungry, we went to Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun. Markthalle Neun is an indoor market area that on Thursday evenings hosts a wide variety of food vendors. After much circling and decision making we tried some hot sandwiches and some thai food. Both were really good and it is a fun atmosphere. We were there quite early and it didn’t feel too congested. Next time I am in Berlin on a Thursday I will be back here for sure, it’s a fun way to have dinner.
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AliceBerlin days: neon museum and street food thursday

Berlin days: picnic on a runway, art, and art supplies

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Taking advantage of a sunny day we went on a picnic to Tempelhof – the former airport that is now a park. It is an interesting public space as it is such a wide open area, not a tree in sight, and yet so many birds flying around singing. Many people were out using the vast former runways for their hobbies – on bikes, with kites and toy planes, on skateboards, and exercising. It has a good atmosphere, and a park is such a nice use of this space.

After our picnic and a snooze in the sun we took the U-Bahn over to Oranienstraße and walked from Görlitzer U-Bahn station up to Modulor art supplies, visiting the book shops and stopping for a coffee and green tea at Voo. Modulor is another great Berlin shop to browse, it has all the art supplies you could think of, almost in the league of a Japanese art supply store. We bought paper for a DIY project we have planned, and I bought some gold paper hares just because they were pretty. It is that sort of place where it is so easy to find things to buy. After Modulor we walked to the Berlinisches Galerie, a modern art gallery/museum housed in an attractive building. Our main reason for visiting on this occasion was the music piece in the entrance.
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AliceBerlin days: picnic on a runway, art, and art supplies

Berlin days: art, shops, and the best burger in Berlin?

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Starting the day with German bread is such a treat.

We visited the Museum für Fotografie because I was interested in the Brazilian Modernism 1940-1964 exhibition that is on at the moment. The main two floors are entirely the works of Helmut Newton and June Newton (Alice Springs) and then there is the temporary exhibition space at the top where the Brazilian exhibition is at the moment. The museum is tucked away, down the side of Zoologischer Garten Bahnhof.

Out on the main road, outside the C/O Berlin space that is being renovated, is a temporary exhibition of Close Up! Young Photojournalists at the 64th Berlinale which we went to take a look at. After this we went to KaDeWe for some apple cake, to StilWerk to windowshop designer furniture, and to Manufactum to browse the practical and well-made house and garden things. It is such an interesting place to browse, I was very close to buying this bike bell but as I love my current big bell I held off.

Our feet felt like they were going to fall off after so much walking so we sat on the U-Bahn and rode over to have a drink in Wohnzimmer. On the way we stopped in at LIV, a shop that just sells enamel things.

After this, as we were thinking about dinner, and as we were in the area, we went to see if there was any chance that The Bird could fit us in for dinner. We’d not been there before but I keep hearing that they do “the best burger in Berlin” so we were curious. The staff were really nice and fitted us in on the bar after a little wait. Sitting at the bar was actually great as you could look at all the stuff they have tacked up behind there.

I had their signature ‘Da Birdhouse’ burger and that thing is crazy – beef, bacon, onions, and gherkin, glued together with American cheese, and accompanied by a ridiculous amount of fries. If Guy Fieri ever does an international version of Triple D this would be right up his street. It tasted great in a super-sinful way but I don’t know how anyone could get through even half of this amount of food and the burger fell apart after a few bites making it difficult to eat. The bun was an English muffin, which could be controversial, but I liked it as it didn’t fall apart (unlike the rest of the burger). Best burger in Berlin? My verdict on this burger is that it was tasty and I’m happy I tried it but I’d not get it again, it is too far from the kind of things I usually like to eat! I can see how true burger people would love it though.
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AliceBerlin days: art, shops, and the best burger in Berlin?

Berlin days: Auguststraße, Mitte

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Auguststraße in Mitte is a nice road to wander up, window shopping all the galleries that fill this street, and actual shopping in the magazine shop Do You Read Me?!. The Barn is a cosy place to stop for a coffee and a chat, they do good green tea too. Beyond Auguststraße, on Mulackstraße, is the paper goods shop R.S.V.P. (I bought Papier d’Armenie Papier d’Année). Round the corner from Auguststraße on Gipsstraße is Cocolo Ramen, pictured above is the tonkotsu ramen. They do good gyoza too.
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AliceBerlin days: Auguststraße, Mitte

Berlin days: Sunday in Berlin

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Coming to Berlin from Britain it is always a bit of a shock how much all the shops are shut on Sundays. The flea markets are open however, so without a fixed plan in mind we headed over to Mauerpark Flohmarkt for a look around. It is very busy but for a nice break Bonanza Coffee Heroes is close by for a really fantastic coffee which is brewed very seriously. We dropped by Alexanderplaz to say “hi” to the Fernsehturm and for a wander over to the Hackesche Höfe courtyards. A visit to Artificium art bookshop, and then to admire the nearby graffiti. We travelled to Unter den Linden and walked along it to the Brandenburg Gate. After this, back to our S-Bahn station of Friedenau to dinner at the really good local restaurant Bergamotto. Then home to our borrowed flat.
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AliceBerlin days: Sunday in Berlin

Black and white lomo Magdalen College Oxford

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Film photography ends up with the inevitable end-of-the-roll session before the negative is used up and can be developed, well it does for me anyway :) I was having a lunchtime walk around Magdalen College here in Oxford, so I used it up the end of my Bristol roll there. I have taken pictures here quite a lot in the past.
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AliceBlack and white lomo Magdalen College Oxford

Black and white lomo Bristol

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I’ve been hoarding my few rolls of my beloved Kodak Ektar 100. I fear I have hung onto them for too long as they are now way beyond their use-by date and the results are a little bit mixed. To get useable images I converted all the pictures from a recent roll to black and white in post-processing.

These pictures are from another trip to Bristol to visit my sister. It is such an extra bonus that she lives in a great city like Bristol. I know I get a particular view of Bristol as we usually stick pretty close to the Stokes Croft/St Werburghs/Gloucester Road/Montpelier areas, but that’s what we like.

This time we visited:

  • Better Food Company – I DREAM of a place like this opening 2 minutes from my house as it is from my sister’s. It is an organic supermarket and cafe. I visit this on every trip to stock up on shampoo, toothpaste, and interesting grains.
  • Bell’s Diner – Yes another restaurant to rave about. The latest incarnation of the Bristol institution Bell’s Diner serves sharing dishes that the Guardian describes as “Modern Brit with touches of Moro“. Very delicious, very fun, and great for a special occasion. Sadly not open on a Sunday.
  • The shops in Montpelier and around Christmas Steps. Particularly the little Bloom and Curll bookshop which has an excellent selection of new and second hand books and Here bookshop and gallery. I got a lot of my Christmas presents from there last winter and it is really good for cards. We briefly visited Harry Blades and Angry Daves to see one of my sister’s best friends (who set up the Harry Blades hairdressing part of the business).
  • Water Sky for Sunday lunch dim sum. A big velvet and gilt restaurant hidden above a Chinese supermarket in an unpromising looking car park. Even though the place is big go early to get a table. My favourite is the meat croquette.

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AliceBlack and white lomo Bristol

London: Pitt Cue Co and Blithe Spirit

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My friend Sarah managed to get us a couple of matinée tickets to the Noël Coward comic play Blithe Spirit, starring Angela Lansbury reprising her Tony-Award-winning role of Madame Arcati. It being Sarah’s birthday we made an afternoon of it, starting with a very excellent lunch at Pitt Cue Co, the BBQ place around the corner from Carnaby Street. Pitt Cue Co had been on my wish list since it gathered rave reviews on opening. The reviews were not wrong, this is some of the best meat cooking I’ve ever tasted. I’m aware that yet again I have a glistening meat picture (vegetarian and vegan friends look away!) but this meal has earned it. I had the Smoked Brisket (£16.50) with Smashed Celeriac and Leeks on the side. Sarah had the Pulled Pork (£11.50) and the Beets, Horseradish and Hazelnuts. My brisket was absolutely divine, a delicious BBQ bark on the outside with the soft melting meat inside. Sarah said her pulled pork was the best meal she had eaten so far that year, and knowing Sarah that is high praise.

After lunch we had time before the play and wandered around Chinatown before settling for a cup of tea in the Konditor & Cook in the Curzon. It was even nice enough weather that we could sit outside. It was then only a walk of a few blocks to the Gielgud theatre, which is a charming theatre with pretty crested wallpaper and gilded ceilings. The play was funny and Angela Lansbury was full of beans, dancing about the stage, you’d never guess she is close to being 90! Altogether another fun afternoon in London.

By the way Pitt Cue Co have a cook book out called Pitt Cue Co. – The Cookbook which I’ve just bought – it looks great, lots of recipes, pictures, and detail.
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AliceLondon: Pitt Cue Co and Blithe Spirit