Month: March 2014

Barbara Klemm

A couple of weekends ago, right before we went to stuff our faces with dumplings, we headed to Martin-Gropius Bau in the city to check out the photography of Barbara Klemm.

Klemm worked for a large German newspaper for nearly 50 years, and in that time managed to get a wide range of photographs from both Deutschland and the world at large.

If you’ve been to Berlin, you’ve probably visited the East Side Gallery, and seen either there, or on one of the thousands of postcards in the tourist shops around the city, this:

To be honest, I never knew that that was originally from a photograph, or that that photograph was taken by Klem.

*As a very important aside, all the photographs from here on out, and the one at the top, are taken from Barbara Klemm. Obviously, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the photos in the exhibition, so these are from various sources on the interwebs.
Among the collection were many photos of famous people (although often the people were famous only in Germany, and even then only if you were into German politicians). These shots, like the ones below, were my least favourite of the group- mostly because they feel so stiff, and obviously posed in contrast with her other, very street-y photography,

Some of the pictures lend their magnificence in part to the events of the time- she had several shots of riots, protests, and hugely spectacular events like the fall of the wall. But it can’t be denied that these shots show an amazing understanding and mastery of the art.

Mostly, her photographs involved subjects who seem – and I’m guessing usually are- unaware that they are being shot.

This Street Photography was my favourite, and made me yearn for a slightly higher mm lens with rapid manual focus capacities. You know, plus the artistic ability that Klemm was clearly both gifted with and developed over many years.
This was one of my absolute favourites at the exhibition:
And here is one of Pau’s favourites, I think from Italy.


What is clear already from above is what I’m going to call ‘Klemms extreme love of love of exaggerated juxtaposition.’ Here are some more on that theme:


Both also show her pretty magical ability to capture so much ‘colour’ using only black and white photography, which I believe she shot almost exclusively in- there was a film at the end of the exhibition called ‘Black and White is colour enough’ or some such- but it was in Deutsch and dumplings were calling, so we didn’t stay to watch.


Here’s another ‘famous people’ one, that I nonetheless love because of the way the photo is setup, plus the fact that this here man is clearly catapulting (the act of sitting so as to accentuate one’s dominance and masculinity).

And one of Andy’s favourites, from Mongolia:


The exhibition was really marvelous, and some of the most interesting photography I’ve seen so far. It’s well an truly over in Berlin (we went on the last weekend when it had already been extended beyond its initial run). But! If Klemm’s work comes to your city- Go and See It!!

One of our friends went to see the exhibition before us, and mentioned how every photos seemed to have something more to see then at first meets the eye. Which not only makes the exhibition well worth seeing, but also means you need a bit of time to get a good viewing. Check it Out!


Spring is in the… ground!

Earlier this week I was talking about how spring seemed to have been a little more underway in Dresden than in Potsdam.
But something is definitely happening up our way.

Last week I planted some seeds- and though I admittedly ‘cheated’ by babying them in the warmth of the apartment, there’s nonetheless some sort of knowing satisfaction that things springing from the ground equal a true beginning to the warmer months.

The big ones are sunflowers, but the others are a crazy wild mix of herbs, fruit and veg, and wild flowers. I guess we’ll have to see.

But what’s the true German way of knowing that spring has started??


Dresden Weekend

Dresden is so ridiculously close, and so ridiculously beautiful, that I can’t believe that we’ve been in Deutschland for nearly 1.5 years and only just made our way down their last weekend.

Pau, Asdrubal, Andy and I caught the bus on Friday evening, and arrived in the city a couple of hours later, in time to eat and drink, and then meet up with Mercedes and her man Dirk to sniff out a bar for an hour or two, before returning to the safety of our hostel to crash into bed.

Parenthetically, before I get too far in- I should mention that some of the photos are stolen from Pau and Asdru (like the photo of Asdrubal above). In case I forget to mention it for some of them- you can usually tell which ones are not mine because I’m pulling stupid poses in everyone else’s photos (even more so than usually), plus- Pau took all the GRUPPENFOTOs. Some of the pics are also stolen from Andy, but I figure that by common law I probably have the right to half of them by now.

On with the show.
Saturday morning we were up early enough to buy all the best chocolates from the supermarket, and to catch a train down down down towards Czech.

Plan of the day: Explore the woods and rocks of the Bastei.

We leaped off the S-bahn at Kurort Rathen, walked to the river and crossed on the Ferry.

(A family preparing for Easter- Germans have the best seasonal traditions!)

The day was pretty overcast, but we managed to get pretty lucky with the rain, and spring -which is still in its first state of emergence in Potsdam, was clearly well on its way in the Dresden region:

Lookout over the river. See- I told you you can tell which photos are taken from someone else (Pau).

We surveyed our surroundings for a couple of minutes, then turned and walked up the road, into the forest.

I wish I could better convey the environment.

It’s colder, quieter, damper and stiller when you get away from the river. You walk over ground covered in old autumn leaves, past trees that are still resting in their winter state. It could look post-apocalypticlly desolate, except for the mosses that are covering everything with a rich, calming green.

(From Pau)

There’s life at every scale- with the truly dead trees standing out from those just waiting by the presence of colonies of lichen and fungi.

Early in the trek, the ground is open, with slopes on either side of the track….

But you begin to pass the Mossy Monoliths, and pretty soon they’re looming on both sides…

 There are rocks in chunks, and wrinkled beauties, and marvels of marble designed from moss and water and stone…

 Sometimes you go under the rocks, sometimes you walk through, and eventually you go up and up and over….

(from Pau) 

At the top of the ‘mountain’, we took a break for tea, and stripped of some of our layers, before heading on to greener (technically less green) pastures, and scenic views.

(See- also not my photo!)

 (From Pau x2- we seem to be enjoying ourselves)

Our travelling lead us to the Bastei bridge- which those of you who are historically inclined can read about at wiki.

Possibly not for those sensitive to heights.


This and below from Pau. I kinda love what Andy’s doing in the background:

This is a Monk weathervain- he spins and blesses as he goes. Delightful, yet tacky.
We had reached the moment of deciding whether to take the long way or the short way back, when the clouds decided they’d been generous enough for the day. So we ran down the mountains, crossed the river, and took shelter at the station. 

We spent the afternoon resting (or if you’re me- sleeping) before donning our gladrags and heading to burgers and then a bar. Alas! My poor camera lens got damp from the rain, and had to spend the evening drying on the heater. But rest assured that fun times were had. Times involving ‘communicating with eyes’, collecting men (mostly Andy to be honest), latin music and some very brave attempts at conquistadoring, which can’t really be elaborated on here, but which I need to mention for future rememberings. We made it home after 5.

The next morning, seemingly bright and way too early, we fell out of bed, scoffed some pastries, and took up a tour of the town with guide Mercedes (Dirk fell back into bed).

Mercedes serenading Pau at the Zwinger.

The boys didn’t want to be left out of the posing:

(from Pau)


Pau was a Princess.
I must admit, I’ve always wanted more to be a King:

Tegan: ‘Crotch?’
Pau: ‘I can hear you two you know’.
T+M: ‘Teeheehee’
P: *sigh*

We wandered a bit more throughout the old city before deciding that it was time for rest, coffee and ultimately- to take the bus back.

But finally- GRUPPENFOTO!

Climb that Mountain!

Can you believe that we managed to find Snow in the middle of Sicily?

Following the Siracusa history lesson, we headed to Etna- which to be honest, was my primary sightseeing aim on Sicily.

First up (well first after breakfast, packing, leaving Siracusa, very stressful driving and navigating through tiny windy roads and small towns, and arrival into a small town near the mountain), we fuelled up at a slightly odd pub/eatery.

Here we ate fairly tasty food, got gifted some very tasty sweets, and were ‘strongly encouraged’ (in a way that only a lady-of-a-certain-age can encourage) to go across the road to the honey shop to buy some special honey for my cough.

There we met a young man, who was quite enthused that we came from Australia (he showed us honey with eucalypt), and even more excited when he told us about his cousin who was in a TV show in Australia, and we were actually able to guess with only minimal prompting, that it was Underdog.

The honey that was recommended to me tasted a lot like being beaten over the head with an aromatic stick. We bought some anyway.

We drove up the volcano, past some amazing landscape scattered with debris from larva, and the life which comes with it. More on that later!

And suddenly, we were past the snow line.

It was falling, it was landing, it was staying! We got out of the car to have an explore.

“Come back Tegan, there might be Yetis”

It was quite beautiful, especially where the white snow fell on black rocks (larva), and created a crazy monotonal world:

Of course, those loudly-dressed Ms A and Miss A-M have no respect for the serenity and beauty of the grey-scale:

We Frolicked back to the car (those of us with frolick-worthy dresses did anyway, others just slouched), and headed further up the mountain.

ALAS! Just a couple of more minutes into the climb, our car started making noises that I assume (I’m no car person) indicated a mild panic attack. We urged it onwards, but it was not a horse, and didn’t really respond to our gentle words of encouragement. The tires stopped gripping, and we realized in dismay, that we would have to turn back.

Back, back, back- below the snowline.

We made up for the disappointment of not seeing hot flowing lava, but leaping around on the ex-lava. The sensation is odd- almost like sand, but much lighter and springier.

In my mind, it’s a cross between beach and moon: One small step for Man…

The landscape itself is stunning. Or to borrow from Andy: sublime!

From a distance, and through the rain, it can look kind of grey.

If you look closer, you’ll see it’s filled with colour and life…

I mean- this landscape is just so many kinds of beautiful, and at all the different scales of vision imaginable..

There is flowing ex-lava!

There are tiny secret caves of life…

And there are Men! Of the Heroic Type who Brave the Unknown Worlds!

(Plus their women, who are much more frivolous)

One thing for sure, I’m going back there one day- I’m going to frolick some more, and I’m going to see some lava!
On the drive to our destination of the evening, we saw a man selling oranges by the side of the road. I had my shoes off (my feet got wet), and Mum was driving- so we threw Andy out of the car to do some haggling. 
A couple of minutes later, Andy re-entered the car.. carrying a TEN KILOGRAM bag of what can only be described as some of the most delicious oranges I’ve ever had to force feed myself.

Belpassso, our sleeping place for the evening- was a tiny little one-street sort of town. I should mention that that night was New Year’s Eve. At about 8:30- Andy and I went looking for the action, and all we could see was rooms filled with old grandfathers playing board games. Andy yearned to be let into their awesomely cool gangs. I yearned to move on.

We ended up grabbing pizza and heading back to the hotel (past an amazingly annoying town clock which rang for about 15 minutes). Andy, who was a bit disappointed by the lack of action- “I want to at least kiss you and say ‘Happy New Year’ at midnight”- ate his pizza and fell promptly asleep. At midnight, the local old men (I’m assuming it was them because those are the only people we saw)- set of hundreds of fireworks making the sound of a billion sonic booms.

Andy slept through it.


Another day on holiday, another day to visit the places of the pagan gods…

Syracusa is a nearly-3000 year old city on the south-east of Sicily, famous for being the birthplace of Archimedes, and for maintaining until modern times some rather spectacular ancient architecture.

It is also the home to pasta eating cats!

I’ve been putting off this post of a while because I’m not sure that the photos we took on the day really do the place justice, and I’m sadly lacking in the knowlege required to augment the story.

So, here is a bunch of poorly-captioned photos of the ruins we saw, in chronological order, but also in order of greatness: Archeological Park, The Amphitheatre and The Ear of Dionysius.

‘Ruins’ (From the 3rd century)

I call this one: ‘Mother, Inversed Height Relationship’

This one is: ‘An Ode to Lauren W’

‘There has to be a way into those tunnels’ (we could not find one)

‘Behold’ or ‘My Boyfriend is Much Better At Posing Than My Mother’

‘Trying To Be Small’


‘Spring Fluffy Spring!’

‘Roman Tango’

And so on…

Despite my rather horrible commentary, I hope you can appreciate how amazing this amphitheatre really is. Oh the size! Oh the preservation!
Personally, I’m imagining a night with Shakespeare, but if you’re more of a ‘lions and tigers and bears’ person, feel free to insert them into your imagined nights proceedings.

Behind the theatre is a row of little caves- perfect for the selling of newt ears, frog tongues and bat eyeballs (if Monty Python is anything to go by)

One of the caves had its own little waterfall:

Andy, who is a much better and more patient photographer than myself, took some lovely shots..

Right behind the theatre is ‘The Ear of Dionysius’, and awe-inspiring rock-cave.

This perhaps gives you a slightly fake understanding of how large the cave is- but perhaps you can see the tiny little people in to the bottom of the photo?

You follow the curve of the ‘ear’ …

.. and gradually lose all light..

Well worth a visit!
On the way back to town we visited the ‘Basilica Santuario Madonna delle Lacrime- a giant cement monstrosity visible from around the town.

(Not the church, but a rather awesome tree- does anyone know what it is?)

Inside, the church is rather magnificent, but in a slightly intimidating way, and also contains a touch of the ‘communist housing’ theme with all the cement and lack of light.

The nooks created by the star-like shape of the building contained little worship areas, dedicated to some saint or another.

One of the nooks instead contained a Museum ‘Ex Voto’, which held a seriously creepy collection of wedding dresses, and lots of old braces/crutches etc:

Our guess was that it had something to do with faith healing or miracles.

And the crowning glory of the church? The ‘Reliquary’, a goblet which contained (verified by scientific testing no less), the tears of the Virgin. Which I think is probably at least less creepy than the ‘hair’ or ‘fingernails’ of so-and-so that I remember scattered throughout Italy’s churches.

In the evening, we headed down to Ortigia- technically an island but in practice connected to the city mainland by multiple motorways/bridges. Andy is posing here in front of the Temple of Apollo, which was not particularly stunning after the days touring.

We wandered around the Island, through the main Piazzas, along the coast, and up and down the very narrow streets.

At some point, we managed to find some amazingly cheap and delicious arancini (little oranges), and some sort of bread-based pie product, containing tomato, ham, cheese and eggplant. Dinner itself later in the evening was fairly disappointing, so I’ll leave you instead with pictures of us pleasurably stuffing our faces with these delights.

I miss my ‘x’…

You should never go to bed craving sushi.

Pau learning to make sushi at our ‘movie night’ a couple of weekends ago. Any excuse to sit still for hours on end and stuff our faces with food.

Two nights ago I had a dream, featuring one of my most beloved Aussies: Ashlee. She was in Germany, and we took her to an asian restaurant. Andy and I were super excited. We miss asian food like crazy here, especially places which sell good Thai or Vietnamese food. Or Rendang, there are days when I would kill for a good rendang.

Many of the aisan-style food places here still sell very westernised cuisine and ‘asian fast food’ – nonspecific noodles with salty sauce and a bit of chicken thrown on top. Many more restaurants, even when selling a higher quality of food (and I’ll admit, some of it is super tasty), still tend to be ‘asian themed’. These places have a generic name, or claim to be ‘Thai’ but somehow still manage to have sushi slipped into the meno.

Which was the problem in the dream. We went for brunch at a dim sum place. We sat down, opened the menus, and our mouths began to water as visions of dumplings danced through our heads. But they were selling sushi. Ashlee, a lady of fine breeding and taste, wanted to leave. This place could not be both a good Yum Cha restaurant, and also a good sushi bar. Andy and I practically begged her to let us stay- oh how we needed those dumplings.

And then I woke up, and everything was ok, because ‘The Day of the Dumplings’ had finally arrived.

All the children were estatic.

Joram, who has recently returned to work to begin to his exciting life as a PhD student, took us to his favourite Dumpling restaurant: Wok Show. We’d been there once before, and were eagerly awaiting a return visit. This place is truly fantastic, but I should probably mention that it’s recommended only to those who are fans of the mighty dumpling: the rest of the menu is pretty limited.

But oh how delicious these dumplings are! And oh how cheap!

They come in a variety of flavours- but the pork ones are by far the best. This time around we also tucked into some veggie filled morsels and some with beef and carrot- also good, but not quite weighing up to the delicious mixtures of pork, ginger and assorted additional flavours.

You can order you dumplings steamed of fried (the latter is of course way better), and they come out rather unceremoniously dumped on a plate of either 20 or 40 dumplings.


The people take a breif, contemplative pause, before rushing at the dumplings.

A possible dumpling convert??

This is how 20 dumplings look. See, it’s not so many- you might as well just go for the 40. And given the ridiculous prices (~7 euros for 20, ~13 euros for 40), you can afford to buy more and take the rest back for tomorrow’s lunch.

Andy: concentration, exhilaration.

After gorging on dumplings, we headed down the street, round the corner, up another street and 10 blocks over to find…..

Not technically in the asian wheelhouse, but mine came with green tea icecream, so I like to think that it still counts.

In the name of complete honesty, they were chocolate filled waffles with chocolate (and matcha) icecream, and chocolate sauce. Mmmmmm!

And now, here’s a little montage of us eating things that taste like home: