Saturday, May 14, 2011

BERLIN :: Week Eight

First off, just wanted to say that I'm glad so many of you are reading and enjoying my blog. Glad I could share all this crazy stuff with you guys. And if any of you are considering getting up and taking a sabbatical in a new place -- DO IT!! It's been awesome.

Hard to believe that we will back in Toronto in less than two weeks time now. I'm equally bummed and excited to be coming home. It's been so so so amazing to travel and while it's made me pretty frustrated by Toronto and Canada at times, it's also made me realize some of the good things that I take for granted. I'm working on a list which I'll share at the end of the trip!

So, the big excitement this week has been visitors. Michael came over from London last weekend and we had a blast. We rented bikes (Boo sucked it up and rode a big ol' honkin' bike -- not his usual slick single speed), booted it around the city and visited some Berlin essentials.

We ate some apfelstrudel and it was alright but I suspect there is better strudel to be had... So naturally, what with us not being quitting types, we tried it at another place the next day, along with Topfenstrudel (a strudel with with sweet soft quark cheese), and while it's pretty, well... the search continues.

We also had drinks at one of the beach bars which are a Berlin phenonmenon. Beach bars are a wonderful idea -- they set up lounge chairs all along the Spree river (some aren't on the water but they recreate a beach scene with palm trees and sand) and if it weren't for the live DJs they have playing awful techno music, they would be the perfect way to spend a sunny day. Super fun weekend!

I saw a billboard this week that had been graffitied and it was a case of how context is everything. Someone went around putting little Hitler moustaches on billboards (not with marker, actual fuzzy sticker moustaches) and I saw this little girl with a moustache and it kinda made me laugh a bit. And then I realized where I was and it made me think about it differently. It's kind of a different thing to use a Hitler moustache as graffiti in Germany. Needless to say, the billboard was not up when I walked by the next day.

We've been putting our heads down and working on the projects we had our hearts set on when we came here -- Dave with his music and me with my drawing stuff. But we've also been getting out of the house and there's something new around every corner in Berlin. One of the things I love most about Berlin is that they have these sort of hidden courtyards behind all of the buildings. You can wander down one of these alleys and discover little clusters of lovely shops or parks or restaurants or just some crazy wacky architecture you couldn't see from the street. It's a city full of surprises. Here are a few pics from a walk we took a few nights ago.

There are also just so many old buildings with so much character, many of them untouched, or touched but left as is (so you can visibly see the decay or age or even battle wounds). Dave's sister Sarah arrived yesterday and we went for lunch at this outdoor biergarten called Clarchen's Ballhaus and could see that there was some really wacky decor going on inside so we wandered in and there was an old beautiful banquet hall, just covered in reflective streamers. And then upstairs we wandered into this other empty hall that was incredible. Ornate but decaying old mirrors, paint that had seemingly lost it's pigment over the years and had become this gorgeous shade of grey, piles and piles of rich brown Thonet chairs, an intricate old glass chandalier untouched by time. That's the kind of thing I'm going to miss about Berlin. I hate to say it but in Toronto, you'd wander down an alley and you'd probably just find a dumpster.

When we came to Berlin, I kept saying I wanted to just see what would happen if I had 3 months with no real work responsibilities, to see what would happen. To see what I could produce, or if I was inspired to do anything creatively, other than straight up graphic design. I've been focusing on patterns, which I have always been obsessed with, but taking them in a new direction. Here are a few of my faves so far. These and a whole lot of others are online too.

:::::::::::::: SEE MY BERLIN WEEK EIGHT PICTURES HERE ::::::::::::::


  1. Colleen!! I've really enjoyed following you guys on your adventures! I'm SO glad you both have taken this opportunity for yourselves. Also - man, oh man! Your patterns are *absolutely* *awesome*. I am excited to see what you will do with them. I would buy every single one of them as fabric....yards & yards of it!xoxox

  2. Aw thank you so much Nicole! Means a lot that you like my patterns... given your amazing taste. I can't wait to see you and meet your new little addition when I get back!