Lets go back in time - Part 2

It's February 2023, I'm sitting on a plane to Germany with my wife. We are both nervous, I am a little anxious about spending a whole week by myself in a foreign city, something I have never done before, she hates flying. I'm very much glad to have company for a few days beforehand whilst I acclimatise.

She has joined me for a wee birthday treat comprising of concert tickets to see the amazing Scottish band "Young Fathers" in Berlin at the Astra Kulturhaus. I have found a very cheap airbnb in the Neukölln area of the city. From the pictures it looks like it has a lot of character and when we arrive it does not disappoint. Owned by a local artist, it has everything from an old school hifi with a record player and small vinyl collection, to a wall covered in graffiti and illustrations to weird penis ornaments and strange black and white photos. We immediately WhatsApp photos and videos to our son and daughter back home. It's in an old tenement block and true to form the stairwell and back garden are covered in grafitti and there is techno music coming from the flat across the hall (this turns into to a 3 day house party, luckily the music turns off on Sunday afternoon ready for me to work). Its has everything I need for my week, a small kitchen, washing machine, a table to work from and it's central enough for me to get out and explore the city from.

We have a lovely weekend before my better half heads home. The highlights include a trip out to Teufelsberg on the outskirts of the city - A former cold ward US listening station, now derelict and an amazing street art/graffiti mural gallery; the most delicious Italian meal in a tiny restaurant called La Bolognina and of course the gig which did not disappoint.

It's now Monday and I am on my own for the next 8 days! I am a little nervous but I have my base, got my bearings, navigated the local transport app, and got the groceries in from the local Lidl. I even got some meat from the butchers and fresh produce from a small fruit and veg shop. I am very proud of myself.

I have a plan for the week and it goes like this. Get up early, draw in blocks of 2hours - 2 blocks in the morning with a cake break, then an early lunch, then another block before heading out into the city in the afternoon, then back home for dinner and my final block of drawing in the evening. I will go for a run on alternate days, I am a stones throw from the canal which is perfect. I will also take a couple of days to explore the galleries in the city and hunt down some more street art.

By the time I am packing my bags and heading for the airport I have crossed off everything on my list and more. I had traversed and explored the city near and far. I had seen an array of amazing murals and visited loads of galleries. I visited an old food market hall, found uber cool cafes to eat cake and drink coffee in, bought middle eastern sweets and humous from the many places in the Neuekoln area. I did my 10k run around the airport in the snow! And I got loads of drawing done, 8 hours each day and even some on my days off when I got in after exploring.

Yes it was cold and a bit wet and it even snowed a couple of days but that didn't matter. Once again Berlin delivered and I completely smashed it. My second art retreat was a success and I headed home ready to convert my drawings to Into colourful finished pieces.


The best carrot cake ever from canal side eatery @Café Nah am Wasser

Gallery & Cafe at former art deco brewery in Neukolln @KINDL

The Museum of Things @Werkbundarchiv

Drinking Picon Bière @Arminius Markthalle

Tour of and 10km run around old airport @Flughafen Tempelhof

Tour by ex American spy & graffiti @Teufelsberg

Amazing pasta @La Bolognina

Drinks and people watching at uber cool dive bar @Loophole

Young Fathers gig at amazing old fashioned dancehall @Astra Kulturhaus

Tasty Borek pastries which were sold at kiosks everywhere and saved us from hangry eruptions several times!


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