An art gallery with a difference: Urban Spree, Berlin, Germany

Urban Spree
Revaler Strasse 99, Berlin
http://www.urbanspree.com/

If you’re not a big believer in “what’s meant to be, will be,” let me tell you a little story that may change your mind. After a long day in Berlin, I was flopped on the bed in my PJs having a look at the Berlin city map on my beloved Sygic Travel app to see what else was in the area of a particular Christmas market we planned to visit the following day. I saw a little logo right near the market and clicked on it: Urban Spree. The description read “This eclectic space hosts concerts, workshops, exhibitions, markets, festivals and other artsy events – just dive in and explore this vibrant place.” Great idea! Until I looked at the rest of the day’s activities and realised it was one of those days we’d be doing lots of stuff I’d enjoy/stuff that husband just tolerates because he loves me.

Fast forward to the next morning, and off we go to the Christmas market. We walked from the train station and followed the blue dot on the phone’s map towards the area of the market. And found ourselves in an absolutely incredible area that can only be described as hipster art gallery meets the apocalypse; we accidentally turned up at the back entrance to the market, which happened to be the front entrance of Urban Spree. And husband thought it was awesome, anyway. Meant. To. Be.

It’s actually kinda hard to describe Urban Spree. The website says:

“Urban Spree is a 1700 sqm artistic space in Berlin-Friedrichshain dedicated to urban cultures through exhibitions, artist residencies, DIY workshops, concerts, an art store and a large Biergarten.

Within Urban Spree, the Urban Spree Galerie is a 400 sqm independent contemporary urban art space. Set in a 70.000 sqm postindustrial compound in the heart of Berlin, the gallery benefits from its large urban grassroots ecosystem and offers its invited artists and photographers an ideal space for experimentation through ambitious on-site residencies.”

On the day I visited, without having read any information about it other than what was on the app, what it looked like to me was a crappy old industrial area full of abandoned buildings left to decay. Which was then taken over by a band of entrepreneurial hipsters and artists who decided to make something beautiful out of it. What you have to understand here is that I’m a Melbourne girl; I’m spoilt, I’m used to great street art projects, and it takes a bit to impress me. Urban Spree totally knocked my socks off. The bars and shops and galleries within it weren’t open on this particular day, but that only made for a better experience – there were only a few other people around, so we got to wonder around this phenomenal area in peace. Instead of snapping a photo and running to the next mural, we got to actually look at the pieces; I’m quite an introspective creature, so I couldn’t have been happier with all of that physical and mental space to take it all in and mull it over.

I imagine it’d have a pretty awesome atmosphere in full swing with people all around, live music playing and drinks flowing, but if you’re there for the art, I’d really recommend visiting early in the morning. We spent a good hour walking around before we finally made it to the Christmas market, and could have easily spent an hour more pouring over all of the artwork. With the rise of artists like Banksy, it’s really great that cities are slowly forming a more progressive view on art in its many forms – what would have once been considered graffiti on derelict buildings is now seen as real art, and the casual, outdoor gallery that is Urban Spree is getting a new generation involved in art in a way that the stuffy art galleries of old never could.

   

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City of Chicago: 2017 Year of Public Art

Arriving back into Chicago again was exciting, and a big contributor to that excitement was a small billboard I saw on the train from the airport into the city; it was letting me know that 2017 was the Year of Public Art in Chicago = a whooole lot of street art to be found around the city!

I checked out the City of Chicago website for a little more information…

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have designated 2017 the “Year of Public Art” with a new 50×50 Neighborhood Arts Project, the creation of a Public Art Youth Corps, a new Public Art Festival, exhibitions, performances, tours and more — representing a $1.5 million investment in artist-led community projects.

There were some incredible pieces scattered around, and I’ve added a few of my favourites below, but they’re helpfully created a few hashtags for you to follow if you’d like to see some more – follow #2017isYOPA or #ChiPublicArt for all of the art work!

 

Through my eyes: Bangkok street art

I was looking through some photos I have stored on our computer from our last trip to Thailand, in 2014, and came across this one…

Husband and I had been walking through the streets while the Shutdown Bangkok protests were in full swing. We were seeing people camped out on the road sides, simple food sold from the backs of motorbikes, and locals walking around in torn tshirts and bare feet.

Then, we turned a corner, and found this brightly coloured, fun, modern piece of art. In complete contrast to everything going on around it, and ee both just stopped and burst into laughter. That’s why I love Bangkok so much; you really never know what you’re going to stumble onto!

Sunday morning in Collingwood. And, Eat here: Donut Shop Donuts & Coffee, Melbourne

Guys, I’m so excited… it’s Friday, which means it’s almost time for OKTOBERFEST!!!! If you’ve been playing along for a while, you might remember last year’s backyard Oktoberfest, complete with pretzels and mustard, cookies and beer, and most essential of all, good friends to enjoy the night with! We had so much fun, we decided to do it again over the weekend, which you’ll no doubt hear all about in a few days…

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But before the good times roll, we had to venture out last weekend for a few more supplies with which to complete the man cave’s transition to beer hall; we ended up in my favourite ‘hood, the Fitzroy/Collingwood district that I love oh so much. After leaving the car off Smith St and grabbing a quick cuppa at Harry Monty Flavour, we walked up to Gertrude St so I could pick up some of my favourite ETS English Breakfast tea from Aunt Maggie’s on Gertrude St, and, filled with nostalgia, we decided to keep walking.

See, husband and I went to university just behind Gertrude St, at ACU. That’s where we met. That’s where we studied. That’s where we earned our degrees. That’s even where we had some of our wedding photos taken! That area was our home away from home for three years, and it was nothing like it is today! We walked slowly up towards Brunswick St, thinking back to our uni days, marveling at how much nicer, fancier, cleaner it is now compared to our residency back around 2005; the broken bottles, angry homeless drunks, dirty graffiti and smashed store front windows have been replaced with detailed street art, one-off local designer scarves and shiny new hipster eateries. “Imagine if it had been like this when we were studying here,” he said to me. “Yeah… we’d have been getting fat off fried chicken and donuts instead of watching drug raids* and dodging the angry guy with the long neck in the brown paper bag!”

* Yes, there were a lot of drug raids around there when we were at uni. I personally saw two, one of which came complete with two fully armoured police squads carrying battering rams. Great excuse to miss another boring nutrition lecture.

 

Good and bad, it’s a suburb that’ll always feel like home to me…


As it usually does in a city as abundant in offerings as Melbourne, our wanderings led us to good food, this time in the form of donuts.

Donut Shop Donuts & Coffee
130 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
https://instagram.com/donutshopfitzroy/

Since Big Lou‘s left the area earlier this year, there’s been a need for a new donutery. Donut Shop stepped up to the plate, opening only a few weeks ago, and they’re doing beautiful things with dough…

Like most other donut shops I’ve visited (both here and in America, actually), it’s only a little space with a few seats inside. They do, as promised, donuts and coffee, along with a few other beverages like the PB milkshake and a matcha latte. But we were just there for the donuts, and it’s Friday morning, so let’s cut to the chase.

There are some pretty good looking donuts to choose from, but we were instantly for the pina colada brulee (pineapple + coconut = sunshiney happiness) and the matcha white chocolate (since coming home from Japan with a whole lot of matcha cookies, husband’s now just as obsessed with matcha treats as me, which, seeing as we usually share, means I can order them now when we go out!).

Pina colada brulee up first – the most amazing crackle and crunch when I cut it in half, so top marks for the brulee side, and an extra point for it not being bitter. The coconut pineapple custard inside was some of the best stuff I’ve ever eaten – it was unbelievable silky, full of flavor without tasting fake, and I’d have happily eaten a full tub of a stuff with a spoon, fructose intolerance be damned! Also, really loved the cherry and grilled pineapple on top – cute touches that only added to the taste.

The matcha white chocolate was possibly even better, if you can believe that – again, creamy smooth filling, with the most incredible matcha flavor. The crumbles on top were SO GOOD, nice to have a bit of crunchiness with the super smooth filling. I could have done with a little more white chocolate (because I’m a pig), but other than that, it was faultless.

And it wasn’t just the fillings; the dough itself was textbook light, fluffy, amazing. I’m really glad food this good wasn’t around while we were studying; with these guys, Archie’s All Day, Belle’s, De Clieu and so many more amazing places now calling Gertrude St home, we’d have possibly been the most obese exercise science graduates ever…

But right now, I’m going to let you guys plan your visit (they’re open all weekend) while I get myself to work, and then head home to bake what feels like another 5000 pretzels for this weekend’s Oktoberfest…  : D

Donut Shop Donuts & Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Colours of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Tuesday morning. Melbourne. Middle of winter. Bloody cold. I like the cold, for the most part, but yesterday I was thinking how nice it’d be to just go back to Mexico for a quick winter break, cruising around in a golf buggy, eating tacos, and being around sunshine and pretty colours. But I can’t, so I’m gonna have a take-me-back-Tuesday session instead… enjoy 🙂

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Fitzroy street art – September/October 2014

There may not be a lot of attention or publicity around it, but there is some seriously awesome street art on and off the main foot traffic areas of Smith and Brunswick Streets in Melbourne’s suburbs of Collingwood and Fitzroy. I like to spend a bit of time roaming the streets at least a few times a month in my favourite place; here are some of the incredible designs I captured over the last few months!

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Through my eyes: Barcelona, Spain (part 2)

Barlceona… have said it before, will say it again: you’re a damn pretty city and I would very much like to go back and see you again. Right now.

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8.10  8.8