Über Höhlenbier lesen und lettische Musik gewinnen / Win Latvian Folkmusic

Take me to the English version!

Daran, auch mal abends alleine im Restaurant zu sitzen, habe ich mich gewöhnt. Es kommt selten genug vor, dass ich das Geld habe essen zu gehen, wenn ich unterwegs bin, und wenn ich mir das dann gönne, genieße ich es. Egal ob ich alleine an einem Tisch sitze oder nicht.
Etwas anderes ist es aber immer noch alleine in einer Bar zu sein.

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„Ala“ heißt „Höhle“ auf Lettisch. Ein passender Name für die Bar in den Gewölben unter Rigas Altstadt. Ein kleiner, unscheinbarer Eingang und dahinter dann ein überraschend großes Kellersystem, ein Raum nach dem anderen, es sind nicht alle genutzt und schließlich im letzten dann eine Kneipe, die so urig wirkt als würde man einen Hobbitfilm hier drehen. Continue reading

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The Grandma Choir

A 80 years old Latvian woman might have never moved in her entire life but lived in six different countries.

Let’s say she was born on the 23th June 1933 in Riga. And like most of the girls born at the saint’s day of Līga, her parents called her Līga, too. Līga took her first breaths in a independent Latvia with a parliamentary democracy and modern rules of minority protection.
Following a European trend, the Latvian democracy changed into a nationalistic dictatorship after a coup of the prime minister Karlis Ulmanis in 1934. While Līga didn’t notice the first change for sure, she might have heard her parents talking about the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact by the age of six.
The pact split Europe between the Soviets and the Nazis. Latvia fell to the Soviets. Due to the pact the Soviet army invaded Latvia in 1940. From now on Līga didn’t live in Latvia anymore but in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Pictures can be found in which Latvian women throw flowers at the Nazis when they, despite the nonaggression pact, invaded Riga in 1941. The Latvians suffered a lot under the Soviet Regime and hoped the Germans might treat them better. Maybe Līga and mother joined the other women on the streets waving at the Germans.

Anyhow, from 1941 her hometown Riga was known as the capital of the Reichskommisariat Ostland. A from Nazis occupied and administered federation of the Baltic states, parts of Poland, and Belarus. This, however, didn’t last long either. If Līga wasn’t lucky enough the escape Riga, she might have witnessed heavy fighting between the Soviets and the Nazis in her hometown by the age of 11. A little later the heavily destroyed Riga was handed over to the winning Soviet troops. From this moment on the girl lived again in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. In this state she grew up. Maybe she worked in one of the Soviet factories around Riga or in the port. Maybe she raised children, too. However, by the age of 56 she witnessed how the Soviet Empire begun to to fall apart. Perhaps she has been one of the thousands of people who formed a human chain through the Baltic countries to protest for their independence.

Raw footage of the Baltic humanchain. Best to be started at 2:50

After the peaceful revolution she lived in the sixth, and probably last, country of her live: the independent Republic of Latvia. Continue reading

Little House On The Prairie

As the ferry docked at the port of Piraeus, I awoke from a short night of sleep on the carpeted floor of the ferry and looked around; the days had merged. Had it been dark between departure and arrival at all? I shouldered my backpack, rubbed the sleep from my eyes and tried to get my bearings. Two phone numbers and “Korinthos”, the name of a railway station, were written on the little piece of paper that I held in my hand. After almost eight month of traveling, I’m an expert in asking for directions and finding trains. Even through the blistering midday heat, I succeeded in transferring to another train in an abandoned station. I arrived in Korinthos a little early and I found myself alone on the platform. A man appeared and asked me if I needed help. I declined and tried to explain him that I would be picked up immediately. He didn’t leave my side until I told him that it was my boyfriend who was on his way to pick me up. He disappeared from my view and I thought to myself that if he was still in the station, he must have been terribly confused when my ride became visible moments later. The man who emerged from a battered blue compact car and greeted me was about fifty years old. The hand he extended out to me as a welcome was cracked and dusty and he was wearing a baggy shirt with some holes in it and his pants were caked with earth. The man smiled warmly and introduced himself as Konstantin.

SAM_0402The Korinthos canal, just a few minutes driving by bike from the farm

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Thessaloniki Street Art

a few words in English about the pictures

Ich freue mich sehr, dass Nora sich unter dem letzten Post Graffitibilder gewünscht hat. Zum einen gab mir das die Gelegenheit rauszufinden wie die WordPressslideshow funktioniert, und zum anderen ist das der vielleicht leichteste Post seit… immer!

Die Bilder sind bis auf wenige Ausnahmen an einem Sonntagnachmittag in Thessaloniki entstanden. Normalerweise ist die Stadt keine Geisterstadt sondern voller nicht-geschlossener Läden (also sind die tags und graffitis auf den Rolläden oft gar nicht zu sehen) und Studenten.

Die Berlinerin Julia Tulke hat ihre Masterarbeit über Street Art in Athen geschrieben. Im Interview mit der Süddeutschen erzählt sie einiges über Counterpropaganda und die Rolle, die Street Art in der Krise spielt. Das Interview mit Julia Tulke könnt ihr hier lesen.

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In Erdogans green backyard

Moving my mind back to Turkey… By now, my time at Gezi-Park seems to be so far away. Sometimes I see tattered posters in Athens. “Solidarity with Gezi” is written on them. It makes me almost nostalgic. But even though the international media left the Gezi-Park for Egypt or Edward Snowden, the protests aren’t over. During the Ramadan time people met for a shared fast-breaking. As far as I know public park forums are still going on. And of course people who got arrested or hurt still fight with the outcome of these days. Furthermore people start to produce movies about #occupygezi as for example the “Istanbul united” project.
Let me share one last story about Turkey with you before we move on to Greece:

I could have stayed in Istanbul forever. Adapting the rhythm of the movement, standing still on Taksim during the days and discussing in park-forums during the night. I think there has never been a political movement I felt more at home. Every morning I would promise myself to just stay one more day. Every evening I would fall exhausted in my bed without any plans to leave… Finally, a friend’s invitation to Izmir gave me a reason to say good-bye to Istanbul and it’s empty, police guarded park.

Within the next days, I learned that leaving Istanbul didn’t mean to leave the Republic of Gezi. On Izmir’s coast open-air concerts were held and scenes from the occupied park and the street fights were shown on a big screen next to the sea. Unlike Istanbul Izmir wasn’t quite. For the first time in a week, I heard a loud demonstration passing by and saw street-art (In an overnight action all of Istanbul’s street-art, whether connected to the protests or not, was covered with gray color.).

SAM_0232If I would have taken a ferry from Izmir to Greece I would have thought all Turkey contains of open-air gatherings, park-discussions and demonstrations. But instead of taking a ferry to Greece I followed a friend inland to Konya. Christiane wanted to go to Konya to see the Mevlana-Museum about Sufi-culture, a mystical flow of the Islam. This was about all we both knew about the city we were going to go to.

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Learned while traveling: Blogging is a lonley buisness.

click here to jump to the english version

Viele, viele Stunden meiner Zeit verbringe ich in Cafés vor dem Bildschirm meines Laptop und starre auf die Uhrzeit in der rechten, unteren Ecke. „Um Punkt 14 Uhr fange ich an zu Schreiben.“, motiviere ich mich. Um 14 Uhr lese ich dann grade einen interessanten Artikel. „Um 14.30 Uhr, dann aber wirklich.“, sage ich mir. Und um 14.30 Uhr öffne ich schließlich wirklich ein neues Dokument, beginne zu schreiben, lese was ich geschrieben habe und lösche es wieder. Oder ich speichere es und denke, dass es vielleicht besser wird wenn ich noch eine Nacht darüber schlafe. Am nächsten Morgen stelle ich mir den Wecker dann auf Frühmorgens, klappe den Laptop auf, lese was ich schrieb, befinde es für genauso schlecht wie am Abend zuvor und beginne stattdessen lieber Nachrichten zu lesen. „In einer halben Stunde fange ich an, den Text zu überarbeiten.“, beruhige ich mein schlechtes Gewissen mit Blick auf die Uhrzeit. Es liegt ja noch ein ganzer Tag vor mir…

Foto0448Ja, das Zeug liegt da wirklich nur zur Deko.

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“Pepperspray us and we still see the unfairness”

Actually, I planned to post four articles about the daily life in Gezi within the next days. To rehear my interviews from the last days has become something spooky now. Where all the laughing, music and dancing took place is now a empty nomensland, “protected” by police.

Yesterday evening the police started to clear Gezi Park. I was very lucky to not accidently be there because the brutaliy reached new levels and I was scared already last week… They gazed childred and a hotel, which was used as a hospital. Since I wasn’t there I can’t give you any first-hand information at this time.  But the German TV channel ZDF has a really good report on yesterday evening. Some of some imagines might be really shocking, it contains police brutality and injured people. It’s english subtiltled.

Even though my articles about the daily life in Gezi now have a slightly bitter tast I’ll continue to post them in the next days. I really want to show you how beautiful it has been and what people are able to do if they unite. I believe this isn’t the end. Protests will go on. I’m just scared that Erdogan might have destroyed the peaceful and creative atmosphere the protests had so far, for good.

SAM_0116One of the last picutures I have been taking in Gezi-Park.