Tuesday, November 17, 2009

before, during and after - Mauerfall Berlin

I'm totally in with Berlin's mayor when he says the city 'might be poor but it's sexy'. Capital of cool, Berlin's unemployment is surprisingly out of line in a country like Germany but then that might be explained by the high number of students, artists, musicians, etc... counted among Berlin's residents...

while this might not reflect particularly well on the financial sheets of the State, it is what gives the city its welcoming character. The city, that just celebrated the 20th anniversary of fall of the wall (mauerfall), has been the 'muse' of three great movies - reflecting live in the city (or cities!) before, during and after the Mauerfall.

-The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) - Before

Released in 2006, this masterpiece focuses on the invisible relationship of a Stasi agent and a couple of intellectuals he is 'surveying' in the East Berlin of the 1980s. Rightly so, it won an Oscar for Best foreign language film. One of the best movies in a long time.

-Good Bye Lenin (2003) - During

This hilarious drama/comedy follows Alex's troubles. His mum has been in a coma for a few months, missing one of the most important episodes in the history of the country: the fall of teh wall. As he tries to keep his mum from finding out the Berlin wall has fallen, in order to save her fragile health, Alex keeps their flat in East Berlin as West-free as possible, with very funny consequences.

-Run Lola Run (Lola rennt - 1998) - After

This popular thriller sees Lola literally running across different parts of post-wall Berlin trying to find 100,000 marks in cash to save her boyfriend Manni. Three options on three different ways Lola could have solve this problem unfold... offering some Berlin sightseeing along the way.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cork among top 10 cities to visit in 2010

Lonely Planet has just discovered what we had known for a while: Cork is fab. Cork city has made it to the Top 10 cities to visit in 2010 by Lonely Planet's 'Best in Travel 2010'. The guide - that was just launched this week - praises Cork for being 'sophisticated, vibrant and diverse', while still relaxed and charming. Beat that!

The other cities in the Lonely Planet Top 10 are: Cuenca, Ecuador; Sarajevo, Bosnia & Hercegovina; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Kyoto, Japan; Lecce, Italy; Singapore; Vancouver, Canada; Istanbul, Turkey; and Charleston, USA.

Get your checklist started and get down to Cork, quick! The Film Festival is on this month so you can still get ahead of the crowd.

Arriving late for Berlin Wall Fall 20th anniversary celebrations

I'm gutted I didn't check my facts before booking my flights to visit my brother in Berlin. It turns out, we will be arriving 5 days after the big 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the infamous Berlin Wall. dammit.

Anyway, I'm getting into the Berlin Wall Fall celebrations mood by watching George Lee's 4-part series Beyond the Berlin Wall that started last night on RTE (you can catch it on RTE Player at www.rte.ie) even if I'll be arriving when all the party is finished!

So we might be too late for the Wall celebrations and too early for the Christmas markets... now that's what I call good planning. I hope my brother is around at least ;-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cork nostalgia + veggie spots for hungry meat-eaters

Agnieszka has been telling me off for not updating the hungry rambler a bit more often so I promise, mala, I'll be good in the run up to Xmas. The truth is that I've been quite busy: I was in Cork for a few days around the October Bank Holiday for a friend's wedding and took the chance to go and check on some other friends we hadn't seen for a while.

The thing about Cork is that I never want to go back home after being there. I always have a wannaliveincork type of crisis that lasts for a good few days. I'm only recovering now!

Anyway. It was the chance to finally go for a meal at the reknowned Cafe Paradiso, meant to be the best veggie resto in the country. IT was a bit pricey but boy was it good... (I only write 'boy' because I'm just back from Cork you see... they say boy all the time down there... I kind of like it - it makes sentences sound much stronger...)- to sound like a real Corkegian you need to add that to emphasise your opinions, as well as adding 'like' at the end of each phrase (if you want to emphasise it or not). Try it at home. IT's safe ;-) and great fun. I like 'like' myself quite a lot. It probably drives most people scatty but once you start, there is no stopping.

I was too stuffed to go for a dessert and that's saying something: vegetarian doesn't mean you have to go hungry. I really think meat-eaters should try a good veggie cafe or restaurant every now and then. They'll be pleasantly surprised.

As for myself, I couldn't really become a full-time vegetarian, for two reasons: meat lasagna and chorizo sausage. And seafood, of course.

However, if out and about looking for some good food, try a veggie restaurant/cafe if possible: they rarely dissapoint. You will find they are in general more creative with their menus than conventional cafes.

If you rather test it at home first: Cafe Paradiso has a cookbook out (this is high end cooking mind you), if you'd like something more 'doable' at home go for the Cornucopia one.

Cornucopia is another great veggie spot, this time in Dublin, where the amazing smells of the place and just looking at the desserts are enough to kill your hunger. This is definitely another recommended spot for meat-eaters in search of their inner veggie-self.

But back to Cork: The Quay co-op is another veggie cafe (more suitable for recessionary budgets) that is well worth a visit (I have never been to Cork without eating at least one at The Quay).

If you are still not convinced that going veggie (even part-time) will be good for you and for the planet, then don't miss the Farmgate restaurant at the English Market: they have amazing desserts and definitely the best flan (creme caramel) I have tried since I visited Cuba.

And by the way, the jazz festival was on: in between treats we went to see Imelda May at the Savoy. She was such good fun - almost as good as the flan!