All posts by Guido

I'm just a geek.

Sounds of the Underground #5

Time for some new revelations from the underground. I feel forced to not pick mysterious bands that no one has heard of this time, since there simply happen to be some brilliant bands I need to tell you about.

If you happen to have recommendations for me, they’d be most welcome. Leave me a comment!

Earth – Primitive and Deadly 


The band from Washington has been a defining and genre-shifting force for ages and thus already captivated my attention in the past. Particularly the album ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’, from 2008, was amazing to me. Every album the band has produced since their conception in 1989 has been brilliant and different. This one has captivated me so much, that I’ll go into every song for a bit.

Starting with “Torn By The Fox of the Crescent Moon”, the cascading riffs wash down slowly but full of foreboding. The colour of the music indeed feels pale like the moon. Darkness is in the end the main element with which Earth is playing, but there’s a light as well in that darkness, which is tangible in this songs beaming peaks that pierce the clouds. The description of a serpentine approach in music is embraced to the fullest in “There Is a Serpent Coming”, which has some riffs that give the song a movie soundtrack quality. Mark Lanegan with his charcoal black rasp provides the repetitive vocals on this track, that is filled with anticipation and warning. Bleak sound is embraced by warmth in the voice and music, which leads to a magical musical experience.

“From the Zodiacal Light” features the warm and captivating vocals of Rabia Shaheen Qazi from the band Rose Windows. Though musically far distincts, the vocals show similarities with those of The Devil’s Blood. Mystical words over soaring music and droning rhythm. Southern rock flavor is definitely detectable in the weeping guitar sounds of ‘Even Hell Has Its Heroes’. The sound seems to slow down while the chords are reverberating in the air. It’s the sound of the desert, with the sun shining in your eyes and twisting your vision, hallucinating and shrill sounding. The slow beat dragging on in the endless space around you. A similar sound can be heard on ‘Rooks Across The Gates’, featuring once again Mark Lanegan on vocal duties. This landscape is bleaker though and after almost ten minutes it just fades away.

Oh, check this interview by Steel for Brains with Dylan Carlson.

the xx – the xx / the xx  – Coexist

source: wikipedia

When the debut of this band came out, I was very keen to get my hands on it and review their sounds. I thought it was beautiful, haunting, cool and the sound of a drive through a city in the very early morning or in the deep of the night. Recently I got back into the xx and decided to listen to that other album, which I sadly ignored at the time.

The hazy youthful sound of the debut already demonstrated something unique that probably would not be reproducable. The band was on that fragile moment between youth and adulthood, expressing the sublime angst of that point in an excellent album.  That foggy, misty feeling of an early day, fresh and new, was captivated in the sounds on that first record.

That is the downfall of Coexist. Though it takes on the mellow beats, the minimal sound and gentle tones with whispered vocals, it lacks that fresh sound. The crisp break of dawn has been lifted and the monring sun has made the fog evaporate, it feels like a rehashed version of that moment when the fog was on the leaves and the cold was still in the air. When the words are whispered, no clouds appear from the mouth, just sounds. This time the angst is replaced by adulthood, certainty and a carreer. No longer is the magic in the air. It was a moment in time, that has now past. We still have the songs though.

Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden

source: Stereogum

The epic doom of Pallbearer is much appreciated in the world that adores it, so that makes it worth mentioning on itself. I like the epic quality of their sound, which reminds me a bit of Candlemass, even if it’s only a feeling for me as a listener. The clean and strong vocals are a main reason for that opinion I would think.

Oh, the pallbearer is part of the ensemble that carries a coffin. That’s kinda the drag they put in their doom, minor and sadness. It’s really everything you could want from a doom record, including its accessability. This is easy going stuff, nothing harsh, just bleak and heavy as you would want it. If you are even slightly into doom and you love feeling a bit sad with some heavy, slow guitarwork, check this band out for real.

High point is in my opinion the song ‘The Ghost I Used To Be’. Check it out. All crushing riffs, soaring guitars and picturesque vocals and strenght. Power metal meets doom? I don’t know, but this song I love.

source: austin chronicle

Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love

What got me tuned in to the band Perfect Pussy was not their music, but their charming singer Meredith Graves. An interview passed around on UPcoming (with a tacky headline in that ‘You won’t believe’.. line they’ve been pumping out like there’s no tomorrow), where she undressed while being interviewed. It was so captivating, that you forget that a beautiful lady is undressing. She spoke about punkrock, identity, looks and the self.

The music reflects that peculiar nature in a way I think. No distortion, just violent, wild passion is what the music expresses. An eclectic mixture of punkrock, noise and lofi rockmusic. The sound is energetic, uncompromising and light. The jangling guitar and the rattling drum form a warm tapestry of ragtag sound, that for some magical reason still sounds like a song.

Songs like ‘Big Stars’ and ‘Dig’ feature the almost proclaiming vocal style of Graves in their best shape. Powerful and relentless blurting out words of defiance. It is a great record and a great band that doesn’t seem to have many problems being out there and against the norm.

My Suitcase: AYS

Source: Reverb nation

Back in 2010 I did an interview with German punk-nutters AYS. Back then they were the first band on the bill for the Persistence tour, for which we did a whole dossier on ROAR E-Zine. We would write about pretty much every band on the bill and I got to do an interview with AYS.

The interview was rewritten in Dutch by me and can be found over here on the website. This is the raw interview. By now AYS is pretty much one of the leading punkrock acts from Germany, so well worth seeing where they were at in 2010.

Who are you and what is your job in AYS? And how are you doing?

Yo, my name is Gummi. I’m doing the lead guitar and a lot of the songwriting stuff in AYS. I’m fine, but I have to go to work today… that sucks!

What does AYS stand for? And what does it represent for you? How did you pick this name?

AYS stands for “Against Your Society” and was founded 2002 by our singer Schommer, who played bass, our drummer Pietz, and two other guys. One of them is our ex-guitar player Felix who left the band some months ago. They were playing melodic punk stuff like Good Riddance or Pennywise. After some lineup changes I joined the band in march 2007 as a bass player and our second guitar player Henne joined us at the beginning of 2008. Our newest member is Chris of Black Friday 29 who replaced me playing the bass when i changed to the guitar. We all have our roots in being Punks. So this name is still representing our punk attitude, being against racism and also not being satisfied what’s going on in this world. And of course: ACAB

What has the band accomplished this far? Who have you played with and where?

In the actual lineup we released an EP (“The Path Of Ages” – 2009) and two LPs (“Wreck My Soul” – 2008) and the newest one is called “Eroded By The Breeze” which was released 3 months ago. There are some old releases but they are not worth to be mentioned.

We played 7 tours in the last 3 Years and saw a lot of cool parts of europe like belgium, netherlands, france, spain, czech, poland, austria, switzerland, sweden, norway and england. At the moment we’re planning some tours and trips for 2011. In february we’ll be back in the UK and we’ll do an Australia/Malaysia Tour in April/May.

On our shows and tours we played with bands like No Turning Back, Sick Of It All, Have Heart, Carpathian, Trash Talk, Rise & Fall, Black Friday 29, Ritual, Born From Pain, The Effort, Swamp Thing, and too much more to name them all. Propably we played with almost everything what’s famous up to day and became friends with a lot of them.

What does AYS Sound like, what are your main inspirations?

I think it took a lot of time to find the sound that we’ve got today. It’s very desperate and pissed. We tried a lot to find out what we want to do, invested a lot of time and I think everybody who knows our old releases can see our development.

I think it’s important to be kinda incomparable and don’t sound like every second existing band what’s really hard because there are a lot of them who are doing a great job. Certainly we are inspirated by everything we listen to, which is not just Punk and Hardcore music.

How did you come together as a band?

Schommer, Pietz and I know each other from school, hangin around, skating, drinking, etc for 8 years. In our hometown was a quite big punk/hardcore scene at that time.

Henne is a friend of us for about 4 years and we know each other from shows in our area and his brother Chris used to play in Black Friday 29 who became good friends of us in the last 2 years.

What’s the German Hardcore scene like?

The german hardcore scene is pretty big. A lot of the kids are doing bands, setting up shows or do labels, fanzines, etc. Also they just support bands by showing up on shows whats propably the most important part. A lot of bands from oversea like our scene and appreciate the support of the german kids.

You’ve got a new album out, called Eroded By the Breeze, what can you tell us about it?

“Eroded By The Breeze” has got a tough and pissed sound combined with melancholic melodics and a lot of experimental parts. It got 13 Songs with a 35 minute playtime.

It was released on the 17th of August 2010 on LP and CD by Cobra Records (LP – Europe), Coretex Records (CD – Europe), Purgatory Records (LP – UK) and soon on Dead Souls Records (CD – Australia).

How did the writing and recording process go. What were your inspirations for this album?

After the release of our “Path Of Ages” EP in July 2009 we didn’t know how we could beat it. We had the goal to write those songs on the same level as “Snowblind” and “Nemesis”, which where re-recorded for the LP again, too. But after 10 Month of writing new stuff we we’re very satisfied with the outcome. The songs hadn’t been finished completely when we arrived at studio and the best ideas we had were while the recordings, breaking edge, playing Super Street Fighter 4, watching football and hooligan Films and eating a lot of pizza. We had a lot of time to try different sounds, settings and effects.

Who does your artwork?

Our singer Schommer is doing all the artwork stuff for us. He also made some designs for other bands as well, but at the moment he’s very busy. Schommer is studying media design so he decided to concetrate on that and just doing sick artworks for us in his freetime.

Who’s the guy with the AYS tattoo on the inside of his mouth?

That’s Schommer, too!

Apparently you guys bring a wicked show to the stage. What can people expect from you guys live?

A short set with the most possible energy we could give and hopeful withouth broken strings… fuck that.

Who are you going to watch at Persistance tour? What bands do you recommend to people?

I’m definitely looking forward to Cruel Hand. I really like their new album and of course their live shows. Also i’m glad to see the guys of Sick Of It All again, cause we just played some dates on their last europe tour together. And last but not least Blood For Blood, I think I don’t have to comment that!

If you don’t know our Album yet, you should really check it out. But you also should take an eye on bands like “Brutality Will Prevail” (UK) and the rest of the Purgatory Records bands. If you don’t know our friends “Carpathian” from Australia check their new EP “Wanderlust”, “Ritual” just released some new stuff, too, and also our friends “Man Overboard” from the US who will be on their first europe tour soon.

Sounds of the Underground #4

I listen to music, so you don’t have to. You can decide if you want to check out what I’ve been checking out by reading what I thought about these sounds. All taken from the underground, these are the sounds for this edition. I will write a new intro text next time.

Saor – Aura


Scotland offers us some great music now and then. It normally does require you to accept the peculiar accent and rugged elements in it. On the front of black metal, I didn’t hear much about the North. If the first connection you make to their black metal sound is Saor, you’re in for a good one, like your first fried candybar. The music feels like the landscape of Scotland, with the subtle folk melodische woven into the fabric of the land as well. Powerful and subtle at the same time, the music offers a timeless journey.

The band describes their music as Celtic metal, which I think does justice to its organic, natural sound. The songs feel like  a storybook, the album is like a unity. Focus seems to be a ful immersing in the atmosphere Saor has in mind for their listeners, which works out great in my humble opinion. The departure from the sound they embraced under their previous moniker Àrsaidh  seems to have been left behind partly, continuing the whole postrock vibe, but making things more intense and rougher. I’m totally impressed by this, by the way One Man, project. It will blow you away. Andy Marshall, also known from Falloch, did a great job.

Jungle Rot – Terror Regime


So today I learned that the band who’s name I’ve seen around a lot of times is a death metal band. I also learned that Jungle Rot is a nasty disease that yields a lot of gruesome imagery, which I’ve never been too crazy about. Sorry, I’m not into gore and I really can’t help it. This band is frigging brilliant though.

Though called a death metal band, there’s something different going on here. It’s been called death rock in some spots and I guess some comparisons to that rock’n’rolling style of Entombed cannot be discarded. There’s a fun factor to their sound, the band also happens to have been around forever (well since 1994). The clean producation makes this a perfect album to drum along to, slap your air-guitar like it’s ‘yo bitch’ and just bang your head to.  It just sounds tight and in my opinion very accesible. I wrote before that I’m reluctant to listen to death metal and I haven’t really found my hook on the style yet. This band is not on Victory Records without reason. Their sound is almost poppy to me, like many of the hip metalcore/deathcore stuff, but simply more real and pure. Enjoyable record taht I would recommend to most metal fans who also need to find a gateway record for DM.


Tryptikon – Melana Chasmata

I love Celtic Frost. I don’t know if it was the amazing titles of their albums (not the stage names, Tom G. Warrior still sounds like it was made for gay porn), or their distinctly oldschool sound with touches of genius distinctive experiment or perhaps just their aura of grandeur. I didn’t like Tryptikon much at first though, but it grows on you and so does Melana Chasmata.  I’d love to somehow bash the establishment a little, which is perfectly possible with this record since it somehow doesn’t pack the punch it was intended to have. That doesn’t make it less awesome.

Let’s call it a doom record, translating sludge to the Swiss bands flavour with the old gothic demeanor.  Tryptikon never sounds dirty like a damp, grim black metal band. Nor does it feel like the abandoned graveyard where doom bands lurk. It dwells in castles and cathedrals, in grandeur and might with a touch of despair and decay. There is a nobility to the sound of this band that has a lot to to with its frontman. I think that Fischer doesn’t want to shock, but just show the stories he wishes to tell to the fulles. Leaving nothing out, holding nothing back. That is the raw core of the record that delivers its powerful message. So yeah, everything stays a bit mid-pace. Heavy metal is not reshaped, but there’s refinement here.

Source: Wikipedia

Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn

I’ve enjoyed listening to Summoning for years, but it has always been on and off. I was amazed to discover bands playing music inspired by Tolkien and making it seem dangerous, exciting and totally new. I reckon I wasn’t ready for the atmospheric black metal at first from these Austrians. Now perhaps I am, but maybe their 2013 album just leaves behind a lot of the danger. It almost seems like a soundtrack when listening to it. Less raw, more atmosphere and synthesizers.

The songs are filled up with the mysterie from Tolkiens ‘Silmarillion’, inspired by the daring of the Mariner Earendil who sailed into the unknown. Some moments its foreboding, others gnashing and grim but always captivating and beautiful. I guess it might sound pretentious to those who are a bit purist about their black metal, but as far as I’m concerned, this album is a masterpiece that combines the best of ambient, atmosphere and black into one mesmerizing whole.

That was all for this time, lets see what else we can pick from the underground next time.

Anykščiai / Panevėžys #2

After a lovely day in Panevėžys, it was time to see something more. Our lovely hosts took us and their two kids for a ride to the beautiful town of Anykščiai. The town lies in the north-east of Lithuania.

After quite a drive from Panevėžys, we arrived at the church in the middle of the town. It was possible to climb the tower here, to get a good view of the valley in which the town is situated. Everywhere you find the names of two writers who lived in this town and had a major impact on Lithuanian literature. Those are Antanas Baranauskas and Jonas Biliūnas. One has to take in mind that Lithuania has no such things like theme parks, so what you do find is a map of the town and surroundings, full of little things to do. This is really a fun day for the kids, since they get to see and learn a lot.

some good titles there!
some good titles there!

After the tower we cross the street for the Museum of Angels. A collection of paintings can be found here and a collection of angel statues. It’s not as impressive as it’s counterpart ‘The Devil Museum’, but that’s alright. We checked it out and it did have some pretty things. Props for the cool little library, with some great literature. The museum was also rather small, leaving us enough time to move to the next destination, which is the biggest rock (or second) of Lithuania, which has been turned into a memorial for the two pilots of the Lituanica (which I mentioned earlier). The trick is ofcourse to climb that rock, which I did without much problems.


The beautiful nature around is currently yielding its first treasures in the form of mushrooms, which are much loved by the Lithuanians. Our hosts are on the lookout for these nature treasures as well. We continue to the Horse Museum, which is a miniature open air museum, showing the history of horses and their use, but also the crafts related to it. The blacksmith is always interesting to me, due that I did some of that in the museum I worked for a while. This blacksmith smells a bit like alcohol though, and his work is sloppy and bad, but the kids love seeing the fire anyways. It’s still a win, just like the apples that grow on the trees and the games that can be played.

The internal traveller also needs something now and then, so we head back to town to get a bite. First we dropped by the bob sledges ride (sledges on rails really that go down a hillside). Unfortunately it is so busy that we have to wait for an hour back to town it its and on the dam in the river we have a bite at the restaurant. Potato pancakes with meat are a great filler for the stomach. They’re a bit greasy, but that is not taking away much of the satisfaction. Back it is to the slegde rides and after a long wait its full throttle down the hill. It feels a bit more exciting than what we did in theme parks actually. It was also a great occasion for a selfie.


The final destination was the grave of Jonas Biliūnas on top of a hill. A tower is built over it, named the ‘beacon of happiness’. Apparently it is a popular site for newly weds or hen nights, since there’s 1 group of hens on top of the hill and two new couples climbing up when we are there. After this final visit, it is time to head back to Panevėžys. Tired but satisfied after a long and interesting day.

Panevėžys #1

We enjoyed a good evening with family in Panevėžys. The next day we took a walk around town. The unofficial capital of the region has been here since around 1500. It doesn’t look grand and lacks the so called ‘Old Town’, but Panevezys is nonetheles very neat and clean.

The lake in the centre of Panevezys
The lake in the centre of Panevezys

The town is named after the river that flows through it, the Nevezys. We wandered around town and a lot of information about the city was provided by our host. This was after watching some interesting training footage from the Lithuanian airforce, I have to mention. Interesting is one particular beer bar, where the owners nailed hundreds of keys to the tree in front of it. The place used to be abandoned and bums took over. They restored it though and now it sells local brews (which there are a lot of!).  We also visited an international exposition of ceramic art, which I think failed to impress.

The Bison says hi
The Bison says hi

Later we drove out of the city to see some views around. We visited a place of preservation of the European Bisons. A bunch of the big fellows were walking around here and one came up to greet us. They are magnificent creatures and amazing to see them in the wild. After this we also visisted a place were the partizans used to hide out in the forest. It was one of the biggest groups hiding out at this location, but eventually they were captured. The partizans were the ones to fight the soviets after World War II had been concluded. Something that rarely makes it into the history books, but this form of resistance lasted up to 1955 (some places longer).

reconstructed bunker
reconstructed bunker

After this it was time to have some food, which we did in the restaurant Cincinskas. Originally started as a beer bar for Soviet soldiers, it later became a restaurant that has been a succes the last 30 years. The menu is practically as unchanged as the decor and that still pulls the punters in. Not that strange though, with a main course for 3,- euro and a pint of beer for 1,20 euro. Visit this place if you ever end up in Panevėžys!

After that we enjoyed the town celebrations, with some live music and a lot of people around. A visit to the beer bar with the tree, mentioned earlier, was ofcourse also part of the plan. It was another long evening.

Kaunas #3

On the final day of our visit to Kaunas (we would later take the bus to Panevezys), we still had some time left. After coffee, breakfast and conversations it was time to head out.

rumsiskesThe open air museum in Rumšiškės shows a broad range of buildings and dwellings that were normal in the past two centuries in Lithuania. The museum is divided in the four historic regions and a central town. It’s quite a walk, since the parts are hundreds of meters apart. In the houses are some old people seated, who can tell you  a little about the places. Unfortunately most are not too keen to. That is a shame since the information is mostly rather limited.

Fortunately I have some knowledge of historical farm structures and such and I was not the only one in our company.  Quite impressive was the Yurt, a dwelling made in Siberia, where many Lithuanians ended up in past days. There are some more pictures on the wiki page of the town. Interesting fact is that the original town is flooded by an artificial lake. The place is popular for ethnographic parties and celebrations.

Kaunas busstation
Kaunas busstation

From there it was time to go to the bus station and say good bye to our great host. I had a great time exploring Kaunas, which would be a lot harder if it wasn’t for the great guidance. In the bus I finally had time to catch up on some reading on our way to Panevezys, where we were greated with great beers and food.

Kaunas #2

Unfortunately I got a bit sick in the bus from Warsaw to Kaunas, so perhaps we didn’t go see as much as planned on day 2, but it was still a full agenda. I’ve tried to get some pictures of things, but it’s not that much.  Thanks to Doctor L. I was able to see some cool stuff again.

DevilsFirst we headed out to the Devil’s museum. The Lithuanian painter, politician, poet and what not Žmuidzinavičius started collecting Baltic pictures of Devils during his life. Now, I’m always a sucker for the occult, so a collection like this has enough relevance to my demands. The many fascets and deeply rooted place of the devil or demonic figures in the national culture is astonishing. He fulfills the role of bogeyman, helper, trickster, seducer and ofcourse the master of hell. Technically he replaced the traditional pagan spirits and sprites. On the picture we see two devils that are still very relevant to the country.

From there we continued to the War museum, bringing a long history all the way from pagan times of the Lithuanian military. Unfortunately the staff was not very friendly and many items missed some actual explanation. Wether it was the portraits of king and archdukes (Lithuania had only one king), or the room filled with guns. The English audioguide also sends you of into the museum on a wild goose hunt for the different items. Lot to be done for this museum to get a bit better.

source: Wikipedia

Interesting was the part of the exposition, concerning the Lituanica. An airplane that was supposed to fly across the ocean but crashed 650km from Kaunas in mysterieous circumstances. It has become an important part of Lithuanian history. The 10 lita banknote actually has the airplane and the faces of the pilots printed on it.

The monument at the 9th fort.

The final destination of the day was the ‘Ninth Fort’. Part of a defensive ring build around Kaunas by the Russians, it served as a fort, a prison and finally as a place to herd unwanted elements  of society towards. Many people lost their lives in this fort, but also heroic things happened, like the escape of 64 prisoners who were selected to burn corpses of other victims of the regime. The museum consists of an exposition about the turbulent times outside the fort, inside the fort and a guided tour through the tunnels. To me that was the most exciting part of the tour, because I’ve seen quite some occupation museums and they start breaking down your feeling for it.

kaunasbeerAfterwards there was time for rest, food and beers with the family. It rarely feels as well deserved.

Kaunas #1

After what can only be described as an unpleasant bus ride overnight, we crossed the border into Lithuania. Our destination was Kaunas where we would be staying with my girlfriends brother. I’ve previously only been to Kaunas busstation, which is not a place where you wish to find yourself any time soon, so I had an obligation to fulfill to this city I think.

Memorial in Kaunas
Memorial in Kaunas

The bus ride was interesting and very, very slow. I spend most of the ride reading or listening to books if I wasn’t trying to in some clumsy way find a position to sleep in. Around 5.00 in the morning we did arive to a sleepy city. We were picked up by car and went towards the appartment to get some hard needed sleep. Around noon we picked up some breakfast, meaning egg, sausage, bread and coffee. From there we continued our trip by climbing to the top of a church in Kaunas, which served as a radio factory in Soviet times. Hey, atleast it was still sending signals up in the sky, right? From there we could see the whole city, from the oldest buildings around the ‘Boulevard of Liberty’ to the brand new Zalgiris basketball stadium (the most famous club from Lithuania).

'Funny'culair railway of Kaunas
‘Funny’culair railway of Kaunas

From there on we took the funiculair railway down hill (yes, thats the word).  Apparently this thing works forever and barely needs any maintenance. Below one finds the square on wich the war museum borders. There are various busts and symbols, with an eternal flame in memory of the independence struggle. According to populair legend, under the square lie the remains of one of the people that signed over Lithuania to the Soviet Union around 1940. The name elludes me, but the woman in question is considered the traitor of the nation due to it. The memorial itself is not pompous or grand in any way, it has the sober typicality of the Lithuanian nation to it, which makes it as impressive as it actually is. I put the picture up a bit higher.

The presidential palace when Kaunas was the capital
The presidential palace when Kaunas was the capital

One of the great sores in Kaunas is the fact that it used to be the Capital city of Lithuania. This was changed when the nation got the city of Vilnius back, which was it’s historic centre of rule. For a brief period Kaunas experienced growth and prowess due to its state as capital and afterwards it was easily forgotten. That is how the people feel about it and this is almost tangible in the atmosphere of the city. Similar graffiti concerning this can be found all over the city.  That being said, the heart of the city is very beautifull and has it’s own sober identity, very distinct from Vilnius or Klaipeda (one much more Polish, the other German).

House of Thunder
House of Thunder

We continued all the way to the ‘House Of Thunder’, past the great market where the municipality hall is and various nice bars and restaurants. This house is famous for the rumoured pagan rituals that took place here. The indigenous religion had a few deities, of which one was the god of thunder, who was on equal footing with the supreme god. Perkunas was his name and apparently he was revered in secret here. Hence the name.

From there we crossed the bridge and climbed the hill to the district Aleksotas and overlooked the city, which looked much prettier from here. A bit run down, but still proud.

Then we had to go, because Aleksotas is not a happy place and people get shot there for no real reason. Living on the edge, you know! It was great seeing so much in one walk of this city. We continued past the old castle, where according to legend an army got missing and is waiting for the day Kaunas needs it again. I’m very grateful to our guide, who told us more than we could ever have figured out ourselves.

Warsaw #3

Today I’m blogging a bit from Warsaw again. At this moment still at the busstation of the Polish capital but our bus is departing as I type. Ecolines is kind enough to offer wifi on the vehicle, which provides me with the oppertunity to write. Yay!

Today we started out fresh and fruity early in the morning with a walk to the University library. The cool thing is that it has a rooftop garden, that you basically walk onto from street level up. It’s not a small one, like we have at home. This is the real deal. The library looked empty, but that had the simple reason that it was closed as a security guard (probably) tried to tell us. From here on, we walked across the bridge to another part of Warsaw called Praga (so no, not actually Prague).

Praga, gritty, grimy but full of soul
Praga, gritty, grimy but full of soul

Praga has an industrial and commercial past, which made it important for Warsaw. However, it was also the part of town where you dropped your dissidents, former criminals, homosexuals (I’m not sure about that, but the gay community resides here mainly according to our guide) and artists. Now, I already mentioned a guide, which has a simple reason. We walked to Praga without a clue where we would end up. As it happens, one of the free guided tours showed up right in front of us, so we followed it. The guide Agatha clearly had a soft spot for the ‘bad side’ of Warsaw. Like most things in Warsaw, there are many projects to improve this part of town. Not only by renovating, it, but also social projects aimed at kids and old timers. There is even a 75 year old DJ Wika, who spins records on the radio now thanks to the DJ courses. Pretty wicked huh? There’s so much you can do if you aren’t looking for the money behind it, it shows again.

2 for the price of 1
2 for the price of 1

Also worth mentioning is the two bears living in a bear pit on the street side there. It’s not very nice for those to live this way, but they’ve been there all their lives. When they pass away the pit will be closed. Not sure what I think about this, I have some passion for the animal rights, but that’s not what this story is about. From Praga we took the tram back to the old center to have some lunch at the Browarmia. A restaurant and brewer in one, where they make some nice beers. We missed the fact that you get two beers for the price of one today, which is also something the staff will not mention to you. You just get two beers slapped on the table in front of you.

Ghetto monument, not easy to find
Ghetto monument, not easy to find

After that we dropped by the book shop, had some coffee and chilled out back at the Fest Hostel for a bit, where we got to say goodbye to owner Marcin (again). My darling girlfriend wrote something nice in the guestbook and I drew a peacock with muscular arms in it. We started for the busstation, but first went looking for the last remnant of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. We happened to pass a church dedicated to John Paul the pope on the way. Now, the monument was hidden behind a fence on some parking lot. It was small and humble and to me it felt like it did no justice to the history that has unfoled here. I hope that the Jewish history museum can give a bit more info on that in the future.

It took us forever to find the busstop, so no fancy food this evening. Just Burger King, becasue the cues happened to be the shortest. Allez, Kaunas here we come.

Warsaw #2

Alright, so it’s sunday and we have rain. Rain means that walking around Warsaw becomes a whole lot less fun for us, but fortunately we have not yet visited that many museums which gives us plenty to do today.

We started for the Royal Castle, but first took some cofffee. The trumpet from a high window declared the Castle museum open (I think that’s what it was for) and a huge cue spread out over the court yard. Bad idea, so we walked to the museum of Archeology first. Though the staff didn’t seem to manage a word in anything else than Polish, the museum was supplied with all the English information you need. Spreading out over two floors, it contains a lot of text and models of old settlements. Apparently when you aren’t a kid, it’s not ok to put on the helmet and sword they have laying around.


From there on we continued to the Jewish History Museum. The security for that museum resembles what you will find in an airport. The main collection is not yet open for visitors, but the temporary one was already worth our time. It is dedicated to the Jews in the Polish Legion during the first world war and the interbellum/struggle for independence. The monument outside of it is very impressive as well. The museum looks huge and the building looks interesting. I can see this become  a big tourist spot in the future if it’s fully open.

Polonia jrs in action
Polonia jrs in action

On the way back to the old town, we passed the stadium of KS Polonia Warsaw, apparently the oldest football team of Poland. Lucky for us, there was a game on by the youth team. Their main force went bankrupt and is playing on the fourth level in Poland now, but the fans still turn up for their Polonia. Those old clubs with rich histories are always cool to check out. Couldn’t find a souvenir though, bummer.

Zurek soup served in bread.
Zurek soup served in bread.

Enfin, we ended up having some lunch at a tiny but nice looking restaurant. Lunch for me involved a beer and soup served in bread. I’ve seen others eat it before but this was my first time to give this dish a go. The soup is quite sour in flavour, filled with egg and sausage. The bread gives a hint of sweetness to it, which is probably just the whole idea behind the combo. People do buy Zurek in a bowl, but for me it was the challenge to also ‘eat my bowl’. Apparently that is not too common, the waiter looked curious at me. Then again, that did seem to be his standard look…

We crossed the street after this and visited the museum dedicated to Madame Curie, who was, as most people who collected flippo’s know, Polish of origin. The museum is tiny, cheap and full of knowledge concerning the person. It is not very coherent however, but when in Rome, right? After this we marche don to the royal castle and squeezed in a visit there as well. Funny enough you first have to collect your tickets for the free entrance thing there on sundays. I don’t know why, and I’ve given up trying to understand Poland and its things.

DInner took place in the ‘Bierhalle’, which turned out to be a Bavarian themed place. After that we tried some beers in the Hostel and that’s that. Tomorrow we have a day left, at 21.00 we leave for Kaunas by bus. Kaunas…bus…  Have you seen Kaunas bus station? The arse of Lithuania if I may say so, but I have been promised a different side of Kaunas, the old capital of Lithuania.