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It’s difficult to pick out the highlights of what has been a week of absolute immersion into the Berliner way of life. But I can say without a doubt that our dinner at Berlin’s first Paleo restauraunt, Sauvage was amazing!
For entre we shared a ‘hunter gatherer’ plate (pic of our half-demolished plate below), which included a selection of dips, chutneys, pickled veggies, tourine, spiced roasted garlic, and handmade grain-free crackers and bread.
For main course none of us could go past the grilled filet mignon with liquorice bone jus, macadamia nut crumble, and yuca mash. This was my first steak in over five weeks, so it tasted particularly good!


For desert I had the Paleo sticky toffee pudding, and Adele and Simon had the apricot cream tart…delicious!
Then it was off to a jazz jam session at Edelweiss in Görlitzer Park. I was kind of expecting to see musos of mixed ability get up and do their thing – the enthusiastic beginners and seasoned veterans.

But the standard was right up there. Typically the pianist, percussionist, drummer and double bass players would strike up a tune, while soloists alternated. I’m not sure who I loved more, the tenor sax, altos, tap dancing couple (yes, they tapped like they were riffing on instruments), or the flautist!
Tap girl
Wednesday’s highlight was definitely our private pandeiro lesson with the talented Adriano! Let’s just say that after an hour with him my brain felt like it had melted about 20 times over, but we learnt a lot!
Thursday took us for a day of swimming and picnicking at the beautiful Liepnitzsee, a lake about an hour from Berlin. It was a perfect way to spend a hot summer’s day!
Cooling off…
Adele underwater!

Geneva airport

At Geneva airport, about to board for Berlin

After a short flight to Berlin, the wonderful Adele Vosper met us at the airport to escort us back to her place and we have literally been non-stop since then!

After dropping our bags off at her place in Neukölln we headed straight to her mate’s bike hire place to get some wheels for the week.

Along the way we met several of Adele’s Brazilian friends and stopped for chats about life, the universe, and plans for the weekend.

Walking through the market at Maybach Ufer, we came across a Brazilian food stall (another of Adele’s Brazilian friends – there is a theme emerging), and we couldn’t resist grabbing a home-cooked bowl of mocqueca, a couple of coxinhas, and some guarana. It was the best I’ve had since my visit to Brazil in 2009 – yum!

Full of fuel, next stop was the bike shop which was owned by yet another Brazilian friend. He gave us a great deal on a couple of bikes for the week and sent us on our way.

With flash fixed-gear bikes in hand, we set out to see some live music in Görlitzer Park. It kind of reminded me of Sydney Park in Newtown – industrial surrounds, folk hanging out playing music and enjoying a beverage or two, and weathered graffiti on old brick walls.

Music in the park

We chilled out listening to a friend’s soul/harmonica beat-boxing/grooves band in the sun, before heading off to our official musical entertainment for the evening.

The Bela Sound festival at YAAM was a lot of fun, both in terms of venue and artists.

YAAM is kind of known as being Berlin’s Jamaican headquarters. There are food stalls, beach bars, and gorgeous spots down by the river to sit in deck chairs and chill out.

Bela Sound Columbians

Sadly they say the venue will be closing down, along with a bunch of other live music venues on the river side of the Berlin wall to make room for waterfront developments.

There was a range of latin artists to listen to, dance classes, Capoeira workshops, a small market including an Afro hair salon, bars, food, and a volley ball area – perfect!

Sunday brought us more music, but this time with more of the high culture variety. We jumped on our bikes and headed down to the open air opera in Bebel Platz.

The sun came out and we joined hundreds of people looking up at the fantastic architecture while listening to some solid classical music.


Props to the audio technician, the sound was amazing.

Opera in Bebel Platz

The Museum Insel was just around the corner, so we had some fun taking happy snaps and scoping out more awesome architecture.


Simon and Adele in front of the Berliner Dom

Having worked up an appetite after all that hard work, we went for lunch in Prater Biergarten, Berlin’s oldest beer garden. I had to try the Weiner Schnitzel and a “Radler” to wash it down (beer+lemonade – yep, a Shandy, but it’s cool here so it’s ok).

Having survived our respective food comas, we headed down to see Karaoke in Mauerpark. Now, I’m not a huge fan of listening to randoms who can’t sing bust out cheesy tunes, but this was unlike any Karaoke I’d ever encountered. Check it out!


On the way out of the park we passed a young group of musicians jamming out on latin tunes. They had a couple of guys on guitar and Uke, a girl playing steel drums and triangle, a guy on a djembe, and another guy on clarinet. We watched and danced for about an hour before moving on!


Our next date was with the sunset. The weekend we arrived in town, the suburb of Neukölln (where we’re staying) had a festival called “48 Hours Neukölln” which aims to showcase the artistic it’s artistic potential.

One of the features was an art exhibition in the car park of one of the local shopping arcades, so we went on up at sunset to scope the artworks and appreciate the awesome view of the city at that time of day.


Our day ended with a scrumptious and very affordable Vietnamese dinner around the corner from Adele’s place (food coma #2 of the day).

While Adele was at work we enjoyed doing some browsing around the shops in town, and bought a few bits and pieces. I think we averaged about 10kms on foot, so we took a ride with a bicycle taxi back past the Berlin Wall, and were dropped not far from our place.


These are two of my favourite murals on the wall.


We were glad to enjoy a

Brazilian dinner of Feijoada, pao de queijo, and acai at Cafe Mori before heading over to the Festsaal Kreuzberg to watch Tarrus Riley and the seriously Jamaican Black Soil!

The photo below really doesn’t convey the vibration in the room when these guys were playing, it was the best live reggae I’ve ever heard by any stretch of the imagination. The only downside was that the room was about 40 degrees C, and full of smoke – but hey, it’s a small price to pay for such a phenomenal live music experience.
Even if you aren’t a huge roots/reggae fan, check them out if they’re coming to your town. You won’t be disappointed.
More updates coming soon – off to bed now for some much needed shut eye!


Today we had the privilege of meeting board and staff members from the YWCA of Finland! This delegation of wonderful Y women had made a trip to Geneva to connect with the World YWCA office and other key stakeholders in the area, as well as attend some sessions at the Human Rights Council.

For me it was the first time that I’ve really been able to see first hand the relationships between YWCAs from different countries, and get a real sense of the global movement that I’m a part of!

We gathered in the salon, and a quick head count made more than 25 women in the room (too many to capture in a single photo frame).


First up was Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda who provided a very warm welcome and song. Love starting the day with a bit of music!

Michelle then talked us through the World YWCA Strategic Plan, and senior team members from the two associations provided a brief update on their key priority areas of work.

We then broke into groups. I was fortunate enough to join the communications professionals to chat and share knowledge and experiences.

It was great to hear from a national association about some the challenges they face and their successful communications efforts, as well as hearing from Sylvie and Ramya about their priority work areas and plans for the future.

After our meetings we came together for another wonderful home-cooked lunch prepared by Anna, and discussed outcomes from key events such as the International Training Institute, the Human Rights Council, and the Commission on the Status of Women.

Tomorrow we’re back at the Palais for a session with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and we’ll also scope out the much anticipated Luminarium exhibition.


After a 2-hour train ride though the gorgeous Swiss and French countryside, Jenna and I arrived in Lyon.

I had read about Lyon being the culinary capital of France, so it was funny that the first thing I noticed were all the people carrying freshly baked baguettes!

The second thing I noticed was the very tall and very old buildings and apartment blocks, which reminded me of downtown Brooklyn in the US (from what I’ve seen in movies).

Jenna and I headed down to the Rhone river to look around the surrounding shops, restaurants and patisseries, of which there are many!


Checking out the awesome architecture by the Rhone River


Evil patisserie treats, Lyon

We were fortunate enough to have fantastic weather, so winding our way around the streets was a very pleasant way to spend the day.

After an hour or so we found ourselves in what seemed to be the main dining area. Gorgeous brasseries, cafes, and traditional French restaurants with outdoor tables with checkered tablecloths lined the streets.

We picked a rustic looking place that specialised in Salmon. Not exactly traditional French cuisine, but it was what we were in the mood for!

Out came two dishes with perfectly cooked salmon fillets, lots of chunky herbed potato chips, salad, and carrot mayo – yum! We considered desert but then spotted a gelato joint and opted for that instead. Two delicious serves of fresh pistachio gelato later and we were off again!

It wasn’t long before we stumbled upon some kind of multicultural festival, complete with marching bands…


Chinese dragon dancing and of course Brazilian Batucada! Following closely behind were a troop of break dancers, they were fantastic!


After more wandering around, we came across the La Fontaine Bartholdi, a gorgeous fountain sculpted by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi in the Place des Terreaux. I later read that this is the same artist that sculpted the Statue of Liberty, which explains why I was so impressed by it!


Then there was the human statue (looks like Redbull is what keeps her going)!


Sunday brought the rain back to Geneva, but that didn’t dampen my spirits at all.

I picked Simon up (by bus) from the airport at 9:30am, and I didn’t get lost along the way, win!

After dropping stuff off at the apartment we headed down to town for a walk around the lake and to orient him with the buses and various landmarks.

First stop, the lake. Simon agreed that while there are some similarities with Lake Burley-Griffin, the fountain here is a little more impressive (sorry Canberra).

Jo & Simon

We caught a water taxi over to the other side of the lake, and explored the old town and St Peter’s Cathedral.

St Peter's Cathedral

The stairs to the top are pretty treacherous, very narrow, very steep, and have very low door frames – people were shorter back when it was built in 1510 (I found this out the hard way – ouch).

After the climb we had lunch at a cute pizzeria on the hill. Just as Simon had said that he didn’t yet feel that he was “in Europe”, three buskers rocked up with a double bass and piano accordion to serenade us while eating lunch. I think it has sunk in now!



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