Packing for a city break in Berlin never gets any easier, especially when you’re packing for a Berlin summer. First of all, there’s the climate to consider: temperamental, humid and prone to sudden downpours. Secondly, when the citizens of the city of cool take to wearing h2t black as their armour, what’s a colour loving girl to wear? And, that’s not forgetting the predominant issue here, can a capsule wardrobe for Berlin truly fit into 10kg of carry on luggage?
Last summer, I discovered a second hand shop of dreams in Budapest. It sold British brands at low prices. Naively, I thought this was a one off but all over Poland, you’ll notice second hand shops bearing the sign, ‘Tania Odziez’. Literally meaning cheap clothes, these shops are big business in Poland. As a believer in buying things second hand, you can see why I was curious to find out what Krakow’s shops had to offer.
With prices written informally on pieces of neon paper, and of course, in Polish, it’s hard to work out exactly what an item costs. It’s not just the language barrier that can make it difficult. Prices can significantly vary depending on what day of the week you shop. Monday is notoriously more expensive as it’s the day the stock comes in, whilst Saturday is apparently the cheapest day of the week. We visited on a Monday and, using Google Translate, we discovered dresses were priced at 24 Zloty which is around £4.
You might think that isn’t expensive, I certainly don’t for second hand clothing that is in nearly new condition…but the clothing I saw, was clearly pre-loved. Bobbles, tears and faded dresses all mingled together. It was because of this that I decided against the silver glittery Zara boots I’d made a beeline for and also returned the vintage dress to the rail when I spotted a huge tear. Whilst shopping, a thought struck me. Is this where our cast-offs go when we sell them to private companies?
So, on our return, I decided to look into it. According to the United Nations Comrade Database, Poland sells the most clothing imported from the UK each year. $74 million worth to be precise. And it’s not just the clothes we choose to sell on. Brace yourself. Reportedly, our charity shop donations can also end up sold to wholesalers who then sell our goods to retailers.
Whilst, I didn’t buy anything this time. If we return to Poland, I’d happily spend a day rummaging in their second hand stores. However, there’s one question I’m still wrangling with in my head…
When you take out the element of charity, does this make thrifting less appealing?
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a city break. I feel fortunate to have travelled to a lot of European cities during my twenties and hope to continue doing so! There’s nothing quite like a few days away to make you feel refreshed. When Travelodge got in touch offering a city break in Liverpool: I didn’t hesitate to say yes, despite it being on my doorstep. If you’re looking to visit Liverpool on a budget, grab a cuppa and see how we spent our weekend there!
At the beginning of October, it was John’s birthday so we were fortunate to be able to visit Liverpool to celebrate and spend some quality time together. Armed with a rucksack each, we hopped on the train from St Helens to take the short journey into Liverpool city centre. Although I live very close to Liverpool, it seems I spend most of my time slightly further afield in Manchester. As a teenager, I would love to visit Liverpool and roam the docks and the original Quiggins (similar to Manchester’s Affleck’s Palace but a rabbit-warren of vintage gems and curiosities)…
Arriving at Travelodge The Strand, we were given a friendly welcome and to our surprise, a room with a spectacular view! Located across the road from the Albert Docks and a short stroll from shopping Mecca, Liverpool One, it’s the perfect base for sight-seeing when visiting the city. I mean, just check out the view from our room…
Open Eye Gallery: Up bright and early the next day, we enjoyed a leisurely (I had three courses!) all you can eat breakfast before walking across the road to the Open Eye Gallery. Because this is a gallery that specializes in photography, I was really intrigued to visit. Whilst we were there, we visited the Zanele Muholi exhibition. This South African photographer is a visual activitist whose work explores gender, race and sexuality in her country. It was an interesting exhibit with images that challenged my thinking.
Museum of Liverpool: A stone’s throw away from the Open Eye Gallery is the Museum of Liverpool, a museum dedicated to showcasing Liverpool’s fascinating and diverse history. The museum has plenty to offer: an exhibition supporting a local hospice; artifacts from Liverpool in the Tudor times; a huge life size overhead railway carriage; but my favourite part was dedicated to Liverpool’s music scene, past and present. No, I’m not only referring to The Beatles but icons such as our Cilla, Cast, The Farm, The La’s…you name it! As the museum is located on the waterfront, we were able to watch Peter Blake’s bright and colourful ‘Everybody Razzle Dazzle’ ferry across the Mersey!
(Warning: This posts contains spoilers related to Dismaland. If you intend to visit the bemusement park, please bookmark this page (of course), return to it at a later date and tell me what you thought!)
After my internship finished at the end of August, I was filled with the sudden realisation that because I wasn’t going to be teaching in early September, I was free to take a break. Honestly, the sense of freedom I felt was overwhelmingly joyous. John and I had always wanted to visit Bristol, but somehow, we’d never visited due to the distance to drive and the costs of train fare. Feeling that it was now or never, I offered to drive to us to Bristol if we could get tickets to see Dismaland. Both at work, with 50 miles between us, we secured three pairs of tickets. It was official, we were going!
Arriving in Bristol late afternoon, we hopped on a train to take the short journey to Weston-super-Mare. Yes, we’d read the articles, saw the tweets, but with tickets in hand, we honestly didn’t expect to have to wait in line for an hour. I guess you could say, this is where the dismal experience started. As dusk descended, we reached the end of the queue to security, where our rucksacks were casually checked without the least sense of care if we were smuggling spray paint or Disney lawsuits.
On entry to the bemusement park, you’re lured into a false sense of security; the brightly coloured deck chairs, the contrast striped top attractions, the carousel where each horse has a sparkly name painted on it, the Disney-esque castle at the heart of the site. But take a closer look and you will find that there shall be no signs of cheerfulness here, no smiling customer service (the customer is never right), the burnt out castle, balloons depicting ‘I am an imbecile’. I mean, do you think you’re here to have a good time?
Once inside, we couldn’t escape the parallels between Dismaland and its alter-ego opposite, Disney: queues. Queues for the galley, queues for the castle, queues for the attractions. On our second visit, we headed straight for the castle and nothing, not even an Instagram sneak peek, could prepare me. Like a rotted apple, its contents disturbed me to my core.
Instantly, you’re likely to draw parallels between Cinderella’s crashed pumpkin and Princess Diana’s death . I mean, how can you not? However, dig a little deeper and it’s the swarm of paparazzi that’s truly the uncomfortable sight here. Only their flash illuminates the tragic scene, without them, we’d be standing in a darkened room blind to the event that appears to have taken place: the press enlighten how we see the world.
Whilst the topical issue of migrants and refugees has been placed under the media spotlight, it certainly wasn’t left out from Dismaland. I couldn’t ignore the obvious symbolism screaming at me: those with money in their pockets control the lives of others. Whilst others played merrily, I could barely look at the boats crammed with figurines.
Then there’s the carousel of colour adorned horses, cheerfully greeting its next rider but look closely as it turns, blink and you’ll miss the unexpected butcher. What’s he doing? Packaging horse meat into lasagne, of course.
So, the big question. Would I recommend you visit? Yes. Both John and I were glad to have made the journey to experience Bansky’s subversive collaboration as an exhibit of art. Despite it making uncomfortable viewing in parts, it does make an interesting sight to behold. We decided to give our third pair of tickets away to a local couple who were strolling on the promenade? Why? Well art is for the masses, surely? Although now, I can’t help but wonder what they thought of it…