Archiv für September 2010

looking back . . .

The group that went to Mongolia has not shared photos for around 6 weeks, so here is a revue since Rostov:


As we arrived in Rostov at the very end of July, we had the first nice surprise: by accident we saw two girls walking in the street with backpacks and bicycles, and as they turned their heads, we recognized two familiar faces: Ballak and Jassi, who where supposed to meet us, but we didn‘t know when and where.

We spent the night playing a show in a local café, for which we got food and a place to sleep in the yard.

On the following day, we were invited by Ivan, a young artist to spend some days at his house next to a forest. It turned out that we always meet the right people, no matter where we are. Ivan said, we should feel like home there, and we really did. Cooking and playing music in the little cozy kitchen and having breakfast in the garden of Ivan’s friendly babuschka, who served us compot all the time, created these feelings. Ivan decorated Louisa’s guitar, too.

After two days we moved our camp to the forest nearby and spent our time playing shows at the market, rehearsing and debating the future plans . . .

New information about trains, money, visa and time created completely new options. The group decided for several reasons to skip Mongolia and go towards Turkey together. In this time of big change, Kat and Franie from the film team joined us again — we were 18 then! Sadly, Despina, the third part of the team, couldn‘t come because of money problems.

With all these different people now, it became clear that there were as well different expectations, difficulties and time plans . . . therefore, the Mongolia option popped up again. We got new information, so we needed to over-think our plans.

Having decided to split the group, there was energy for a last goodbye-show with everyone and a reflection of the project so far. We left each other with a laughing and a crying eye…and suddenly two new chapters began!


On the next morning the “Mongolia-group” took the train to Moscow – it was incredibly hot (about 43 °C) and we experienced train life for 24 hours. As we arrived in the capitol of Russia, a thick smog covered the city – partly from the bushfires around the city, partly from pollution – and people were walking with all kinds of gas masks in the streets… a bizarre feeling.

We left our bikes at the baggage station and took the subway for two days. We organized train tickets, wandered around at the Red Square and looked at the Kremlin from outside – going inside is too expensive for street-musicians.

Then we met up with Lilia, a friend from Lena, who organized a sleeping place for us, thank you! And what a place:

Filled with apple-trees, sofas, self-made stuff and nice people who had just organized a rock festival there, but who also lived there. The following day we put our bikes in the baggage-wagon with the help of Phil and his bus… Moscow is hell for bikes.

Simi and Flo from Germany also arrived at the train station – they are riding with us until the beginning of September, yippieh!

Trans-Siberian Railway

Happily to leave smoggy Moscow, we got in the train that should take us four days along the Trans-Siberian Railway to the other part of Russia, Ulan-Ude. Not only we got in the train, also all of our instruments, baggage, a bicycle Franie bought two hours before we left, and huge amounts of instant noodles and other food for this time, where you can‘t really cook. The receipt for the food at the market was over one metre long!

Already on the first day we got to know our conductress in the train and her charming way to communicate… She was literally screaming at us all the time, whether we dared to walk without shoes, used the sink in the WC for washing dishes or just for no reason.

Besides spending our time with this woman, we used every longer stop to get our instruments out onto the platforms to play little concerts – the people liked it and provided us with money or food. It was interesting to see how the nature, towns and people changed as we rushed through Russia, peering out of the window, drinking tea or coffee with hot water from the samowar. More forests, more Asian-looking faces and more little houses made out of wood.


After these 4 days we felt very comfortable in the train, rehearsed new songs, but finally we reached Ulan-Ude. Back in a city! The information we had about getting the Mongolian visa was different, some books and websites said we could get it directly at the border, the consulate said we could only get it in Ulan-Ude. For sure we didn‘t want to wait 5 days in the city and most of us wanted to see the beautiful Baikal Lake, not just out of the train.

After trying to make a power of attorney for two of us for picking up the visas for everyone – which turned out to be very complicated for foreigners because of having the paperwork officially translated into all our native languages – we waited two more days in the city around the big head of Lenin in the center, to go to the embassy altogether. We also spent an afternoon welding the stand onto the tandem – again – and fixing other broken bike parts.

In the streets we met Raphael, a french street-musician on his way to Ulaan-Baatar. Although we played a cool show together and talked a lot, he couldn‘t join us going there on bike.

Lake Baikal

We left to ride up the big hill (or small mountain?) for 30 km UPHILL towards Lake Baikal. It took us three days to go there – the street got better after the hill and we enjoyed cycling in the nature.

On the lake we found a nice spot, where we would spend our next 5 days, during which 2/3 of the group got sick. So most of us just laid around fevering while others could jump in the cold but very clear water or rehearsing new instruments and songs.

On the last day, we rescued a goat that was half covered by sticky tar in a hole and couldn‘t get out anymore – it seams people just dump that stuff into the nature. Despite the beautiful nature, we didn‘t recognize any environmental consciousness.
Then we gave a concert outside the village store, which gathered a whooping crowd of three children and some tourists who happened to stop with their camping vans.

On the 27th of August we had to pick up the visas, so we had to hitch-hike there with all of our bikes. After some time there was a possibillity for all of us – a truck from a shop, in which everything fit, mmmh quite tightly.

We crouched in the rest of the space, but not before giving the drivers some money, they wouldn‘t have taken us otherwise. Inside it was narrow and smelled like fish, some of us were still sick and the time for the embassy was running out. Half an hour before it closed, two people started hitch-hiking there without bikes and finally got there exactly as it was closing, but luckily we were able to get in and get our visas!

We all slept in the backyard or attic of a café on the outskirts of town, back in Ulan-Ude again – this time to take the train for a few hours to Naushki, near the border. Ola decided, for several reasons, to go back to Kiev and leave the group after three months of traveling. So of course, there was a goodbye-show and we even had older people in the audience dancing to all the songs enthusiastically. Wow! At 7 o‘ clock in the morning it was time to say goodbye to Ola, get into the train and sleep.


So here’s some news from the people who started out towards the south of russia.
We split from the group in Rostov with 5 people (Verbena, Louisa, Yuri, Lena and Felix) and went along the coast down towards Anapa.
We were chased by fires every now and then but had some of the most beautifull campsites on the shore.

With a smaler group we spent a lot less time organising and a lot more time practicing and playing. We had 2 akkordeons (Lena & Verbena) , a flute (Verbena) , a horn (Felix) , a guittar (Louisa) and percussion (Yuri) with us. After a short while Liliya and Sam joind us – first by hitchhiking then Liliya found an old sowjet bike in a small village. Sam went on to Georgia after spending two or three days with us. We tried out some accapella pieces and learned many russian songs from Lena. We played on every little market in every village and town we came by and had enough money to travel and way more fruits and vegies than we could carry or eat.

We went to a Village called Dshiginka in search for some of Lenas Realatives (her grandmother was born there) and were welcomed by them even befor we entered the village.
We spent two days there in the hospitality of Nella & her Husband and explored the graveyard and the museum in search for signs of Lenas ancestors. And we found out a lot – they even had the diary of Lenas Great-Great-Grandfather in the museum.

After Dshiginka we split again – Louisa and Verbena went on slowly towards the Krim – and Lena, Liliya and Felix went towards the black Sea – Yuri stayed around Dshiginka to work in the tomato fields.

After that we took trains and busses to Odessa spent a day there and managed to put our bikes on the train back home to berlin (under massive protest of the conductors – this time it was very close – we allmost had to stay at the train station – but Lena fought us through)

Now we‘re back in Berlin:
- we‘re planing to weld recumbent bikes this winter
- and there will be an open training (juggling, acrobatics and so on) in the shake-circus.

If anyone wants to join up or has some ideas what elso to do with our charity organisation (Jonglirium e.V.) please send an email to: jonglirium [at]

Cheers Lena, Louisa, Verbena & Felix