Thursday, March 31, 2011

Enchanted

The day's been quite interesting and now I'm sitting in a cute house in the most charming little town I've been to so far.

I started off by taking a bus to Nerja from the bus station next to Plaza de la Marina (a one way ticket's 3,96e and it takes around 1h 15mins to reach). The journey itself is very pleasant thanks to the nice countryside you're going through. 
While on the bus stop, I've met P - a Norwegian on a 4 day holiday in Malaga and so didn't get to ponder about what to do in the following weeks, but had an interesting conversation and got to spruce up my French (yes, you got it right - a Pole on a bus in Spain talking to a Norwegian in French). Apparently, a person speaking many languages could make a lot of money in the real estate business (P has his own agency). Might there be a new career coming my way?

I reached Nerja just before noon and met wih a different P, my host for tonight. I got into his silver mobile house (have always wanted one!) and we drove off to Cantarrijan beach which is located in a beautiful Natural Park. The curvy and narrow road reminded me of one of the roads me and my parents had to take one scary evening somewhere on the Croatian coast. They were terrified then, from what I remember, and I was thirlled today. The beach is pebbly but is surrounded with green rocky hills, the water is very pristine (though surprisingly cold) and the sun's keeping you company at all times. So nice not to have to be going to SEA to get a nice beach-rocks-water combo!

Oh, have I mentioned it's a nudist beach?

After a bit of 101 with the sun we decided to go to P's place, and my home for the night, in a little town called Frigiliana. It's one of the Pueblos Blancos of Andalucia and I've fallen in love with it the moment we parked the car and started climbing numerous steps to reach P's house, as it is on the top of a hill. The place is so cute and charming I'm lost for words. I'd have nothing against spending the next couple of days here. Chilling, wandering the white streets full of flowers, reading a book on a bench overlooking rooftops of other houses, eating fresh avocado with whole grain bread for lunch.. That's what I call life, my friends!


Went for a short walk just before dinner and am about to walk some more as soon as I finish this post. So without more words, here's a bit of Frigiliana for you and by the time you watch this, I'll be off on a photo frenzy around the town.

video

Hairism

It always, always, takes me by surprise how people react to blondes outside of Central Europe (though I'd imagine they're nothing rare in North America either). 

I've lost count of how many times I've been honked and whistled at, talked to and commented on today. One guy followed me for a couple of minutes only to overtake me, tell me I'm pretty and go back. Creepy much! 
Another couldn't help but notice "Que guapa eres!" a minute after picking up his son from school, and the boy was walking by his side, just to be clear. 

The way Spanish guys look at you is a bit less intrusive than the way Indians do it. Or then again, maybe not really. While I kinda do understand Indians in a way, I've no clue as to why Spaniards act like that. The question running through my head is whether they do the same when it comes to Spanish girls and somehow I highly doubt it..
And you know, being bothered by them so fresh out of India tells you something about the whole thing. I should feel invisible in Europe after those months in Btown, not the other way round! ..

.        .        .        .        .

Was planning on visiting Ronda today, by hitch hiking my way there. Well, that didn't happen.. Was accompanied by S and so felt safe and confident enough to chat drivers up, but no luck. The spots we tried where not good for hh and to be completely honest, I don't think we tried all that much. Was a bit sad as I didn't see a second day I could spare for seeing Ronda before heading up north but couldn't let it spoil my day. Instead, we decided to hike a bit in the mountains surrounding Malaga and it was a good call, let me tell you! 20 minutes and you're out of the city in the middle of green trees, colorful flowers and birds' chirpy songs. It truly felt like spring! We walked around for a while and decided to take a break at the highest spot we could reach. 

It was so chillaxed - the sun above me, green grass under me, the see in front of me, the city at my feet and lots of thoughts running through my head. At one point even the thoughts got tired of all the running and so I was left in peace to enjoy the serenity that surrounded me. I had no choice but to take a nap!
Looking down on Malaga ;)

A girl's gotta eat, so we wrapped up and went back to the city to find some taverna for lunch. We were in the total subrubs and stumbled across an enstabilishment called 'Taberna de Juan y Pepe'. Such a cool place! Only local men of all shapes and ages enjoying their beer/coffee/snacks and making sure we were enjoying our meal. Actually, they gave us almost as much food on the house as much we ordered.. Different types of olives with bread (if only I ate olives! tried all of course, but they're still not my thing), little fried and marinated fish.. I was full and the whole thing turned out really cheap - forgot to mention that we've actually made some money today during our attempt at hh.. :D One guy must have felt bad he couldn't take us anywhere and S's typical backpacker's look must have misled him into thinking we were totally broke, so he called him back and gave him a 5e bill. Man, I laughed so bad! Thus, lunch cost us 2e each. 
Thanks Mr Nice Guy from the gas station!

.        .        .        .        .

*As I was planning on visiting Ronda today, it didn't happen.

*In the beginning I was planning on visiting France, it won't happen.

*Then, I was planning to go to Barcelona via the coast, but I don't think that'll happen (have found a 13e flight Malaga-Barcelona and it would save me a lot of time, meaning I could stay in Andalucia longer and maybe spare some days for hiking in the countryside, which I'd simply love!).

*Was about to tell you what I'm planning for tomorrow, but seeing how things never seem to go according to plan and I want tomorrow to happen the way I've planned ;) it, I won't. 

I guess you'll just have to wait and read!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A cold country with a hot sun

It's a phrase I heard from B, a lovely English lady I met at the airport today, about Spain. And it would seem most fitting!

In theory it's +23 degrees but whenever you get into the shade the temperature seems to be dropping by at least 10 degrees..

Have arrived at the airport in the early afternoon, tried looking for Teddy (more on that some other time) and then boarded the A express line to the city center. Malaga welcomed me with a shower, so I had a very interesting conversation with B and waited it out. Headed to the Paseo Maritimo and followed it till I reached Plaza de la Marina, where I stopped at the turist information for some maps.
Am now sitting in McDo (blessed be McDo for its free wi-fi!) and waiting for S, a fellow CSer with whom I'm planning on making a trip to Ronda tomorrow.
Later I'm planning on seeing Centro Historico and then trying to find J's place to sleep over :)

Let the Spanish adventure begin!



Fingers crossed I don't get too lost!
Or then again, getting lost in lovely Spanish towns is so much fun...




Monday, March 28, 2011

And she's off..

That's all I've to say today.

See you from Spain!

More money = less humanity ?

The word 'humanity' stems from the Latin word 'humanitatem' meaning mankind, the human race. When you look it up in the dictionary, you'll find that it has a couple of meanings ranging from 'human race', through 'man's nature', to'field of classical studies'. Its synonyms would be f.e. goodwill, kindness and benevolence. Generosity, giving and sharing are just a step away.

 .     .     .      .     .     .     .     .      .     .

Why is it that the more we have, the less we give to others?
How come the more money's involved, the less humane people turn?

I know that those questions have been asked a million times over and I don't think anyone's come up with a sensible explanation. I don't think anyone could, as it's so illogical!

What got the issue back on my mind?

.     .     .      .     .     .     .     .      .     .

I was talking to some people about my trip to Indonesia and it involved going to Egypt beforehand. I spent 3 days in Cairo and mentioning that leg of my trip made me remember noticing a very surprising and heartwarming phenomenon which I haven't had the chance to write about, as I didn't have a blog back then.The phenomenon I want to mention is how sharing and generous Egyptians are. And I don't mean what great hosts or welcoming people I believe them to be, but how they share however little they have with strangers. I especially remember two situations that will prove my case.

Together with E, my CS friend in Cairo, I visited the so-called 'Garbage City'.  People there are very poor, life conditions are awful, the streets look like a dumpster (because actually, they more or less are one..). We were on our way up to the church and were passing a man who was standing and eating some sunflower seeds he had in his hand. E, fancing the idea of a seed or two himself, walked up to the man and told him to give him some of his seeds. The man smiled and gave away half of what he had, not even rising an eyebrow that a stranger expected him to share his food.
The second situation happened when we were trying to park in the old Muslim part of Cairo. There was a huge traffic jam, heat pouring down from the sky and a half an hour line to the parking lot. When we finally managed to drive up to the ticketing office (we'll call it so for the sake of this post ;) ), E saw a bottle of water standing at the counter next to the usher. He asked him to give him some and the bottle was immediately handed over. He took a couple of sips, gave the bottle back and drove away to find our parking space. Yet again, no surprise or annoyance on the part of the usher.

Both of the times I felt really strange. Strange was the part how rude it seemed to me that E would come up to someone and ask them for their belongings just like that. Strange was how that someone didn't mind this kind of behaviour and shared whatever they had without a word of discontent.

Why was it strange though? 
First of all, because in our culture, where $ is so damn' important, what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours. I bought and paid for it, therefore you have no business getting your hands on it.

Second of all, because I knew both men were poor and had way less money than me or E. Asking them to share what they had (knowing how little that was in general, and how much that asked-for-part of it was to them) seemed wrong, a bit like stealing actually. To them, however, it was natural in a way. If I have something and you want or need it, why not give it to you?

As I've already said - I did feel a bit awkward seeing E's behaviour at first, because I didn't understand it, wasn't used to such a conduct. When I gave it a bit of thought though, I realised how cool that was. Cool, because to be able to be so blunt (E) or generous (sunflower seeds man, usher) with others, you have to have some kind of a feeling of belonging, of brotherhood or some other relationship with them. Cool, because although they were total strangers, they felt close and comfortable enough to act the way they did.

.     .     .      .     .     .     .     .      .     .

Once again - the men we encountered were poor, owned little, and yet were eager to share with us.
Now think of yourself, your friends and strangers in your city.

Say you didn't know me. I saw you munching on fries or drinking a soft drink and just came up to you asking to give me what you had left, what would you do? And even if you did know me and I did the exact same thing (without giving you any reasons, apologising or saying anything beyond "Give me some"), what would you think?
Exactly.
And we all have at least ten times more any of the mentioned people did.
.     .     .      .     .     .     .     .      .     .

It is most illogical!

More so that when you play with the words money and humanity, you'll see that the latter contains the first ..
Say them out loud with me.

money

hyu-money-tee

Shouldn't it be natural then that the more money you have, the more hyu-money-tee there is in you...?






Saturday, March 26, 2011

Every second counts

Life comes with no guarantees, 
no time outs, 
no second chances.
 
You just have to live life to the fullest,
tell someone what they mean to you, 
speak out, 
dance in the pouring rain, 
hold someone's hand, 
stay up late 
and be a flirt. 
 
Don't be afraid to take chances 
or fall in love 
 
and most of all, 
live in the moment because every second you spend angry or upset is a second of happiness you can never get back.
 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Something to think (dream) about

I've just been going through some travel blogs from a list entitled 'Most influential travel bloggers' and one of the authors mentions a list of 320 countries (or 'culturally and geographically distinctive places' more so, as the UN list mentions less than 200 countries per se) on this beautiful planet of ours.

It's a creation of Travelers' Century Club and blows your mind away. So many places in the furthest corners of Earth (well, ok - the planet doesn't literally have corners, but you know what I mean!) waiting to be seen, tasted and discovered! Of course travellers rarely travel to 'tick' a country off a list, but this kind of directory seriously moves your imagination..

If I were to make an honest list of TCC places I've visited, I'd name:

1) Austria  (Vienna really, rest of Austria still to see)
2) Bali (seen quite a few places, but missed some must-sees)
3) Belgium (now that's a country I can honestly say I've more or less seen :) )
4) Canada (I've been to a couple of main cities, seen some nature, marvelled at Niagara Falls etc. but it was 11 or 12 years ago and unfortunately I've lost many of those sights, my memory's not as great as I once thought)
5) Croatia (whenever I hear the name I have this fuzzy feeling inside - it's a place my parents and I went to 2 or 3 times when I was in my early teens and although I might not have too many clear memories about the cities or certain things we did, I have an amazingly strong emotional attachment to Croatia. I consider it a bit of a fairtyle land, as some of the most beautiful places I've seen as a child were seen along the Croatian coast or in its National Park. Haven't been there for about 12 years and have no idea how much of my promised land still exists in reality, but I definitely have to go back and experience it again)
6) Czech Republic (went beyond Prague but that's a city I haven't gotten enough of, haven't spent enough time in. Definitely a must-go-back-to place)
7) Egypt (only Cairo and although it was a very intense stay, it was way too short)
8) England (a couple of places visited but still wanting more)
9) France (not only Paris, but mostly. Hopefully I'll be more familiar with the south of France by the end of April :) )
10) Germany (a few cities seen, done Bayern quite extensively last year, wanting more of Berlin as I don't think I've seen the side of the city everyone's so in love with it. I haven't liked Berlin that much and feel my stay there hasn't given justiced to the place, so I plan on giving it another shot in the future)
11) India (I guess you already know about that adventure :) However, whenever someone asks me: "How is India?", I answer: "I don't know, I've only seen Bombay and only one of the many realities of the city". Going back to India is a very real and pending project - this time with a backpack and no hotels or restaurants...)
12) Indonesia (so many islands [like 17 000..] and so many of them I still want to see.. But I do think I managed to see quite a lot of the country and its people)
13) Ireland, Republic of (had an Irish summer a couple of years back but want to see a lot more than I already have)
14) Italy (maaany years ago and a definite must-go-back-to, as I remember it all too vaguely)
15) Java (didn't really like the places -> cities <- I've seen on the island but am sure it has much more to offer than the boring Solo [sorry M! :P], Yogja or Jakarta)
16) Lesser Sunda Islands (only Bali, Gilis and Lombok. Was supposed to island hop all the way to Timor but decided not in the end)
17) Luxembourg 
18) Malaysia (only KL)
19) Mallorca (see Balearic Islands) (my first and only package holiday destination; a week after coming back from the island I booked tickets to go back and actually see the place, which resulted in my first solo trip - an amazing experience that gave me the confidence to travel alone to much more remote places)
20) Monaco (seems like a previous life already..)
21) Netherlands (quite extensively but the city I'm missing is Amsterdam, believe it or not. Well, technically I have been there, but not really)
22) Poland (although I realise I don't know my own country well and a backpacking trip in here is one of the projects)
23) Slovakia (very recently at that)
24) Slovenia (same case as Italy)
25) Spain (just Madrid [looove it!], much more planned come Tuesday! ;))
26) Sweden (only Stockholm, one of the lovliest and most enchanting places I've seen)
27) Switzerland (same case as Slovenia and Italy)

So, if you ever get jealous and think "She's been to so many places, she travels so much" - think again! I've just been to 27 out of 320 places to see!  
That's not even 10% !!!  
8.4 to be exact..

Can't wait to reach the 10% :D





 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Little bit of India in Warsaw

Surprisingly enough, one of the things I've been missing a lot since I came back is hearing Indian English and Hinglish..
 
On Wednesday I decided to go for CS weekly meeting. Arrived at Lorelai, our local CS's pub of choice, to find the whole place packed with fellow travellers. In fleeing I met A, who only managed to tell me she had just been talking to an Indian about this friend of hers who'd come back from Bombay (yes, that's me) and that he wanted to meet me. So I looked around if I knew anyone (am not really active in Warsaw CS and that was my second weekly meeting ever, the first one dating back to beg of Sept) and went to meet P, the beforementioned Indian. Man, it was sooo good to listen to some Indian accent! ;) His isn't too strong, but a 15 minute talk with him made me food- and homesick for Bombay, brought back my head tilting and the typical hand movements.. Later into the evening I'd also meet S, another Indian, and A, a Pakistani who'd been to Btown and allover the country. I looooved talking about the city and its hang out places, adding the little Hindi that I know inbetween, being understood when I said 'yaar' and not looked strangely upon whenever my question ended with a 'na?'.

On Thursday I had a couple of meetings with friends, one of which took place in Bollywood Lounge, the only bollywood club in Warsaw, and my once-upon-a-time fav place around. Unfortunately, the Butter Chicken I used to love so much (and still enjoyed a lot this time) was way too sweet, tomatoey and kinda European.. 
I love eating with my hand and did so, but when I asked for a bowl of water with lemon to wash the food off, the much surprised waitress brought me some cold water.. Little things, but make a world of difference!..

............................................................................

Other than that, my days are full of sleep, Californication (man, I'm hooked!), friends and some fitness clasess I've been trying to attend every morning. 
A has already done two projects for my business cards and I'm absolutely in love with them! 
Can't wait to have some printed out and in my pocket, ready to be used!

............................................................................

Also, have a certain project in my mind and already two life stories that I'd love to tell you, but it's still a long way to go before I can present them. I hope you'll enjoy my new idea!
Plus, today's CS meeting might turn out quite fruitful as well...


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How long? Where? When?

All I hear from everyone around me is questions... So to cover the basic ones:

How long are you in Warsaw for?
In Poland, exactly 2 more weeks. Warsaw, however, might be a bit of a different story, as my flight's from the beautiful Cracow :)

Where are you going next?
First stop is Malaga, on my way to Granda for a couple of days and then up north to get somewhere around Marseille by the 3rd week of April.

When will you be back?
Beginning of May.


Soooo, have just bought my ticket to Spain! Caaaaan't wait!!!
Have had this urge of going there for a couple of months now. .
I miss the beautiful language. 
I miss the crazy people. 
I miss the delicious churros and tapas.
But two more weeks and I shall have 'em all! :D





Monday, March 14, 2011

What do you do?

TEDxWarsaw2011 is almost around the corner and I'm one of the lucky people whose application got accepted. Honestly, I didn't think it was very selective but apparently it might have been a bit more difficult to attend than I imagined.

They were organising some 'networking workshops' today (unfortunately not too enlightening) during which I've come to see the conference not only as an 'inspiration and creativity platform', but also as a 'networking platfrom'. Everyone was talking about introducing oneself properly, exchanging business cards, getting new contacts. Which got me thinking - what do I actually do? What is it that I could, and should, put on my business card?

The ones I was using 4 months ago are no longer valid, as they're @ business cards.
The ones I was using as far as 9 days ago are no longer valid, as they're my Indian business cards.
So what now? 

I guess it'd be smart to have some, especially that while travelling you meet a lot of people you wanna stay in touch with. For one, they might be great potential friends. However, as much as writing down your email addresses and phone numbers on spare pieces of paper or tissues might seem romantic, it is very risky, as one tends to loose those very often. On the other hand, you sometimes meet people who might be 'useful' (how I hate using that word in reference to others..) when it comes to your career or a future job. In short, having a business card is mighty useful.

But then, what do I put on it?
My university degree states that I'm a Japanologist (a funny word, innit?). Am I one, though? Nope.
The part time I've been doing for the last 10 years is teaching English. Do I wanna continue that and be know as an English teacher, though? Nope.

So I was thinking for about 3 minutes... and figured out what I'll put on my business cards is whom I want to be and what I want do be doing .. Afterall, what you are to the outside world is what that said world sees and describes you as. I mean, if someone sees a card with the words 'traveller' or 'travel writer' (wishful thinking, I know!) on it, then in their eyes that's whom I'll be, right? And they'll treat me as such, 'cause they won't know any better, am I right or am I right?

There you go then.

Stranger: And what do you do?
Magu: I'm a traveller.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fairytale wedding, the pool party

You might remember, my first task was welcoming the guest and later I was to hostess a pool party lunch thingy.
A and I got back home, quickly changed and 5 minutes later we were heading to the next venue. It looked amazing!

You were welcomed by a wall of water

to later see a pool, a lake and the beautifully decorated lunch tables.

Our job was mainly to see that everyone was having a good time and enjoying their food & drinks. I was pretty hungry by the time I got there, so tasted some of the great things they were serving and later started mingling with the guests. The weather was beautiful, people as well ;), the DJ was setting the mood and the picturesque surroundings were helping him out. Lunch was combined with a mehndi function but I did not get to have one done this time.
The main attraction was a performance of some African acrobats who came down there especially for the event. I must say the guys were incredible, unfortunately the audience wasn't really helping them out.

The guys warming up, plus a bit of the place for you to see.
video
(sorry for the shaky hand, but couldn't stop dancing to that kind of live music! :) )

video

All the aunties and uncles were seeking refugee under umbrellas, the younger crowd was downing one drink after another :) After most of the crowd had gone home to rest a bit and change for the sangeet, I went for a short dip in one of the pools

Some dancing with A
A & M & Y
grabbed some fruit and relaxed for a short while.

After a quarter of an hour of rest I had to rush back home and start preparing myself for the next function, the wonderful sangeet.



Monday, March 7, 2011

It feels strange

*that everyone around me is white
*that nobody's staring (and even if they are it's not because of my skin or hair colour, but because I look like shit after 20 hrs of travelling)
*that no one's honking my ears out, no crazy rickshawalla is trying to kill me
*to be in a building in which the temperature is higher than outside
*to have to share a bathroom with someone
*to have to wait till your hair dries before you leave home (unless you want to befriend a nasty cold)
*to be meeting with my besties in an hour, as if the last three months were just a dream
*to feel homesick after having reached home (and it's not your home you feel homesick for, not even the one you've lived in since December..)



Saturday, March 5, 2011

Your travel confirmation

Due to some recent developments I had my return ticket rebooked and will be flying a day later, thus the suitcase I've just finish packing will be flying out tomorrow night, not today ;)

Yay!

Now it's time to begin my last weekend in India!


Friday, March 4, 2011

My dad's theory

So my dad has this theory that whenever I'm not writing for a long time it means I'm a bit down and that something's wrong.
And I guess it might have been true before but now I'm simply too busy to be writing. But believe me - good stories are in the making ;)

And I'm far from being down!