Saturday, July 30, 2011

U in India??

What could make anyone think so?

I guess my FB status: "10hrs and still on the same train.." might have been misleading.

After all, it's the Indian trains that are (in)famous for being slow and late. Well, they have competition right in the middle of Europe, and Poland is the place!

My train was supposed to arrive in Oława at 13:39. It did at 18:09. 4.5 hrs late. 11 hrs on the train total.

11 hours.

Three hours less than flying to Kuala Lumpur. 

An hour less than getting to Berlin and then back again. 

Same as crossing almost the whole of Java island (Yogja - Jakarta). 

Three hours more than flying to Bombay.

Although I can't be complaining. 
After roughly three hours of sleep, I had the chance to catch up on it. Big time.

Operation 'Summer on Iceland' is now in progress

You read me right - let the adventure begin!

I am just about to leave the house. Taking the 7.15 train to Oława, a little town near Wrocław, where I'll be visiting my family over the weekend.

Managed to pack all my things (although when Antoine heard my bag was a 30l one all he said was: Good luck!) and it's actually not that bad (after all, I hardly took anything..!). It's just that the mat and the sleeping bag stick out a lot and I'm a bit afraid the Ryanair folks will not let me through. They've gotten a bit too scrupulous lately, wouldn't you agree?
My belongings for the next 7 weeks!
Yesterday saw some last purchases and I must admit it got me a tiny bit down - the gear cost me more than the IcelandExpress flight and thus I have already spent over 700e on a trip that hasn't even started yet.. So many people have been repeatedly asking me if I'm seriously not looking for a job. Come October - I SO am. 

Gotta clear my head now, though. 
What is spent is spent and well, that's what we have $$ for, right?

Keep on telling that to yourself. 
And again.

Ok, I'm fine now :)

Let the adventure begin!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Win some, loose some

Apparently you cannot always have things go your way.

After a couple of days of pondering I decided there was nothing more to ponder about - just gotta go and buy the damn' shoes. Jim accompanied me to Podróżnik store where I left some green ones. I tried the shoes on and one of the store assistants took it to the counter as I was choosing another pair of socks (this time Expander Light Trek). I come up to pay and a different guy asks me: Can I help you? My first answer's: No, thanks. I just wanna pay. After a couple of seconds though I add: Well, actually - you could give me a discount! The guy kinda smiles and walks away, as another store assistant enters my purchase into their system. She asks me about the membership card but I don't have one yet. I ask if I can first pay for the socks and later get the shoes with the discount already ( ;) ). Well, you can get a card only with a purchase of 300 zl, answers the girl. Too bad, I think to myself and smile to the girl, while I start counting the money. She tells me how much I am to pay, I hand over the cash and suddenly realise something's off.  

Umm, how much is it again? 611,74 zl. Oh, so there is a discount after all? I ask surprised (the shoes alone are 619 zl). Umm.. no... looking up and glancing at the other employees with a bit of a conspiration in her smile. So I smile the same way, say: Thanks so much!, wish her a good day and walk out laughing. After all, she just gave me free socks and some change for a very good mocha I drink over an interesting conversation at Cafe Charlie (btw - Warsawers - a very cosy cafe worth visiting just next to Narutowicza square). 

My new and old trekking gear :)

So that was the win some part.

.       .       .        .         .

Now more of a loose some.

Was about to get my Carcassonne flight when I decided to check if every country had the same price (it's not uncommon to have quite some differences). It seemed the same in € and ₤, so I wanted to go back to the Polish version of the site and couldn't do it. Got myself the ticket in ₤ and that was it.
Till today I managed to get on the Polish Ryanair (was checking some other flights) and saw that if I buy the ticket through here. it would be 12 €. I paid 22.99 ₤.
So there you are, I so overpaid. 

No free socks nor free coffee for me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Operation 'Summery South of France'

You've heard of the 'Summer in Iceland' operation, right? Have been mentioning in and out for a couple of months.

However, what you haven't heard of, as the first seed for the plant that is called another trip came to life on the weekend (yes, it's been on my mind in different forms ever since I got myself the Iceland flight, but nothing was close to serious), is the 'Summery South of France' operation!

So, without further introduction - I'm finally gonna spend some time in Montpellier and Marseille!

After coming back from Iceland I'll have a full day to get from Gatwick to Stansted. Am thinking about trying to hitch to Cambridge, seeing the place, staying overnight and then the next morning hitching/taking the coach to Stansted (only about 45mins by NationalExpress). Somewhere around the 29th/30th I'll meet with Paula and we'll finally get the chance to travel together and catch up after a year! The way I see it - we rent bikes (rental/maybe some friendly CSers) and explore the coast with baskets full of freshly made delicious baguettes, mouthwatering cheese and a bottle of wine, while looking more than classy in our summery flowery dresses and straw hats (regardless of the fact that I'll only have trekking gear with me, so no summer and no flowers).

Last time, my 'Spring in Spain' operation turned into 'Spring in Andalucia', as I stayed behind in the south and didn't reach Barcelona (nor France, which was part of the concept at the very beginning). Well, that's about to change! Montpellier is only 350 km away, so it would be a waste not to hit Catalunia! Plus, the fact that those were the cheapest seats we could find to either Germany or Poland helps a lot :)

So actually, the 'Summery South of France' operation will be a south of France+(Andora?)+north of Spain+east of Germany kinda thingy. 

Can I have an A M E N?

The price of your first steps into trekking

Operation 'Summer in Iceland' is approaching big time and I've been panicking a bit those last couple of days, I admit it.

I do not have any gear needed for trekking, especially in a bit of a cooler climate. Thus, decided to ask my friends for advice, asked A for advice, asked store assistants for advice - I've asked pretty much everyone around. Am still as stupid as I was, trekking gear wise, and even more confused than I thought possible - there's so much choice and such price ranges that I'm at a loss.

First, it was the shoes - the most important part. I knew it was gonna be expensive (of course, 'expensive' has a different meaning for everybody, for me 100e on a pair of shoes is definitely so), but was hoping for something under 500zl (125e). I don't see that happening, though. Almost everything I've been advised is 150e and more. I've come to terms with it already, especially that a trekking shoe from a decent company should last you a decade. I guess when you think about it in terms of an investment and break it down to 15e a year for comfortable and safe shoes, it's not so much anymore.
Also, trekking shoes are not enough - a good pair of sandals is a must as well. Up until now, I walked everywhere in my pair of beloved sandals I got myself on Mallorca 2 years ago. Unfortunately, I had to let them go.. They were glued so many times, I've lost count. However, this proves you don't need damn expensive ones to hike, cross rivers, dance in clubs and sight-see churches in, as that's all they were used for. And more. So, I have officially 'sold out' to the 'backpacker's must's' and got myself a pair of Tevas (hate it that wherever I go, everyone will be wearing the same freaking shoes; though they are supposed to be super comfortable and unbreakable - we'll have to wait and see)

The old (10e) and the new (129.99zl = 35e). Oh, and yeah - the old ones used to be green as well ;)

You need something between the shoe and your bare skin, so you oughtta buy some socks as well. Excuse me, not just some socks - trekking socks. Not even just trekking socks, 'cause there are tens of those. Male and female; long and short; light, thicker and thick; more breathing or more cooling or more warming; with more or less amortization (seriously? never thought of my socks as something that gives/doesn't give me amortization..); for blisterless heels or odourless feet. And the list goes on and on. And the brands. And the prices. How do you go about spending 80 zl (20e) on a pair of socks, if usually u don't spend more than 8zl? I had a slight moment of madness when I was considering Icebreaker's socks but luckily came back to my senses. Have ordered a pair of 29.99zl (7.70e) Brubeck ones and will get myself some other pair tomorrow, so I can compare different companies and see how much truth there is to it, and how much of the same ol' we get with every other kind of purchase.

Then, I started thinking about the sleeping arrangements. I have gone camping before, but never in a cold or even mildly cold weather. The average temperature now will be around 4-5 degrees, so my plain sleeping bag will not be enough. Was considering buying a new one, but the price I was quoted (430zl = 110e for a small warm cotton sleeping bag) got me running out of the store as if I were being chased. Then, I figured I could get a silk sleeping bag liner - it is supposed to make a bag a couple degrees warmer, plus can be used as a sleeping bag itself in warmer places (which I hope to be going more and more to). However, that also is a bit of a cost - around 50-60e. Still remains to be bought, will get back to ya about that one.

A sleeping bag will not be enough though, so we come to the subject of mats. As we know, the amount of heat we lose when sleeping on cold ground is huge, so however warm the sleeping bag is, we need a mat. I wanna buy the simplest lightest one out there (probably around 20zl = 5e), not really thinking about it as something that has to last. My parents are convinced I need the self inflating one (cheapest at 160zl = 40e). We'll see whose conviction's on the winning side.

It turns out trekking calls for special underwear (same as any other sport these days, I guess). I wonder, how did people ever manage to do anything outdoors 50 years ago? Without all those wonders traveller and sports stores are full of, I mean..
Nywayz, back to the underwear - it might be chilly at nights, that's for one. Walking a couple of hours a day makes you sweat, that's two. Of course trekking underwear can get expensive, that's three. Luckily, Brubeck's on winter/spring collection sale, so ordered myself some pants (39zl = 10e) and two tshirts - a 64zl (16e) and a 45zl (11.5e) one. That's actually a good deal, I think.

Already before going to Roskilde I got myself one of them fast drying travel towels (120zl = 30e) I'd had my eye on for a long time. Tested it and although it takes some time getting used to the texture, it definitely does dry you, and itself, faster. I think I'm gonna get another one (after all, a month and a half with one towel, however fast drying, might not be the best idea). This time I'll probably buy something a bit cheaper and check out the difference. 

One of the accessories I wanted to get was a head torch. I remember how sorry I was in Indonesia that I didn't have one and had my hands freeze whenever I wanted to see anything. Which was quite often, seeing how I was trekking a volcano in the middle of the night. Again, the choice is huge. Not wanting the shittiest one (though couldn't find any real cheap one in the real world - Allegro's full of them) but neither wanting to spend 50e on it, I went for a 28.89zl (6e) Energizer (33.58 zl = 7e with batteries) - should be enough. 

Another thing I still need to buy is a decent warm polar blouse. A nice thermo longsleeve would come in handy as well, although I don't consider it a necessity. Other than that, I believe all the basic equipment's been covered.

Oh, you might wonder where the tent's gone missing. Luckily, that part's being taken care of by A. Thank you A! :)

If you think I've forgotten anything, please lemme know!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

For your consideration

 Magu Bee might not have lived 30 years but she's somehow figuring out the same lessons.

It's a very good read, so go ahead folks!

30 Life Lessons From 30 Years



Friday, July 22, 2011

A daddy's bee

Yesterday, I went to pick my father up from the airport. 

We come back home, he unzips the suitcase and says: "I probably shouldn't have bought it and don't really know why I did, to be honest. But here you are", to later give me 3 objects wrapped in newspaper. I can't figure out what it might be by the seize or weight of it, so I quickly open the packages and crack up immediately. 

Inside, a bee family awaits me:

I think one's nickname/ online persona is pretty much official once one's parents acknowledge it, don't you? :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

They don't come fresher than that!

Yup, am a freshman again! 

Applied for Warsaw Uni and got accepted. 

Don't get me wrong, though - I do not wish to study. I wish to have the magical student status, along with the discounts and health insurance that go with it. At first I was thinking about getting into uni and showing up only the 1st week (to get the beloved green piece of plastic, i.e. student ID card) but later changed my tactics. Seeing how I will most probably be staying in Warsaw for 4 months come October, I decided a government-sponsored language course (i.e. studies) might not be such a bad idea. The question was where to apply and I'd narrowed the pool of faculties to Indian, Arabic and Russian studies. 

Indian - I so want to speak Hindi. 
Arabic - it's so useful and in demand right now. 
Russian - used to take it in high school, lots of Russians everywhere, easy 'nuff to learn for a Pole. 

My heart was with Indian studies but I knew a) anyone you'd be looking at job-wise will be doing business in English b) not a chance to aquire the language well enough in 4 months to be able to do anything with it. Arabic - take point b) and multiply by.. well, a lot. 

Thus, I have to refresh my cyrillic.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The weather in here is going crazy.

When I woke up at 6 am today (unemployed people cannot say 'no' to tutoring, even when it starts at 8 am on the other side of town), it was already raining. Decided to reactivate my rain boots, which I promised myself not to wear after constantly having them on for a couple of days in the row back in Roskilde, and happily set off to the center, glad that I wouldn't get wet.

2 hours into the day and it became so hot, I could barely stand to walk (pun intended ;) ). 
I had a flash of 'I should just take them off and walk barefoot', but as I was going to hand in my documents at uni,* I decided against walking into the board's room with shoes in my hands and badly painted toenails out in the open. After uni went to see T, an Indian friend whom I interviewed today, and later had lunch with A, who was pretending to be finishing her thesis at the library. By the time I got to Rue de Paris (a chain restaurant with crepes), I was boiling inside my pretty purple shoes. I took them off the moment I sat down and never put them back on. 

While I was crossing the street in one of the main points of the city, and gathering looks from my fellow pedestrians, as well as some of the drivers (everything from beaming smiles, through ridicule, to utter surprise), I suddenly found myself asking myself a question in my head: "Would you have done that a year ago, before you started travelling the way you do?" And the answer was "Most certainly not!"

And so I smiled to myself and gladiy welcomed this relaxed state of mind that visits you whenever you realise you don't give a darn what anybody thinks, 'cause you're doing your own thing (yes, even if it's walking with your rain boots on your hands, instead of your feet).

.      .       .        .       .      .

Originally, it didn't even cross my mind to write about it. However, have spent the last couple of hours going through some travel blogs and just finished reading a post about the advantages and disadvantages of a year long trip one Polish couple embarked on some time ago. The first thing they say is:

"Above all, we've gained something we might call a piece of mind. It's hard to explain. We stress less about things, there's more patience in us, more optimism."

("Przede wszystkim zyskaliśmy coś co można chyba nazwać spokojem ducha. Trudno to wytłumaczyć. Mniej się wszystkim przejmujemy, więcej w nas cierpliwości, więcej optymizmu."
To read more, for Polish speakers, click here.)

It was so fitting to what I felt today that I needed to comment on it as well. 
Their words express my exact thoughts.
I have noticed that I stress a lot less, I do not pay so much attention to (irrelevant) things, it's gotten easier to just let go, forgive and forget, not worry when it's not necessary (which is most of the time, I assure you).

Although it's quite easy to point the results of the change that has happened (is hapenning?), it really is hard to explain the way feelings and the mind have altered. 
The only way I can put it for now - travelling has given me the skill of chillaxation.

Anyone out there got a similar experience?

*For more information, read tomorrow's post :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Job magnet

So, my first solo hitchhiking trip is over. And I'm alive!

Started  at around 13:25 in Nicolassee. I got there on the S1, which took me 40mins from the West Station. There's a McDo-petrol station combo that was supposed to be great for catching a ride to Michendorf, which in turn is considered THE spot for hh east.
It wasn't that great - nobody wanted to take me for some time and then a married couple took pity on me and made quite a detour to bring me to the spot. They dropped me off and only then did someone make me realise I was on the wrong station (in the direction of Leipzig and Magdeburg instead of Frankfurt Oder). 
I did have this one moment of doubt when we passed the Frankfurt Oder exit on the highway but decided the driver knew better. Well, apparently, they don't always do.
Luckily, the person who made me realise the fact was a Polish guy, nice enough to make, yet another, detour and take me to the right spot. I got out (was sooo tempted to go to Belgium with him, though! Haven't had THE fries for months now..) and saw some other hhers. Their stories weren't too optimistic - waiting for long, all cars packed, nobody gives a (..).

Decided to take it slow. Got myself some "food" at McDo and headed to a nice spot by the exit of the car park. 7 or 8 cars later a niceeee Audi with a Polish couple offered to take me to Poznan. They travel a lot lot, so got to hear about places like Mexico, Jamaica or Dundee, Scotland, where they live at the moment. They were getting off the high way before Poznan and offered to drop me off at a gas station, which turned out to be a small car park with a toilet and not much else. 

I was considering getting worried whether or not I was gonna get out of there in the following couple of hours but one of the 3 cars on the spot, with a Polish-Belgian couple from Liege onboard, was happy to take me along, although only till Konin. It was so cute to see how worried they were about the son they'd left home alone for the first time ever (they guy's 18).

I got off at another gas station, asked in 4 cars to hear a no-no, got myself a snack and saw Warsaw plates on a car a girl was ready to take out of the parking lot. At first she seemed skeptical - the car was pretty much full, but I guess she was in a good mood, as she started rearranging things and I fit nicely with all the stuff at the back. Together with a friend she was coming back from Denmark, where they were on a week-long cruise. Turned out they were lawyers, engaged in a lot of cool projects. They asked about me and my travels, got a bit curious about my future guide career and soon were asking for my phone number - they're thinking about taking some of the people from their bar association on MICE like trips and would be looking for a person to help them out.. 
(hence the job magnet thingy, in O's words)
I was the first person the driver has ever taken aboard, the friend also said she never took anyone. By the end of the trip they said it was educative and interesting, and that they'd start taking hhers from now on. Great! 
Oh, and they dropped me off right at my building :)

All in all, the whole hitching thing actually took me less time than getting to the bus station, taking the bus and then getting back home from the bus station. Plus, saved me 30 euro and got me to hear interesting stories. 

Hitch hiking - welcome to my world!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Best hitch ever

Got out of Warsaw on a local bus.

Managed to put my backpack down and my thumb up.

A bus pulled over.

I get to see the plates - the magnificent D at its beginning.

Spot on - we're going to Berlin!

.      .       .       .      .

On a band tour bus.

With a full mini bar, a coffee machine and a microwave.


DVD and video games.

Oh, Milka and Pringles on board as well.

Need I say more?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Key to my (future) success

Patience. Patience, my girl.

Seriously, why am I always so restless? 
Why do I feel like I have to do and have everything here and now?

A bit of patience is what could take me to a whole different level. It's what will take me there, unless I never learn it. So I'd better start the learning process!

.     .      .       .       .

The last couple of days have been rather lazy, although some advancement has been made.

For one, my friend got me a new student and although it might not be a fortune, I'll be making a bit of money till the end of next week. Which is great, as Iceland's approaching and so is the terror in my eyes and in my wallet. Every penny counts.
(and I was so sure I wouldn't be teaching English in the nearest future.. Funny thing is, I've realised how much I missed it!)

Secondly, went to another meeting with my column's editor, might be getting some more responsibilities in the fall, which would be cool. A nice title would go with it, although not too much remuneration. However, could use the position as a means of meeting some potentially cool (and business wise "useful") people. So I guess we keep our fingers crossed.

Also, two days ago I kinda appointed myself as a contact person for publishing houses and will be approaching them to cooperate with us. The idea hit me when I restarted reading "Maximum City" by Suketu Mehta - a book that got into my hands while I was still in Bombay and that I absolutely adored reading but didn't have the time to finish (I would always be reading a couple of pages while waiting for S to show up [late, of course], so we could go to the cinema). I stumbled across its Polish translation just two days ago. It came out quite recently and the job was done by a rather small publishing house, so I figured they'd like some help promoting it. Especially that the book's very famous abroad and amongst Indians themselves, not so much over here. Got a green light to contact them on behalf of the portal and did so today. They really liked the idea and we're to pin down the details next week. Yay! 
Sooo planning to get more books for our FB contests!

Next, finally got an interview secured! 
It's on Monday evening with a Vietnamese lady who's been doing a hell of a job fighting for her people's rights, those living both back home and in Poland. She's quite a persona, so am a bit apprehensive - after all it'll be my first interview ever..!
A second one, with an Indian friend and a restaurant owner, will hopefully follow on Wednesday.

Also, yesterday discussed my Indonesian trip's itinerary with the travel agency's bosses and they really seemed to like it. We went over it in detail and today they'll see whether or not all's doable when it comes to the flight connections. If so, then we analyze the financial side of it, put a price tag on it and they'll already start advertising it.. as a Magu Bee's Trip!

.     .      .       .       .

In the meantime, one of the stories in Polish is ready, with pictures in a .pdf and all, although not edited yet. Some others have been started but somehow my mind finds it a bit hard to write in Polish, so my heart finds it a bit hard to commit to it. However, in Roskilde I got my first ever Tarot reading (never really believed in any of such things) and it was to answer my doubts about the success of my new project. Apparently, the cards were very hopeful and optimistic. So am I.

In the morning I found out about a travel writing contest and am thinking about entering the 'ready' story. It'll need rewriting to a certain extent and adding more details (now it's a rather light humorous piece, I'd try to add a more descriptive and short-novel-like element to it) but there's still time, so why not take a shot at it? The winning stories will be put together and published as a book!

In the evening finally met with M who came back from her year in Indonesia, at last! Was sooo happy to see her and feel so proud of her - she looks amazing! Has also changed quite a bit, gained a lot of  life experience, which is worth all the money in the world. So so happy to have her back.

.     .      .       .       .

Damn', it's already so late? Nooooooo-oooo. 
Forgot to mention, I'm off to Berlin* tomorrow. As I've got classes in the morning and will be hitching straight afterwards, and the bag's still unpacked, breakfast uncooked and the flat untidy, it means I've gotta get up at 6am.
G'nite folks!

*Going for the weekend and hoping to get there safe and sound - will be hitch hiking alone for the first time eva. After last week's events might not seem like a grant idea but what can I do..

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Plenty of things.

First international hitch hiking, first music festival, first canning, first dumpster diving, first tenting.

New friends met, new bands discovered, new ideas born, new urges to be satisfied arose.

Old friend met, old projects revised, old thoughts rushing in.

Millie's cookies again, philosophy again.

A friend got raped.