Friday, March 30, 2012

The sound of rain


Well, those same hills are, most unfortunately, a bit dead behind a dense fog and the sound of rain...

I have arrived in Salzburg yesterday in the early afternoon, got dropped off in the city center just at the beginning of Getreidegasse, the town's main shopping street, and immediately fell under the place's spell. It's so charming and classy, you just can't help but be taken by what's around you. I spent a couple of hours wandering the small streets and shopping passages, getting lost in between the numerous (and when I say numerous, I mean it!) churches, climbing stairs and crossing bridges, all while waiting for Benigna to finish her classes. 

When we met at 5pm in front of Unipark Nonntal (the new building of the  university's Linguistics Dept), it turned out she had forgotten to tell me she had a choir practice that afternoon. Having no time to waste, we went back into the building and I got to listen to some pretty neat Austrian voices for around 2 hours, which was to be later topped by an evening out in O'Malley's, an Irish pub holding regular Thursday night karaoke sessions. I've always loved singing and always known I sound horribly, so wouldn't ever decide to do it in public, but last night I decided it's just too much fun to be missing out on - anyone knows a cheap, but decent, singing teacher in Warsaw...? :)


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

If you live in Thessaloniki

Every time I realised something interesting, I'd think about writing it down but somehow Greece wasn't the place to do it. Have spent a laid back afternoon in Munich's English Garden and finally managed to write a bit. So here it goes: if you live in Thessaloniki,

*
You smoke a lot.
Like a lot lot. People in here are literally constantly rolling one cigarette after another, which drives us non smokers crazy. Even though the government introduced a ban on smoking inside pubs, restaurants etc. the people of Greece decided it’s stupid and are cheerfully displaying their disapproval. You’ll find “no smoking” signs everywhere, granted, but there’ll be so much smoke inside the place that you’ll barely be able to see it.

*
You go out a lot.
Like a lot lot. It is amazing that with beer price starting at round 6 euros, the whole Europe going on about the Greek crisis and EU pumping money into the country, the pubs and tavernas are full, any time of day or night. As one of the Greeks I met put it: “That’s just the Greek mentality – we might not have money to travel or buy things, don’t save, but we will not stop eating out and going out”. 


And they definitely have places to go out – lots of pretty cool clubs and pubs, always full of people (maybe apart from Monday night).

*
You regularly meet with your friends in one of your favourite tavernas.
So what is this taverna thing, I hear you ask. Well, Greeks are very particular about the division between a taverna and a restaurant, so they’d constantly correct me when I’d call it one. I think it was hard for them to understand that I come from a country where we don’t have this type of a place. Tavernas are such a huge part of Greek reality, it’s hard to imagine Greece without them. As one of the guys put it: “Tavernas are one of the reasons Greek people like Greece.” And well, it’s not like it’s hard for me to understand why – they’re a brilliant hang out place! How the Greeks put it – you go to a restaurant to eat and satisfy your hunger. Plus, they’re expensive. 


You go to a taverna to sit talking to your friends while drinking and eating, which normally takes hours. And that’s about right, even if you’re not hungry, you’ll order so much food that you can’t just not eat. Not when it’s there on the table, looking so treacherously delicious. And the cool thing, especially for a foreigner, is that they only have traditional Greek dishes in very reasonable prices (anywhere between 3-5,5 euros per serving). The surprising thing is, they basically never have any kind of a dessert on the menu. For that you’ll have to go to a patisserie (and boy, will you love going there!). Depending on a place however, they might bring you a bit of something sweet with the bill, f.e. some Greek halva.

*
Once eating out, everyone shares everything.
It’s also a very Asian thing – unlike in Central/Western Europe and the States, the Greeks will order many different dishes (f.e. 2 people will order 3 different things each for the whole group) and once the food arrives on the table, you just dig in and help yourself to a bit of everything. 



I love this style of eating because 1) you get to try so many different things 2) it seems so much more familiar and friendly when everyone can just dive in with their fork and eat from a common plate. Of course, if there’s f.e. a salad, you’ll just put some on your plate and eat from there, but if there’s some meat in a pot, everyone will just take a piece straight from there. 

*
You won’t refer to Greece as Europe.
It’s said to be a typically British thing to be referring to the rest of the Old Continent as “Europe” while excluding GB, which I guess is understandable in a way, as the island’s separated from the rest of us. However, why the Greeks do it, I’ve no idea. I first realized this when we were out in a taverna, talking about different eating habits and Chris, looking at the table and our plates, said: “You see, that’s another difference – you in Europe put your bread on the plate, we in Greece put it on the tablecloth.” And, surely enough, Reni, Dora and I all had bread on our plates (and thus struggling with the lack of space!) while Chris had his next to it. I’d noticed that before he spoke of it, so what interested me more was the “You in Europe” part of his statement. I’d later hear it many more times from other Greeks I talked to.

*
You won’t flash toilet paper after using the toilet.
Again, something that made me think about Asia straight away. On the first and second day I’d see a “Don’t put paper in the toilet” sign in different places but I just assumed they meant paper towels that you use for drying your hands and it made sense, as we have the same signs in our restaurants. However, I was later at one Greek’s house and there was a small piece of paper on the bathroom door with a “Please don’t put toilet paper into the toilet” writing on it, which made me stop and realize that they actually meant … the used toilet paper! Turns out the water pressure is rather low, so their toilets get stuck a lot and well, there’s always a small bin waiting for you by the toilet seat…

*
You probably have some family or friends living in Germany.
I would have never thought that there were many Greeks going to Germany but apparently it is so. Be it immigration for personal/professional reasons, studying or travelling – lots of Greeks fly down there. Also, lots of German tourists come over here, so if you want a part-time job in Greece over the summer – it would be about time to spruce up your German!

*
And you’re in the construction business, you might have a hard life.
Ok, so I knew I was in Greece – one of the cradles of our civilization blahblah but I didn’t actually realize I was in the cradle of our civilization until we randomly stumbled across some big ancient ruins in the middle of the city center. 

 
It’s one of the cool things about Thessaloniki (but I’d assume other Greek cities as well) that you never know what’s around the corner (ok, maybe apart from the fact that you’re sure to find a pharmacy or two) – an old style building, a kind of a modern Greek block of flats, a kind of a colonial building or ancient ruins. 


However, it does make construction work so much harder, building roads and tube lines especially. They have started a huge investment in Thessaloniki to build a tube line but once they started digging, they found some ancient ruins (surprise, surprise) and the project just got dropped. 



And I mean it quite literally – they basically left everything as if they were about to take up work again the next day (I’ve heard has been like this for a couple of years now).

*
You’re a friendly and generous person.
Or at least I’ve had the luck to come across such, be it my host and his friends, other CSers or randomly met people. So if you’re looking for a relaxed place where you can lead the good life for a while – enjoy sun by the seaside, eat well, drink in style and hang out with open, friendly people – go on and book your flight to Thessaloniki!



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Closure

Goodbye Dortmund.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Turning things around

As you might remember, the last leg of my trip was supposed to be a couple days long stay in Dortmund. However, as the boyfriend I was going to visit had dumped me just before I got on this trip, things changed. The very day he did it, I bought a new ticket to fly back to Poland, for the next day. And then, a couple of hours later, I came to a conclusion I was too rush in my decision, as I've a friend in Munich who has been inviting me many times over (the ever so cute Paula from the French trip) and I thought I could just hitch to see her for a couple of days and then return to Dortmund to get on my originally booked plane.

For many days the idea of flying to Dortmund was literally haunting me, to the point where I was considering a) buying an expensive flight back home from Sofia and b) hitch hiking to Poland all the way from Sofia. None of the above were to my real liking, though. Then I thought - ok, I'll land in Dortmund on Monday 7:30am and just go straight to Munich, no biggie, no harm done. Somehow though, spending my days alone in Munich, Paula has a job and all (who does that??), didn't seem all that exciting either.

So I was struggling to make up my mind about what to do, but was sure I'd need one night in Dortmund in case I was taking the Tuesday flight back home. I found a really cool host, he and his flatmates agreed to take me in, so Dortmund wasn't looking all that bad any more. Once that was done, I felt a sense of relief and decided going back home on Tuesday was just plain stupid! I took a look at the map and have decided what follows:

Mon: flight Sofia-Dortmund, spend the night there
Tue: hitch to Stuttgart (heard it's nice, never been there, it's on the way to Munich, found a nice host), spend the night there
Wed: hitch to Munich, spend a couple of days at Paula's place
Sat: hitch to Salzburg or Linz, depending on where Benigna (Austrian friend from before my flight to Bombay) is gonna tell me to come
Mon: hitch through the Czech Republic and depending on how fast I get rides, spend the night in Ostrava or Katowice
Tue: arrive in Warsaw

All looked peachy and then Paula wrote me that her parents will be visiting her over the weekend and on Sunday going back home, i.e. Frankfurt (Oder), giving me a ride all the way to the German-Polish border, from where I could hitch to Warsaw on Monday within 5 hours.

Now all that's left to do is decide which option to take - hitching home from Austria or Frankfurt.
Any suggestions?


*     *     *     *     *

PS
There's a hip hop club in Sofia that kicks ass!



Saturday, March 24, 2012

Not to be making generalizations

But Greek hitch hiking kinda sucks.
At least today it did.

I don't know what it is, but for the 1st time ever I had to tell the driver to stop the car and get out.
Then a couple of dodgy drivers we said 'Thanks but no thanks' to.
Oh, and that hitching spot wasn't the greatest either :)

In the end, however, we got a very comfortable and interesting ride from outside of Serres straight into Sofia with Alex, a tour and event manager going back home from a tour with some Americans. I learnt what hard core music is [no, not hard rock, hard core...] and had a cool conversation about life and our 'career' choices.

We left Chris's place at 10:12 and were getting on the tube in Sofia at 16:16. Overall, not bad. actually!


First real hitch of the year

Is about to start in about an hour, hopefully...

We are moving to Sofia, Bulgaria, for two nights (actually, more 1,5, as my Monday flight leaves at like 6am) and what better way than hitch hike?
Originally, the plan was to go there on Friday morning but Reni really wanted to see Athens and I was waiting for her to come back. She did at around 7am but was pretty tired, so we gave her some nap time and decided to postpone the journey by 2-3 hours. However, it'll take at least 6,5hrs to get there and I'd still like to spend some time walking around the city (never been there), so I do hope we leave soon.

Now about to eat some (un)healthy Greek breakfast and then figure out a way how to get on all the buses we need to take in order to get to the hitching spot. A helpful CSer, Eirini, has written me the below:

Hi Magda!
It's quite easy to catch a ride from thessaloniki to sofia. Hopefully you will make it to sofia in a few hours because you are a girl (greek drivers are scared to stop for men). From the city centre you get the bus 27 (from egnatia, bus stop kamara or aristotelous) on direction to the west. If you get off at the bus stop "Kazmpa" or "Strofi Oreokastrou" it's possible to find a ride from the there. But propably you will need to change several cars. It's easier if you go to the final station of 27 and from there take a bus that passes from the street that goes from the Thessaloniki to Serres. That's the street you need. I can't remember the bus number now but I'll find it and I'll tell you. In any case you will pass from Strimoniko, then outside the city of Serres, after from Sidirokastro and then you are at Promachonas which is the boarder to bulgaria. If they go to any of these places it works. From the boarder I'm pretty sure you will find a direct ride to sofia.
Good luck!

Easy, right? *grin*



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thessalniki trivia

*
On literally every corner of thie city you'll find a pharmacy.
I've been told there are more pharmacies in Thessaloniki alone than in the whole of Austria and I have no doubt in my head about it. Heck, throw in Switzerland, Liechtenstein and a bit of Hungary in there as well and I'll still believe you! 
Oh, did I mention Chris's family owns and runs a pharmacy? Right then.

*
On every second corner in the city you'll find a bakery.
And do we love Greek bakeries or what!

*
On literally every corner of the city center you'll find a church.
It is truly amazing how many they have. During our first evening here, after about an hour long walk, all Chris had to do was point somewhere and I immediately knew what he meant - another church! They are, needless to say, very different from ours - both inside and on the outside, they come in all shapes and sizes.
(However, with the amount of pharmacies around I guess they still trust doctors more than God...)

*On literally every corner of the city center you'll find a patisserie.
And if I say we love the bakeries, we just cannot imagine life without Greek patisseries. The way all their cakes look like makes you drool as if you were a dogue de bordeaux. You'll find some international favourites like eclaires or chocolate tartes, a lot of Turkish style sweets in this awfully sweet sticky syroup (politika glyka), some amazingly looking sophisticated cakes of all shapes and sizes (so much more so than the churches) and, of course, some local things like tsoureki or trigona, typical for Thessaloniki.



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The world will never ever cease to surprise me

It's only last  night that I was telling Reni about my huge dilemma and the contradiction I have inside of me and, as one of the paths for the future, I have said "Or maybe I'll go to Denmark and work for a year or two to save enough money, in real estate or something, to later do what I please for a while".
A small explanation - we were talking about different life standards in European countries and the salaries around this part of the world, giving Denmark as the best example of a high priced place but at the same time allowing you to earn enough to live comfortably, even while doing what's usually a low-paid job elsewhere. The real estate bit come from a conversation I had almost a year ago with a Norwegian guy I met in Andalucia.

I check my inbox today only to find a mail from him, sent out last night, (the first time he ever contacted me after that one time we met!) telling me about how he was recently talking to his best friend who has an interesting project coming up and he immediately thought about me and involving me in it.

I will never ever cease to be amazed by how the world works.
Ever.


*     *     *     *     *

Oh, and if you were wondering - yes, Greek food still kicks ass!



Monday, March 19, 2012

I knew I was gonna love Greek food

I just didn't know how much!

We arrived in Thessaloniki after a pretty short flight from Budapest. Short but not too pleasant - we were sitting in between some Greek high school students and well, let me just say we don't think very highly of that group of individuals. However, all got instantly better when we were greeted by our host Chris and met our co-surfer, Dora, who had come on the same flight.

Chris took us for a walk along the harbour and then into the old town, where we got treated to one of the most delicious dinners I can remember. We stayed at this local student taverna type of a restaurant for hours, trying to fit in all the food Chris had ordered for us. And we needed a lot of time, as we had 10 different dishes among 4 people: Aubergine salad, Greek salad, Tzatziki, grilled Gouda, 4 types of croquettes, Ta didima, Politiki salad, Soutzoukakia, grilled Sardella, Tigania, bread fresh out of the oven with herbs and olive oil... that's some serious food that we could barely fit on the table! Though it's not just about the food - the company was great as well and I think the last time I had so much fun over dinner was the memorable 30 euro pp dinner in Sicilly last summer.

A meal wouldn't be complete without a dessert, at least not in Reni's world, so we set out to visit one of the most famous cake shops in town. I can totally see why it is so - I could barely move, I was so full, and yet there was no way of saying no to those pâte à choux dipped in a sauce made of white Belgian chocolate...


Saturday, March 17, 2012

They said Budapest was a cool city

And they were right.

*     *     *     *     *

We're currently staying in Novotel Danube and enjoying their super comfy beds and pillows. 
We get to spoil ourselves only for two nights, as we're flying out to Greece tomorrow, but it's been a great treat nonetheless. Coming back to this room and this mattress after a night out is all I ask for at 3 am.
Oh, that and the delicious breakfast in the morning, served best while sitting by a table directly opposite the Danube and the Parliament building. 

I guess staying in a hotel once in a while isn't so bad ;)

*     *     *     *     *

No more hotels for us, though.
Tomorrow we're beginning the CS part of the trip by staying with a host in Thessaloniki. Can't wait for Greece, its food, music, beaches and sun. Yes, it's supposed to be 20+ already - so beach&fun time!

Man, how it sucks to be unemployed...


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Riding bikes

Today, for the first time this year, it really felt like spring!

And it's not only the temperature outside.
A short chat to Chloe in the morning helped me realise certain things and now the winter chill is gone from my heart and stomach, welcoming the sun and the warmth with arms wide open.

*     *      *      *     *

We rented bikes in the morning and had a great plan of going to the Balaton lake. 
We did as we planned, just that we also decided  on a "small" detour, first visiting Sümeg - a small town around 30 km away from Hévíz - famous for its castle and knight tournaments.

Luckily, the weather was beautiful and we could enjoy the ride. Well, we could and we couldn't - there was loads of sun, true, but there was even more wind, which made it almost impossible to ride at times. Combined with the hilly area, it basically killed us. I know that kind of a distance shouldn't be too much for any fit person, but it got pretty damn' hard at times.


We stopped at a small grocery in the first little town we go to. I had just paid for my snack when the store owner asked me something in Hungarian. After seeing my face expression, he quickly switched to German. By the way, it's truly amazing - everyone speaks at least the basics of German in here but almost no or literally no English. You know how in Asia every white person is American? Well, in the Balaton area every non Hungarian is apparently German. So anyways, he saw I couldn't understand him, so he left the counter and walked up to a box where the apples were displayed, only to choose 4 and give me two of them saying: "Fur dich" , and then the other two: "Fur deine Kollegin" pointing to Reni waiting outside. How cute is that?


*     *     *     *     *

Already before leaving the hotel we knew there wouldn't be any tournament, as they start later in spring, but Reni seemed really interested in the castle, so we were praying it be worth it. What can I tell you... As soon as we found out we'd have to pay 4 euro to take a walk around it, we agreed it was a castle like any other ;) The only thing worth mentioning was the howling we heard once we reached the castle gate. We were already on our way back to the bikes but decided to take some Bee pics and that's when we realised there were two wolves up the castle's walls. Pretty cool stuff.


*     *     *     *     *

It was quite a battle with our minds and bodies to get back on the bikes. At first we thought we might take a train all the way to Keszthely, the lake town we wanted to reach, but it turned out we had just missed it and would have to wait an hour for the next one. Adding that to the hour it would take the train to get there, we decided it was better to be on the move and make use of the bikes we were so excited about just a couple of hours beforehand. So we set off again, hoping it would be easier this way around. 


And it was! The wind was almost gone, the sun in our faces, unfortunately the hills still there... But most of the way was downhill this time, so we managed to arrive in Kesztheley in a pretty decent time. The cool part is, there's a railway station just by the entrance to the lake area and  a train pulled in just as we were getting there. I'm pretty sure they don't run too many trains in the area, so it was the one we would have taken, had we stayed and waited in Sümeg.

Unfortunately though, it was getting colder and colder, the sunlight was also not the best for pictures any more. 



We took a couple of shots, stared at the swans gracefully cutting through the water surface and rode back to our hotel. It was merely 6:30 pm but we could feel tonight wouldn't be a most eventful one. 

Actually, I was pretty sure I'd be long asleep by now (11:17pm). All we had planned for the evening was dinner and then a sauna/jacuzzi time. We were also laughing that 2 days in this town made some changes in our psyche and we were getting too similar to Hévíz's target market, i.e. 60+ retired Germans: barely walking, tired by 6:30pm, asleep by 9pm... It's a good thing we're leaving first thing tomorrow morning then - time to get some energy back and Budapest is the perfect spot for that!


The Bee season

Is officially on!

However, it's still a bit cold for us Bees, even if they say the thermal waters of Hévíz are warm (liars) or that it's spring already (liars).


But well, nobody said a Bee's life was going to be easy!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

They say Budapest is a cool city

And they're definitely right.

Recently, I've kinda been hit on the face by a speeding shinkansen and its impact has knocked me off my feet for a couple of days. No proper sleep, no food, no energy. It's as if I've turned into a zombie, a very exhausted and negative one at that.

Recently, they've been telling me Budapest is the place to heal your heart and soul.

I pray they're right.

*     *     *     *     *

We arrived in Hungary after the shortest flight I've ever been on (35mins), late Thursday evening. After trying to find out whether there's a public bus to the city center at that time (11pm) and being told there isn't (liars - there's the 900, but you gotta change into 905 and then, unless you're staying in the city center, into another one) we decided to bargain with a taxi driver to take us where we were headed (hotel Mediterran). He agreed too quickly, thus letting us know we were still overpaying. But hey, we decided we can let it slide this once and thought we might be able to reduce the price a bit after arriving at the hotel. We weren't able to do so and additionally got to see some strange Hungarian maths at work - we agreed on 15euro for the fare and when we reached our destination it turned out we only had10euro bills. We asked the driver if he could give us back 5euro to which he answered he could give us back in HUF (Hungarian Forint, the national currency), one thousand to be exact. We said that was definitely too little and I found 5 euro in coins. However, that he didn't want to accept, as he'd have problems exchanging it later, at which point we said ok - let us pay 10 euro and the rest in forints. Everything seemed fine until he said: "So that'll be 10 euro and 2000 huf". How the hell did the 5 euro go from being worth 1000 huf to 2000 huf within 2 minutes? I hear you ask. Well, my thoughts exactly.
We ended up paying 10 euro and 1500 huf and left the car, finally arriving at our hotel close to midnight. It was a very long day (we took a bus from Warsaw to Kraków at 9am, a plane from Kraków to Budapest at 10pm) and I was barely alive, yet still managed to have problems falling asleep and to woke up at 7 am the next day.

*     *     *     *     *

I very rarely use the word "hate" but I seriously hate what's been going on with me those last two weeks, and this week especially. I've been driving myself mad by going through things over and over again in my head and never finding an answer, as well as brought myself to a point of utter exhaustion by not being able to rest or nurish my body properly. Actually, yesterday was the first day since Monday that I managed to force myself to eat anything at all. The bad part is, I did so by having some lángos, which is not the wisest of choices after 3 days on an empty or close to empty stomach. The good part is, my body reacted in a most normal way in the given situation and it shut down, thus letting me fall asleep for a short nap.

I'm also mad at myself for ruining the trip for my travel partner, this is so not what she signed up for. Luckily, she's an amazing person and has been of great help. Also, was so excited and glad to see Paszczak, one of my best and oldest friends, who's currently doing his Erasmus time in Budapest. He took us out yesterday and we got to see a couple of the city's clubs and pubs, and they're awsome. It's really incredible how poor Warsaw's nightlife is. I just wish I let myself enjoy it more instead of putting myself down all the time and whinning like a little b... baby. However, I think I've had a breakthrough today. I'd been telling myself I'd be at peace again once I understood things. But I'm pretty sure I won't, so that was a dead end street, not the best perspective. I think I've finally accepted it though and the knot in the stomach is gone, the tension seems to be leaving me as well. About time, Magu!

*     *     *     *     *

Today Ewelina, Paszczak's gf is coming over for a week. Also, another primary school friend is flying down tonight to stay for a couple of days, bringing with him two others. My travel partner and I didn't quite make it back to the hotel last night, so now we just dropped in to freshen up and change, and should be leaving soon - a photo frenzy awaits (Budapest really is beautiful and very majestic). It should end at Paszczak's place where we'll be preparing dinner for the whole group (at round midnight, after everyone will have reached his place, we should be 9 together). We don't expect to go party but I won't be naive again - this time I'm taking my toothbrush with me!




Monday, March 5, 2012

New beginnings

A new week and a new month.
What better time for a little piece of advice and a little reminder at the same time?

All I'm missing is spending all my cash but honestly, I hope that day doesn't arrive just yet... 
How about you? Anything you could introduce to make your every new day a happier one?


*     *     *     *     *

Yesterday, as I was thinking about certain situations in my life, be it job related, guys related or friends related, I realised what's one of the major differences between a pessimist and an optimist.
It is a very simple thing and it definitely isn't anything that hasn't been said before but I'd never stopped to think about it until now.

Every decision, every action, every event - all of them are the ends of things as we know them.
Every decision, every action, every event - all of them are the beginnings of a future we have the chance to write.

Our attitude towards ends and beginnings can, and does, make a huge difference in our happiness. You can talk about the same situation or the same period of time and be either past or future oriented. Say "Feb is ending" or "March is about to begin". 

Usually, the first one would be said with a certain feeling of lost or regret even, it'd make you feel sentimental, look behind you.
The second one would most likely be said with a bit of excitment, a little thrill of the unknown, with hope that there are better things ahead of you.

How do you choose to see the turning points in your life?
Old ends or new beginnings?




Friday, March 2, 2012

First day of unemployment

Was, officially, yesterday.
However, I still spent over 6 hours at the office doing the handover and finishing some stuff. Thought today would be the same but in the end I managed to escape, so to speak, a lot earlier and had the first half day of unemployment since October.
And let me tell you, did I enjoy myself or what!

As soon as I left the Swamp (no pun intended, that honestly is the name of the street our office building's at...) I was supposed to go home but somehow my feet took me in the opposite direction and 5 minutes later I arrived in Traffic, a huge bookstore in the city center. Once there, I found "Gorączka" by Tomek Michniewicz, spotted myself a chair and a table and begun my lecture. I must have switched my position like 20 times - the chairs might be comfy if you're going through some magazine for 30 minutes but not when you're so into a book you don't even realise you've been there for hours. More than four hours, actually.
It was a totally blissful afternoon. The bookstore was playing some kick ass music (had to pause reading for a while there when they put Etta James on), the book made me both laugh and cry and I had no office chores to haunt me.

*     *     *     *     *

The last magic week has brought in a lot of unsuspected things. Later, the magic weeks have somehow seemed to be fed up with me 'cause they weren't showing up for a long time. However, I wasn't complaining, as a new category emerged - the magic weekends. Started somewhere in the middle of December to continue all the way to February. Be it Brussels, Wroclaw, Cracow, Dortmund, Warsaw, Florence... Seems like that's as far as they go, though. Don't get me wrong, the last couple of ones weren't bad either (I had time for myself again, and a lot of it) but the magic's not there anymore. Kinda sad.

*     *     *     *     *

At the same time, quite a lot's been going on this past week. 

First off, I put myself through some major emotional rollercoasters and reached some (hopefully) far-streched conlusions that caused quite a lot of confusion, hurt and doubt.

Second off, I finally finished my American visa application, uploaded the world's ugliest application photo, today almost finished the process by setting up a meeting with the Consul for next Tue. All that's left is paying the application submission fee, which is also the most painful part - it's 140$. Oh, and the phone call you have to make in order to schedule that meeting is also around 1.5$/min. No comments to you, U S of A.
I've been carrying around the payment slip in my purse since Monday but something inside has been keeping me from paying it. As soon as I made peace with a couple of things and decided to take certain steps no matter what changes might come around in the coming months, I found out I'm getting some extra cash that I didn't expect and that will cover all the visa related expenses. Not too shabby.

Third off, I got a call from UEFA and I might be one of the funny looking people you see dancing on the stadium grounds for the Championships inauguration.

Forth off, I was supposed to go to a concert tomorrow night which won't happen in the end. Got stuck with two pretty expensive tickets but managed to solve the issue. Adding that to some cash I unexpectedly got yesteday, I immediately thought of a 4day last minute trip but well, that one's not happening either. It would have been a bit of craziness, true - I'd be back in Warsaw on Tue afternoon, in the evening I'd go to a big event and then Wed I'm most probably already leaving for the trip, but I was still willing to go through with it. Maybe some other time.

Fifth off, can't wait to wear the little black dress and the orange heels again. Gentleman Gala - beware!

Sixth off, I don't think I ever mentioned the trip's itinerary? There it is:

Warsaw (hitchhike) Cracow (plane) Budapest (plane) Thessaloniki (hitchhike) Sofia (plane) Dortmund (plane) Łódź (hitchhike) Warsaw

And no, I don't have rich parents, I don't play the lottery. I economise and litteraly every day learn how to get cheap tickets. All the transportation from the above is around 50 EUR.

Also, meeting a certain person last week has changed a lot, at least in the Budapest leg of the trip. Instead of a couch or a mattress for 10 days in Budapest, I'll have 4 nights of hotels in Budapest, 4 nights of hotels by the Balaton lake and 2 nights of a couch or mattress in Budapest (and I'll still end up paying the total of 0$ for accommodation). Life's sometimes cool like that, wouldn't you agree?
Oh, and I got myself a travel partner. A really cool one. Like really really.

Seventh off, I most unexpectedly ended up at a salsa party this week. How I needed it! Didn't dance all that much but the few songs I did gave me so much energy and yes, somehow hope, that it was definitely worth sitting by that table alone.

Eight off, the promising meeting I had on Wed still seems as promising, or even more, now that it's over. I love it how life confirms your choices by throwing new exciting opportunities at your feet.

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Now that I've written it all down - the magic week was back!
I was just too busy being paranoid and too emotional to realise how cool the things happening around were! 
Ha! Makes my Friday evening so much better.