Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Relationships are limiting and other stuff

Somehow, in the age where for the first time in the humankind history people could finally live whatever life they wish for, we've globally decided to deprive ourselves of all the joys and excitment in exchange for a daily routine most of us despise. It keeps on astonishing me day in day out but there's only so many "But it's only up to you to change it!" I can offer.

 *      *     *      *      * 

A couple of months back I met this incredibly positive girl Maggie, a Pole who's lived in Denmark for many years now, and she told me a very wise thing (well, she shared a lot of those, but that's the one I need today), which I'll paraphrase for you - Magda, when I was younger (and she is 3 or 4 years my junior... ekhm) I used to do that as well - use so much energy to try and convince people around me that they had to power to be happier. I'd talk, be excited, give them all the energy I could muster but you know what? Most of the time it would leave them stuck in the same old, whereas I'd be out of energy and would have none left for myself. Everyone's at a different stage and have their own pace, give them the time they need and let them come to you.

Already then I was planning to launch a couple of projects that would be about something more and bigger than myself, as it has mostly been till now. To tell you the truth, I think that's why I've been writing less and less, not publishing so many photos on the other blog - I've grown enough to realise that what I do is not all that meaningful to anybody else and even if it were, as I know people respond to me and my adventures, I don't reach out to as many as I think I could. Many factors contribute to the fact: I'm not "out there" in the virtual world, I do close to no publicity for my blogs, I don't write in Polish (and I think our market needs all the inspiration it can get, especially if one wants to get through to the average Joe, who won't necessarily speak English), the websites themselves are not too userfriendly or interesting yadda yadda yadda.

I didn't use to understand people who'd talk about how they truly want to help others change their lives, it sounded so cliche to me, but now I'm pretty much one of the bunch. These days, I see people look at me the way I used to look at others, whose ranks I trust I've now joined. To end this part of blabbing, let me just tell you that the blog and my writing will be moving onto a different virtual location in the following months and I wholeheartedly believe I'll be able to make better use of my time, energy, the amount of words typed and pictures published.

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However, going back to the title at hand, I wanted to share a reflection that's been coming back to me the last couple of years, whenever my relationship status was discussed. Namely, when I'd say I like being in a relationship more than being single, people would tell me something along the lines of: Well, but then you couldn't travel so much and you wouldn't be able to have all those experiences and adventures! I honesty never understood why anyone would believe that. 

When I was younger I had a long time boyfriend with whom we were planning some serious world travelling but somehow after a while all I'd hear from him in relation to those grant plans were excuses as to why we'd have to wait another year. At one point in time, we were about to break up the first day we meet personally anyways (I was living in Belgium and he was back in Poland), so one day I decided I'd had enough of waiting and booked my first solo flights, to Madrid and Mallorca. What followed later was a period of intense and, almost exclusively, solo travel. For a long time while in the relationship, I'd hold a grudge against my ex for leading me to believe we'd travel together and not following up on that promise. I used to tell him and myself alike that he was stopping me from setting off and I think it's safe to say it was one of the main reasons that we started drifting apart. Now that I'm smarter, I know he wasn't stopping me from doing anything, I was great at it all by myself. Now that I'm smarter, I know that I should have left on the trips I was dreaming about by myself and it did not in any way have to stay in contradiction to us being together. But back then, I wasn't that smart. So we drifted apart and eventually split up.

I know that for a lot of people coming out from a relatioship feels like regaining their freedom but then it just means that they weren't in a good relationship to begin with, doesn't it? Surely, you wouldn't want to tie yourself to a person who in return ties you down, would you? Or maybe it's not that that person ties us down as much as the neediness we've been taught comes with a relationship? The need to always be together, the need to share all hobbies, the need to do everything together. It's tiring to even think about all those "needs" we empose on those delicate human relations, let alone the process of executing them. 

So when you feel you're being limited by your relationship, stop. Look at yourself, at your partner, at how and what you communicate and re-evaluate. It's either your attitude or not the right partner at the time. We all grow and constantly change, even though we might not realize it. Every book you read, every person you meet, every meal you eat - all of them influence us in one way or another. Luckily, sometimes we manage to grow in the same direction our partners do, which makes for lasting relationships. Sometimes, we find each other only in a given place and for a given time to experience just a part of our life journeys together. Both cases will bring to our lives as much as we allow them to.

Coming back to the "you couldn't travel part" - why the heck not?
Here, to back up my words in the most valid way I could find, I would cordially invite you to visit this website and read all about how a relationship can be the base for a most rewarding and aventurous life.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Norwegian birthday weekend officially over

Unfortunately, time to go back home today!

I must admit that we didn't really get to see that much over the weekend (apart from two kitchens and two living rooms, that we saw a ton of!), but it's not like Oslo's one of those heavily interesting places sight-seeing wise. To tell you the truth, I wouldn't call it heavily interesting any-wise.

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Yet again, CS turned out to be humankind's most awsome invention when it comes to individual travel. Actually, group travel as well - 5 already constitutes a group, right?
We had a most charming CSer help us out on the spot and the sweetest host (who's not even a CS host, mind you) we could imagine, which got us all very relaxed and well, kind of lazy when it come to leaving the house.

*      *       *       *       *

We managed to have some highlights, and those - for me - included:

- buying a 6pack of beer at the airport for 55 NOK and later seeing that the price of that same beer (in the amount of 1) sold for 62 NOK;
- going to a take away burger joint where a burger would be twice as expensive as a whole burger menu in a restaurant in Warsaw;
- dancing with the dance-moves-infected En in a pub where all the Norwegians looked as if they wanted to put us in a room (a white room) (a room with cushioned walls and without doorknobs);
- a kick ass birthday pancake breakfast;
- cheering for the Norwegians finishing the annual Oslo Marathon (and almost starting to cry when I found out there was one - my goal for this year was to take part in a half marathon but I couldn't find any in a suitable date before I leave for the States, so I decided to move that goal for the next year. Turns out I could have done it during a trip. On my birthday. With the Vikings. I don't think it gets better than that...);
- cooking the most delicious birthday dinner with two other Poles, an Australian, a Lithuanian and a Romanian (ha, I bet you didn't know Norway is so multicultural, did you?). Getting the maximum taste after having stuffed our faces with leniwe in a creamy garlic broccoli sauce, mushroom and cod fish risotto followed by home made chocolate cupcakes mixed with caramel ice-cream. I don't remember the last time I had so many food babies;
- a pancake carnage of a Sunday breakfast - eating so many melted chocolate & banana pancakes sprinkled with the best halva since my Belgian days that I had to skip lunch and dinner, because I wouldn't feel any hunger;
- going mushroom hunting in a wood surrounding a beautifully set lake on the outskirts of Oslo and realizing there were no mushrooms to hunt;
- doing a 40 minute jog back home and finally beginning to digest breakfast (breakfast - 11 am, jog - 6:30 pm);
- dancing on a stage behind a crazy blues band at Oslo's most talked about Sunday night venue - Bla.

Not too bad, me thinks!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Running away to the Vikings

You know what they say - if you wanna feel young again, roll with the Vikings!
(Ok, admittedly - I might have made that one up.)

However, that's still what I'm doing this birthday weekend. In order to embrace my age more gracefully (a quarter of a century already!), I've decided to make myself feel younger by spending my d-day (b-day) in a beautiful settings with a looong history. Thus, Oslo - beware!

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In the beginning it was supposed to be just me, then Ewa & me, then like 7 people & me, suddenly 12 people & me. Now, as everyone's been cancelling, up until the very end, it will most probably be 4 people & me. Plus our hosts. Plus their surfers and maybe other CSer. So still quite a party. And yes, I'm counting on being the youngest of the bunch! ;)

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See you from Norway!

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm not the only one who loves to be right, right?

Not so long ago I shared with you a strong feeling I had, namely that the better and more exciting part of the year was just around the corner. And I was so right.

Still can't come out with everything, as some projects are not finalised yet, but let me tell you - it's gonna be awsome.

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Tonight starts the craziness of the better part of 2012. 
Let me explain how so:

Sat, 08.09 
8:30 am meeting 
10 am a shopping spree 
4 pm a wedding and a reception

Sun, 09.09 
8 am bus to Poznan, 
2 pm have lunch in Poznan
3-3:30 pm back on the highway to hitch hike to Frankfurt an Oder 
6-6:30 pm (hopefully) get picked up by Paula somewhere in her town :)

Mon, 10.09
5 pm leave Frankfurt for Poznan
7:30-8 pm arrive in Poznan for the night

Tue, 11.09
8 am bus to Warsaw
2:00 pm arrive in Warsaw, eat lunch, grab Zumba gear
4:45 pm give a Zumba class
6 pm tutor English
7:30 pm dinner with a French friend

Wed, 12.09
leave Warsaw in the morning and head for the lake region to work at a corporate event

Thu, 13.09
work at the event

Fri, 14.09
2 pm come back to Warsaw
6 pm catch a train to Wolomin (a town outside of Warsaw)
7 pm give a Zumba class

Sat, 15.09
8:30 am - 3 pm attend Kongres Kobiet, a national event focusing on women
4 pm co-host a Zumba marathon
7 pm arrive at WITC end of the season BBQ

Sun, 16.09
10 am - 3:30 pm massage course, this time using coconut bowls

You get the picture or should I go on?

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By the way - a curious thing. 
One of my friend's fb update said something along the lines of "Only 3,5 months and the new year is here:)!", which got me really surprised. In the comments she said that this year has disappointed her and she can't wait for it to be over. So I write her "well, you've 3,5 months to make this year amazing. Ready, set, go!" but I guess she didn't share my enthusiasm. 

Man, why do people prefer to count down till the end of the year already deciding that it's not gonna bring anything good, instead of working at making the remaining time so amazing that it will feel as if the whole year's been superb? I know that it's gonna be the case with me (you'll see just how much so once I get one more set of plain tickets...) and I believe those upcoming 15 weeks are enough for anyone to live some great adventures. 
So please people - ready, set, go!


Salad creation - my new favourite pastime

After the night I spent investigating raw food diet, I decided on it being my long term goal. Or at least giving it a shot for a couple of months and seeing how I feel.

I've never had a strong enough will to go on any diet (or maybe I just never truly felt I needed one) and food/eating habits are the part of life I have most difficulties being strict with. Thus, I'm not looking to go all extreme and deprive myself of all the "goodies" ("badies" when you look at it from your health's persective) I'm used to, because it's not about loosing weight. It's about eating myself healthy instead of eating myself sick. I decided to start with being more aware of what I consume and also how much I consume of it, which will hopefully lead to healthier choices.

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"You can either pay the cost of health or pay the price for sickness"
                                       D. Graham

For quite a while now, I've been keeping a record of all my spendings, down to every penny. It helps you understand your spending habits and, if you so wish, enables you to easily see how you could be more efficient with your money (aka stop spedning on unnecessary sh**). Those last couple of days I took a new approach to reviewing my almighty Excel sheet, which is to say that I've classified one month's food spendings and gave different colours to "healthy", "sweets", "unnecessary" etc. Wow, I'm really bad at this health stuff! (even if I am getting better with $ management...)

*     *     *     *     *

I've started avoiding meat and processed foods but hey, you can't change it all in one day! However, I've been trying to eat salads as the two main dishes during the day and munch only on raw products. I did slip by having another Limoni ice cream (seriously, their stuff is just too good), though I did take healthy (sounding) flavours at least! (banana, peanuts)

As I am already beginning to adapt a new approach to eating, I've decided to get more creative with heathy(er) food. 

For example today - for breakfast I made myself a salad consisting of: red grapes, red bell pepper, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, a nectarine and a tiny bit of blue cheese. While I was cutting all the ingredients, my dad was looking at me as if I were crazy. Admittedly, I considered putting some watermelon in there as well, but I chickened out. Maybe it's good that I did, because the taste was better than I imagined! The veggie-fruit combination interrupted by tiny chunks of blue cheese is a revelation to me.  I would have never guessed those things could go together so well. I think I need to trademark it or something. 

For lunch I had to turn to processing a bit - bought big courgettes a couple of days ago and I'm not sure if and how you eat those raw. A bit of olive oil, garlic, hot pepper and a couple of minutes on the frying pan resulted in the basis for my next salad invention. My parents brought a lot of cherry tomatoes from our summer house, so I added more of those to a bowl where the chopped courgette was waiting, plus some raisins and hazel nuts, a small piece of peccorino-like cheese from Milan, sun dried tomatoes and two spoons of natural yogurt. 
The result? Moist and crunchy veggies coupled with the spiciness of garlic and finely chopped hot pepper, the salty cheese mitigated by yogurt, which in turn stands in great contrast with the taste of sun dried tomates. We mustn't forget the occasional sweet surprise in the form of raisins, which are a winning combo with the very few nuts. 
D-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. (some sunflower seeds would have made it perfect)

If anyone's got any ideas for names for the two above, hit me up. 5% royalties is yours.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Magu's Bucket List #18

Do you have a Bucket List?
I do! But somehow it seems that I always just partially get things done.

Like the "show and dinner at Moulin Rouge", which I did without dinner but was so disappointed with the show that I don't wanna go back there again.

Or "learn to surf on a beach in US" whereas I did so on a beach in Indonesia.

Or "do an internship abroad" which I did in India, but it wasn't quite as valuable professionally as I would have thought, thus not really meeting my criteria for this BL point.

*     *      *      *      *

"Have my article published" is what it says at number 18, with a deadline for 2013.

"Your story has been chosen among the contest works and will be published in our travel journals ebook, to be released beginning of October." reads an email I got around an hour ago.

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I must admit, I feel pretty damn' proud of myself. 
But then again, does a travel story qualify as an article when it comes to my Bucket List #18...? ;)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You are what you eat = towards raw diet?

Was staying at my parents' place for two nights and came back home tonight just to find out that there will be no gas for 3 days, which means no warm water, which in turn means no cooking and no showering. So I'll most probably go back to my parents' place for a couple more nights.

However, the fact that I couldn't cook anything for dinner tonight (was planning cousous with chicken and aubergine in coconut milk...) made me think about the raw diet concept.

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It's not the first time I've thought about it, although it's not been long since I first started playng with the idea in my head. The first time was when I met Maggie, who told me she had to adjust her diet while in Poland and eat 'normal' food, which made her feel worse and gain weight in no time.

I think she's the first raw-getarian I've met. 
I know a couple of vegans and quite a few vegetarians (a guy I was with for over 4 years has been vegetarian since birth), I've even been told by a friend that I'd go vegetarian myself one day, because "I had a vegetarian face" (love you, Chloe baby!).

The truth is I like meat and I never really had a bad conscious about eating it. However, the more I read about nutrition, health and the "quality" of food that we get fed with, the more I'm beginning to question every eating habit I have. And well, it doesn't look good.

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When asked about a proper diet and their eating habits, a lot of people use the excuse of a lack of time to convince themselves it's ok to eat the way they do, even though they know they should change it. I cannot be using that excuse now, as I'm free to cook every day (apart from the time they cut off my gas, but that's once in a blue moon) and for every meal. Why don't I then, why do I keep on eating the same low-quality foods all the time?

It's not really the question of f.e. eating less white bread or less sweets, 3 or 5 times a day, with or without breakfast. It goes way deeper than that. Mostly, it's about the type of products I consume (processed, not bio, cooked) and how much I consume of it (way more than my body actually needs).

*     *     *      *      *

I go around telling everyone how people could use some more self-awareness in their professional and personal lives. How they should start asking themselves "why am I doing this?", find the true motivators behind their choices, or the lack thereof.

I think it's about time to start being more self-aware when it comes to what I fuel my body with and how I affect it by not giving much thought to my eating habits. Maybe not even that, but doing more research on the matter. As I've already mentioned, I never felt the need to go veggie but I always came to the conclusion that the veggie people I got to know where the most knowledgeable when it came to health and proper nutrition. Most of the people I met who did extensive research on how given foods influence our bodies, ditched meat and some other products at one point or another. They might be on to something...

*     *      *      *      *

It's not to say that starting tomorrow, I'm completely changing my diet. However, I think I've finally matured enough to start consciously choosing how I'll reshape my eating habits.

Once upon a time I used to drink lots of Pepsi, Nestea and such. Now, I've a problem finishing a glass of soda. Once upon a time I didn't like drinking plain water. Now I don't really feel like drinking anything else (which many a time is very hard for people to understand, especially when we're out and everyone looks at me as if I'm crazy for not wanting a drink or even a cartonbox juice, opting for water instead).

I didn't use to like so many vegetables! But I made a conscious decision to change it and little by little, I've taught myself to tolerate, than like and finally enjoy the majority of those. 
So this is what I'll do - I'll start eating myself healthy, strong, active and happy. 
Still figuring out what the exact steps will be, so if any of you have some good reading material, I'd love for you to share it either here or on the fanpage. I know it'll be hard, 'cause I'll be fighting with 25 years of habits and the whole environment which doesn't really help the cause of healthy dieting. Also, I throughly enjoy the unhealthy and processed food, or so I think. 
Seeing how I used to love Pepsi and now barely can drink it, I think there's hope.

*     *      *      *      *

A couple of cool sites I've come across, if you're interested in seeing what I'll be aiming at incorporating into my life:

Rawmazing - amazing how delicious those innovative raw recipes sound, can't wait to try them out!
Salad Pride - tens of salads 
Feed me better - healthy recipes in Polish
Dietetycznie w kuchni - a healthy way to prepare some well known dishes, in Polish
Dietetycznie siostro - two Polish sisters showing us how to prepare our fav dishes in a clean healthy way
Rawstaurant - vegan, raw and with videos!

Plus a short article, just to get your juices flowing in the right direction.

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Let me know what your views on a healthy diet are!

The appaling things we do to our planet

One of the jobs I've been doing lately is translating for an Australian company that runs rainforest conservation projects. I translated all the needed legals, the company mission statement etc. so I already knew more about how badly we need to start changing our carbon footprint but still, nothing hit base quite as hard as the statistics I've recently finished translating.

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Did you know, that:

* 55% of the world's largest rainforest stands to be severely damaged from agriculture, drought, fire, logging and livestock ranching over the next 22 years?

* 2000 trees, or the equivalent of 7 football fields, are being cut down every minute in the Amazon rainforest?

* only 4% of original forests in the United States remain, the rest are gone?

* the length of time carbon dioxide stays in the earth's atmosphere before it is absorbed into carbon sinks is between 50 and 200 years?

* in The United States, cars and trucks emit 314 metric tonnes of CO2 every year, and that is the equivalent to burning as much coal as would fit in an over 80 000 kilometres long train?

* an average tree absorbs about 20 kilograms of Carbon Dioxide per year. The average person produces 7 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year?

* in 2008 the arctic seasonal sea ice melt outpaced normal levels by 34% and there has been a 70% increase in the rate of Greenland's ice melt over the last five years?

* on average, the 140 million cars in The United States are estimated to travel over 6.4 billion kilometres in a day, and according to the Department of Transportation, they use over 200 million gallons of gasoline doing it?

* the consumption of oil in the United States and Canada alone is said to be close to 11 litres per person, per day. In other countries that are part of the OECD, the consumption of oil is 5.2 litres per person, per day. In other nations that are not part of the OECD, the consumption is as little as 0.76 litres per person per day?

* in 2007 $1.6 billion of jet fuel was burned by planes waiting in line to take off at airports?

* 1% of Australia's untapped geothermal power potential could provide enough energy to last 26,000 years?

* citizens in the United States spend $25 billion a year on lawn care. Residential lawns and gardens are doused with 80 million pounds of chemical pesticides and 70 million tonnes of fertilizers annually?

* only 1% of China's 560 million city residents breathe air that is considered safe by the European Union. Cancer is now becoming China's leading cause of death?

* very few oil spills are ever officially reported. On average there are 27 oil spills every day somewhere in the oceans of the world?

* with current human population growth and global warming, the world is going to be fighting over drinkable water supplies by mid-century?  

* by the time you finish reading this sentence, more than 50 000 aluminum cans are made in The United States?

* in The United States they throw away enough aluminium cans to rebuild their entire commercial air fleet every three months?

* the US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 per cent of which will never be recycled?

* about 1% of U.S. landfill space is devoted entirely to disposable diapers, which take 500 years to decompose?

* for every single garbage bin that you take outside on garbage day, 70 equivalent cans of garbage were produced by all the various manufacturing processes that created the bin in the first place?

* if the entire world lived like the average American citizen, we'd need 5 planets to provide enough resources?

* cigarette manufacturing uses almost 6.5 kilometres of paper just for rolling and packaging cigarettes? That is one tree for every 300 cigarettes produced.

* there's a swirling vortex of waste and debris in the Pacific Ocean, which covers an area twice the size of the continental U.S. and is believed to hold almost 100 million tonnes of garbage?

* with the current levels of rainforest destruction many local species are going extinct at a rate of 100 species per day?

If you're one of them skeptics but with an open mind, a recource you might wanna check - Skeptical Science.

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As for me, I can already see a change in my behaviour when it comes to consuming some of the goods. More about that in one of the following blogs though, together with a couple of real simple pointers about what we can do that will slightly change how we live and mightly change the impact of our lives on the planet.

Monday, September 3, 2012

So naive it hurts

Whenever people seem to think I travel a lot, I always tell them: Nah, just Europe mostly. Sure, I had my periods of more intense travelling but I wouldn't go as far as to say I did a whole lot of it. 

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However, I must have somehow got caught up with all those praises and in my naïvety, I too started thinking I was well travelled in Europe. So when a couple of days ago a thought of I-know-what-I-should-do-next-year came to mind taking the form of I'll finish visiting all the European capitals, I had the notion of it being an easy task.
Then I went back to the map.
And almost shouted out in shock.

If I'm so well travelled, why are there more capitals I haven't been to than the ones I have??

Out of the 47 recognized ones (incl. Ankara and Baku) on Wikipedia, I've visited 21, with one coming up in 2,5 weeks (Oslo). However, among those 22 there are 5 that I'd like to revisit, as my memories from those places are very vague or I haven't spent enough time in there to get a feel of them (Rome, Ljubljana, Monako, Amsterdam, Zagreb).
So that kind of leaves me with 17 out of 47 capitals.
Well travelled my ass, I tell ya.

*      *      *      *       *

Long story short, if anyone's thinking about visiting any of the below next year (or till Oct 23rd this year) and would like some company, or can give some vital advice about and is willing to share, please step up. 

1. Ankara, Turkey
2. Moscow, Russia
3. Baku, Azerbaijan
4. Podgorica, Montenegro
5. Kiev, Ukraine
6. Tbilisi, Georgia
7. Skopje, Macedonia
8. Vilnius, Lithuania
9. Belgrade, Serbia
10. Riga, Latvia
11. Minsk, Belarus
12. Bucharest, Romania
13. Yerevan, Armenia
14. Helsinki, Finland
15. Tallinn, Estonia
16. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
17. Chişinău, Moldova
18. Copenhagen, Denmark
19. Lisbon, Portugal
20. Bern, Switzerland
21. Tirana, Albania
22. Athens, Greece
23. Vaduz, Liechtenstein
24. City of San Marino, San Marino
25. Valletta, Malta
26. Vatican City

 and I'd also add

27. Edinburgh
28. Cardiff

plus the ones I want to revisit

29. Rome 
30. Ljubljana
31. Monako
32. Amsterdam
33. Zagreb

Damn', that would have to be some intense capital sight-seeing! (pun intended)