keskiviikko 22. joulukuuta 2010

Adventures of furniture and smtg about apartment

I have been planning to write something of my apartment for quite some time, but I have been experiencing some very bad luck with certain piece of furniture, and I wanted to wait until the place is complete before making any photos. This certain furniture have travelled a long way, but believe it or not, now they are in place in the house, they are assembled, working, pretty, and it is full set of them.

So, I will not do through each and every detail related to the adventure of those equipments. When I arrived at end of July, I was surprised that the dining table was not there, unlike in June when I first saw the apartment. The lady from the apartment agency said that whatever I want more to apartment, will be arranged. So I thought then, and wrote a wish list which now seems pretty ridiculous. If I only knew…

So, for the record: Person can very well live without a shelf for books, without shelf for shoes, without extra rack, without table and chairs on the balcony, without carpet in bedroom (no one ever suffered for little echoes), without shades in bedroom (autumn and darker nights were coming anyway), and actually there is lots of other little details which at the end are not that necessary. But a table by which it is possible to sit on normal chairs and write (with pen and paper or computer) and actually also eat for real as normal people do, is an essential thing to have.

After both me and our assistant Agata calling to the apartment agency several times the promise that they will fix everything turned out to be loads of crap, so that it was not possible to “order” any furniture so that they would just appear to the apartment, but I would need to go and buy them. Well, without car, without language skills, without knowledge of the location of any furniture shops it was not very appealing option. Also these events took place at the same time when the mad golive weeks were ongoing. Lack of table did not bother me then, because I never was there in the apartment but slept at the office instead. Well, life after GoLive was expected, so once again with help of my colleague (Kryzek, owe you one;)) I got catalogues and chose some furniture. First step completed.

The choice turned out to be not good one, because even if the table was available in stock of IKEA (!), chairs were to be ordered. Unlucky as this whole affair was, with some unfortunate occasions the table appeared to our office instead of my apartment, and dear Agata who usually fixes everything, was on long leave.

Soooo, little more challenges but at the end we managed to agree time when two helpful colleagues of mine would help me with assembling of the table (=do it for me). That was fair enough. Next obstacle was the house in which my apartment is. We went to garage trying to find a place where to leave car and get up to apartment via lift. It was not as easy as you’d think. The garage guards had trouble helping us, and now I have heard one the best explanations ever; architects who designed the building FORGOT to add garage doors which would lead into my staircase.  (Greg, thank u for ur patience.) Therefore the doors did not have a number, therefore we were first directed to wrong place, therefore the table pack age was first carried to totally wrong hallway. It did not explain how it is possible for one building to have two apartments with same number. At this point I did not care about that detail anymore. Long story ended up happily; I got table in my apartment, assembling took place in Polish which I’ve never experienced before, and the result was pretty! Who cares of little details like wrong screw used in wrong places… The table was and is still standing on its four legs :)

So, that was only about the table. Chairs were ordered and somewhere on their way. At the beginning I said “long story short”, but this did not turn out to be that short. So new trial about keeping it short with the chair case; they arrived. 1,5 months later than the table. First problem how to get them from Ikea. Helping colleagues on business trip. Then by coincidence colleague went by and brought the chairs. They arrived, but yet in a package. I do not own any assembly tools in Wroclaw -> more help needed. Helping colleagues on business trip and on vacations. More waiting. Helping colleague arrived from vacation. Came to visit. Chairs assembled.

Two months before leaving the country. Four months after arriving the country. Who cares. I have full set of dining furniture. I am happy and proud.
PLZ see them.

Have yoú ever seen anything as beautiful? Probably yes, at least I have. But I like these things pretty much as well. In addition to furniture I would like to introduce my new friend, avocado. On the picture he/she is settled on the plate.

This is the hallway to my luxury bathroom - a peak there is allowed ;).

sunnuntai 19. joulukuuta 2010

Weekend with a visitor!

So, then it was turn for the week which doomed. It consisted of flying around and between Poland, Germany and Finland, riding in a train and taxi back and forth on Finnish ground, living without luggage and blaah the whole story. I would not have stressed about success of the travel arrangements back to Wroclaw, unless there weren’t a very good reason to be there on planned time; I was about to get a visitor from Finland! As said already once, so many said that they would come to see me, and as I expected, almost as many have forgotten the whole thing. But so the life goes. I am not as old and cynical as may sound, but this far I’ve learnt that there’s lots of room for talk in the world, but it’s the real actions that matter – and very often in numerous matters the actions are left undone.

The one brave lady from Finland did not care about complicated travel arrangements, but packed her things and on her business trip to Germany called to Wroclaw as well! This plan was born under lucky stars, because despite the delays of her trains and in general the central European weather conditions, both of us reached our destinations in time :)

We did not have too much time, but as also before experienced with Mari, with efficient planning it is possible to achieve a lot. So, from sightseeing part we covered the Ostrow Tumski (both in daylight and in dark), Rynek, the University, hala Targowa and three churches. We tried two different places from where to see the city from above, but in the university peculiarly “the view was closed”, and in St. Johns cathedral the elevator was so cleverly hidden that we could not find it despite persistent search… In addition we saw two shopping malls, and the Christmas Market on Rynek. Lots of jewelry exchanged ownership – girl’s gotta buy souvenirs - and also one luggage strap was custom made for instant use.

On gastronomical experiences Polish food as zurek, pierogis and nalesnikis were tried. Jewish food with warm beer – check. Sushi and green tea ice cream – consider it done. Some mysterious big music event – seen. And in addition to all this, exchanging thoughts with a dear friend – luckily CHECK, always have to have time for that as well.

So this is warm beer, served in Jewish restaurant Sarah. Some beer puritanists might have a word to say about the idea of adding lemon, clove and strong juice into pint of beer, and as it was not enough, then to heat the drink. Despite my prejudices this mixture was not bad at all. Result: I am not a beer puritanist.

Something like this happened on Rynek on Saturday. No idea what it was about. But no reason to let unawareness bother, just feel the music and swing along! This time swinging along happened only quite short and limited time until it became too cold;)
After some inquiries on Monday at work I heard that the concert was one with famous Polish artists and was set up to celebrate St. Nicholas's (Swiety Mikolaj) nameday.
 Thank you Mari for the visit (and Fazer’s blue and salted liquorice)!

lauantai 18. joulukuuta 2010

Art and underground

Once again few past weeks have been going by flying. But as usually, it is because they have been full of life. I try to memorize some tops things to share and leave for generations to come…

On previous post I wrote about winter’s arrival. It has been here for only three week, but still it feels like forever, especially now when considering how much has happened after.

The weekend of the first snow was especially memorable. I was invited to a small art exhibition of a young artist, who is a friend of my colleague. Part of the deal was to translate the artists website (can be found here, very fancy ones!) into Finnish. Interesting duty, and surprisingly hard! The content of the text was very understandable in English, but when trying to transfer it to Finnish, it did not seem to work at all. I needed to “leave it be” few times, and my perfectionist side wanted to go and browse through sites which would tell about art genres, so I’d be able to use terms correctly. And even after that, when the text is on its place on the website, it looks very different (and stupid on some points) and I wanted to fine tune it even more. Even the updated version is not exactly how it should be, but as the content update causes work not only to me but to other people, I do not want to touch it too much anymore and just have to bear with it :P Well, this was a sidetrack, but all in all, respect to the people who do translation work for living!

Back to the exhibition; it was held in building doomed to be demolished, but in the meantime serving as gallery for young artist to be able to have exhibitions. Youthful, bohemian and nice event!

Afterparty was supposed to take place in a "squat". I was not quite sure what the word meant, but thought that it sounded cool because there was also talk about some bands. so volunteered to join. "Squat" was supposed to be quite nearby, and on our way there I asked for some confirmation about the place we were going. Then I was detailly informed about the real meaning of squat (talonvaltaus). Whatever expectations I had been having for 6 months in Wroclaw, for sure they did not involve a Polish squat party!! But isn’t it always better when getting something than could not expect? Maybe that’s not always the case, I agree, but this time it was. Oh what authentic underground atmosphere it turned out to be; punk band, smoking inside, people looking like real punks with Iroquois (?) hair, beer sold on cheap price and as a consequence even some guys passed out on the ground :D. No pics available, sorry for that… But in addition to the event / experience itself it was nice to meet colleagues somewhere else than in the office – so dziekuje bardzo Jarek!

And what does this all have to do about winter coming? Because this happened on Friday evening and the party was half inside a house, half on the inner yard, and it was not too cold. On Saturday evening I was out on the date with a guy from India, and the date also took place outside, weather not being too cold at least for me. Have to admit that for a man from country of hot weather and bright shining sun it was a little chilly ;) And then on the Sunday of same weekend, the first snow fell and seems that it came to stay.

lauantai 11. joulukuuta 2010

Winter considerations

Now the winter reached southwestern Poland, Lower Silesian and Poland’s warmest city. I do not like it. Very emotional feeling, nothing to do with any reasonable groundings, but for me “my Wroclaw” has always been the nice city where it does not wind all the time, and even if it’s cold it’s dry. But now my beautiful imaginations were crushed when snow came and came hard, with approximately 20 cm during one day. Tram schedules have lost their meaning, and winter seems to have surprised the car drivers, too.

In Poland tires with spikes are not allowed unless it’s snow, and because snow is not a 100% sure for whole winter, it basically makes no sense to have tires with spikes. Polish people change into winter tires, yes, but I do not know how the winter tires differ from summer versions. What I know or have heard is that on slippery snow or ice they are not that much of use. The traffic which is pretty aggressive becomes even more exiting…

Another weird thing is the Polish way of trying to get rid of snow; approach is not that much to remove its location, but to melt it away with salt or some other chemical. It ends up to streets being full of slush, shoes, floors, every place covered with that white chemical stuff, and even if it’s minus degrees, shoes are all the time wet and feet freezing. Amateurs!

I had my share of Central European winter and trouble with snow when trying to travel on two weeks at a row now. My planned route from Wroclaw to Helsinki via Munich seems to be doomed; two inbound flights to Finland, first ending up spending night in Munich and weirdly rerouted again from Munich to Dusseldorf and then to Helsinki. My luggage took their own route, and spent 3 more days on the road than I did. I would have had possibility to take full advantage of travel insurance, but as my final destination in Finland was not Helsinki but Ostrobothnia, instead of shopping I travelled additionally to planes on trains, taxis and cars back and worth and around. And some work was to be done as well somewhere in between, as the travelling was not supposed to be only joyride. Phew. Second time plan was to go to Helsinki via Munich and Stockholm, but I ended up to spend a night in Copenhagen and from there to Helsinki. So one thing is clear; universe does not want me to go to Finland. Additional proof; outbound flights have been very smooth, just in time with no problems whatsoever ;)

Copenhagen hotel lobby. Very open, very gloomy, especially very early on the morning when breakfast is not yet served... But they did have bad coffee from machine, better than nothing when having once again a flight to catch
Now I have couple of days here in Helsinki home, and this city is full of snow. Weather has gone all crazy. Streets are not ploughed as there is not enough capacity to handle this much snow at a time. Just moments ago I saw peculiar sight, few dark skinned guys dropping snow and ice from high roofs. Globalisation and global warming :P

Snow fighthing troops on my home street in Helsinki
My backyard looks very different than it did when I left at the end of July

lauantai 27. marraskuuta 2010


Almost a month ago it was a long weekend in Poland, as 1st of November is the All Saints Day and a bank holiday. I chose the spend that weekend abroad :) As pictures tell so much more that words, here are some of the views... That old East German city is very controversial!

Birdhouses for birds who do not like it standard

Old East German style restaurant with authentic interior
Very German food. Knoodles (taste like bread which is left raw), pork and sauerkraut. And house beer! Good but heavy.
Writings on the wall

Profile of Old Town from the Neustadt - new town side of Elbe

Wide river walls

You can see the city with this weird vehicle as well. Do not know the name in English nor in Finnish, but there they are

Statue getting ready to work

Flowers! Note to self; and of October / beginning of November is totally suitable time to go on city holiday to central Europe

Old style bus in old town

Or a modern tram..

Biggest mosaic wall in German, in Europe or in the world.. I can't remember anymore... :)

More statues, greeting tourists

Several possible methods of transportation in Dresden.. Fancy a horse carridge?

...or rather human powered bicycle?

Frauenkirch, huge, massive and renovated. The rebuild of this church seems to be a big thing for Dresden or German people, because lots and lots of mentioning in tourist giudes, postcards, websites about the huge efforts to build this church after it was totally distructed during WW2. Looks good nowadays.

Something peculiar in the middle of Neustadt.. Colourful farm with some animals and no people, at least when I was there.


All Saints day and/or Halloween approaching


This sign probably tells what the farm was about. My German is little rusty, so I did not get the idea. But animals were cute and the little farm in the middle of the city something you do not expect to see

Easygoing Saturday afternoon in art passage


Sausages:) A stand in Neustadt train station

So that was Dresden in less than 24 hours.
It was nice to use euros for a change, but with language there was not much success. Surprisingly few people spoke English. But similarly German was a foreign language to me though I have studied it looong time ago.. I just could not refresh my memory, gave up and did not even try to speak it. But I did notice that there is one sentence in English which already is very, very deep in my backbone: "I'm sorry but I do not speak Polish".  I used it constantly and very fluently in Dresden also when someone spoke German to me..  Not anyone told me that actually they are not that interested on my Polish skills ;) So, polite people those Germans.

Obninsk and Moscow

Work oh work. As autumn turns into winter it seems that work turns back into craziness. I was able to spend couple of peaceful months, but then somebody remembered that there is a possibility that company is not currently demanding or getting enough stuff out me, clear sign of that is that I am able to work normal hours and seem otherways happy and easygoing and not as stressed out as usual. (Yes, you smelled irony). So seemingly it was about time to do something, and the something turned out to be assignment to not only one but three new projects. Well, maybe I would not mind the assignments, but unfortunately work itself takes place outside Wroclaw. So time to go and visit Obninsk, the former nuclear plant city 100 kms from Moscow. There's lot's of legends going around Helsinki office hallways about trips to Obninsk, so maybe it's good to see and feel it myself.

Not to get too much into work stuff, the business part of the visit was not a huge success, but went much better that I actually expected. Probably tells something of expectations. In addition there were some very "authentic" Russian moments (authentic in a way you see on James Bond movies), like Lada taxis with murky drivers having gang tattoos on their hands, or dark, gold teethed men in black leather jackets, smelling of booze and fixing some businesses on the same hotel... Extreme experiences, not the same than back home ;) 

But luckily it was possible to have a different and this time self-chosen part included to the trip: One day as a tourist in Moscow :) Huge city. Lots of people. Not fun on rush hour in subway with luggage. Lots of walking needed to see the city. Or cannot even say that see THE city, but even to see SOME of it... But anyway, ended up with hurting feet but also increased experiences!

Waiting for train to Moscow in Obninsk train station. Long trains they are having there in Russia!

Colourful church on Red Square
University. Huge one.
Cute car..

Kremlin on the back, scary horse on dry fountain on the front

torstai 25. marraskuuta 2010

quick hello - here well and alive

So its winter in Finland I hear? It is coming closer here also, but not as fast..

13.11. from the nearby park. I had to wait a nail appointment for half an hour, and I spent it having coffee on the park and watching kids play

14.11. from Rynek. So bright! The building is Ratusz

Muminki! Moomins are quite popular in Poland. In Wroclaw puppet theatre there is a play ongoing, "Moomins summer"

14.11. Rynek from other angle. So bright, sunny and warm that I had to take my coat off when sitting by the market square, trying to study but mainly only enjoying the light...

Bit more than week later Christmas decorations arrived. Not clearly shown on the picture but there they are...

Moomins are preparing for Christmas, too :)

So, from weather point of view I have no other options but to state: Born in wrong part of Europe! Maybe Poland is not the most optimal either, but certainly I do not miss the dark and wet Helsinki autumn at all...

lauantai 13. marraskuuta 2010

Halfway there

I have spent now bit more than half of my “given time” in Poland and in Wroclaw. Having a Lutheran cultural background I do not know if I dare to really say this because it might get back to me in negative way even already tomorrow, but still I say it. My expectations have been far, far exceeded.
I just enjoy :)

Wroclaw has became my home in a way that I do not feel like tourist in here. Maybe I do not feel like a local either, but I have not felt like local anywhere in last six years… I have gotten used to Polish language, so that when travelling back from Russia the Warsaw airport atmosphere felt like heading back to home, because of the familiar language.  Earlier this autumn I heard two former colleagues (a Slovak and a Pole) mention about how they miss Finnish language, and it felt weird to me because neither of them speak nor understand it. But now I know what they meant.

Biggest positive surprise have been people. Not that I would have expected them to be “not nice”, but I could not expect kindness, warmth and openness that I have had privilege to experience. Absolutely best moments of the whole stay are the moments when I've could really feel that connection when thoughts, visions, sense of humor or only the "brainwaves" in general have been tuned into same frequency, and language or cultural context have not mattered.

Part of my nature is to consider things from several viewpoints and sometimes to be unsecure and suspicious, or actually to avoid being naive, I have to consider or at least notify to myself being conscious of the fact that I am a foreigner here, and to some that is something exotic and interesting. On couple of work related situations it has been very clearly visible that I am being treated differently because of being not-Polish. That was with people from same company, but who I had never before met. For them I was only “not Polish”. I discussed about this with one of my colleagues, and he confirmed from his experiences also that the phenomena does exist, foreigners are treated “better” than Polish.
Because of these reasons cynical side of me has thought myself whether the kindness I so much enjoy is every time or even at all genuine, but maybe only a way to try to gain something.

It is true that for majority of people with who I’m in touch with I am a project manager, team lead, trainer, sent from headquarters – whatever you want to call it – but anyhow in position in which I am in certain way responsible of people’s performance and work delivery, and on the other hand not in same organization that all of others. That brings or might bring certain tone into relationship. But isn’t it so that not many people encounters are without some kind of background setup existing? Rarely do you start on clean table. One should “get over it”, not pay too much attention to it and see the real person behind. And I am not in a position that via me anything special could actually be gained. Not at work, neither in civil life. I have paid special attention especially in work related situations not even on mistake ever to give that impression even on a mistakenly spoken sentence that could be wrongly understood. I have been very careful, maybe too suspicious even, on being professional in that sense. And I do not want to be cynical. Why to suspect the worst and why not to just believe in the good in people? Especially because I have absolutely none reason whatsoever to think for a moment that any of people I deal with at work would be anything but genuine. The same kindness and hospitality I’ve received from persons not related to work at all.

If people are the big good thing, lack of people is the big bad thing as well. As I left here alone I do not have colleagues, an “expat community”, or any existing connection to people in same position than me. I did not even think of that before moving and was not able to “worry” about it. But if I now needed to pinpoint something I miss most that would be it. Of course I “miss” family and friends (yes you guys there!!!), but it is different, because most of the time back home on Helsinki I did not have you in daily life either. But the “peer” group of people having the same foreign background, with whom to share the experiences I am having and who would have felt the same; that’s the thing I miss.

To sum up some of the bubbling; I have felt more like home in here than I did during first three months in Helsinki after moving there. Maybe at least occasionally even more home than ever in there. I do not know what to think of that. Of course I am older, hopefully wiser, more confident and knowing myself and my personal goals, likes and dislikes better, and therefore can define my place at world better, no matter of the physical location. But still. Sometimes earlier I thought that returning back to region where I have had the best and happiest time of my life this far would be where to aim at, but now I suppose it is not. That part was already done. There is so much of world still to see, people to meet, experiences to live, work to do, that it just does not make sense return or try to return to something that has passed.

sunnuntai 7. marraskuuta 2010

Poznan – City of Potatoes

Yes, that is true. Seemingly Poznan is somewhat a capital of Potatoe (in Poland at least). Poznanians are said to be so into this vegetable that they even have their own word “pyra” for it besides the standard word “ziemniak” used elsewhere in Poland. Poznan (as well as Wroclaw) has strong German heritage and local “dialect” includes lots of words from German language, but not this potatoe word. Local specialty it is. 

Saturday morning in Poznan was a little rainy. And not the only setback; also my camera or charger con-tinues resistance. So, photos are taken with phone, and quality is not the best possible.

But little rain never harmed anyone, and I headed to market square to find a tourist office, where was supposed to be little guides for different walking routes through city and the most important sights. The man in the office did not know anything about such routes, but with little independent search between brochure shelves gave me a map of “Royal Imperial route”, through the whole city.

Memorial for Poznan uprising 1956 and victims of communism

On the yard of Poznan Castle were these statues. They looked quite creepy with no head... But I guess it's art...

Another piece of art from same yard. Prettier the previous creatures, but a little melancholic...

Not getting out of that castle yard without taking photos! This guy is at least carrying pretty colours, but still I do not know what it's supposed to illustrate.

Not only statues in Poznan. I ran into demonstration, these youngsters were demanded legalisation of cannabis.

Poznan is keeping up with Wroclaw when it comes to culture. Very imposing photography exhibition, with skillfully manipulated photos of Poznan

Poznan Rynek. This one is especially for you Sari, I am sure you'd liked the colours!

Pretty in pink. Unfortunately the pinkness of this huge building does not show in photo as it did "live". One of the buildings in this block is The Parish Church of St. Stanislaw, but this rose shade continued to several houses, I do not know which is which.  But pink.

Latest finding for Saturday evening was a real potato bar Pyra. Unfortunately I had just eaten, so I did not taste any potato specialties.

On Sunday I had a little rewarding moment , when I was trying to catch couple of sights nearby hotel before the train was supposed to leave. I was standing in a crossroads reading a map, and a lady walking her dog came and ask what I was searching for. And the point: It would have been easy to guess what the lady asked based on the situation, but I actually understood word by word what she said – and I was very proud! Well, that was the success part; I just could not form the proper sentence of “nie mowie po Polsku” and used English version instead. But still I got the lady’s response “rozumiem” she understood ;)