torstai 23. syyskuuta 2010

Wine Festival in pastel coloured town

The mentioned colours

After Friday evening spent in movies, it’s time to start to fest! I got up a little too early. The stands in the fair were to open at 10, and I was ready to go already at nine. With sun shining there’s just no reason to stay in!

As expected, the happening was only being built up, so I decided to quickly and shortly visit a shopping center – ended up coming back with a full new party outfit :P My official explanation is that the wedding after two weeks are actually during autumn, and you cannot go into autumn wedding wearing summer party dress or can you? The shopping center was amazing; something never seen before; three floors of shops selling party dresses. So odd racks with other some trousers suits or coats, but then again boutique after another full of prettiness in the form of dresses, shoes, bags, jewelry… I am not a clothes / fashion freak (if I was, probably would have gotten a stroke in that mall, and after recovery a big black hole in wallet), but woman as I am, there just was not coming out without purchasing something. And a new dress demands compatible shoes and a purse, doesn’t it?

And when shopping is out of the way, then back to real business – the wine thing!
Wine in all formats

Zielona Gora area is the only producer of wine in Poland, and even there it is small industry. As supposed in fair, there were lots of stands selling all kinds of market stuff, but also wine as supposed. But not all stands had any Polish wine to offer – but why to let a detail like that bother? Wine fest is a fest whether the wine is local or not!

Wine was sold in bottles and also in glasses to taste that you are not buying “pig in a bag”. Size of the taste portion was surprising; I had a little moral discussion with myself when having a glass – or actually a plastic mug with 2 dl of wine in front of me, waiting to be consumed, and it wasn’t even noon yet... but where I come from, it’s not been a habit to misuse alcohol by throwing it away! Careful reader can here determine a reason why I cannot give comprehensive analysis of differences in locally produced or imported wines… ;)
This is NOT because if the hugs wine portions; the houses really are curvy!

The day was just amazing with sunshine; I visited a museum with several exhibitions; of wine making and other of contemporary photograpical art.. Interesting combinations, photography was the best. Enjoying lunch outside – though confusing surowka and zurek when ordering, I got stomach full…

On the evening there was a big concert by Radio Zet – silowna muzica, with mostly Polish but some in-ternational artists performing as well. Weirdest feeling when Polish artists were performing – standing in a huge crowd of people, everyone around me knowing the song and lyrics, and I having no idea of anything – sort of outsider but in positive way – good atmosphere is catching and does not need a language :)

I have no idea what Star Wars and Wine Fest have to do with each other, but seemingly something.. May the force be with you!
And again an observation: Even if wine was very easily accessible and being remarkably cheap, there was not a bunch of overdrunk people staggering and shouting, as you'd expect... So, I do not know what the situation would have been in vodka fest, but at least the wine theme was executed with really European drinking habit.

tiistai 14. syyskuuta 2010

3.9. Why on Earth to visit Zielona Gora?

From a disappointment follows a great, positive surprise. Maybe not always but this time yes.

I had expected a visitor from back home, but due to some very bad karma or something, it was already a second time there were some obstacles that prevented the trip. So, on Thursday I was in a situation that there's a weekend coming with no plans – but got to do something!
My first ideas were Prague, Berlin or Dresden, but no matter how close they may look on the map, using public transportation it is not that simple to reach those cities from Wroclaw. If I was on vacation and time wouldn’t be the scarce resource, there would be no worries. But when trying to fit full working day and few hours of travelling into Friday, and day of sightseeing, travelling and some preparing for the week to come into Sunday, weekend starts to look more like a cutover plan than relaxing chill out time :(

I asked help from my team, but it was not only my poor (=non-existent) Polish skills; there really are not quick and/or simple buses or trains to those cities with schedules suitable for weekend away. Once again seems that I should get a car, but self-protecting instinct still says no...

Answer to question on the header...

But then the rescue came! One of my colleagues was going to the direction of Zielona Góra – a town northwest from Wroclaw which was to host a Wine Festival during the week. That sounded like a brilliant idea – Berlin and Prague will stay there, but Polish Wine Festival take place only once a year! And the best part – no hussle with buses or trains and all the extra stress… How great is that!! And with the help of my colleagues father (Thank You, you kind, kind people :)) I found also a hotel with short notice. Winobranie 2010, here I come!!
My sweet, cute little hotel Pod Lwem; Under the Lion. I got to choose the time when breakfast is served and what is served. I did not get exactly what I ordered, but it's not big deal, it happens when trying to make yourself understood in English and the staff not really speakin it (once again) :)

sunnuntai 12. syyskuuta 2010

26.8. Seeing Poland – Warsaw part 2

We had another evening to spend in Warsaw, and we headed to  Warsaw Uprising Museum. Once again on my shame I have to confess that I was very unaware about this important occasion in Polish history. But luckily I’m civilized now. The museum itself was built from very human perspective, showing that behind the events, historical and sometimes cold facts there are real human beings with feelings, hopes, fears and in this case amazing bravery. In addition to photos, fact texts, plane replica and “usual” museum things the collection includes personal artifacts like clothes and love letters.

The most touching part was a film reconstructed from old photos. Here is one example, loaned from Wi-kipedia. The film was an aerial view showing the total disaster of Warsaw in the WW2. And the numbers. I do not remember the exact figures, but the scale was something quite near… Before WW2 Warsaw had several hundreds of thousands inhabitants. In the beginning of uprising less than 100 000. After uprising 4000. Again, human evilness is something totally inconceivable. Link to Wikipedia article of The Uprising.

As I have been in trouble with the language and menus, the fact that it can happen to native Pole also cheered me up a little. In an Italian restaurant a colleague of mine is a vegetarian he was ordering pasta and asked from the waitress about “speck”, the mystic word on the menu. None of us knew the word neither in English, Polish nor Finnish. The waitress was helpful and said very firmly that speck is a vegetable, green and showed that it’s about 5 cm long. Allrighty, sounds suitable for a vegetarian, so pasta with speck was what my colleague ordered. After quite long wait the food finally arrived, and turned out that his plate was full of pasta with ham. Not good. He asked where did the ham come from, and waitress said that’s it’s one of the ingredients of the ordered dish. Interesting, especially as there was no sign of the promised green veggie on the plate. With more studies, Google told as that speck really is a kind of ham. After little negotiation Greg got another dish – this time with lots of confirmations that it really is vegetarian version. But ten points to the waitress for keeping poker face; she was strict with her opinion and did not doubt for a second that possibly there was a slight mistake somewhere…

Oh, almost forgot! On the previous evening I ate cactus :D Previously I mentioned that I am a fan of those spiky plants, but then I meant it as decorations… However, a tex-mex style restaurant in Warsaw offered tortillas with cactus stuffing, and I tried it. If I wouldn’t have known better, I would have assumed that I eat green beans – but cactus it was!

lauantai 11. syyskuuta 2010

Busy times

My free time, or could I even say social life, has turned out to be much more active than I expected. That is even despite the fact that I have not yet received any guests from Finland though so many said that they’ll come…

But engagements in evening times are the reason why blog updates are badly lacking behind…I try to catch up – maybe it will work better now that I am a holder of a new, small and cute laptop. One of my favourite ways to spend free time is to sit in a terrace of a café or restaurant, maybe take few glances on a book or newspaper every now and then, and look at the world go by. Now I can combine writing to this people-watching hobby, too :)

Fireworks somewhere in Ostrow Tumski for some occasion. I got a little peak from my balcony

maanantai 6. syyskuuta 2010

25.8. Seeing Poland – Warsaw

Business trips sometimes allow also other experiences than purely work. So was it this time. Firstly there was the Intercity train. Now I am ready to change my opinions of Polish trains – these I like :) Air condition, numbered places, comfy seats – nice! And in addition the luxury of travelling in first class allows you to have coffee served to your seat, something you really value when trip has started at 6:07... Then Poznan, Oborniki, Poznan again – effective and interesting day in production site for a change.

After another Intercity trip we reached Warsaw. Even if the day was long, we (we being the team and me) headed to see the city having Greg as a guide with his 7 year experience from Warsaw. I had been in Warsaw before; at the end of March with windy rainy weather, with 10-12 hour working days in really stressful environment, and those circumstances gave a certain negative glow to the city in my eyes. Luckily, this time I saw things differently.

Two evenings in Warsaw were very mindbroadening from socio-cultural point of view.
After the tragic events last spring when the Polish lost their president, a political life has been through changes, ending to new president which is from different party than the government. However, there are people who do not accept the new era. One visible sight of that is a “cross incident”. I have to shorten the story here and probably lot's of "tones" are lost to several translations, but I'll do my best to try to say something about the matter... 
A wooden cross was erected in front of presidential residence as a memorial for the dead president, and as a place for people to bring flowers, candles and have a moment to honour him. Lately it was suggested that the cross should be removed and placed to some church, but this has caused a massive resistance. The cross represents much more things to some people; conspiracy which killed the president, beginning of the end of times, strong tiea between the state and the church which in the future might be separating.
Long story short; now there are people all the time around the cross (day and night that is). Others are “defending” the cross preventing its removal and praying for the sake of the opposite. Others are there to give an opinion againt the prayer side, and for example are playing with a ball to demonstrate the absurdness they think the "opposite"; strongly religious persons are showing. The situation has been lasting more than for a month now, and does not seem to be settling. Polices are guarding the area - day and night, as at least previously there has been some violent riots.

As I understood, the situation is very intricate, combining politics, religion, conservative and modern vision collision, and much more things that are not understandable unless you are familiar with the cultural background.  However, the occurrence was very interesting and it was very surreal to walk pass and witness it.