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 ;)

maanantai 1. marraskuuta 2010

Walbrych and Ksiaz

Mountains far away

My several attempts to visit the 3rd largest castle in Wroclaw have been this far unsuccessful. Sometimes due to laziness, sometimes due to late change of plans considering the weekend, and also because of conflicting instructions about the practicalities to reach mentioned target. Tourist info says something, Lonely Planet something else, schedules about buses and trains on internet something in between, and this far I haven’t had courage to go and simply try which is the truth. But now the situation is different. With the help of two nice persons from the office – one being born and grown in Walbrzych – I caught the correct train and bus, and finally ended up to castle Ksiaz.

Castle looked to me like a one in princess fairytales, with the radiant colours, huge courtyard, walls, towers and ivy covering the walls.

Castle courtyard

I expected the interior to be as stunning, but was a little disappointed. Turned out that it was not allowed to enter all parts of the castle without participating a guided tour, and there were none of them available in English. The lady selling the tickets (splendid English btw!) was sorry but basically refused to sell me ticket to Polish tour, and she was probably right, I would not have understood anything.
I walked through the route which was meant for individual guests, and most of the rooms being unfurnished, most of the signs being only in Polish, I was out from there in less than half an hour. However, I was able to take a peak into some of the furnished rooms from windows, and they were exactly as they were from some epic movie describing life of some royals 500 years ago...

Luckily the castle surroundings were as much a sight as the castle itself. There are several layers of garden terraces constructed around the castle, and once again I run out of expressions… Few pictures will give you the image as well.

Heart shaped hedgerows, aaww...

The castle is being renovated at the time. I have thought that on some parts I feel like living a “princess life” (note the apostrophes) here in Wroclaw, so maybe after a year I should pay another visit there, and then spend a moment imagining to be a real princess ;)

Colleagues say that the autumn is not as golden as it tends to be. Colourful enough for me!

Polish just-married couples seem to take wedding photographs very seriously. Separate photographing sessions can be seen all the time in different places. This couple had chosen the castle to be surroundings of their photos - and not a bad choice at all!

Cats are taken very well into account in the castle. They had small cottage on the yard, and seemingly enough food. Good.