21:00 Mon.
5 Oct, 2020

Poland [Checked!]

12:00 am
12:00 am

Finally, started checking off some of the eastern European countries! I didn’t travel much in first half of 2019, so I decided to go to a so-called summer school, which was held in Warsaw, at the end of July.

Welcome to the Place of Culture and Science! This was the last place I expected to find statue of Yoda.
Welcome to Poland!

I was happy to find out that there is a direct connection between Ljubljana and Warsaw, so in no time, I was already getting lost in the Poland’s capital. I was surprised by the size of the city, and I must say, was even more impressed with the city itself. I’m not sure what I was expecting to find under the so called eastern block, but I was presently surprised. The city has one of the best public transports I’ve ever seen, I travelled with boat, bus, train, tram and even a scooter (skiro), which became really popular that summer.  My hotel, or rather apartment, I just love these, compared to the standard hotels, was in a modern new skyscraper about 20 min walking distance from city center. It didn’t have the best view, but it made it up with a spacious living room and kitchen area, not that I needed to cook anything the time I spent there.

I had a nice park behind my accommodation.

The summer school took place in a big expo center in the outskirts of the city, or if not really outskirts at least 1h from the city center by public transport. Here I got a bit of the eastern side vibe, but it wasn’t that bad. The school took place for most of the day, but I managed to skip a boring lecture from time to time and had an extra 3 days before and after to explore the city a bit more.

As I said before, the public transport is really well-designed, especially if you compare it to the Malta’s. You can also buy a 10-day transport pass, which gives you access to all the transporting options available and is actually not that expensive. Well, not exactly all the transport options, every I went I saw tons of electric scooters lying around. They weren’t that popular in Slovenia yet, so I was surprised by the numbers I saw here. They were everywhere, literary everywhere and everyone was using them. They weren’t exactly cheap, about 1€ per 10 minutes, which in the end costs about the same as using Uber, but it’s much more fun. After a couple of days of watching them I had to try them and as one would expect it was quite fun. The city consists of many cycling roads, so it’s not a problem to drive it, but the best part was driving alongside the river. Later that summer, when I returned to Slovenia, they started popping up all over Ljubljana as well, strangely, this year (2020) I don’t think I saw any of them here in Ljubljana.

The city itself is about 70 years old, it got completely destroyed during the WW2, so I don’t think there are many (if any) buildings older than that. But somehow they managed to renovate the city center, to look like it did before. The rest of the city is a mixture of the Soviet architecture and modern skyscrapers, with lots of parks and trees all over the place. It actually doesn’t look that bad place to live in, which is especially surprising if you consider how large it is. The center of city is “decorated” by big ugly skyscraper, I the Poles call it ugly sister. It’s one of the 5 skyscrapers that Stalin had build in various cities of eastern block, to show of how great the soviet architecture is.

Another thing I was pleasantly surprised was food. This was a reall surprise, I did not expect such a good food from Poland. I’m not sure if it plays a bit on my Slavic roots, although I thin my food of the childhood was leaning more toward the Italian cuisine. Anyway, I found one of my favourite dishes here, called Pierogi. It’s something like tortellini, filled with many many different fillings. Omg, during my stay I had so many of them, I think toward the end I became like 5% pierogi at one point. They have this traditional Polish food, although I think they only server pierogi, chain restaurant called Zapiecek. The food is surprisingly good, and the serving staff (well more or less girls) wear this traditional (I think), red dresses, its quite fun, definitely recommend. Sadly I didn’t take any picture of them, but yea if you’re in Warsaw it’s a must do.  The pierogi come in numerous varieties, from the ones in the soup, to fried  / cooked ones to the ones eaten as desert. I think they have more than 90 different kinds in Zapiecek. The first time I went to try them, I ordered like 30 different ones, the girl couldn’t believe I managed to eat them, haha. At the end, she teased me, if I want ice cream with them, I still regret I turned her down.  Anyway, besides pierogi as in any large city you can find all different kinds of cuisine, and as always a traditional dish that you’ve eaten in at least 4 other countries as a traditional dish. This time, it was nothing else but Blejska kremšnita.

Don’t think there is much more to add to this. I was really pleasantly surprised by the city, it’s modern, nice and not that expensive (maybe a little cheaper than Ljubljana, 5%). I had lots of fun visiting it, the night-life is surprisingly good, there were lots of festivals and events going on in the evenings at different parks and in the old town. You can get by with English well enough, although you can see or hear the difference compared to Scandinavia or Central Europe, even with the younger population. But if you know a few Slavic words and can do the Italian hand gesture talk, you get by just fine.

Well, not much more to say, expect I definitely recommend a visit.

Shameless selfie.
17:00 Sun.
2 Aug, 2020


12:00 am
12:00 am

Uff, this was so long ago I almost forgot I went. I’m not sure if I just couldn’t find it now or really didn’t even mention it anywhere. Thank god for the pictures, looking at them brings back the memories even though it is more than 3 years since I was in San Sebastian, Spain.

In middle of June of 2017 I had another project meeting, this time in San Sebastian, Spain. I was so happy to go there, not only because I have a thing for Spain, but also because Mikel, one of my best friends from Sweden, lives (or rather lived there).

I touched down in Barcelona, from where I thought it would be an interesting experience if I took the train to get from there to San Sebastian, which is on the west coast of Spain, and I was not sorry I took it, the train was fast, clean, nice and the best part was I was able to enjoy great vistas and see a bit of Spanish landscape which you otherwise just fly over.  The ride took over 6 hours if I remember correctly so in the evening I just made it in time to crash at my hotel.

The city of San Sebastian is very nice and quite different compared to the rest of the Spain. It is belongs to Basque country and the natives there consider themselves Basque before Spanish, they have their language, which is actually spoken there on the streets, but everyone also knows Spanish. The city is also quite rich, not sure from what, but just by watching the houses or rather mansions you can tell.

Other than that the city lies inside a gorgeous bay surrounded by small hills. Perfect for watching sunset.

As luck would have it, I arrived as usually during the extreme and unusual heat wave. It was way over 30 C all the time I was there, which is really unusual, so ofcourse no-one has ACs. Luckily the beach was large and nearby so it was not so bad, when I was not at the meetings.

Besides travelling, these project meetings are also great because of the social aspect and dinners that accompany them in the evening. I still haven’t eaten anything like the year before in Haliklidi, Greece. Though the Spanish variant wasn’t bad either. Up for eels anyone?

In the northern (I think) part of Spain the so called tapas are very popular. When you go into a bar or hang out with friends you don’t usually go for a dinner but into a bar, where the whole groups orders various bite sized snacks called tapas. They were very very good and the idea that you can try many different ones alongside nice cold beer, huh, really fantastic.

I said that Mikel lived in San Sebastian, well that was not actually true anymore, he moved to Valencia, where he had work. But luckily he came back just in time for me to meet with him. We spend a wonderful day of chatting, remembering the Sweden and all our friends from there. We even went to a nearby town just across the French border just, so we could send Jean a postcard from France. All in all it was a great day, well worth suffering the heat for the whole week.

Mikel and I in San Sebastian, 2017

I usually I also wrote some postcards to send back home and to co-workers.  I have slowly started abandoning this practice as it is becoming incredibly hard finding post stamps lately. But in San Sebastian I had a different problem, I couldn’t find mail box. After complaining to Mikel about it, he actually drove me to the post office in the end I was not surprised how I couldn’t find it earlier.

Mail box in San Sebastian

After the day I spent with Mikel I had to return back to Slovenia. To go back, instead of going by the train again I took a plane to Barcelona, which gave me whole day to explore the Barcelona.

The city is really amazing, I’m always overwhelmed with such big cities, since in Slovenia we have nothing like that. Since it was summer it was full of people, literary everywhere, on the buses, underground, I don’t think another person would fit on the beach and don’t get me started on the other tourists attractions. The  city is also notorious for the pick-pockets so I was kind of nervous whole time there, but luckily survived without any incidents and managed to see quite a lot of it. Still, I don’t think I would want to go on vacation there.

In the evening I returned back home, back to Slovenia. Huh, again, thank god for the pictures otherwise I would completely forgot about everything. But still I should be more diligent in the future and do this thing more real time like, otherwise what’s the point. 🙂 So now I’m off to the next overdue trip from memory lane.