Two days ago arrived to Milan.
Two hours ago left Milan.
Beautiful city, but well nothing that will bring me back there, except for the flight back home.
So many people on the street that it’s almost impossible not to bump into someone once a while. But in the cities like that, when everyone is running after being better, more handsome, more fashionable, more and more of other irrelevant things I realise that I don’t want to be one of them.
From being very enthusiastic about places like that few years ago I start noticing that it is not something that drives me crazy anymore.
Thousands of people pass you, but you have no chance of possibility to get to know even few of them. I mean, maybe I didn’t get to the right places, maybe I was also too focused into exploring the city as much as possible during theses two short days, but something is missing.
I rather stay with few people, less interesting surroundings, but actually to have a chance to know them, to get to hear their stories or point of life.
Milan for me was like talking to a pretty boy, but knowing at the same time that he got nothing exciting inside. No soul to hold on to. That we probably won’t talk anymore.
And harsh truth needs to told. CouchSurfing is becoming less and less quality. In terms of people. I mean I had hosts who have been introverted, not very talkative, but the one in Milan won this race.
Always surprise me why people who answer with one work to a exciting question and don’t even care to follow up anyhow, want to achieve by hosting someone at their place.
Every moment I have spent with my host was filled with him watching some sport live on his laptop and in the same time reportages or comedians in his TV. After trying for a while I got to quit, I got to give up trying to make any sort or quality time.
I feel like I failed in something, but is it me who failed or the world is failing?
There you are at the finish line.
Last few step you need to take, last few steps that in some way are the most difficult ones, the ones that will let you feel like you completed the run. For yourself, for others, for society that expects you to do so.
But just before you take them, you may catch yourself with question what is next. What is going to happen once you pass the finish line. You are trapped. You want to get there, but something makes you think twice about every step on the way.
Few more breaths, few more sacrifices, few more stones you need to move.
And here you are stranded. Everyone is cheering you up, everyone so proud and happy you made it. But after those few seconds of glory you are left alone. No one else there to tell you what is next, no one to tell you which direction you should head yourself.
As you are there alone, those conflicting feeling are coming and going. You feel freedom. You feel proud, accomplished. But second after you are scared and lonely in your decisions. Because now the run you take, will only be with yourself. You may have a feeling sometimes, a hope you share it with your family, with your friends who are the family you choose, with the loved ones. The fact is that you are utterly alone in whatever decisions you take next.
The freedom is overwhelming, as are the expectations surrounding you from each angle. So you decide to take it alone. Make some calls that decide your future. You go with it. As much as it excites you, it scares the hell out of you. There is no one else to blame, no one else to take care of your choices and take your hand telling you, that you make it right.
And that run can be anything- your studies, another life project, moving on a significant part of your life.
Funny thing, life.
Recently I feel stuck. I came back from Bulgaria 2 months ago and ever since there I been mostly in Poland, actually my hometown, with few small trips to visit my friends around.
And as I am staying here, with no friends around (most of my school friends don’t live here anymore, which is not shocking at all), trying to finish my master thesis and look for a job, like a serious one.
It is a tough piece of bread, once you finish your university, no one really want to take you seriously. You got almost no skills necessary to start something called real job, even though you worked your ass off to pay for living while studying in the same time.
So, having too much of free time makes you think about your past or future. I been trying this mindfulness practice while I am here with no tasks to do, but it just shows me how slow this place is, just as if it was frozen in time.
If you don’t want to stay during your holidays at home, but don’t have enough money to spend somewhere 2 months with your student budget, why don’t you something I used to do for last few years.
Summer time. For the last 4 years I been spending 2 months of the summer months in Spain. By accident me and Gosia, during our first trip together ended up in L’Estartit in Catalonia and ever since then it became some sort of tradition to come back there year after year.
As I love changes and doing new things, each summer I was stranded looking for a new job in this small touristic town. And as a final peak this year I got one of best jobs I ever had.
Thanks to friendships I have made past last 3 years I was hired in one of best diving centers in Costa Brava- La Sirena. Stressed as fuck, I went to talk to the boss in Spanish (for two days before that I’d been trying to remember all the Spanish words I knew). All went well.
Working on the snorkeling boat. At the moment I got the job I had no certification for diving whatsoever, I knew that by the end of the season I was about to finish the course and get my PADI license.
So, for two months my job was to be on the cruise boat, La Sirena II, entertain the customers, assist them when necessary and make the snorkeling guiding on Illes Medes Islands. Working in the swimming suit, with great international team and having a drink almost every night in the chirinquitos (beach bars). I couldn’t be happier.
At the end I managed to do my diving course, with gorgeous instructor Vero, who made me fall in love in diving. After the course I was lucky enough to log around 10 dives in one of best diving spots in Europe. Looking forward to get another levels of PADI and possibly continue the diving adventure, even considering thee work in the future.
And now, while looking for a serious job, I am having those thoughts that maybe that was my last L’Estartit summer, the place I used to call my Spanish home. Place where for last 4 years I made friendships, had best parties in my life and fall in love with the nature around.
Don’t be afraid that you don’t know the language of the place- my first time I hardly knew how to introduce myself in Spanish, but after few season I am actually able to have a serious conversation in Spanish (the quality of 6 years old kid possibly, but hell yeah I am not afraid to speak it!). I didn’t have any connection at the beginning but if you have guts to pack your backpack and leave for adventure, I can assure you that you can find a job easily and make it a time of your life.
Tripping on my own
As I said in the beginning, there is possibility of having a flashbacks posts, concerning my previous trips. For some weird reason, I thought this will happen today.
As I am sitting now at my parents’ home, trying to figure out the way to finish my master thesis asap, I was wondering that for the last half a year, if not more there was no time that I could actually sit down on my own and focus on some specific things that should be sorted out.
Since June I was on constant travelling mode, first attending a project in Turkey (which may be presented here anytime in the future), later on there was time for my second home which I call L’Estartit in Spain, hitchhiking to France to spend about a month living in the forest, with no access to kitchen nor any sanitary utilities (curious?), smuggling cigarettes from Andorra, up to landing in Netherland for a while, buying tickets under influence of the personal flip-flop and applying for a volunteering project in Bulgaria, which you had chance to see already.
But you know what I wanted to tell you about the trip to Budapest. Probably I won’t say a lot about the places you should visit, or the top attractions that everyone who goes there should attend. I will mostly focus on the fact that it was the first trip I took by myself. First time ever I packed my backpacked without thinking if some items can be essential for me and the travel partner. For the first time it was all about what do I need on that trip.
I felt very specific anxiety while getting on the airport by myself. I was scared that I will not get to know anyone, that I will feel lonely and will not experience as much as I could if I would travel with some of my friends. There is this great factor of traveling with someone else- we are all perfectly different, with different point of view on things. Being on a trip with someone always gives me a feeling of taking this crazy adventure on which everything can happen, because we never know what that second person will figure out.
This time it was only me, my ideas and my point of view. Beginning was quite strange, I was CS, a bit worried if my hosts will be cool, if I can click with them and have a great time. Luckily, they were! Especially the first one. Omer shared lots of things with me, his point of view, his ideas and trips. That was a great start. Later on there were other couch surfers, that pass by my trip, but mostly I spent my time on my own. It was refreshing, something totally new. I got a chance to take as much time as I need anytime during the day. Complete freedom indeed. I never thought I could enjoy a trip like that. After second day I got to meet Joe, hat I spent some time with walking without no point in Budapest and talking about weird things.
Anyway though before I start talking bullshit and not getting to the point (which I will do after I finish that, while writing last chapter of my master), travelling solo is great. Gives you new prospective- yours, which you sometimes put aside to experience what other people proposed. It makes you quite, completely out of your comfort zone. Gives you courage.
I will still probably stay a huge fan of travelling with people, with friend or anyone who comes along the way, but after that sneak peak of what can happen during solo trips, I Think I will at least once a year find time to spend time just with myself, not surrounded by normal life problems in the environment that I know. And it is not escaping as some people may think, it is a way of getting to know yourself better.
And if it comes to places you should visit, definitely try out Ludwig Contemporary Art Museum which is great (museum thing is one of those things that I started to like, after travelling with somebody, never thought I could like it before).
There is a bar/ coffee place called KisUzem, which offers huge variety of interesting people. Most of the ruin bars I find overrated, as there is a bunch of shit faced guys with their noses up in the sky. Hardly any of the bars offer good quality music, playing rather something that pissed people can make out to.
That’s all. You didn’t have to read it, because I still wonder if anything that I write here make any sense, but I am glad that you came by J
So, during last 6 weeks many things happened.
From fighting with the hosting EVS organisation up to the last days of the festival. Even though I didn’t enjoy Sofia as I believed I will I still think that it was a great experience. It was a great lesson, that even when you come from Eastern Europe and you feel like you are open to anything it is not always true. Bulgaria is a beautiful country, if you exit the city. Sofia did not charm me at any point, expect of the Vitosha mountain view from our window.
Everything apart that was surprising, unexpected but not always pleasing. Even the food – as it is usually the biggest advance of any visited country – did not make me feel like it is a dream land for me. Any restaurant served us cold food, with no spices nor taste at any point. We were giving them a chance to show us they can do better but seems like they never cared enough, leaving us disappointed.
Another thing that didn’t make me feel like I gonna miss the country is a huge rate of homeless old people. Becuase of the fact that I am quite an empathetic person, I couldn’t really enjoy a simple walk on the streets of Sofia. My heart was bleeding every time, but I couldn’t do a lot. It
may seem egoistic, but I couldn’t wait to leave this place not to be a part of it anymore. And as a stranger I couldn’t really participate to make it better.
Festival? Yes, when any recruitment person will ask my in the future, what did I learn from that experience I will def admit that, now I know how not to organize film festivals. Chaotic, disorganized and not integrated event like this would not happen under my supervision ever in the future.
But you know what? Even though I didn’t get a chance to eat well, or make a laundry during last month I got an amazing opportunity to meet great people from all over the Europe. People with passion and enthusiasm. People smart enough to rise above difficulties. Most important ones are Polish.
Each one specific and different in such a beautiful way, but in this case variety brought us together.
Also being surrounded by film makers, directors and others was an opportunity that doesn’t happen often. Indeed Polish films were somewhat best ones so just to be proud!
So don’t worry. Take chances like that. You will struggle sometimes with uncontrolled obstacles, but if you can still leave it behind you will enrich your life in experience that will never happen again.
So, some of you guys know that I am currently in Sofia, capital city of Bulgaria. What am I doing here? I am asking that question myself as well.
When I was hitchhiking back to Poland from France, through Belgium and Netherlands, I had few days in peace and quiet at my sister place in Holland. And as I was coming back home with no plan regarding to my future, I thought that it is the high time to look for a job.
While going through web I found this volunteering opportunity. The project from the very first sight looked cool- international short film festival. I thought- this is it! I read the infopack and project description and I decided to dedicate some time of mine to write the cover letter. As I came back to Poland I got this mail, that actually I was selected. And that meant for me that within 2 weeks I will move to Sofia for 6 weeks working as a volunteer at In The Palace International Short Film Festival. And you know what, I will tell you where not to go for EVS experience.
After our arrival everything seemed good. We were 80 people from different countries, including the group of 8 from Poland. Surprisingly as never before at this kind of trips I get on super well with the girls. The rest of the team also great. Imagine what kind of people are attracted by film festivals- filmmakers, artists, event organizations, journalists and more of people I like to get to know. But, to be honest the people are probably one good thing that has happened to us during that project so far…
After first day the troubles started. From no communication with hosting organization up to no heating in the rooms, no hot water in the shower, weird constructions guys living in the same place making many people feel uncomfortable. That is only a short list of things that were wrong since the very beginning.
As it is EVS project, volunteers are obliged to get the food money coming straight from EU, but also pocket money which are free will of the hosting partner. We did not get those money within few more days. Once we did many other problems occurred.
They took money from us for the relocation (after one week, in conditions that were not even basic for some of the participants) we landed in the city center! Hurra! Could not be better. Though, after getting to know people in Bulgaria, we figured out that any kind of projects here in Bulgaria are basic scam to get the EU money into NGO’s pockets. We meet some people who told us that out of 28 projects one of the year maybe one or 2 of them, finished successfully. I did not check that info, but I can easily believe that it is true.
Guys, it is always about the project. But be careful, because since we came here we didn’t do anything in particular, our time is wasted and our patience is on hard core trial. Of course I still enjoy myself, as I get to know great people and share my time with them, but just try to get a bit deeper before going to Balkans for EVS, because as much as I believe that some of the projects can be great and rewarding, there is also plenty of them that are just made to get the money from EU. And once they get them, they don’t really care how many people they brought nor how to handle such a big group.
I always wanted to carry on a blog. I should have started it long time ago, not now. After few years of travelling here and there this place would be full with stories. But I didn’t I do it now, for the second time already because first time I failed. I could not be consistent with the post, stories and writing in general.
This time I hope it will be different. Since I already put enough effort into spamming all my friends that I am actually doing it, I won’t give up so quickly (hope so, that’s for sure).
If I fail again please excuse me of taking your valuable time, but trust me I will do my best to develop this, but also to improve the quality of the content, because guess what…
I never felt like I can write nor felt like it, but from time to time I was opening my little notebook in urge to actually put words on paper and get rid of them. So now this will become my notebook, but with misspelling correction. So should not be that bad.
Another thing is that I prefer to write in English to improve my content writing skills and since I am not planning my future in Poland, should be useful.
So welcome. My personal exhibition. Have fun. Or punch me in the face. No worries, I will take it with pride.
Let’s call it an adventure
After sometime of planning we decided that instead of taking a bus, or train, or hitchhiking the best option would be to rent a car. And so we did.
Heading from Sofia early in the morning we managed to get 180 km from the city when we realized that we are not allowed to leave the territory of Bulgaria with that car without a green card. So we turned to Sofia picked it up and returned on the road to Skopje- 4 hrs trip took us around 9 hrs, but what they say is, that you learn from your mistakes.
But I think that after all it was just a prelude to the abstract experience we had in Skopje.
After crossing Bulgarian- Macedonian border you won’t see too much of urbanization. But once you get to the city your senses will explode.
Those guys act and do on huge scale. I could find better synonymous for that in Polish, but unfortunately English doesn’t have enough power for that.
From first street you have an impression you are entering different world. As if you took a space ship trip and landed in some unknown place, that to some extent look familiar, but is nothing like what you have known so far.
The fact is that Macedonia isn’t a part of EU only because of its name after all. After EU peak in 2008 Greece didn’t agree with Macedonian admission, because they feel like the country stole the name of one greek region. Macedonians feel like ancestors of Alexander of Macedonia, but the same time Greeks have different opinion about the issue.
So to play hard with EU, Macedonia government put into life project called Skopje 2014 in which they planned to put more than 20 monumental buildings and more than 40 enormous sculptures and monuments around the city.
Imagine that walking around the main square of the city you will see at least 20 huge monuments that are supposed to look historical, but instead of that look ridiculous. On the left side you have a huge fountain with 4 lions, next to it there is another one with 4 sculptures of Alexander with his mother and next to it another one, but with running horses. None of the explanation can truly give you the feeling we had while visiting the place.
Especially when you think about it from the point of view who lives there, where average salary in Macedonia is around 250 EUR and the monument of Warrior on the horse cost around 10 mln EUR and it is only one of many. Not even to mention big (pirate?) ship that you can see on the right side on Vardar river, that has basically no purpose, expect one- to be ridiculous.
After crossing the bridge in the city center you enter completely new word- one of the biggest Turkish style bazar in continental Europe. Here you kind fill up yourself with tasty baklava, best kebap and cia kofta stores, find most bizarre dresses and encounter Muslim atmosphere.
Another interesting thing we noticed is lack of any chain shops or restaurants. If you are McDonalds lover don’t hope to eat your McMuffin in the morning or to enjoy your McFlurry icecream. Since few years McDonalds had to back out from Macedonia, because of some franchise problems and never came back again. In general though, after 3 days of partying at night (don’t bother to look for a good party place, because most of them are quite lame) we also felt like maybe it is the only place on Earth, where you cannot eat trashy food when you are drunk. No kebabs, no hotdogs, no pizza place anywhere. Better take your salad with you. Only one place you can go is a local 24 hr bakery that severs you quite good quality bread goods.
One of the afternoons we decided to spent in Canyon Matka, just 20 km away from Skopje, but due to horrible weather we could not enjoy fully either the place not take good pictures.
But yeah, after all it was a great experience to be in Skopje, to see Damjan, my flat mate from Poznan and meet his flat mates who were cooking for us and making sure we feel welcome.
Looking forward to more trips like that 😉
After few days in Sofia you can notice that the city is not taken care of.
You can see lots of garbage on the streets, big amount of stray dogs walking around and or being totally quiet and peaceful, or woofing and bullying the passersby. Abandoned and ugly buildings. The main street that should be most pretty one in the hole town is filled with ugly buildings, that could be pretty if the city took care of it, but are not.
But there is something that is bugging me the most. Everyday passing by the city you will meet at least 10 old people begging for money. Some of them are sick, disabled and generally not able to be on their own. The others are just pretending to be those. But there is also a group of people who are trying to collect some money by selling small flowers, they probably have picked in their garden. Or some old plates that they used their whole life. Whenever I was passing these people in my home country I felt like I got to help them, so I was getting that one flower from them, or getting them some food. But here my empathy is too big and I feel like I can’t do anything that will matter.
I am paralyzed with the amount of people that are left to survive and doesn’t look like anyone cares about them. They were building the country after ’89 when the communism was down, also when the soviet union backed out from here.
What is more Bulgaria is one of many countries that old people don’t really have many rights. No one hears their voice, very often are isolated from the society. The problem of social exclusion is very common in here. Especially that they cannot really fight for their situation, facing lots of disabilities and the feeling that they are not important anymore. Most that they have to focus on is surviving for the average pension of less than 100 EUR .
And we are here talking about the film festival, also building the workshops panels and discussion to provoke people for action. Because if people from here won’t take actions the situation will never improve.