How to meet wonderful world at home

I belong to three internet travellers communities: hospitalityclub (since 2007), couchsurfing and warmshowers (since previous year; this one is for tour bicycle users).

I admit that  I joined the first one because I’d read in press about it and was tempted by opportunity of saving some cost of accommodation while travelling. So I joined and tried and it worked! In 2007 my family travelled to Romania and Bulgaria for summer 3-week holidays. Of all 20 nights we didn’t pay for 4 thanks to our great hospitalityclub hosts. But saving money was only a tiny part of what membership was offering and as it later turned out it was the least important part! The best of it was meeting locals who generally shares with you their local style of life: habits, food, ways of spending time, lots of information about interesting places/events in area (sometimes they tell you about things you won’t be able to find about in tourist guides) etc, etc. And what I do appreciate – while I travel abroad I have eventually opportunity to use English, here in Poland my contact with English is generally confined to reading and watching tv/films (and sometimes writing blog, haha).  The hosts/guests are usually fantastic, open, amiable people, to that extend that in 2 cases my hosts/guests became later my guests/hosts: in England, Slovenia and Poland.

Being a guest is great but of course there is a second side – offering accomadation for other travelers. And it is also superb. Imagine situation like that one – grey, not much interesting March day in Poland, the rest of snow melted long ago, but still no fresh greenery outside the window… You’re a bit bored and check your emails and … wow, a girl from Canada travelling since August 2014 through Asia and since January 2015 by bicycle (!!!) from Instanbul, Turkey to my hometown Rzeszów, Poland (some 2.000 kilometres through the shortest way from Istanbul) and further in Europe is asking if she can stay at your place for 1 night. You of course agree, she arrives to your town and tells you about adventures you wouldn’t hear or watch in travel programmes on tv. It was a big big pleasure to meet Stephanie and talk with her about her brave ride through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Poland on bicycle with heavy panniers. And to listen about wonderful unspoiled nature of Canada … Such visits make your day. I wish Stephanie only dry, warm days during her further bicycle travelling, much less trucks on roads and save pedalling, and you – great adventures while travelling and while meeting travelers at your home.

Third time lucky !

Yeah, I did it and really third time was eventually lucky ! I’m happy again! But, what was it? Interview! This time the chairman of the company proposed me job and I agreed! Maybe it’s nothing special in rich countries like USA or Australia but for me here, in Poland (and far from Warsaw) it’s big big SOMETHING.

A few reasons I think so are:

  1. I was looking for this job 14 months, OK, let’s say that during first half of that period I wasn’t looking very intensely, because after 20 years of hard work I DID wanted to rest a bit, so I travelled, I was polishing my English, I did what I always wanted but never had time to etc etc. But even then I was looking for, and later I was looking really diligently sending every day a few CVs. For almost no response. People say one can’t find job in Poland when one doesn’t have acquaintances. I don’t belong to people who know lots of other people, so I had to find a job on my own. It looked gloomy. And I didn’t want to become millionth Pole looking for a job in UK.
  2. It wasn’t that bad. I had few answers and invitations for interviews. Two. The first interview was very nice, a recruitment specialists was deeply interested in my … hobby – bicycle riding, we did shared this passion, but he didn’t share my passion for getting the job the company offered. Second interview – nice lady offered me job, sure, but it wasn’t normal kind of job contract – I was to get only commissions from company and I was to run my own business. I wouldn’t be emloyed at all! And I didn’t want to run a business, I wanted to get a job!
  3. I won’t tell what exactly is my occupation, but it is in bank branch and kind of job that is not necceserily done in the same town where clients live. So, last few years was a period of moving these positions to bigger towns and the best to Warsaw. So, after that time in my town left few jobs of this position. I felt like fisherman looking for a job in the middle of Sahara desert. And I didn’t want to move to bigger town, let alone to Warsaw. And I didn’t want to leave my family for at least 5 days a week.
  4. I’m 45. I decided maybe time came to change occupation, to do something else. OK, I made 3-month course which broaden my skills of something I partially studied long time ago and started looking in this line. One big failure, I didn’t get a job because I didn’t have 2, 3 or 5 years of experience which are required and no one wanted to take me as an apprentice because I’m too old. Catch 22?

Today a miracle happened. I answered a phone and it turned out that it’s from company where I sent my CV half a year ago. Three hours later I was after nice interview and we shaked hands with the chairman agreeing on conditions of my work! I’m starting tomorrow! I’ll work again in my old occupation. Hooray!

Yearning for the summer

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Now is my second most hated season of a year. The first is late November – days are very short and you can’t expect real snowy winter any soon. Now, end of February and beginning of March, I’m bored with winter, which was poor this year, with very little snow (yeah, I live in Poland, not in USA, esp. not in Boston 😉 and frost. I can’t wait till it’s bright, colorful spring and hot sunny summer!

So, waiting for a significant change in weather I reached for pictures from last summer holiday to cheer up. Wonderful Croatian island of Korcula. It wasn’t easy to get to beautiful little beaches hidden in narrow bays (sometimes you had to drive down from approx. 500 m above sea level through very narrow winding lanes, just for 1 car, sharp turn after turn), but the views were amazing. And this colour of sea!

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Skiing in wonderful ice-land

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Once again we went skiing to Chyrowa in Beskid Niski, Poland. What we saw off the beaten track was amazingly beatiful.

Every branch of tree and bush was covered with thick coat of ideal transparent ice.

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We couldn’t help taking more and more pictures, here are just a few of them.

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It was like in fairy-tale, Narnia or something.

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It was really hard to come back at evening from this paradise to grey, snow-les and ice-les winter town.

Strange coincidence 2

Funny situation occurred today when I answered a phone. It was a bank worker proposing me one of their financial service. I have an internet  bank account in that bank and when it’s worker sometimes calls me he verifies my identity asking about my birth date and place and 3 of 9 digits of password that the bank had sent me earlier by sms.

After positively verifying details of my birth the call went on like that:

(bank worker) – “OK, I will explain you details of this service, I just only have to ask you now for 3 digits of your password to check, please give me the second, third and ninth digit”

(me) – “2, 3 and 9”

One minute of silence

(bw) – “If you give these 3 digits we can continue with our service”

(me) – “Sure, 2, 3 and 9”

Another long period of silence

(bw) – “Yes, in that order”

(me) – “I’ve already told you the digits”

(bw) – “Did you ?? So, please repeat them”

(me) – “2, 3, and 9”

(bw) – “Let me check …. 2, 3 and 9, yes, you’re right!  I’m really sorry, I thought you were just repeating after me …”

And we eventually could go to the gist of bank matter…

My whole password was 823672429 (and info for potential hackers – it’s already changed 🙂 ).

Strange coincidence

There are sometimes situations that are hard to explain, sometimes funny, sometimes just strange. About month ago I was reading a book “Meat” by Joseph D’Lacey. I will not reveal the exact plot of this novel, but the action is set mainly in a slaughterhouse and the more you read the less you want to eat meat.

But I can tell fiction from life and didn’t stop eating meat even after I‘ve finished the book (to be precise we don’t eat much meat at home). I haven’t discussed about “Meat” with my family either. And I’m sure my daughter didn’t read the book, even fragments of it, when I was  away, because the book is in English and she unfortunately doesn’t like English and reads tons of books, but only in Polish.

The strange thing is that one day, when I was about halfway through the book my daughter asked me not to put ham to her school sandwich and 2 days later she announced that from that day she’s not going to eat meat anymore. When we asked her for the reasons for such a resolution she said that looking or smelling meat make her sick. A few weeks passed from that day and she still doesn’t eat meat although it’s a bit problem for her as she’s told to prepare by herself alternative meals on days when we eat meat dishes.

I thought that it’s kind of anti-meat fashion among her school friends but rather it is not the issue.

Was it really only coincidence?

How to start skiing season painfully

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Two weeks of January have passed. We hadn’t ski boots on our feet yet. Last Saturday was to be start of skiing season for us but weather forecast predicted precipitation of … rain. And they were right. Another lost week without skiing. Next Saturday forecast – no rain, although last time it was snowing … so long ago I don’t remember. It isn’t even cold, about +5 C. But what are snowmaking machines for? Fortunately in Polish Beskid Niski Mountains at least at night temperature was slightly below 0 C, so there is some 30 cm of mostly artificial snow on slopes. Decision – we’re going to open ski season at last.

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6 am, Saturday. Normal people are sleeping, but probably we’re not quite normal. We have about 85 km of twisty, partly mountain road to go to get to a ski slope. We must be there by 9 am when ski lift starts, to have our first downhills on ideal immaculate-snowgroomered surface of slope, before it is ploughed by other skiers and what’s worse snowboarders.

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My son Michal, who usually gets up at 10 am or sometimes 12 am on Saturdays makes exceptions for skiing and I’m grateful for that.

7 am, robust portion of scrambled eggs and off we go. Direction – south, no highway unfortunately, in accordance to government plans there will be one from my town to Beskid Niski already in 2040, of course if everything goes well. Last resolution to do – where exactly do we want to start ski season? There are 2 options: Chyrowa (A) and Puławy (B). Both are in reasonable distance of about 85 km from our town to make 1 day ski trip to. (A) has a bit better access, probably a bit better slope (subjective valuation though) and a poma/platter/button skilift, whilst (B) has a double chair skilift. We chose A (no chair, what a fool I proved to be) and it was our, or rather my second mistake.

9.00 am, Chyrowa. Shackle ski boots are already on our feet, 7 hours tickets (third mistake, 4 hours would be really enough ) bought and up we go.

9.05 we reach the top of the hill, 3    2    1   start!!! That is the only moment when I think there is any point in creating winter at all. Sheer pleasure of downhill. Slope is not very long, about 1.000 metres, but we don’t live in the Alpes unfortunately.

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9.08 am, second time going up. And about 40 times more till it was 4 p.m. and our last lift. And last downhill, with my shins sore and painful calfs + thighs on the verge of contraction.

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4.20 pm, we’re back in car, when I drive I feel horrible pain in left thigh every time I press clutch. And as I wrote earlier the road is twisty and I have to change gear often, much too often. Why didn’t I buy automatic gear?? (Stupid question – it is too expensive and driving it is not fun and I didn’t suppose I’d ever drive it with thigh on a verge of contraction).

6.00 pm, we’re back home happy seeing the rest of our family preparing pizza! Great timing, I like it.

6.20 pm, OMG, why does it hurt so awfully when I tried to get up from armchair???

– Michal, are your legs OK, any pain?

-OK, why?

It’s so pleasant to be teenager, I suppose.

Two months earlier, one month earlier, one week earlier, one day earlier – I did no preparing for winter ski season, no squads, no lungets and almost no other exercises. And it was the first mistake I made.

But altogether, despite all the pain I felt after, it was a fantastic day!