Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Preparing for the journey

First stop – probably Prague. No further plans, but I am determined to focus on Western Europe this time. Maybe Vienna and the Zurich and then Italy.

Love my new watch. Shines in darkness. No way in hell a bystander can tell a time from it.

Got my first netbook, too. Acer aspire one. Relatively large screen (11”) and keyboard. Relatively good looking. Unfortunately, with Windows on it. Half an hour of updates and tens of warnings and reminders before the thing is ready to work.

So now I am an Apple fanboy, but if I looked closer, I leave more money with Ecco.

I’m not consuming, I’m investing. There is a bigger scheme.

Only couple of things left for tomorrow and off I go.

I recovered the rum and cigars

Whoa, my backpack, lost on the way from Cuba, got found. Apparently instead of being held by Cuban communists, German customs was the real culprit.

90% of the things inside were dirty laundry.

I noticed that all things in the backpack were shifted. And on top there was a paper sheet which listed all backpack contents with German scrupulosity:

Amazing, now Germans count my dirty laundry. Never had that before.

The rum, cigars and the vital ipod connector were there, but they seem to have confiscated Cuban coffee… and the batteries, for some reason.

Anyway, hopefully it’s the last time I flew with Condor Sheisselinie. 26h hour delay and lost luggage, for which they didn’t even do home delivery.

Travel bag finally at rest

After two years of continuous traveling on different consulting engagements, at last I was able to fully unpack my weathered travel bag and put it in its resting place, hoping it will not have to be used for at least couple of weeks:

It’s was a nice feeling.

But still no luck with the backpack, which is missing after the Cuban adventure… I’m losing hope of seeing it again.

Revolution (Cuba)

I’m back from Cuba.

The return flight was delayed one day, I had to pay for connecting flight (and it seemed to be charged twice to the credit card), and the Cubans have either lost or confiscated by backpack (maybe it’s because of rom and cigars inside…?)

But these logistic difficulties aside, Cuba was surely a memorable experience!

Be sure to go there before it changes, ie. starts to be a normal country again.

One thing which seems known, but which I saw in new light is the Revolution itself. On the airport I had lots of time for reading Che’s memories, which were actually the only books available.

Che’s account from his fighting next to Fidel present valuable lessons. The main one is that of persistence.

Then the Cubans, amazing social products of the Revolution experiment they are forced to be subject to. Revolution is an economic disaster, but it creates unique social environment (unique even comparing to communist Poland).

Cuba, then

At last, I bid farewell to Kiev (for a while). I already had a Lonely Planet guide for India shipped, but in the end I am going to Cuba.

Plane ticket to Cuba was not as straightforward as usual. I will fly charter for the first time, because there were no acceptable regular flights available.

But first, I will have an opportunity to revisit Moscow (I wish the opportunity were not in the heat season..)

Bromba on the road

There are couple of pending things to mention and one of them is that my noble colleague Wojtek, at the moment also known as bromba, is currently carelessly traveling around the world. Together with his beloved Kate, at the moment also known as a small mongol (??).

They have a blog (but in Polish) and post pictures from time to time and in general make me think that traveling around the world might not be a bad idea.

Photos: Mexico and Paris

With this, I am finally done with photos from 2007:

Mexico gallery

Paris gallery

I cannot help but feel (also from the photos) that traveling this year was different than before. While previously it was a joy in itself, now I couldn’t fully separate it from the things I was dealing with through the year.

A mistake most likely, since I need careless wandering to reset myself, and I missed this last year. Of course some people have greater problems so no reason to complain.

Pictures from Russia (finally)

It’s nearly new year and I decided that maybe it’s high time to post the photos from Russia, which date back to last January. Here they are:

It’s a pain to write captions after such a long period of time.

I regret that I didn’t take photos of the things I actually remember the most, like hostel in St Pet, the area where I lived in Moscow or people I met. It never occurs to take photos in such common situation and later it is regrettable.

I plan to move this page from interia hosting, where nothing works, including wordpress, to progreso, where everything works fine. Then I will be able to move also to zenphoto and have some decent gallery.

The photos from Mexico and Paris are still pending..

Recruiting in Lviv, Ukraine

I came back from Lviv yesterday. We were attending jobs fairs in the city.

Key lesson from the event: in Ukraine, technical universities, like one where fairs took place, often do without heating. Inside it is only slightly warmer that outside and people go around in coats.

Result: I am sick and one of my ears have not recovered yet from the pressure stress test on the plane and tomorrow I go to a concert.

On a different topic, even though recruitment potential seems promising, technical people in Lviv have serious problems with English. In fact even linguistics students had problems with English, which is quite ironic.

Ukraine for a change

I got somehow used to Moscow, but I also feel good about some change. So, this week, back to Kiev.

I wonder if it changed much since last time.

Hostel spirit

I got used to having to explain my travelling style preferences, including in particular that for staying in hostels instead of more civilized premises. But this accidental piece by Sarah gives me some background on what people might expect from hostels:

I assumed hostels were full of obnoxious 20-somethings trying to one-up each other with tales of their travels. They?d go out drinking and talking about how great they were until 2 a.m. when they?d come crashing into the dorm room, slamming doors, turning on lights, playing bongo drums and vomiting over the side of the bunk bed.

On the other hand, one of the travellers in the St Pet, namely the historian travelling with a big teddy bear with sun glasses, complained of backpackers being lazy with hostels and going straight to the ones recommended by Lonely Planet even if they overpay a lot. They don’t care to check place around the corner. Not at all in backpacking spirit, he said.

Maybe it’s true that hostels are losing they charm nowadays. Sarah’s disappointing experience would support this observation.

It turned out my fears were completely unfounded. We stayed at three different hostels and each one of them was clean, comfortable and quiet. Our roommates were lovely young women who were all in bed way before midnight. And not a bongo drum in sight!

Can’t wait to give Mexico hostels a try.

Driving to airport in St Pet

My driver is related to owner of the hostel. He is finishing his studies. We talk politics all way. In Russian, which is a bit challenging.

– I took part in the demonstration first of May, you know

– What were you demonstrating for?

– For improving workers rights

– Do you think your rights need improvement?

Then some discussion about state of worker?s rights.

– My institute is one of the most politically active in Russia. Current FSB chief is our graduate.

And he mentions second important guy that I forgot. But not Putin I think.

– And also Dudaev.

– What, Dudaev also graduated your university?

– No, we helped to kill Dudaev.

Russians could not trace Dudaev?s phone, because his conversations were too short. But one guy from the Institute developed an improved algorithm, and they traced him and bombed him.

– The guy then moved to work at FSB. I think he works there still.

– In Poland there are not so many secret services, you know. Of course some exists, but I never knew anyone working for them, like you do

– The services of Poland are very active. Poland is geopolitically very active.

Maybe our foreign policy is underestimated at home. It seems appreciated in the East.

The other Russia: St Petersburg

I feel like resting after walking couple of days, but I’m so glad I got to see this city. It is so different Russia than one of Moscow. In fact, Piter could easily make it to my list of favorite big cities.

And the hostel experience is so refreshing, as usual. One night partying, second night talking about classical music and watching strange Russian animation movies.

Today Ermitage; same league as Metropolitan Museum of arts to me.

And tomorrow, flyback.

Back in Moscow

Dunno for how long still, but starting to wonder.

Favorite Beethoven piece currently (if anything, Moscow time is about discovering Beethoven): 17th piano sonata “Der Sturm”, movement 3.

Walk in Wroclaw

Maybe it was not the best day. Weather: cold and no sun. Made buildings stand for themselves, will all the graffiti and poor design. The early capitalism plastic artifacts, like Solpols, were even more disgusting than usual. Also people, because it is Eastern, might have been subject to natural negative selection, and that’s why pedestrians on the street were the ones who have no better place to spend their time.

Regardless the reason, the city looked quite ugly and the encounters were unpleasant. I couldn’t help but think if I wouldn’t feel better at Warsaw already, at least as far as lonely walking is concerned.

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