Saturday, October 24, 2009

09-13.08.2008 The mountains

or about the most beautiful part of Montenegro..

We reached the highest peak of the country yesterday (12.08.09) !! Bobotov Kuk, 2531 meters above the sea level. It wasn't easy, but not that difficult either. Sometimes the paths changed into rows of stones and rocks and we had to use all our limbs, but we've made it! The view was just amazing, weather fine, few tourists and an optimal dose of adrenalin - there's nothing more we need...
And today we've gone on a next peak, called Curovac, which measures 1625 meters only. A wonderful view on the blue Tara river spread from the top of the peak and the route was really nice and easy. First we had to go along an asphalt road, then through the wood and then up the rocky hill. This time we've met much more climbers, but still it was not a large number, quite bearable. And this also proves the advantage of mountains above the sea...

So, now a short time travel...
From Ulcinj we went to Albania for one day, to a city called Shkadar. And I have to admit that the area reminds me of India a lot. If there were more cows, more rubbish, slight smell of urine, more baggers and more temples, then it would be real India:) but now seriously: there are some very neglected places in the city, at every stop you can come across old damaged buildings, stands wit everything and nothing, some baggers sit on the streets here and there and chaotic heaps of rubbish lay almost everywhere. But there are pleasant places, too. A colourful alley with shops and cafés matching the European standards, beautiful mosques and the ruins of fortress from the 13th century situated on a hill, from which a breathtaking view on the city, river and mountains spreads.
Leaving Albania behind, we went towards the mountains. While we were waiting for a car in heavy rain, somewhere in Mojkovac, a man from a nearby house invited us for a beer and long stories about the mountains. He and his friend claimed it was not a good idea to climb the highest peak (Sasha - our new friend, worked once in a tourist office and said that the route to Bobotov Kuk was very difficult and demanding, he even compared it with alpinism and was convinced it must be dangerous), but that didn't discourage us. When we finally reached Żabljak, we were offered a room, as expensive (or rather cheap) as camps by the seaside. So we decided to stay a few days in a flat of a very nice family, at the end of the town. The first evening there was indeed international. Staying in Montenegro not only did we eat Italian chickpea bought in Albania and prepared on a Serbian cooker, but we also talked in English with French speaking Canadians who lived in Moscow...

And tomorrow we're already leaving the small town, which is full of tourists, but it's enough to leave it just a bit behind and go in the mountains to delight the peaceful atmosphere. So - we're leaving. And it seems we're going slowly back home, to Poland. But first we want to stop over in Visegrad, and then... well, the end... All in all it is like I wanted and we're hitch-hiking again. Well, not the whole route, but at least most of it:) So, surely we'll meet many interesting and helpful people again, getting a small insight into their lives....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Still Ulcjni 09.08.2008

or how we're resting and thinking about the next destinations...

We've been to Ulcinj since 2 days now. I need to admit that outside the centre the city is not so tiring and noisy. From time to time the Muslim prayers leave the white walls of mosques and spread around the city, poor Albanian families cross the street, beggars ask for money, wonderful smell comes from bakeries and a fruit stalls are attacked by flies and other insects:)We still haven't visited the beach and it seems we won't visit it soon. We'd rather go to the coast near the place we live, in the suburbs. I don't think I want to visit the beach in the centre, it's totally unfriendly.

The prices are bit lower than in other cities on the coast, a lot of Poles come here and everywhere near the main road you can meet people advertising their rooms and apartments. Very often they just hold a small board with "Sobe/Dhoma/ Rooms/Zimmer" written on it or they put a board with the word „Apartaments” e.g. near their motorcycle.. And we landed up in a room of a really nice family. The owner knows only few words in English, but we understand each other very well. I was even a translator for our French friends, living next doors who don't know a word in Serbian. (Well, to be honest, I don't speak Serbian at all - it's just a mix of few Serbian words and Russian:). Yesterday the woman (the owner) treated us with fresh figs from her garden and cooked corn, she showed us an hedgehog hiding behind a flowerpot and wanted to give us some tomatoes from her garden . But we had been to a shop before and bought already some vegetables. Then she kept on talking about her sons, Polish friends and were asking about our further journey. So, the evening passed quite pleasantly and maybe today we'll also have a chance to find out more details about Montenegrin life.

(Oh, when more thing. I've just recalled a story that the Ambassador or Consul - cos' I don't really know who he was - the one who took us to Hercegnovi. So, he said that many years ago few Afroamericans came to Ulcinj and till now their descendants live in the city. But sometimes they get White kinds, sometimes not. . So now, when a girl is dating somebody, the family often warn a man that if his child has a different coulour of skin than their parents, it doesn't mean that the mother was unfaithful....)

Today we want to visit the Old Town, but now we're still looking for another places worth visiting. Because our plans have changed again. Michał doesn't want to hitch-hike anymore, especially to Albania. He claims it's too dangerous. So we need to find a compromise. . Tomorrow we 're going to Shkadar by bus and then coming back to Ulcinj. The we're starting our journey back home, stopping by in the Montenegrin mountains, Bosnia, maybe Hungary or Romania. And Michał also doesn't want to hitch-hike back home, so I'm afraid we'll have to travel the half of the way on a train. And the other half - hitch-hiking. We still don't know if we manage to realize our plan and climb to the highest peak in the country. Michał claims we're not prepared enough to do it, I claim we'll be fine :) For the moment we're just resting in Ulcinj, enjoying our time, variety of fruits, possibility to use the kitchen (it's been ages since we last had such luxury) and we're discovering new eccentricity of the Albanian-Montenegrin area...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Peacful Cetinje and Montenegrin/Albanian Ulcinj 07-08.08.2009

…or how we finally get some rest and plan the further journey.

We spend in Boreti one more day. This time we’re hitchhiking to the first real Montenegrin city. The old capital of the country. Cetinje. And that’s where we find the hidden charm of Montenegro. Peace, silence, signs of history, almost no tourists, normal, not overrated prices… Yes, that’s what we needed. The old embassies in neglected, abandoned houses, churches (also Orthodox ones), calm cafes.
We’re enjoying the local food, because it’s finally here (I don’t know why, but on the coast the country denies to serve anything but omnipresent pizzas, kebabas, pasta, etc.). And when we’re coming back, we meet the same driver, who took us to Cetinje. This time he’s with his friend. But on the way (the road is narrow, leads through the mountains and there’s a lot of phone numbers to emergency road services written on the rocks) we stuck in a huge traffic jam. The driver calls police and finds out that we’ll have to stay in the jam for more than 30 minutes, because there was an accident, so he turns back and goes to the town to spend the time in a café. And we’re going with him. His friend (only she speaks English, the driver speaks only Serbian and Italian and is not eager to talk although I do understand most of what he says) tells us that there’s plenty of accidents of the road, because Montenegrins usually disrespect the traffic regulations. She also says that Montenegrins don’t like to work and compares them to the lazy Spaniards. One we get to a café, the driver offers us coffee and beers all the time, he drinks 4 alcohol drinks, gives money to his friends’ kids, everyone calls him the “King of Budva”, because he’s a parking chef in Budva, comes from Cetinje and everyone knows him here. And finally after 1,5 hour we get back to the car. And we reach Boreti safely.

Thus the day passes quite lazily and pleasantly. In the evening we meet two crazy hitchhikers – Milena and Adam. They’ve been on the way through Europe since 3 weeks now and also plan to go to Albania. Soon we all go to the beach, which is the most beautiful in this time of the day. Because it’s empty and mysterious, although the water is quite cold. But we do swim anyway.
And the next day we leave our camping and 3 cars give us a lift to Ulcinj. It’s supposed to be as an Albanian town. That’s what our last driver said – a student from Kotor, who works as a supplier, drives around the country almost every day and often takes hitchhikers with him. Most of them are from Poland and from the Eastern Europe. He’s surprised that we don’t need visas to get to Montenegro. Here everyone needs one to an almost every country. The exception is Greece, Turkey and the countries that once built Yugoslavia. But from January these restrictions should be over.
But for now I’m disappointed again. Contrary to all the promises there are many tourists in Ulcinj, it’s also dirty and not really interesting. Although we still haven’t visited the old town. On the way to a camping, which was supposed to be 6 km away, we and a French couple are offered a room for a price of a camping. Which is 5 euro. That’s how we stay on a peaceful outskirts of Ulcinj, in a village, far away from tourists.
And now we’re planning our journey to Albania, because we still don’t know much about this country. Oh, and almost everyone who we meet goes to Albania, especially hitchhikers. The Poles are almost storming this country. Usually - the young ones.
And now I want to say hallo to our travel companions – Dorota, Ania, Mariusz and Marcin, who got lost somewhere on the way And to Milena and Adama, who are probably in Albania now And for Alicja and Piotr, who help hitchhikers a lot and treat them with things they haven’t seen for a long time

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bye bye BiH, hello Montenegro! 01-06.08.2009

Or how long-awaited Montenegro disappointed me and how I came to like Bosnia and Hercegovina...

We hitchhiked to Mostar from Sarajevo with a very friendly driver. He kept on joking a lot, said that Bosnians have usually no sense of humour, rather a black humour. Then he invited us to a cup of coffee, talked about his job (he’s an “ecological policeman”, there’s no job like that in Poland, but surely there’s in Germany) and various nuances from every day life in his country.
And Mostar is attractive, of course. Unfortunately, it’s already attacked by tourists. The old town – especially the bridge from 16th century, damaged during the previous war, and then rebuilt according to the ancient techniques – it attracts crowds of travelers, especially coaches heading to Medjugorie. We spent only 1 day in the city, admiring the omnipresent contrasts. Outside the old town the charms of the city disappear and a new landscape appears: neglected streets, buildings damaged during the war, beauty interlaced with ugliness. Mostar and other cities in the country remind me of the Indian chaos. But we run away quickly from the place and headed to Montenegro, expecting to see even more unusual things...
Unfortunately, Montenegro is like Croatia ten years ago… Oh, and talking about Croatia: we stayed there for one night in an extremely expensive city of Dubrovnik. I went there about 10 years ago and already then the prices were just crazy. Now the city is under the siege of tourists from around the world. Well, maybe it is beautiful, the white walls look quite good, and the harbour by night is quite amazing, but the mass tourism is definitely not for me. So again we run away after 1 day. Oh, and we met an Italian couple, who was also looking for an accommodation. Finally, we stayed all together in an apartment for 4 people, because there was no camping in the city.

And it turned out that leaving the city is not easy at all. Looking for a good place to stand, we walked up the road about 3 kilometers. Finally, a man with a son took us to the nearest town and left us near a shop. Then, we went few kilometers with a Croatian, a road-worker. The next driver gave us a lift to a place near an airport and then a car of diplomatic corps stopped for us. Thus we reached Montenegro with a Slovakian, who works in embassy in Podgorica.
Finally, we arrived to Hercegnovi, or to be precise – to Igalo, because that’s where a camping is. And here we were quite shocked. Crowds of tourists. Camping – a poor image of Poland from 1970s with huge tents, camp kitchens etc. Outside the camping – commercialism at every step, a lot of Montenegrians, few foreigners. But all in all – it was just too much. And camping was quite shoddy, in fact we had to share it with… chickens  We met there also four nice Poles (Ania, Dorota, Mariusz, Marcin), who then went with us to the next camping in Lepetane. But before it happened, we managed to visit the old town of Hercegnovi, full of narrow streets and old churches. We went to Kemenari, and then to the camping in Lepetane by ferry (which was free for pedestrians). This time the conditions were much better. Instead of a shower without light and hot water we had a coeducational bathroom with two showers without curtains or doors. But it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that there was water. Hot water And under these circumstances we experienced the first rain and first storm in the Balkans. Even our drivers claimed they’re surprised that it rains.

We also visited Kotor – a students’ town, where a carnival is celebrated in summer and winter. The old town is charming indeed, but the crowds of tourists really discourage. (yes, I know, I said that already). We went to few cafes, walked past nice narrow streets, went to the places where there are no tourists, but a bunch of cats and nice nooks and crannies appear…
And soon we hitchhiked to the next town, Boreti. With a friendly driver (well, who was not friendly? the fact that they stop makes them already friendly…), who claimed that a family business is the best business. He used to be a sailor, he came to Poland, where a lot of girls asked him to help them get out of the country. And it was over 20 years ago. He also complained that foreigners and people from the previous Yugoslavia make a huge mess in Montenegro, that Budva – a city close to our camping – is world-famous (Madonna and Rolling Stones had a concert there, this year Tina Turner is supposed to come) but it’s very crowded. There are no parking loots, beaches are overcrowded, and there are just too many people during the high season. Soon, when we went on an evening walk to Budva, we experienced that as well. I couldn’t even take a photo, because everywhere huge groups of people appeared (I think it’s the best to go to a beach in the evening and explore a city in the morning… ). I couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the narrow streets and the old town neither, because it was impossible to walk and look around and see anything… We went quickly through the streets with tacky stalls, funfairs, circus and other commercial “money-exploiters’ and soon we arrived to our peaceful camping…

Oh, and we also hitchhiked to a town called Sveti Stefan. Admired in all the tourists guides because of the island, which hosts a castle. But it was closed. Well, maybe it is charming, but not as attractive as I though it might be. Then we cooled down in the sea and decided to go through Montenegro as quickly as possible and visit Albania and then Bosnia again. But before it happened we also hitchhiked to a town called Perast. It boasts the staggering number of 600 dwellers and is quite interesting. It spreads along one main street, near the harbour. Perast attracts may tourists, though these are not wild crowds anymore. We crossed the calm streets of the town, admired the landscape with the sea and wonderful mountains and then we hitchhiked to the next place…

Friday, July 31, 2009

from Banja Luka to Sarajevo

We`re really lucky. And we`re in Sarajevo now:)
But first things first.
So, Banja Luka doesn`t offer many tourist attractions, but it`s a nice city anyway. It boasts the ruins of the castle (now there`s a restaurant and playground), huge market place, damaged mosque, colorful orthodox church and a dirty river. Oh, and some parks, many cafes ans other places where the time slows down. It was quite interesting to watch how people spend their free time, we met e.g. a group of drum players who went through the city, dancing and playing nice music and attracting a huge audience.
After 2 days we hitchhiked to Sarajevo, which wasn`t as easy as we thought it might be. We were waiting quite long for a car, because there was no proper place to stand on the road. Finally, we were lucky enough and a mercedes driver took as straight to Sarajevo. More than 200 km. He was really nice to us - talked about his family, his club in Banja Luka, villages that we went through, the nobel prize winner from Travnik and how complicated his country is. He had to take part in the war, now he believes that media show Serbs as bad people, although it is not truth. He called mosques the factories of pencils, invited us to a cup of coffe and gave us a very detailed map of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although his English wasn`t good at all, we understood each other quite well. Well, mainly because our languages are quite similar.

We found a very nice camping in Sarajevo, 10 minutes away from the centre, on a hill, where all the streets and houses look almost the same.
And I really fell in love with the old town of Sarajevo - with its narrow streets, stands with carpets, cooper tools, clothes, souvenirs, peacfeull cafes and restaurant, mosques and fountains with drinkable water. It`s a city of temples, of various religions, it differs much from Banja Luka, mainly because it`a a muslim part of the country. But outside the old town it`s not so charming anymore. Old buildings with signs of bullets from the war, few damaged cars, poor districts... But I like it anyway. And I will miss it.

Tomorrow we`re heading to Mostar and then to Montengero. I hope we won`t wait long for a car to take us...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


5 days, 35 cars, about 1500 km... Yeah!! I've hitchhiked to Bosnia!!! To Banja Luka.
And I must say I love hitchhiking:)Because of its ups and downs:) I've met many nice and helpful people, experienced many happy and difficult situations, never planned anything, everything was quite spontaneous and all in all it was just great!
I will describe all the details of our trip when I get back home, once I have enough time to do that, because there's so much to say:) Now I just wanna spread my joy and say that I've reached my destination:) Although it's not the end yet. Now it's time to visit Bosnia (Sarajevo, Mostar, some villages) and then I'm going to Montenegro. And I just want to say thank you!! To all the people who helped us on the way, who saved us in hopeless situations, who smiled to us, gave us hope, and talked about various things.

And one more thing. Once we've arrived to Bosnia, I feel I'm losing soemthing:) The way ist the aim, not the final destination. But soon we'll be on the way to Montenegro:)
Oh, and one more thing. Bosnia rules!!!We've never waited here for a car longer than 3 minutes:)
Ok, my time is up.
I'll describe more next time. Now I'm discovering Banja Luka, with its poor and splendorous sites, with friendly people and hot temperature.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Before the journey

And so it's happening! It's the first time when we (Michał and me) haven't changed our plan for the journey. The idea appeared in February, then it underwent further development and improvement, had its ups and downs but survived till holiday. It was only enriched in more countries. But to the point.
Michał's initial plan was: Montenegro!
I said: why not!
So we started to read about this beautiful country and prepared to the journey.
Then another idea appeared. We wanted to see Bosnia & Hercegovina, maybe also Croatia, Serbia and Albania. Finally our plan looks like that: we're setting off tonight. By train. To Michał's cottage house. We're going to relish the fresh fruit from the garden and relax before the intensive journey, surely full of surprises.
On Wednesday we're going - aha! I haven't mentioned the most important part, how we're getting there - so we're hitch-hiking in the direction of Bosnia & Hercegovina. (now a small remark: reactions to our hitch-hiking idea varied from: "cool! you must be brave" to: "no one's hitch-hiking nowadays anymore", "be careful”, "it must be dangerous" , "can't you go by train?”. We can. But everyone can go by train. Hitch-hiking is not for everyone. And we want to check how our far hitch-hiking journey will work out. Because till now I've only hitch-hiked over short distances. And yes, we'll be careful). And will see what happens. We'll see where we'll stop overnight (camping? private accommodation? in a wood?) we'll see where we get etc. In B&H we want to visit Mostar and some other cities and villages. Then we're going to Montenegro. And we plan to stay there quite a long time and visit many places. And after that we're going to Albania to see Shkoder. Maybe we'll manage to go to Tirana, as well, but I'm not sure if we have enough time for that. Because we're going to travel for about 5 weeks only.
And what's awaiting us? A 40-degree-heat, snow in the mountains, charming nooks and crannies of B&H, Albania and Montenegro that still haven't suffered from mass tourism, a lot of surprises and (I hope) nice meetings. And if we manage, we'll also go to Croatia and Serbia. Oh, and something more- we really want to experience the local colours of the countries, taste local specialities, spend a lot of time in cafe - or whatever they have there - and just relish the foreign culture.

Of course I'm going to keep my blog up to date and inform about our progress - if I find a net café. So it's time to get to work! It's time to do the worst part of each journey: packing...

And then - bye bye Poznań, bye bye Poland, welcome to the world of adventures!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Salzburg (22.11.08)

A cosy Mozart's town welcomed us with rain and said goodbye with snow.

We've just come back. Spent two days in Salzburg, but it was long enough to feel the unique atmosphere of the city...

First of all - Mozart. The city was totally full of him. And no wonder - the place attracts crowds of tourists mainly because of him. Walking down the main streets you can hear English very often, but many tourists from Asia come here as well. And Mozart... He was born here, lived here for a couple of years, played many concerts. You can visit his birthplace and a house where he lived. There's also Mozartplaz (Mozart square) with his statue, original Mozartkugel (Mozart balls – delicious sweets ) and the less original ones but most popular, omnipresent balls. Popular are also concerts of Mozart's music, played e.g. in the Hohensalzburg Castle and Residence.

The most sights are situated on the left bank of the Salzach river – the Old Town, City Hall, Cathedral, Mozart Square, Mozart's Birthplace, Franciscan Church, Monastery of St. Peter. Residence... Yes, we've been there. And not only there. Because the right bank of the river is also attractive: with Mirabell Castle surrounded by wonderful gardens, and with charming hills over the city. One of the hills is dominated by the Hohensalzburg Castle, the other - by the Capuchins Order and the next one is just a viewing terrace...

Salzburg was presenting its best parts very slowly. The narrow streets of the Old Town were dressed in yellow lights - stars and chains. A Christmas Market with a large Christmas Tree in the middle appeared near the Cathedral. There were also thousands of lights, stands with nice smelling punches, mulled wine, sausages, Christmas decorations, toys, clothes, pretzels...

Unfortunately, the first day was quite rainy, so the admiration of the city finished after few hours. We came back to our hostel (called Yoho) completely soaked. And talking about the hostel - it surprised us very positively. Although it was the cheapest one, it offered auch facilities as for example doors and locks locked wit a special card, tidy and attractive rooms, nice bathrooms (better as in our dormitory), bar, restaurant, Internet, TV-room, resting room... Most of the guests were from English speaking countries, having fun till the early morning hours and making a lot of noise...

By the time we got dry again, it was dark already. But the rain was over, so ... we went to Kapuzinerberg. It's a hill with the Capuchin Order. Probably it's totally crowded during a day, but the evening was the kingdom of calm and silent. And from the hill we saw a marvellous view on a illuminated city...

But the real charm of Salzburg appeared the day after. When the first snow fell! (Well, in fact that day almost the whole country experienced the first snowfall). The white fluff covered the hills and buildings, Christmas decoration gained on beauty and even the market looked much better. We visited the Hohensalzburg Castle and admired the view on the city from its top. Similar view presented the next hill – Monchsberg. We also popped into the Residence to see the magnificent rooms of Archbishops. We could also taste the local specialities - large pretzels and various punches. (My favourite taste is the baked apple with cream and cinnamon. The Vienna Market lacks it.)
Of course we visited also almost all the churches near the centre, because each is unique, historic, surprising...

In fact you could walk down the Salzburg streets without the end, especially in the nice Christmas & Winter atmosphere. Even Getreidegasse - extremely crowded street and full of shops - looked quite attractive. One day is definitely not enough, but in two days you're more than likely to delight the unique atmosphere of this popular city...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Leopoldsberg and Klosterneuburg (16.11.08)

The autumn is almost over, so it’s high time to make use of the nice weather and stroll a little bit around Vienna.

That’s why we went today in direction of Kahlenberg. The view – much more foggy than last time. But it was not our final destination. From the hill we walked through Wiener Wald to another huge hill, called Leopoldsberg. It’s as much as 425 m high and a wonderful view on the city spreads from its top. There’s also a small church devoted to Saint Leopold. The name of the hill comes from its saint patron.

Then we continued our stroll through the wood and winery till we got to a town Klosterneuburg, about 13 km form Vienna. It boasts an Augustinian monastery, built in 12th century. Later it was rebuilt in a baroque style. The small hill possesses plenty buildings, including a church, chapel with the tomb of St. Leopold and a museum. The ceiling of the chapel is decorated with frescos presenting the miracles of St. Leopold, the church is richly decorated, also with gold, and we didn’t manage to visit the museum.

There were crowds of people today near the monastery, because the day of St. Leopold, patron of Vienna was celebrated. That’s why there was also many stands and a fun fair near the monastery.

A huge pilgrimage came to the church – altar boys and girls and other people. The long procession of boys and girls dressed in albs lasted many minutes. The wind was blowing the white dresses, yellow walls of monastery were proudly soaking the sun rays, sounds of bells were spreading through the whole region…

Our walk finished in a small inn. Everyone (4 people)grabbed huge pieces of meat and I could chose only one vegetarian dish… Well, better this than nothing. At least out tradition of Austrian lunch/dinner was sustained.

Still Jaipur (01.03.08)

Jantar Mantar. We’ve been looking for it for a couple of minutes. It shouldn’t be far away from Hawa Mahal, according to the map. We’re asking a guide of Canadian trip to show us the way. Ok. Everything is clear. Now we’re passing few vendors and reaching Tripolia Gate. In this part of city is much calmer as in the centre. Well, instead of Jantar Mantar we’ve reached first City Palace Complex. 100 rupees. We’re watching it only from the outside: yellow walls, mosaics, a small cannon next to the main door. A lot of white tourists. We’re resting in the shade, near the entrance and the guard is keeping an eye on us all the time.
Finally, Jantar Mantar. We’re on the way. The Indian Kingdom of astronomy. The biggest and the best preserved among the other 4 Jantars. Wow. Strange buildings, yellow, pink, brown. A lot of information boards. First, we’re going by some yellow round „buildings” – Ram Yantra, which is used to calculate the azimuth. Then we’re noticing zodiac signs in form of triangle constructions, a sundial, measuring the time exact to 2 seconds, complicated tools to calculate the time of solar eclipse and the movements of planets. Stone, marble, the play of colours, crowds of people.
We’re hiding from the sun in the shade, on the grass, near the sundial. Yeah, it is amazing. So it seems that Jaipur can show its nicer face…
I’m wondering if its true, I mean the thing with the sunset. The pink city looks then extremely attractive. Well, let’s check it! We’re going to the main gate of the old city, sitting on a wall near a building opposite of the gate and watching, and waiting. And nothing happens. The sun sets and the colours are still more less the same. Where are all these tones of pink praised in a guidebook?! Or maybe we’ve chosen the wrong place? And we were supposed to see elephants and monkeys… Well, I’ve seen some monkeys but not as much to agree that Jaipur is the city of monkeys. And I still haven’t seen any elephant here.
!!! And here it comes! The elephant! Treading proudly down the main street, carrying 2 Indians on its back. They’re happy that we’re taking photos of them.
Maybe we really haven’t reached the most attractive, over-monkeyed, and over-elephanted and over-pinked parts of the city. Maybe. But anyway we spared a lot of time to let the city show us its overrated image.
We have a train after 10 p.m.. Finally we’ll get some rest and sleep. But at night there’s a real snoring concert. Each of the surrounding Indians is snoring in a different way, making various sounds. A huge dirty sleeping room, rushing through sleepy Rajasthan.

Christmas trees (11.01.09)

The Austrians are getting rid of their Christmas trees. Very often you can see them carrying a green still not withered tree and leaving them in a refuse damp. And the trees have a special place here. They're sorted as the other types of rubbish. So, a tree doesn't go straight to a bin, but is left near to the colourful containers for glass, plastic etc. But I still don't know what happens with them later. Are they taken with a special car to some special place or they're just laying all together till someone take them as fuel, for example... No idea. Anyway - there's less and less Christmas trees in Austrian houses.

Christmas trees (11.01.09)

The Austrians are getting rid of their Christmas trees. Very often you can see them carrying a green still not withered tree and leaving them in a refuse damp. And the trees have a special place here. They're sorted as the other types of rubbish. So, a tree doesn't go straight to a bin, but is left near to the colourful containers for glass, plastic etc. But I still don't know what happens with them later. Are they taken with a special car to some special place or they're just laying all together till someone take them as fuel, for example... No idea. Anyway - there's less and less Christmas trees in Austrian houses.

Museum of Art History (11.01.09)

We visited the other large museum today, the twin of Museum of Natural History. It's almost identical to its twin. The only difference is that it boasts another exhibits and another decoration.
And so again we spent inside about 3 hours, because it was impossible to stay there longer Although it would be useful to spare much more time on careful examination of each exhibit. Because there's a lot to examine. First, the rooms with mummies, statues, sarcophagus - Egypt in a nutshell. Then sculptures from ancient Greece and Roma. (Well, after visiting three different museums with exhibits from Egypt - in London, Berlin and Vienna - I feel that you can visit Egypt without leaving Europe I wonder if that what the founders of museums wanted to achieve or it's all because there's so many precious things in Egypt and they get rid of them so easily and sell to excited collectors...)

The ancient time is over on the ground floor and then on the next floor, the world of paintings begin. From the ancient times to 18th century. There's so many rooms that you just can't see the end of this huge labyrinth. But somehow I've managed to get through the meanders of art and viewed each painting. The most works were the ones of Rubens and Brueghel. Actually, there are most popular Brueghel's paintings, such as: "Tower of Babel", „Children's games”, „The hunters in the snow”, and many many others. I even met two painters that were copying the works of the master. They were standing with their easels in front of the works and painting... just like that. . And many people gathered around to watch them, comment, take a photo...
The last floor is a home of various coins, ranging from ancient times to 21st century The largest coin was devoted to Queen Elisabeth and was made of pure gold, worth about 1 million Euro. As long as I remember - there are only 4 such coins in the world.
And now few words about the decoration...Wow!

More? No problem: in each room there was a different ceiling with floral motives, sometiomes amazing sculptures were looking from behind a corner... And the main hall is just a master piece. Anyway, it's similar to the one in the Museum of Natural History - round ceiling, richly decorated steps, above - a painting, then richly decorated balconies, full of them various sculptures, marble, gold... Or something else that shines so nicely. Well, there's no point to talk about it, you just have to see it. At least on the photographs:)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Museum of Natural History (10.01.09)

It’s situated opposite the Museum of Art History. Both buildings were grounded in the Habsburg’s days, of course and both of them look amazing. You just don’t know what to admire – the abundance of exhibits or the splandourously decorated rooms.
We were visiting Naturhistorisches Museum (the original name) for about 3 hours, but it still wasn’t enough because the museum counts 39 large rooms, full of showcases. It’s just impossible to stay there longer, so not all the tiny stones, plants and animals were given the same amount of time. There are also rooms of minerals, meteorites, reconstruction of famous caves, prehistoric art, fossils, micro world under the microscopes, stuffed animals (which made me shiver) e.g. birds, fish, dinosaurs’ skeletons, tomb of prehistoric people… It’s about 20 million items…

But even without them the building is extremely attractive – the main hall boasts a huge painting on the ceiling, another paintings are on the walls, there’s also a lot of sculptures of famous people (e.g. Newton, Humboldt). The rooms are also magnificent – with abundance of sculptures, paintings, various decorations.
The most interesting seemed to me the model of earth seen from a satellite. It was revolving around presenting various views – the globe by night, in the day time, with ozone layer, snow cover, sea currents. Another fascinating item was a ‘time machine’ – with a turn of a wheel you could see the shape of the continents in the past and in the future. Oh, and the underwater rooms were quite attractive, as well. I also spent a lot of time in a room with microscopes, watching various tiny creatures, but don’t ask me about their names – neither German nor Latin captions were helpful here.

The museum possesses a separate room devoted to Venus of prehistoric people. There was e.g. Venus from Willendorf, which is already 25 000 years old and the reconstructions of excavations of various Venuses, presenting e.g. a position in which they were found.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Zlate Hory (23.08.08)

It's a very little town... First, the groove. Or to be precise: its reconstruction. A very picturesque area. Wooden mills on a hill, bridge, stream. It all resembles the Heroes:) Or a similar game:)

Gold was mined here till 18th century, now a lot of tools and machines have been rebuilt, to present how the precious resources were extracted. You can also become a gold-digger, rinsing water from a small container. And each year gold-digging competition are organised here. In 2010 the town will host the World Championship.

The main street of the town is decorated with colourful tenement houses, live revolves slowly around the place, in cafes and little restaurants. There are quite many tourists here, especially cyclists and climbers. No wonder. The area is sourrounded by wonderful cycling routes and trails.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pomezi caves and Petrikov (23.08.08)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Hindu temple, Roman thermes, Hercules' Club... to see all of this, it's enough to travel to one place only. To a cave in Lipove. A 50-minute-tour surprises step by step with bizarre shapes. Except the mentioned forms, there are also the Fakir Bed, Waterfall Made of Whipped Cream, Small Dog, Rococo Lady, Map of Jesenik with the Praded Mountain, Elephant's Ear, Curtain... There's also a small pond, where tourists throw coins. And a big human heart, which allegedly fulfils our dreams...

The guide said she speaks Polish, but in fact she was speaking a charming mix of the Czech and Polish language.

After the journey deep into the ground it was high time to travel towards the sky. With one word: Petrikov. There' a bobsleigh track in Zlote Hory, which is 800 meters long. First, a lift takes us up, then... plenty of turns through the wood at a high speed. It makes you keep coming back over and over again. So, it's better to buy a combined ticket for 5 drives.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jesenik (20.08.08)

About a sanatorium, calm town and the Adrenalin Park.

In fact, live revolves here around the sanatorium, which lies on a hill. There are the only shops open till late, and only there is something that might be called a crowd. It seems as if Jesenik was focused on tourism only. Hundreds of guesthouses and hotels stretch along the town. But it doesn’t strike me at all. There are magnificent mountains around the town, decent bicycles paths, charming landscape and health resorts, of course. The most popular one is called Sanatorium Priessnitz and was grounded in 19th century. It boasts a huge number of water healing procedures, some of them seem quite strange to me.

All in all, the place is worth visiting, even for a walk through picturesque little streets around the Sanatorium.

The centre of the town, however, is pretty calm. But it doesn’t lack attractive places. The town hall, church, old destroyed trains and… This is it.
The centre is a little more vibrant in the evening, when young party fans spring up.

And when you get bored with the sanatorium, mountains and cycling there’s still something extraordinary in the vicinity. The Adrenalin Park. The way to the Park is not marked well enough, so getting there might be a problem. But it’s worth visiting. Once you get to the place called Czeska Ves and find Ranco Orel (the Eagle Ranch) you’ll be able to increase your adrenalin level and have fun at the same time. There’s bungee jumping, line-sliding, paintball, quads race, and a small Wild West…

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Karlova Studanka (20.08.08)

Few words about the charming place.

It’s quite small and lies quite high above the sea level. It heals and attracts tourists. Boasts a great number of sanatoriums. It’s old, captivating and there’s a pump-room in the center. So I decide to try it. Well, the water stinks and doesn’t taste good , but it’s said to have healing properties. So I fill the whole bottle with it, although I’m afraid I won’t be able to drink it all.

The houses here are decorated with red flowers and the buildings present a variety of colours, shapes, materials... Nice.
And there’s a magnificent trail close to the town, but I’ve already described it in a previous post:)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

City hall (10.01.09)

Yesterday we finally visited the Vienna city hall.
There’s a free guided tour at 1 a.m. so we used this opportunity. Actually, I have already been to the city hall, because a reception for foreign students was organized there. But then I only managed to see the ball room and the corridor. What we saw now was even more outstanding…
First the conference room. Quite a small one but richly decorated. There’s a huge chandelier hanging on the ceiling, which weighs several hundred kilos, the walls are decorated with large paintings and windows covered with colourful stained glass.
The next stop was the large banquet room with emblems of all the Austrian Lands on the walls. When we came in, it was being decorated with flowers. And then we went to this part of the building that I already know from the previous visit. Columned hall, stairs with red carpet and finally the ball room. Again we could see people at work, preparing the room for the ball of sport journalists that was to take place in the evening. So the room was really impressive again.
The last room we visited was quite small, with old green fireplace and the paintings of all the previous mayors.

In fact the tour finished quite quickly and maybe the guide did talk about some interesting facts but I was so engrossed in taking photos that I didn’t really listen to her. Well, sometimes it was impossible, because she was speaking too quietly. Doesn’t really matter. Maybe I’ll go there once more and write something more exciting. Oh, and one more thing – the tower is closed for tourists, because it’s too narrow inside. The costs of building it were extremely high, but I don’t remember now how much it was. In fact, the whole building was very expensive - in 14th century the government spent 14 millions Guldens.

Friday, March 13, 2009

One play after another (15.12.08)

Vienna is a very musical, cultural and opera-full city, so one needs to take advanatge of it as often as possible.
We visit theatres and opera houses quite often and we dont't spend much money on that. Our secret? Well, the cheapest standing places cost even 1,5 euro.
We've been to the National Opera-House (Staatsoper) several times, in Volksoper – once only. Yesterday we went to Raimund Theater to watch a musical “Rebecca”, today we went to Burgtheater to see “Romeo and Juliet”, and on Friday we could finally see “The Magic Flute”. Wa also wanted to go to Volksoper on Saturday, but there were no tickets left.
So now I'll shortly describe the last three plays:
One word, so many emotions and meanings.
But now a little bit more precisely.
“The Magic Flute” was unfortunately played in German, which made it difficult to understand the plot fully. Thankfully, there are subtitles on a screen next to your seat, so I could read a little bit. But stil – it's better not to be destracted and watch the scene simply, because it was full of magic colours. Not only the music played a major role, but also the text, which contained many humorous remarks. The costumes can be only described as splendid and the plot as unexpected and riveting.
One of the protagonists – the Queen of the Night – was singing with a very high voice and I have never thought that one can sing so high...

„Rebecca” was also in German, but this time I understood almost everything. Because it's easier to follow a musical than a opera. Here the msot interesting thing were the special effects – burning scene that moved around or went down, so new platforms with props could appear (e.g. a bad with table). The scene was quite dynamic, the plot gripping, the decoration was a masterpiece – there was even a huge screen that presented a background to various scenes, e.g. underwater scene, fire, railway station. Well, it's impossible to describe it all, you simply have to see it. But it may be problematic, as the musical is played till the end of December only...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that also the actors were totally great. The featuring song is still in my head and I can't get out of it. The audience reacted enthusiasticly, there were even standing ovations:)

It seems that even so widely known play as “Romeo and Juliet” can surprise, amuse and amaze... All that happened in Burgtheater today was really beyond my expectations. I'll start with the decorations: fantastic. There was a real rain, waterfall with stones, moving scene, castles, a lot of blood, funny costumes of the main protagonists. It was humorous as well. Yes, h-u-m-o-r-o-u-s. And even - nudity. Romeo and Juliet suddenly appeared without clothes, although in darkness, but it was quite brave anyway. People covered with blood also came nakes on the scene at the end of the play. There was a strange woman floating around the scene all the time – as if she was a chore, death and narrator at the same time. Scream, tears and perfectly played madness was there as well, And at the end of the play the strange woman got the white huge wings, on which another scene was screened: Romeo and Juliet in 21th century. As always – it's difficult to describe it, you have to see it. It's a pity, that tha audience didn't react enthusiastically enough. The actors deserve much more, more applause, more ovation. But anyway. We're already planning to visit another theaters and we're going to a cinema tomorrow:)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crowds everywhere (14.12.08)

Christmas is coming... Which means: there are many people everywhere. Everywhere = shops, streets, the city centre.
In Mariahilferstrasse (the main shopping street in Vienna) people took over the place of cars, as it seems the pavements are not enough for them. Thankfully, the street is closed to the traffic on all the Saturdays in December. Shopping turned into a nightmare: it's almost impossible to enter the small ones, the queues are extremely long, suddenly everyone's realised that it's time to buy some presents. Or stock some food etc. for Christmas.
Thankfully, only some days are that awful and the worse are the Saturdays.
Coming back to the crowds: less christmasy, but equally crowded was our Studenthouse last Friday. There was the biggest party of the year. The whole building turned into a disco, with different music on each floor (rock, house, the 70, 80, reggae, latino, techno...), dining rooms changed into dancing floors, kitchens into a bar and most people stayed in the corridors and staircases. On the most crowded floors (e.g. the 8th with rock music) you had to use your elbows and be a little aggressive to get through the corridor. Great number of students was constantly changing direction, moving between the floors, kitchens and dining rooms became soon very smoky and hot glasshouses, beer cans were lying about the floors. About one o'clock the music went suddenly silent. The police came, which didn't surprise me at all, because that happens quite often recently. But the most resistant ones had a (silent) party till 6 a.m. anyway. Well, why not...
And after the party... It's no use talking about it. I have never seen such a big mess before. Black sticky floors, beer cans everywhere, black kitchen... Rubbish near the entrance, in the lifts, in the porter's lodge... Yeah, students are able to do everything. Thankfully, no one waited till Monday, when the cleaners come and the big cleaning action begun in the morning. After few hours our floor was quite shiny again.

Globenmuseum (12.12.08)

The Museum of Globes is yet another strange and interesting collection. It is the part of the National Library (Nationalbiliothek) and presents various globes and many multimedia exhibitions.
How the globe looks like – everyone knows... Well, not really. It turns out that the production of globes is quite a complicated process, there are various kinds of globes and their models have been changed throughout the years.
The oldest items are dated back to 15th century and the most interesting ones present the globes of a starlit sky, globes of the Moon, Venus, Mars and Jupiter, pocket globes, umbrella-like globes, extremely old globes...
There are also some huge artistic globes, the ones presenting various illustration rather than the exact model of the Earth, there are also small metal models with a ball, mirror and a candle that present how the Earth revolves around the Sun, and there's also a similar model illustrating the movement of planets in our Solar System.
All these attractions are jammed in three rooms only, accompanied by plenty depictions, descriptions, posters. The screen in the first room presents how the globe turns into a map and a map into a globe. And opposite there are 3 screens informing about the production, history and the types of globes.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Clock Museum 12.12.08

There's plenty of small, strange museums in Vienna. One of them is the Clock Museum, which is situated near the centre in one of the oldest buildings in the city.

It boasts a collection of 21 thousand various clocks and watches presented chronologically. So, in the first floor there are items from 15th to 17th century. The oldest clocks are dated back to the end of the 15th century and were originally tower clocks. The second floor presents items form 18th and 19th century, and the third floor shows the most recent ones.
The clocks appear in various forms – standing, hanging, hidden in a painting (e.g. as a real clock on a painted church tower), pocket watches, wrist watches, sundials, artistic clocks, astronomic clocks (they show weekdays, times of year, months, the length of a day, moon phase, zodiac signs...). Some items were decorated with gold, precious wood, surprising paintings and strange elements and most of them didn't work at all. But when 12 struck, all the old standing masters started to boast and shout out at the top of their voice...
And the best thing was that the museum was almost completely empty. There might have been about six people only. And it seems it's always like that – silent and calm. You can hear the time passing by, making its soft steps, treading softly on a colourful and surprising ground...

Friday, February 13, 2009


The most difficult task is to describe and photograph the place you live in. That's why I present Poznań just now. Well, I'll become silent, let the pictures tell their story...

The Market Square:

Around the Market:


More pics in the album "Poznań".

Donauturm (11.12.08)

On Sunday I went to Donauturm again. It’s a 200-meter-high tower with a viewing point.
There’s a restaurant and several viewing terraces on the top. This time I wanted to watch the sunset, actually, the last phase. The proper sunset begun on the way to Donauturm: the sky became purple, orange and pink rays reflected in the high buildings made of glass... A colourful show in the deserted area.

From the top we saw the city falling into a sleep. More and more dots on the dark map of Vienna became illuminated. The pink aura was hidding behind the horizon. And just a few people saw this magnificent silent performance.

Ernst Happel’s Stadium (11.12.08)

That’s were the Polish team played football games with Austria during the Euro 2008.

I thought visitors were allowed inside. Unfortunately, I was wrong. It seems no one has come up with the idea of letting tourists look around the place. Well, never mind. I looked at it through the tiny gates and walked around it. One day I’ll go there as a football fun.

And one more thing – there’s a board devoted to Ernst Happel by the main entrance and all the posts are decorated with the names of countries that played at Euro. Poland is quite close to the entrance, so it’s easy to notice it.
I must admit that the stadium is very easily accessible. Metro leads almost to the main gate. “Almost” means about 200 meters...

Interesting things (10.12.08)

Days pass very quickly and merge with one another. I even don’t remember when, but I did it: discovered new attractive places.


It’s a metro station, built by the old gate of the city, which was called Stubentor. The gate was a part of the city walls, constructed in 12th century. Now it’s one of the walls by the entry to metro station.

The museum of trams
Unfortunately, it’s only opened from May to October, so our Sunday trip was in vain. But the museum seems quite interesting from the outside.

And we discovered some new Christmas Markets. One on Spittelberg (very cosy, stretches along a narrow cobbled street), the other one next to the Belvedere (nicely illuminated) and a small one on the square am Hoff. It’s not as impressing as the market by the Rathaus, but at least it’s less crowded.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fleischmarkt (10.12.08)

One day I discovered a very charming little street. Fleischmarkt.
And there was a richly decorated Orthodox Church. It’s quite dark inside, with burning thin candles, the Saints looking down from the ceiling. From the paintings, I mean. A lot of colours... and a peaceful, serene atmosphere... I think it was the first time I’ve been to the Orthodox Church...

There’s a historic house with an old tower nearby, and a strange figure dangles above a narrow street...

And a few hundred meters further a Unist’s Church emerges. But I could visit it only through a glass door.

Albertina (04.12.08)

It’s third time lucky, they say. That’s what we thought on the way to Albertina. Unfortunately, this time the queue was too long, again. So we went there this morning.
The queue was still quite long, but we waited about half an hour only..
Albertina has been under a great siege recently. And it’s all because of the Van Gogh’s exhibition, which is open only until the 8th of December. So people from around the city (and the country and world ) come here. Everyone wants to see the works of the Master – schools, tourists, the young ones, elderly, everyone..
It’s easy to guess – viewing paintings, even the most wonderful, becomes a difficult task when you have to get through the crowds of people, looking for a tiny space, just to read the caption on a little piece of paper. But somehow I’ve survived. Van Gogh’s paintings and sketches are placed in several rooms, in a chronological order. So, first there were “the dark times” – workers performing some exhausting tasks, dark colours. Then more and more colours appear, a lot of landscapes, fields covered with grain, trees, gardens and golden paths. There are more and more people on the canvasses, including the artist itself. Unfortunately, there were no sunflowers. Pity.
Oh, and one more thing. I forgot to mention what Albertina really is. It’s a museum, situated in the palace of Prince Albert Casimir August of Saxony, Duke of Teschen. It contains 65 thousands works from various times, including Kokoska, Michelangelo, Monet, Picasso, Rubens, Da Vinci, Bruegel... Plus, one entire floor is devoted to the modern artists.

There are also large ceremonial rooms in Albertina, designed for the Habsburgs. Because they finally got the building in their power in 1919. So, it was the next time that we could see how modestly the Habsburgs lived... with all the painting, chandeliers with jewels, golden decoration, velvet clothes on the walls...
We spent about 3 hours in the museum and I’ve noticed that only the Van Gogh’s exhibition was so extremely crowded. As if the visitors didn’t want or didn’t know how to discover the secrets of another floors...
I was surprised to see a lot of groups of small kids. They weren’t bored at all. The guides talked about paintings in a very interesting way, organising some competitions, asking riddles and generally it was very... interactive...

The first metro party in Vienna (3.12.08)

It took place yesterday, on the line 6.
It was advertised on facebook, the news spread quickly and at 11.04 p.m. a few hundred amused students met on the metro station and got into the last two coaches.
The driver didn’t object us having a party, nobody called police and for 36 minutes the coaches were incredibly jammed. There was an excess of everything – cry, noise, singing, alcohol, laugh...
It was as crowded as in an Indian bus or Mumbai suburban train or in a fast tram in Poznań early in the morning. And as noisy and joyful as in a tram full of Lech’s fans (in Poznań). Everyone was singing, knocking at the ceiling, jumping. But we behaved quite well, all in all:) A lot of photos were taken, passengers on the stations were rubbing their eyes in disbelief, smiling at us, taking photos of a dancing train. When the train arrived at the last station, we started clapping our hands, saying thank you to the driver. But the party wasn’t over yet. Most of us had to take the same train back to get back home or to the center. So this time the last coach transformed into a smaller, more peaceful party room.
Luckily – or unluckily – I didn’t have my camera with me. Luckily – because it might have been squeezed or spilled with a drink. Unluckily- because I don’t have my own pics now...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Titra (03.12.08)

Instead of subtitling classes we had a short trip yesterday. We visited Titra, a subtitling firm. It’s said to be the most popular and the best one in Austria. So I expected huge rooms and crowds of employees, but it turned out that Titra is all about huge machines, several people, small rooms and cooperating translators.
Titra creates mainly German, English and French subtitles, but there are few exceptions. First, a translator gets a film and a dialogue list with suited frames. When the subtitles are ready, the spotting begins, done by someone else. Other firms choose a different strategy: translators do both spotting and subtitling.
There is a separate room for translation quality check, and a separate for spotting quality check. When everything is done, huge machines burn subtitles on reels. And each film is usually split into several reels, e.g. 6.
The machines produce strange smell and a lot of heat. And it’s said that one such machine costs about 2 000 euro.

The Treasury (30.11.08)

Again we failed to visit Albertina. The queue was even longer than last week, so we didn’t want to waste our time. We decided to come back here during the week and we went to The Treasury in Hofburg.
That’s where the imperial jewelers, clothes, relics and various religious items are presented. To the most attractive items belongs the crone of the Caesar, accompanied by the scepter and orb. Very interesting is also a cradle of Napoleon, treasures of princes of Burgundy, relics with thorns from the Christ’s crone and a piece of His cross.
All the rooms were poorly lit but the items placed behind glass were quite good visible. The walls were decorated with paintings of the imperial family or illustrating Caesar’s coronation. There were also knights’ clothes, Caesar’s coat, a lot of candlesticks, crosses, chasubles...
All in all, I must admit that the Treasury is overpriced (7,5 e), but if you want to take a short trip into the abundant past that’s the proper place. Shiny jewels and gold sparkle on the crones, velvet glitters on the clothes and richly decorated swards are deep in hibernation...
And when we left the Treasury we came up with a new Sunday-tradition: Austrian dessert instead of Austrian dinner:) We went to Starbucks to make use of or last discount voucher. Latte with toffee and nuts and the croissant bought in Anker perfectly suited the atmosphere of lazy, serene Sunday....
It was the next time that I’ve discovered that Vienna really is beautiful. That it is ideal for short and long walks, even when it’s full of tourists...

UNO (28.11.08)

Vienna is one of four cities that houses the office of UN. You can visit it only with a group (minimum 10 people). So, we went there with our friends .

Our guide, from RPA, started the tour in a big hall decorated with 193 flags. There he told us about the main responsibilities of UN (human rights protection, environmental protection, striving for peace) and about the countries that belong to the UN (192 + Vatican that expresses its opinion only about the issue of nuclear power). Then we went through a X-ray check in, as in the airport, and finally we entered the extraterritorial zone. Unfortunately, we were shown only few rooms. The first one was the conference hall ,where we were told how the UN strives for equity in every respect, even when it comes to the seats order. So, normally it’s an alphabetic order, but the representatives of the particular country take one seat further to the right at the beginning of new session. Otherwise, Afghanistan would be always seated as the first one and Zimbabwe would be always at the end...

The hall is equipped in 8 cabins for simultaneous interpreters. The languages appear in alphabetic order: Arabian, Chinese, English, German, Russian, Spanish. Last two cabins are reserved for representatives who wish to have their own interpreter of their language. But they use this possibility very rarely.
When the big story finished we began quite a long photo session. Everyone wanted to have a picture on a chairman’s seat.
At the end we headed downstairs, to the ground floor, where a model of UNO stands. And there we heard another interesting details, e.g. that the building belongs to Austria but UN pays for the rental symbolic 7 cents each year. And Austria earn around 4 millions euro per year thanks to the UNO.

Recently, a new UN conference center was opened here. It’s very modern and, for example, when you leave the room and enter the toilet, the air-condition starts working and thus the costs of energy usage are reduced. The first meetings are planned for January, and the visitor will be able to enter the building few months later.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ice-skating (28.11.08)

Two days ago we went to the ice rink, a few metro stations from our place. It’s cheaper in the evening, so more people come there. The ticket is 3 euro, and skates rental– 4 euro. And if you want to leave your staff in a cloakroom, you need to spend one euro more...
The ice rink is situated outside and resembles the one in Poznań, with one exception: there’s a stall with hot drinks on the rink. And everyone’s skating around in one direction only. There’s good music, though, and you can also admire the professional hockey players on the rink nearby. Now and then a red cleaning machine appears and cleans the ice. And everything would be just fine if there was no cold wind, blowing in my face...
In January a new temporary rink will be build near the City Hall. That must be cool! I can’t wait to skate there:)

Registered (28.11.08)

In October we had to register in the district office, and then, during next three months we had to do the same in the main Registration Office. And this time all the formalities cost 30 euro.
The process of registration didn’t take much, but I had to wait very long in a queue. So, first you get a number (mine was 74), then take a lift to the proper floor (mine was 6th) and then all you need to do is to wait, wait, wait... In the meantime you can, or actually – should, copy all the attachments to the application. That means: confirmation that I’m a student, proof of sufficient financial means, registration from the previous office, ID and European Health Insurance. And then you keep on waiting. Finally, the proper number appears on the table and you can enter the room. Oh, yes, and then a short walk to the cash point and back again with the confirmation of the payment. One stamp, signature and... I can stay here for ever:)

Punsch (20.11.08)

So it happens that at the Xmas Markets Punsch plays the leading role...

It is more less the same as mulled wine. But a little bit more like a stewed fuit mixed with alcohol, served hot. It can be found in several tastes: strawberry, cherry, rapsberry, blueberry... And it’s about 3 euros + deposit for a cup. The best part is that you can keep the nicely deocrated Xmas cup, often with the name of the Market written on it, as a nice souvenir.

The Punsch tastes really good, so far I’ve drunk only the cherry one.
Near the Punsch stalls there is always a lot of people, drinking, talking, savouring the taste...

Leopoldsberg and Klosterneuburg (16.11.08)

The automn is almost over, so it’s high time to make the most of the nice weather and hike around Vienna.

That’s why we went to Kahlenberg today. The view from the top was more foggy than last time, but it was just the begining of our trip. After a while we headed towards the Leopoldsberg through Wiener Wald. The hill is only 425 meters above the sea and on the top you can admire a nice view of the city. There’s also a small church devoted to Saint Leopold – and that’s the reason why the mountain is called Leopoldsberg.

Walking through the wood and vineyard we finally reached a village Klosterneuburg, situated 13 km from Vienna. It’s famous of the Augustinian Monastery, built in 12th century. There are many rooms inside, including a church, chapel with the grave of St. Leopold and a museum. The ceiling has been decorated with frescos depicting the miracles performed by the Saint and the church is richly decorated, e.g. with gold. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to enter the museum. There were a lot of people near the monastery today, because the day of St. Leopold, the patron of Vienna was celebrated.

And just e few steps from the monastery emerged quite a big market with a small fun fair, not as attractive as the one near the City Hall.
Many people visited the church today, the mass started with a long procession: altar boys and servers dressed in long albs, the wind was blowing in their white clothes, the yellow walls of the monastery were proudly reflecting the sun, the sound of the bells spread across the land..

Our trip finished in a small inn. Almost everyone (4 people) grabbed some meat and I had to order the only one vegetarian meal. Better this than nothing. At least our sunday-austrian-dinner tradition was sustained.