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After `Us Europeans`

Posted 29 June 2008 - Szczecin (PL):

Many of the people I speak to are interested in what I did before leaving on this trip and even more so: what I will be doing next. I paid some reflections to that in today`s posting at Us Europeans. Photo: cross road in Szczecin. I like the green colour of the Polish traffic signs and the different `A` they use.

(© Szczecin - PL, June 2008)
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Radio part 2

Posted 29 June 2008 - Szczecin (PL):

Hello from Szczecin which is my last stop in Poland. I will be moving to Germany by tomorrow morning. I considered getting to Berlin before tonight and watch the football final but finally decided not to. Don`t feel like all the hassle. It would probably have been difficult to find a place to sleep, and I already predicted the wrong final so.. whatever.

For anybody who listened to the interview I posted yesterday, there were actually two versions of it although they were based on the same conversation. Here`s number two which deals with how conservative Polish people are, what stereotypes about Poles exist in other countries and how I personally see Poles. About the stereotypes, I say that Dutch people think that all Polish men must be plumbers who can`t wait to move to The Netherlands to find a job, that they drink a lot and are often thought of as aggressive.

About how I personally see Poles, I say something about how all the women pay a lot of attention to their looks, while the Polish men often try to impress by giving very firm handshakes. I am not a fan of weak handshakes myself, but the way some Polish men do it is another extreme. The way the hands meet is explosive enough to almost apart the piece of skin between thumb and index finger. I also said that many things in Poland are the way they are because people are trying to impress each other to the point that it sometimes touches on intimidations. I see the handshakes and the high-heeled ladies as interesting expressions of this phenomenon.

(© Gdansk - PL, June 2008)
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My Europejczycy

Posted 28 June 2008 - Szczecin (PL):

Some media attention for Us Europeans in Poland. As shown in below photo, newspaper Dziennik printed my entire itinerary, opinion about Polish people and even (below main article) some of my `learning experiences` in the first 15 countries, literally translated from earlier posting on this website. Polish Express, an international Polish newspaper also dedicated an article to Us Europeans, and so did Polish national news radio Tok FM. Here`s the audio file. Mind the Lektor, it`s quite a big phenomenon in Poland. For TV as much as for radio.

Rough translation of the conversation: Poland is a nice country for my project because people have very outspoken opinions about things. After that, it`s about how all the girls are very feminine and the guys very masculine. The lady summarises that I like Polish food and the Polish hospitality, and that I think the Polish people are nice to me, much nicer than they are among themselves. Strange sound of the end is me trying to explain what I hear when I walk into a Polish post office: lots of people who are very fanatic about stamping documents. At the end, the voice-over kindly refers listeners to my website My Europejczycy, Polish for `Us Europeans`.

(© Gdansk - PL, June 2008)
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Home 1000km from Home

Posted 27 June 2008 - Gdansk (PL):

Some parts of Poland look surprisingly similar to my home country The Netherlands. Below image shows a part of the city centre of Gdansk, which had its Golden Age in the same time as Amsterdam. Architecture shows.

(© Gdansk - PL, June 2008)
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Find them all

Posted 26 June 2008 - Torun (PL):

Hard to imagine that there are actually more then 20 identifiable people in this photograph. I only found out when I processed the photo :) and I guess it`s now too small to find all 20. But whoever wants: feel free to try.

(© Torun - PL, June 2008)
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Warsaw visit nr 6

Posted 25 June 2008 - Warsaw (PL):

Here`s a quick word from Warsaw where the sun is shining abundantly as you can see in below photo. It`s nice to be here again, exactly one year after my last visit. Last year, I was staying on the 38th floor of the Marriott Hotel, this year, it`s the first floor of Oki Doki Hostel. Unterschied muss sein. I won`t stick around for long and will hear for Torun in the afternoon, to Gdansk tomorrow, to Szczecin on Friday and then onwards to my favourite-ever Germany on Sunday. Will be interesting to see Germany and Russia compete in the Euro 2008 final, am hoping for some small parties.

Other good news from Warsaw: last night I met up with Natalia whom I first met in the Polish Tatra mountains in 2002. Her photo will appear along with yesterday`s Us Europeans article which I still have to write.. It will be about what was in the Polish newspaper Dziennik yesterday, and one page of that was dedicated to... Us Europeans! I`m very happy about that, also because it was the newspaper contacting me instead of me having to send 20 requests and getting no positive replies whatsoever. The article also led to a radio interview which was held this morning and will be on Polish radio later today. I will probably get the audio file sent by e-mail and will post it on DailyPhoto when I get it.

That`s all from Poland`s capital. Hasta luego!

(© Warsaw - PL, June 2008)
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Very simple unfortunately

Posted 21 June 2008 - Wroclaw (PL):

The longest day of the year was not a good day for the Orange team, which got sent home by Russia. Well, they are easily for given thanks to the way they played. That is: the way The Netherlands should have played, and did play in the match against Italy.

Anyway, time to concentrate back on the Us Europeans project. I have some delays to make up for and some newspapers to write back to. I must say I get pretty offended receiving messages like this one: Het is helaas heel simpel: op de nieuwspagina's van buitenland schrijven we geen artikeltjes alleen om lezers te wijzen op interessante websites, hoe leuk ook., which sort of translates into: `It`s very simple unfortunately. We do not use the international pages of our newspaper to write about interesting websites, no matter how `fun` they are.` In other words: go fuck yourself and don`t think you`re any good.

OK, deal. We`ll see who laughs last. I only know one message that starts with `it is simple` and this is how it runs: Voici mon sécret. Il est trčs simple. On ne voit bien qu`avec le coeur. L`essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. If it`s my task to explain people about boas eating elephants, so be it.

Photo: the old Polish pope who is the only remaining national comtemporary hero now that some political activists are claiming that the leader of the Polish opposition under communism was actually an active secret agent. Will find out more about that when I get to Warsaw and especially Gdansk in the next couple of days.

(© Wroclaw - PL, June 2008)
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2002 memories, part II

Posted 20 June 2008 - Wroclaw (PL):

.. [la suite] The weather got much worse and we started running to find our way of the forest. It may be worth mentioning that a Dutch forest is something completely different from a Polish one. A Dutch forest measured along Polish standards would qualify it as a large, well-organised city park, with well preserved paths and fences that do not allow for any trespassing. This Polish forest took only a few square millimeters on our car map of Poland, but there seemed no end to it in reality. Scared by thunder and lightning, which got closer and closer, we started running in what we hoped to be the right direction. Unfortunately, there were no paths leading in what I though to be the right direction. We just had to head somewhere and hope that the end of the thunderstorm would come soon. But it didn`t..

We ran along corn fields and eventually found our way out of the forest. It was by then time to look for some shelter, which we found about one kilometer away from the forest. We ran towards what we found out to be some dam in the middle of a meadow. We couldn`t figure out why somebody would put such a construction in a place that barely had any serious water around it. Anyway, what mattered was that we found somewhere to wait until the storm was over. We met two fellow walkers and spent about an hour before the rain was gone.

We then had another 20 kilometers to cover and some injuries were waiting to emerge. We were thinking of taking a bus to cover the remaining part of the journey, but there were no busses so we continued walking. When we finally got to the very extreme end of Wroclaw, we did find bus stops, although we had by then decided that we would walk all the way. At a quarter to nine in the evening, we managed to reach Wroclaw`s central station. All the time, we had kept on moving, which slowly changed into something that`s different from walking. During the final kilometers of the `randonnée`, our feet and legs hurt so much that we could barely put one foot in front of the other. We stumbled our way to the youth hostel, only to find out that we had five minutes left before they would lock down the place. No time to go to a shop, so I ended up becoming friends with a fellow guest and eating all his cookies. The next morning, we went straight to McDonalds, which was the only place where we could get food at that time of the day.

The entire walk took us 13 hours for 60 kilometers, with one hour of break for meteorological reasons. Never before had I walked such a distance and I don`t think I will soon do it again. Just like I don`t count on leaving for another `Us Europeans` trip. This is a once-in-a-lifetime project and, no matter how much I am enjoying it, I will be satisfied and happy when it`s over. I do like how mental strength can make you do things that seem impossible or at the least unlikely.

The good thing about keeping a blog is that you can easily look up when things happened and where. As I wrote yesterday, 2002 was the first year of me writing posts like this. Below is the entry that I wrote a few days after the described walk. And below that is a photo of my first two Polish friends whom I also met in 2002 but before actually leaving for Poland. Kasia is on the left, Gosia is on the right. They both live in Wroclaw and I am happy to have seen them again.

Some words from Brzeg, two weeks after we arrived here. The first one-and-a-half week, we worked really hard to remove the wall cover. Apparently, they supposed it would take us all three weeks to get that done, because we only got some dumb work to do afterwards.

Last weekend, we all went to Krakow. This weekend, everybody went his/her own way. Bas went to Krakow, Martijn to Prague, Petra to whatever place somewhere I do not know. David stayed in the childrens' home and Frederik and I walked from here to Wroclaw, which took us 13 hours.. I got pretty scared when we got lost in a forest with a thunderstorm on the way :-( We runned like madmen and then found something in brick to wait until the weather got somewhat better. The last 20 kilometers were a real nightmare. When we arrived in Wroclaw, people kept looking at us to find out why we were walking so clumsy, but at some point, your legs just won't work anymore. Some body parts still hurt today, but it was worth the effort. I really feel I have gotten a better impression of Polish life; seeing all those small villages and the way people live there. I took some pictures, but you will have to wait until September before you get a chance to see them. Hasta mas tarde!

(© Wroclaw - PL, June 20008)
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2002 memories, part I

Posted 19 June 2008 - Wroclaw (PL):

Taking the train from Katowice to Wroclaw this morning was like watching the re-run of an old film. In my head at least. It took me back to the year 2002 which was one of the most interesting years of my life so far. It was in 2002 when I had my first grown-up job and also the first time I had to take the grown-up decision to resign from it before the end of the first year. It was the year of my first big international travel, together with Bas to Poland and Romania. 2002 brought many international friendships and most of them have survived the past 6 years. It was also the first year of me blogging although I had never heard of the word. I just called it `Flossekakken Travel news`.

Back in 2002, Bas, myself and four others spent three weeks working in the children`s home in Brzeg. Today, Brzeg was the last stop on the way to Wroclaw, but I remember quite well how it also was the starting point of a journey back then. Belgian Frederic came up with the idea to walk to Wroclaw on one of the free Saturdays. Nobody could be bothered to join, but I liked the idea and so we went. We started at 6 in the morning and prepared for quite a decent walk. All we knew was that the distance by railroad was 42 kilometers, and that we could not get lost if we kept hold of either the Odra river or the railroad, which both led to Wroclaw. It was a hot day in early July. Fred had just gone to a Polish hairdresser to shave off all his hair, just like I had done the week before. We were both wearing hats, for as much as it matters, and we bravely stepped away the early morning hours. The landscape was mostly flat and green and we past about one village per hour. Some villages had an entrance and an exit, just fences, but it felt like walking through some kind of reserve.

Everyting went quite alright until the moment we entered the forest. It had just started to rain and it looked like worse weather was on the way. Against all proper scouting guidelines, we still decided to get into the forest but when a thunderstorm broke lose, I started getting pretty nervous. We did not know how long the forest would last and how much worse the weather would get. [… to be continued …]

Photo: Wroclaw does not have a good reputation in The Netherlands since one of the newspapers wrote about how all Polish criminals in The Netherlands seemed to come from Wroclaw. Strange to imagine. Visit Wroclaw and you will find out that it`s a pleasant university city with lots of young people. This is one of the canteens in town: popular and cheap and therefore usually full of students.

(© Wroclaw - PL, June 2008)
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To be or not to be (6?: Dutch)

Posted 18 June 2008, Katowice (PL):

Being Dutch is not particularly unpleasant these days. Sure, there have been bad days around the release of some not to be mentioned film about the perceived evilness of the Coran, but the results of the Dutch football team seem to be more important in many European people`s minds.

When I do my daily Us Europeans interviews, I only tell them that I am Dutch at the very end of the conversation. Until the match Italy against The Netherlands, the fact that I was Dutch only marginally interested some people who had somehow been exposed to fellow Dutchies or who had been visiting The Netherlands at some point during there lives. After The Netherland`s first Euro 2008 match, I all of a sudden got congratulations for the results of the Dutch team, and I can`t say I find it unpleasant.

The way the `Orange Eleven` are currently playing (finally) puts some of the nicer Dutch characteristics on display: braveness, overview and group spirit. Those are some of the most positive characteristics of Dutch culture and I am happy to identify with them. If anybody wonders whether I have already started feeling European after having done this much of traveling: the answer remains no, and no single part of that has anything to do with football. There are quite some characteristics of Dutch culture that I truly despise, but they are an integrated part of me to the same extent as Italian mafia is integrated with Italian politics. Please excuse the impolite and undiplomatic example - it only serves as an illustration.

What`s nice about being Dutch? It gives me a perfect excuse for always wanting to know where I should head next. Dutch culture, as much as my parents` education, has taught me to take responsibility for my actions, to respect that others may have an opinion that is entirely different from mine. The exposure to foreign languages has greatly helped me find my way in other countries. I even think that I would have had much more trouble completing or even initiating the Us Europeans project if I weren`t Dutch. Finally, I love cycling and ice-skating (speedskating), which are two typical Dutch hobbies.

I am proud being Dutch for having grown up in a society that it allows me to have whatever opinion I may have on things, while not forgetting that it is just my opinion and nothing more. I like how Dutch culture separates merits from ego whenever such is necessary. I like how we Dutch are attached to things making sense, things being useful and to things always being susceptible to be improved. I can get happy at the sight of something orange, or at the colour of KLM-blue - as you can tell from this website.

There are also lots of parts of Dutch behaviour that I do not like. I get very annoyed about how Dutch people can spend so much time on discussing things before anything every gets done. I also need to be constantly aware of not stepping onto anybody`s toes, because exposing a personal opinion is not always the best possible way to move forward. As a Dutchman, I think I will quickly offend somebody without noticing.

I particularly dislike how Dutch people want to plan everything to the tiniest detail, in such a way that they can never meet the schedule they imposed on themselves. Meeting with friends can be a complicated procedure in The Netherlands and the expressions `to fork a datum` and `let`s put our agenda`s next to each other` can make my hair turn white within the minutes following such horrifying statement.

For as long as it lasts, I will enjoy the positive sides of the Dutch character as those will hopefully be put on display during the remaining match(es) of the Dutch national team in Euro 2008. I will elegantly receive the many compliments for the way the team are playing. I will be proud of coming from a country where the orange colour stands for prideless confidence, smart thinking and enjoyable evenings. And all of that without turning nationalistic :)

Photo: Uhm… orange crossroad.. I am sure I could have shot better samples of those in NL, but I can`t think of many crossroads in Europe that look as exciting as this Polish one.

(© Bedzin - PL, June 2008)
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Apartment blocks

Posted 17 June 2008 - Katowice (PL):

Hello from Katowice in Poland. I have found another greyish apartment block to photograph. Whoever thinks that I am only interested in showing the ugly side of Poland may want to browse to the archive of older photos to see that I also care about showing the nice side of the country.

Other news: I am usually the one who is taking the photos but yesterday I ended up on the other side. Polish newspaper Dziennik will write an article about Us Europeans. It will be released tomorrow and I will try to post a scan or a link to the article.

(© Katowice - PL, June 2008)
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Guess where

Posted 16 June 2008 - Cracow (PL):

Hello from Cracow. Things are going well and I am up to datum with my articles which is something to be happy about. Another 50-or-so more to go and the job will be done. In the meantime, I am preparing for the time after August 1st and looking for ways how to get a bigger audience for my photographs.

I spent most of today on a small tool that will hopefully be used by a couple of Europe-oriented websites in a while. Have a look at it here. It`s not finished yet and will eventually have many more photos than the current 36. Should anybody want to use this proggie on a website, please let me know by leaving me a quick message in the contact form.

I am staying in Cracow with the parents of a Polish friend who lives in The Hague. She`s a photographer and this is her website.

(© Cracow - PL, June 2008)
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Another NO for the European Constitution

Posted 15 June 2008 - Rzeszów (PL):

I was going to predict that Ireland would vote against the revised EU Constitution or that the whole thing would otherwise be cancelled. For now, I can postdict that Ireland has indeed rejected the Lisbon Treaty - as it was renamed after it already failed a couple of years ago.

I have sympathy for the Irish wish to sabotage this project, already by the fact that there was so much arrogance involved that there wasn`t even any Plan B in case Ireland would say `no`. I hate it when people and especially companies or institutions come up with strategies of which they are so convinced that they don`t consider the need of coming up with an alternative plan - and openly admit not to have one. It`s all negotiations obviously, or call it pressure or blackmailing, whatever..

On the other hand, it is quite strange that a country like Ireland, which possibly owes more of its development to its EU membership than any other country in the block, reject further European integration. Don`t bite the hand that feeds you is a popular Dutch proverb that warns for such behaviour.

Summarising my opinion, it would be nice if some of these well-paid people in Brussels were taken by the hairs and clashed against each other. Maybe that would make them come up with something good, something basic, something accessible, something defendable, something that proves that there is a general vision of what should be next. All of which are missing in the current piece of long-negotiated shit that the Irish said `no` to.

Photo has got little to do with whatever I wrote above. It`s a statue left over from communism, right in the centre of Rzeszów.

(© Rzeszów - PL, June 2008)
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J-7: Don`t worry, be happy

Posted 25 July 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Next week by this time, I will be airborne for Ireland! I still got lots of things to do, but things are sorting themselves out quite alright and there is not too much time stress so far.

Some worries do go through my head though. I am sure they will not be as much of a problem, but:

- Will I find people with stories that are sufficiently interesting, will I get those out of them and will I remain courageous enough to just walk up to them and start a conversation?;

- Will my camera and laptop not break down;

- Will I not get into trouble with evil people or otherwise comprising situations (health issues, etc..);

- Will I have enough patience to really take communicative portraits and enough patience not to get bored and/or lonely?

One thing I am not too much worried about is getting lost. I have got a big map of Europe on me and I do not believe in getting lost so I will not.

Below photo shows Bas and me on the one and only real travel project I undertook so far: the one to Poland and Romania in 2002. You can tell that we are carefully investigating the terrain.. I will do that again this time, but on my own..

(© Kolobrzeg - PL, June 2002)
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Licking, kicking and making a big mess

Posted 1 July 2007 - The Hague (NL):

People who have visited this weblog know that I am quite a big fan of Poland. Thanks to the people I met, the language they speak, because of the nice time I spent there and because the great potential they have in so many areas.

Things are now starting to change. When Poland didn't speak up politically, their lack of self-confidence brought them quite some sympathy from the West. Nowadays, they still have the same lack of self-confidence (hence their paranoia in so many areas) but their politicians think they have now claimed a position where they have the right to shout at others and blame them for whatever comes to mind. Germany, their big example for the last 20 years, is the biggest victim of this new policy. Poland claims more voting rights that it should proportionally have right to. Why? Because there would have been more Poles if there had not been any second World War. Quite a statement for a country that only just joined the negotiation table and that owes so much to Germany over the last decades.

This situation is another example of the licking and kicking practice that is widespread in Poland. If you work for somebody, you do everything to keep that person happy, let's call that: licking upwards. Whenever somebody is working for you, they have to strictly obey even if you are unreasonable. Let's call that kicking downwards. Which works quite alright as long as everybody sticks to their position. When superiours become equals and equals become subordinates, things tend to go wrong.

Equal doesn't even really exist in this equation, because in spite of the communist past, there is no such thing in Poland as two people being equal without any fight being needed to decide who is the strongest. That is what Polish colleagues are inflincting upon themselves to safeguard their positions in highly hierarchical company structures, which are still largely prevalent. And now Poland is doing the same to Germany and the rest of Europe. Mess guaranteed. Zapraszamy :(

(© Warsaw - PL, June 2007)
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Jedziemy do domu

Posted 29 June 2007 - Bialowieza (PL):

Today is our last day in Poland. I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend and week in Holland. One of the best things about travelling is returning home and being happy to be there again.

So, what have we been doing here? Meeting lots of telecom people among whom the future female president of Russia, eating bigos and drinking Żubrówka.

(© Bialowieza - PL, June 2007)
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Weather extremes

Posted 28 June 2007 - Bialowieza (PL):

Extreme weather patterns are taking over Europe, with big floods in the UK and extreme heat in the south of Europe.

Here in the east of Poland, it's rainy, windy and rather cold.. I took this photo on today's morning excursion to the open air Bizon park nearby.

(© Bialowieza - PL, June 2007)
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Blue flowers

Posted 27 June 2007 - Wyszomierz (PL):

My friend Bas is graduating in Organisation and Management today. That by itself is a good thing but it's even more impressive when taking into consideration that he scored 9 out of 10 for his thesis and that he has been able to complete the thesis at all after his accident now two years ago.

Below photo is from 2002 and shows Bas on top of one of the Polish Tatra mountains. It serves as a reminder that whenever something seems difficult, there's always a small blue flower that will smile at you and help you persevere in whatever is the right thing to do.

(© Tatras - PL, June 2002)
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Work in Progress - Us Europeans

Posted 15 May 2006 - The Hague (NL):

A new PhotoLogiX project is on the way. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to put together the parts composing it. It will be called 'Us Europeans' and, contrary to my - still going strong - McDonalds collection, it will be quite a massive challenge this time.

Keep track of Dailyphoto over the weeks to come. I will keep you updatumd of the progress as the outlines of the project become more visible.

(© Wroclaw - PL, May 2003)
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Voluntary work via Bouworde

Posted 26 April 2007 - The Hague (NL):

I have been telling about the Internationale Bouworde organisation, which found Bas and me a voluntary work project in Poland back in 2002. And about how much fun and it is to participate in such a project and how it extends the duration of a long trip if you integrate it well. It's also a good opportunity to get your name published in foreign newspapers, like the one below which shows our team in the kitchen of Brzeg's children's home.

Last night, we had a small reunion with Martijn en Petra coming over. The reason we had the reunion today was Footsweep's new EP presentation, of which you can find photos here

(© Brzeg - PL, July 2002)
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People and Guns

Posted 17 April 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Tragedy in the USA, where the president rushed to the microphone to ask for God´s grace over the victims and all involved. While CNN keeps qualifying the shooting disaster in Virginia as a Developing Story, action groups are falling over each other claiming that possession of arms should or should not be allowed to civilians under the law.

While this battle in the United States is mainly fought in the political arena, Switzerland is trying to get public attention for the danger of public gun possession through a nationwide poster campaign.

(© Brzeg - PL, June 2002)
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Getting Poland on track

Posted 1 April 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Over the last few years, Polen has tried desperately to invent its new identity as a post-communist country. Both as a member of various international organisations (EU, NATO) and within the country itself.

In 2004, the year of Poland's entry to the EU, many formerly grey apartment buildings had been repainted in vivid colours. Aiming to cheer up the ambiance in the cities. Poland tried to phase out its health care system and replaced it with the German one (Krankenkasse). In the meanwhile, people in the street still find bribing an acceptable practice. Under many circumstances, it is perceived as the personal freedom to do somebody a favour in order to motivate him/her to do something.

Poland also makes headlines with unconventional and quite extreme quotes by its leaders: the twin brothers Kaczinsky and Kaczinksy. This time, they want to pass a vetting law, obliging a large number of people to testify about their role in communist Poland. That all seems rather reasonable, but the problem is that they are very likely to find out that almost all of these people (politicians, journalists, priests) have been involved in then-desired political actions during those 45(!!) years in some way or another..

(© Warsaw - PL, October 2004)
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Na zdrowie

Posted 27 March 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Bialowieza is a small village in the Eastern part of Poland, right next to Belarus. It wouldn't have been very well known if it weren't located in the middle of one of Europe's most ancient and largest forests. The subject happened to come up during a conversation with a Polish business partner, yesterday. I wanted to look up below photo, then realised that it was not on my website! Even though it's one of my favourites (it's got light posts, people and a car, what else is needed..).

It IS now, so let me finish by posting a link to the region's famous bison/grass vodka called Zubrowka. Really do need to get to Poland some time soon somehow :)

(© Bialowieza - PL, June 2002)
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Ideas for the summer

Posted 20 December 2006 - The Hague (NL):

If you're using Christmas to think about your holiday plans for the summer, you may want to consider doing voluntary work in a European country you wouldn't normally go to. I received a Christmas card from Bouworde and thought back of the great Central Europe trip back in 2002.

The big disadvantages of joining voluntary projects is that you usually have to pay for it, especially if you want to go to Asia and South America. Bouworde pays food and lodgings for you. A good way to stretch a trip you may already have planned in advance without having to spend too much additional money. At the same time your being of help, enjoying a foreign country and really getting to see something of it. For Dutch-speaking readers, have a look at Frederik Charles's report of our stay in Brzeg's children's home.

(© Brzeg - PL, June 2006)
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Posted 10 May 2006 - The Hague (NL):

In order to try and keep my photography activities on track, I intend to organise modest exhibitions every now and then. I have already been telling about an upcoming one and since I am actualy working on it right now, it's time to tell some more about it.

I have selected 28 photos in series of three. Altogether these photos aim to show that people usually spend a lot of time doing things that seem to make sense - but don't, and little time doing things that seem useless - but in fact are much more essential than everything that seems so much more important. Still following?

Since the exhibition will be at the headquarters of a company - as opposed to publicly visitable - I will use all of next week to post the photo threesomes and write some more about each of the photos involved. Here's the photo that makes up half of the title page, and stands for the exploration, freedom, relaxness and curiosity that relates to train travelling.

(© Lebork - PL, June 2002)
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EU Enlargement t+2

Posted 1 May 2006 - The Hague (NL):

It's been 2 years since Poland joined the European Union. Even though the Poles recently elected an EU-averse government, a lot of improvements have been realised since 1 May 2004. Online news-paper Warsaw Voice tracks the changes brought about by Poland's accession.

(© Warsaw - PL, September 2004)
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Posted 24 April 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Two more images in the range of 'Crossroad photography'. These are from last week's trip to Poland: the Central Station of Poznan.

(© Poznan - PL, April 2006)
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Posted 18 April 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Some photos from Warsaw, last week:

(© Warsaw - PL, April 2006)
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Posted 14 April 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful train that daily left Hoek van Holland to reach as fas east as Moscow, but these days are long gone. Good old international travelling is no longer what it used to be, for the following reasons:

1) Holland is a small country so you can get anywhere within 3 hours time;
2) High-speed connections with Paris and Cologne have replaced those to Italy,
Czech Republic, Russia, Denmark and Poland;
3) NS (Dutch railways) International are conscientiously killing off all remaining train connections except Thalys and ICE;
4) NS International employees are the worst-informed imbeciles you can find at a railway station, so they won't even be able to tell you how to get anywhere.

I was very happy to experience some nostalgic train travelling in Poland this week. And by the way, if you are planning to do some international train-ing this summer, have a look at the Deutsche Bahn website, because that is where you will find all information you may need.

(© Kutno - PL, April 2006)
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Posted 11 April 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Slight change of plans. I got up this morning at 4 and plan to leave around 6 to go to Warsaw, Poland. On my way and back, I plan to pay short visits to the cities of Frankfurt am Oder, Poznan and Duisburg. I hope to be back on Friday afternoon.

(© Brzeg - PL, July 2002)
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Posted 10 April 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Back from Paris and onward to Warsaw. I'm taking a night train tomorrow evening to arrive on Wednesday morning. After two days of meetings, I will take it easy on the way back and hopefully spend some time in either Frankfurt am Oder (DE), or Poznan or Torun (PL).

(© Warsaw - PL, October 2004)
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Posted 24 March 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Sitting and waiting.. That's what today was like because of Bas's operation, which fortunately was completed succesfully.

(© Wroclaw - PL, October 2003)
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Posted 23 Februari 2006:

No more kissing and no more shaking of hands when greeting friends and family. At least, if we can trust reports in the Dutch media about the prescribed Elbow-greeting in case of an avian flue pandemic. This recommendation is said to have been issued by the World Health Organisation and they indeed have a lot of info about avian flue readily available. But I have not found the slightest elbow greeting on their website..

(© Wroclaw - PL, October 2003)
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Posted 8 February 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Poland has the highest unemployment rate of all 25 EU-countries: 18.1% last January. But relief is on the way, as the 'older' members of the European Union are working on plans to reduce restrictions on the influx of Central European workforce.

(© Warsaw - PL, June 2002)
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Posted 22 December 2005 - The Hague (NL):

One of the things I like about Christmas is sending and receiving Christmas cards. I missed out last year, but I'm back in business this year. It's always an interesting challenge to come up with some kind of creative idea that's a bit different without being ridiculous or tasteless.

Below is the card I prepared two years ago, showing the All Saints' Celebration in Wroclaw, Poland. If you want to know what this year's Best Wishes look like, keep a close watch on your mailbox or click here. Full appreciation can be obtained by moving away from the computer screen by about 10 meters.

(© Wroclaw - PL, November 2003)
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Posted 2 December 2005 - The Hague (NL):

The only thing that's interesting about history is how it explains the present and predicts the future. Now, when was the last time that a civilised country claimed that there was 'no proof for detention camps in Poland' ? (Photos: June 2002)

(© Auschwitz - PL, July 2001)
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Posted 29 November 2005 - The Hague (NL):

Autumn on the northern hemisphere and we're having bad weather all over the place. It all reminded me of one photo I took in Warsaw last year, which for me perfectly tells what autumn is about. Normally, I think that photos are self-explanatory but in this case it may add a little touch to the photo.

The old man carrying the apples is obviously in the autumn of his life. Apples are historically harvested in autumn. Red and yellow are autumn colours, while all colours in the photo make up an autumn atmosphere. Also composition-wise, the photo talks autumn as the old man only is walking towards the left end of the photo, leaving nothing but empty space behind him...

(© Warsaw - PL, September 2004)
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Posted 26 November 2005 - The Hague (NL):

I'm going to Dubai (UAE) in a week's time. I don't really have a clue of what it will be like, but I expect it to be similar to the photo below, only with fewer people around.

(© Leba - PL, June 2002)
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