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Posted Ostrava - CZ, 1 June 2008:

The good thing about the length of this trip is that it gives me plenty of time to think about things: about how they work and why they work that way. I slowly start to notice how much energy and courage are needed to investigate both facts and context at the very same time. Only one conclusion keeps coming back: everything relates to everything and every inbalance can only be temporary. There`s beauty in appalling ugliness and ugliness in striking beauty.

As a quick illustration to this idea, here`s a photo of something that should be defined as ugly. But it actually looks quite aesthetical.

(© Ostrava - CZ, May 2008)
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Ostrava - Poruba

Posted 2 June 2008 - Zilina (SK):

A final photo from Ostrava, this time from the neighbourhood of Poruba: filled with socialist-realist buildings gently separated by lots of green areas. All in all, quite a pleasant area to live, even though it looks like hell from a few kilometres away.

(© Ostrava - CZ, May 2008)
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Hot, hotter, hottest

Posted 3 June 2008 - Zilina (SK):

My first stop in Slovakia is Zilina, a quiet city in the North of the country. I arrived on what is probably the hottest day so far on my trip. The last hot day was in Klaipeda, Lithuania now 9 months ago. Guess there are more hot days to come during the remaining two months of the trip.

(© Zilina - SK, June 2008)
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Growing vegetables

Posted 4 June 2008 - Bratislava (SK):

I think I have found another hobby for whenever I start getting old. One was to play with miniature trains again, the next one will be to have a small garden with vegetables and herbs. This one is in the garden of my hosts in Bratislava. I am staying with Barbara and Anastasia, whom I first met in Klaipeda (LT), then again in Riga (LV) and also last January when I was in Bratislava on the way from Cyprus to Rome (crazy itinerary indeed). Their mother is fanatic about cooking and she does a lot of gardening as well. Lovely fresh dark red strawberries fresh from the garden, yum - yum - yum.

(© Bratislava - SK, June 2008)
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More Ostravian factories

Posted 5 June 2008 - Bratislava (SK):

Another photo from Ostrava which is one of the few places where I do want to go back but not for the natural landscape. It`s the city landscape of weird combinations that makes me want to go back there one day. The way it is different from other cities without being particularly pretty. Vienna is beautiful but boring and, to me, uninspiring. It`s hard to say that Ostrava is beautiful, but it does have a certain charm that can moreover quite easily be photographed.

(© Ostrava - CZ, May 2008)
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Skoda Favorite

Posted 6 June 2008 - Zalesie (SK):

Photo from Sladkoviscovo in the South of Slovakia. Nice car. I still think that the concept of a car will slowly become outdatumd and only affordable for rich people. I also expect travelling to get more expensive after years of countries joining Schengen, borders disappearing, budget airlines being born... But borders are coming back and budget airlines face difficult survival struggles if oil prices rise even further..

(© Sladkoviscovo - SK, June 2008)
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Supermarket chains

Posted 7 June 2008 - Bratislava (SK):

Western European supermarkets have conquered Central and Eastern Europe. French Carrefour and German Metro are sharing the `Hypermarket` share. Austrian Billa, English Tesco, Dutch Albert (Ahold) and Dutch Interspar took the middle part of the market while German Lidl and Aldi have divided the budget market. As I learnt from locals, some supermarkets that have a decent international reputation are not very keep on respecting the same food safety standards for fresh products in their new host countries. What they do manage to achieve is the gradual disappearance of small corner shops selling local products that actually have some taste.

(© Bratislava - SK, June 2008)
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Socialist city expansion

Posted 7 June 2008 - Bratislava (SK):

My current stay in Bratislava is not the first one this year. I also had a short stay over back in January when I took this photo. I was curious to know what that neighbourhood across the Danube would look like from nearby. Below is a first sample of my small Petrzalka adventure of this morning.

(© Bratislava - SK, June 2008)
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Increasing the rhythm

Posted 7 June 2008 - Bratislava (SK):

I missed some posts during the month of May, but have taken quite some fresh photos during the past few days so can increase the rhythm a little. Here`s another crossroad to celebrate :)

(© Bratislava - SK, June 2008)
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Photogenic Petrzalka

Posted 8 June 2008 - Bratislava (SK):

Here are some more photos from Bratislava`s neighbourhood of Petrzalka. I find this stuff very interesting, hope anyone shares my view. For those who don`t, I am starting to add some new links to the PhotoLog. If you have any tips for photo websites worth visiting, please let me know through the comment form.

(© Bratislava - SK, June 2008)
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Food and Football

Posted 8 June 2008 - Bratislava (SK):

The European Championships of Football started yesterday and I am quite excited about it. Unfortunately, I did not organise any football pools this year, so I do not have the additional excitement of adding up the scores, colouring boxes, writing small programs to help me in the process and creating all sorts of statistics. This time, it will be just watching football and nothing else. Or maybe: After having visited so many countries, I will think of the people I met on my way whenever their national teams are playing. My favourite for the final victory is obviously wearing orange jerseys, but we shall see how things develop.

Below photo shows my host family in Bratislava or actually 20 kilometres away from there. Over the last week or so, I have been spoilt with the most wonderful food, because lady #3 (counting from left) is one of the best cooks I have ever met.

(© Bratislava - SK, June 2008)
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Road to Wroclaw

Posted 9 June 2008 - Bratislava (SK):

I left Bratislava this morning, but not before spotting this hideous building somewhere near the railway station. Interesting material..

I planned most of my journey between now and Wroclaw in Poland, which is the city where my friend Bas was studying in 2003/2004 and where I hope to meet some other friends again as well, at least Gosia, Kasia and Magda but maybe some more. We shall see. Inbetween then and now, I will have stopovers in Zvolen, Kosice, Presov (all SK), Rzeszow, Krakow and Katowice (PL). I was thinking of spending a quick day in Ukraine on the way, but decided not to save that for another trip. Can`t have it all..

(© Bratislava - SK, June 2008)
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Slovakian buildings

Posted 10 June 2008 - Zvolen (SK):

Slovakia is a nice place to spot interesting buildings. This photo shows the technical university of Central-Slovakian Zvolen, which I am passing on the way to Kosice in the East of Slovakia. Another thing I like about this country is how much nature it has got. Unfortunately I have only seen it from train windows so far but Thursday should bring some more insight into Slovakia`s natural resources.

(© Zvolen - SK, June 2008)
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Article published

Posted 11 June 2008 - Kosice (SK):

Back in April, Dutch magazine Perron E invited me to write an article about corruption in Bulgaria. And so I did, and I also supplied photos to go with the article. The magazine recently got published and the end result looks cool. Unfortunately, it is only available in The Netherlands and in Dutch language. The orginal full-text version is available here.

(© Varna - BG, April 2008)
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Language skills

Posted 12 June 2008 - Kosice (SK):

Two more days in the East of Slovakia. After spending almost 4 weeks in what used to be one country, I am prepared to move on. Poland will be nice. It will be the first country since Austria and before that… Malta… where I speak a bit of the local language. If I count the Maltese as English-speaking, that is. Their own language is actually quite different and comparable to no other European language that I know. Lots of Qs, Hs and Ds with stripes through the vertical part of the letter. Sounds like Arabic, but it`s not advisable to stress this resemblance when dealing with Maltese…

Photo: another crossroad

(© Kosice - SK, June 2008)
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Cities vs, countryside

Posted 13 June 2008 - Lipovce (SK):

Central European countries all have in common that life in cities is very different from life in the villages. The standard of living is oftentimes lots lower in less populated areas, unemployment is high and people can be extremely conservative and religious. However, contrary to Western and Southern European countries, Slovakia has decent bus connections to even the smallest villages in the country which makes them at least easily accessible. And that is how I managed to end up in Lipovce yesterday morning… Photo below:

(© Lipovce - SK, June 2008)
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Sleeping in the forest

Posted 14 Jun 2008 - Rzeszow (PL):

I did not get to Lipovce for no reason. I was invited by a CouchSurfer whom I had originally approached for a place to stay in the city of Presov. She replied that she would be in the forest during the days I planned to pass Presov, but that I would be equally welcome there.

And so I ended up spending one day in the middle of nowhere, enjoying fresh air and the sound of birds singing. The uphill walk from Lipovce to the cottage (photo below) took me about one hour. I spent the rest of the day with Milka and Rudolf: practicing bow and arrow, throwing knives and conveying sand from the main road to the cottage. I also got an excursion through the cave, but it was too dark there to take any proper photographs.

(© Lipovce - SK, 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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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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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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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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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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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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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 très 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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All well in Germany

Posted 30 Jun 2008 - Berlin (DE):

Hello from Berlin! It`s nice to spend some time in what I think may well be the most European capital in all of Europe. The giant new Central Station is another confirmation of Berlin`s function as a Europan crossroad. I am happy to see people cycling in the streets again, to see windmills even though it`s the modern type, to see proper ice creams and to hear lots of different languages in the streets. Just about everything seems to be different from Poland here…

Photo: Entrance of Tempelhof Airport in the middle of Berlin. It was constructed in the 1930s, became famous in Western Europe because of its role in the Air Bridge between West Berlin and Western Europe. The future of Tempelhof is now the subject of major discussions. Once Berlin`s new airport Brandenburg will be opened, the very few flights that now serve Tempelhof could easily be transferred to Brandenburg.

Those who want Tempelhof to close down claim that it is causing pollution and noise in the centre of the city, while only serving a very small public of politicians and businessmen. Those who want the airport to remain open claim that the location of the airport is unique, as much as its history is. They do not want to see a city airport relocated to a major hub `out there in the province`.

My idea would be to close commercial operations, keep the buildings and especially keep the runways. Then plant trees along the runways and wait for them to grow in to a park. 20 Years of changing decors guaranteed (small trees growing big) and the end result will be a park like I have never seen before.

(© Berlin - DE, June 2008)
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