Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

What happens in Masuria stays in Masuria.

Sunday 26th August 2012, 10:31 PM No comments

For me (Hanne) it was the second time in a row sailing trip to Mazury. For Bronek, no idea, probably he himself started to loose count. For both of us it was already the second time renting a boat from the very decent Evelyn Marina.

Anyway a very nice crew of me, my niece Liesbeth, Milosz, Å»agiel (Michal, ‘Jagiel’) and Mariusz, was safely guided threw the very nice super great Masurian lakes by our super captain Bronek.

At first we were dropping a stitch here and there, as we were not yet used to take care of a boat together, but in the end everyone knew what to do when, which made us a very good team to be proud of  (“lakeworthy”).

This year we made a trip to the south part of the Masurian lakes. The route was not as long as last year, as there was a little wind. But the sun was shining all the time, blue sky, warm water and nice atmosphere… All great ingredients for a good sailing trip.

We did have two storms though, which gave us the chance to see Milosz in his super stormy outfit ☺ and brought the group closer together – closer because of the storms, not the outfit.

We camped in the wild together with a boat we didn’t know. (Greetings to Tauron RZT 001) That evening turned out to be really great. They had a guitar, djembee and made a fire place (with the help of our crew). We brought wódka, sausages, and ‘heavenly sweet’ singing voices. We sang the great Masurian sailor songs till early hours. I played the djembee and people danced around the campfire. Milosz also surprised us with his great guitar playing talent – “I know a couple of chords”.

Another time on a hot hot day without much wind we threw the anchor and refreshed us swimming in the lakes.
In Mikolajki the whole crew had a very nice dinner by the water (Restaurant Sielawa). That was continued in a bar, drinking,  and most importantly dancing. Who of the crew was dancing I can not tell as a promise was made that evening: ‘What happens in Mikolajki, stays in Mikolakji.’ Another truism we established that evening was: ‘shit happens’. 😉 (inside joke) This also very nice evening ended with waiting for the sunrise, but as we were falling a sleep and the clouds were hiding the sun, we decided to call it a day (night) and go to sleep.

For me and many of us it was also the first time we went in a lock with the boat. Next time I’d prefer to avoid any locks on our route. Unfortunately the other side of the lock has some lakes, but the only way back is through the same lock again. First time – it was very chaotic, and didn’t go so well. No boat had any patience and everyone wanted to go in at once. With boats hitting each other as consequence. Locking for the second time, the attraction was a 4 hours queue. Some other not nice boats without patience blocked our way so we were obliged to wait. Above that 4 ‘white cows’ (these are big white boats which take tourists  for round-cruises in the Masurian lakes and have priority above any other floating object) had to pass the lock. What a lock experience!

At some point this nice week had to come to an end. And so we were cleaning the boat cleaner than when we got it. And the bosman (person in charge in a small harbour) was very pleased – off course.

Everybody went his own way. Bronek, Liesbeth and me stayed. We stayed in a tent, as we promised to drop Liesbeth off to the airport the next day for her flight to Belgium. We took another nice swim, went to have some nice sweets on a terras, watched an airshow in Giżycko (my first ever, impressive) and had a nice fish dinner at a Giżycko canal promenade restaurant.

It was a super sailing experience. Hopefully soon again!

Exchange Caritas Belgium-Jerusalem

Sunday 9th October 2011, 08:13 PM 1 comment

Finally I can share a piece of my experience from the exchange Caritas Belgium-Jerusalem I took part in. As some of you may now I joined Joka-Caritas when I was 16. Doing a little bit other stuff for the organisation then when I was younger, particularly due to being a working person, I got this chance to go on exchange to Jerusalem. After consulting Bronek, I took the decision to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This meant shorter holidays together, but Bronek was all the time on my mind, as you can see in some pictures.

The experience made a big impression on me, which is difficult to put in just some short text.

The situation between Israeli and Palestinian people struck me. The very strict control before entering the plane (better don’t mention you want to do voluntary work with Palestinians) gave me palpitations and shaky legs. “Security” controls of Israeli soldiers on Palestinian roads. The big high wall visible from many places (8 to 9 meters high, I can assure you, you only see the sky). Water-tanks on all roofs in case the Israeli people cut of water – which tend to do randomly for no apparent reason. And so on and on – it all leaves a mixed feeling.

We only had ten days and wanted to do and see a lot of stuff. We visited quickly Jerusalem, Ramallah, mausoleum of Arafat, Dead Sea, Bethlehem, many churches and many other small cities. We stayed with host families in Aboud where we did our first job (painting a multi-functional room of a church, where meetings and so on are held) and could experience the great hospitality of the Palestinian people. First day we arrived there we were even invited to a wedding. Next stop was in Bethlehem/Beit Jallah/Beit Sahour also called three-city (made me think of Gdańsk) where we cleaned a church bottom-up, almost completely.

This is in short my ten days exchange experience in Israel/Palestine. I am glad I can share it with you and would like to thank once again Caritas Belgium for the great opportunity!

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Masuria 2011

Wednesday 10th August 2011, 01:08 PM 1 comment

For the summer of 2011 holidays for two long planned did we have. My ready diploma was supposed to wait in Łódź while Hanne and I would be baking under the Adriatic sun. Joka, a charity connected to Caritas Belgium gathering volunteers willing to help in elderly homes, offered it’s veteran – my Hanne – a  10-day trip to Jerusalem in August, during the second part of her summer holiday.  A bargain – the trip was for free! I said “Hanne, you should go!”. The time we planned to allocate as our Croatia holidays has suddenly shrinked to 10 days. The planned route led through Poland. In Łódź Hanne was supposed to have an LPG system placed in her car. Recalculating our time once more it turned out that instead of resting we will spend all holidays in the car. It was the end of May – there was still time to change plans.

Maybe something closer to Łódź??? Considering our marine aspirations, together with my friends and Hanne we thought of going to old good Masuria to sail a little bit. Hanne & Bronek haven’t been there yet together. Hanne could finally see how it is on the swinging deck.

Masuria is a beautiful region in the North-Eastern Poland. For it’s forests it is called the Green Lungs of Poland. It is also famous for it’s post-glacier landscape full of holes and hills formed by the withdrawing glacier – lakes and moraines. And most of all, Masuria is famous for it’s Route of Grand Masurian Lakes – a water route with the length of around 100km consisted of lakes and canals, including the two “most” lakes of Poland, the largest with more than 100 sqkm area – Åšniardwy, and the deepest – Mamry. The region is one of favourite holiday destinations for sailing Poles as well as Germans who love to cycle around the grounds of their Prussian ancestors. Amateurs of quiet agricultural holidays will also find this place a heaven. Masuria used to be a part of the Teutonic Knights Order country, part of Prussia and part of Poland. Around the area you will find historical attractions of all these cultures – like the Wolf’s Lair – German headqarter-bunkers from the 2nd World War, the still carrying nazi symbolic Masurian Canal with it’s forest burried gigantic locks. The canal was supposed to link Masuria and the Baltic Sea. The legend says it was developed to lead to a secret nazi U-Boot shipyard in the lakes. Nextly urban locations like Mikłajki or Giżycko villages will allow you for summer art and entertainment. The Grand Lakes Route is full of fauna and flora natural reserves like the one on the Cormorant Island (the name speaks for itself).  Masuria has a very well developed tourist base, which allows for camping, sailing, fishing, water-skiing and much more.

The sailing team gathered quickly and spontaneously. In the beginning it seemed that we will be sailing with an entire fleet. After all it settled at 2 large (as for Masuria) boats – Marconi sloops. We rented them in the friendly Marina Evelyn in Bogaczewo n. Giżycko.  We payed advances, signed charter contracts and the only thing which was left was to wait for the 23rd of July. In the end the team consisted of friends of Bronek: Maciek & Asia, Łukasz & Paula and Staszek with his study-mate Kamil with Gosia. From the side of Maciek we were joinded by Maruda & Sylwia, from Asia’s side Karolina has joined us. On the spot it turned out that Patryk, the brother of Gosia will also sail with us. Together with Hanne & me we were with 13 people.

The time before the cruise passed very quickly. On the 13th of July I left to Hanne to bring her and her car to an LPG installer in Łódź. We bought new rubber trousers, sandals, batteries, a waterproof map and departed to the lakes. The new LPG didn’t blow up on our way! The installer was a trusted Łódź company. We left all the Belgian car formalities related to LPG for later…

On the way I practised assertiveness. Because of the car we were a little late and bound to arrive around dusk. Crews burning to sail were waiting for us. Even for a while I didn’t  think of leaving the port in the darkness – what a SILLY idea. 🙂  When we got to the marina Hanne was slightly intimidated by the yacht. She declared she will pass all the stuff to me from the land. OK. After boarding and denying to depart from the harbour in the masurian twilight, we all proceeded to inspect the bottles of vodka and other specifics.

The crew composed of me, Hanne, Łukasz, Paula & Staszek (Kamil & Gosia joined us later) accounted for Evelyn 2 – the Antila 26 class boat. The other part of the team with Maciek and Maruda (the Nagger :P) took Evelyn 4 which was a Janmor 28 class.  Both boats were fresh, clean and broadly equipped. Sailing fittings included: lazy jack – the main sail pocket, mast patent – used to easily put it up and down, rolfok – rolled front sail, convenient cleats, capstans and engines. Evelyn 4 had a stationary built-in engine. It turned out to be quite fuel inefficient and prevented the boat from being moored with the stern at shallow places. Under the deck we had chemical toilets, equipped galleys, cd-radios. Antila even had a gas fridge! Interiors of both boats were separated with little doors which provided better comfort and privacy. Communication between the two boats was held depending on capacity and distance with the use of two radio-telephones which we brought with us (European PMR standard).

With regard to sailing,  the slightly sharper going Antila 26 showed a higher sensitivity to weaker breeze, Janmor 28 on the other hand reached better speeds at stronger winds. Janmor sailed slightly faster also because it’s crew showed a tendency to get up and depart earlier. 😉 Antila was 26 feet or 780cm long and had a total of 30 sqm of sail, 28 feet Janmor was 840 cm long and had 40 sqm sail. Janmor suffered also a bigger draft – while in the wild it could only moor to our stern or to the end of a little pier. Both crews managed to stain the bottom of lakes with their centreboards.

The route took us from Bogaczewo, through Mikołajki, Kaczerajno Bay, Kula peninsula, Sztynort and Mamerki.  In 7 days we managed to visit both the south and the north end of the Route of Grand Masurian Lakes. On our way back from Kaczerajno bay to Kula we picked up the late Kamil, Gosia and Patryk.

Hanne shyness for the boat ceased quickly. The helm of Evelyn 2 was taken mostly by Łukasz (Captain, Captain, Captain), Bronek (Captain), Hanne (deck-hand Majtek Bow String) and also sometimes by Staszek (Captain, Captain). Due to the presence of Hanne we used a very funny fake English sailing vocabulary. You could hear us saying “sword” while referring to the centreboard or shouting PULL UP while giving command for topping lift, lazy jack or the mentioned sword. We also used a lot of Polish-English mixtures.

A lot of good laughs in general. Every morning we swum in the lake, during day we sailed, in the evening we drunk beer, sung at the camp fire, fished, played games or did all that together.

On the 30th of July, after a 7-day cruise we were back in Bogaczewo. The time came to clean and part with our boats. After reclaiming the warrant me, Hanne, Paula, Łukasz and Staszek went to Signor Caffetano – an Italian restaurant located close by the marina. This turned out to be a superior choice for the farewell dinner! After the meal Łukasz, Paula and Staszek hit the road. Me & Hanne took advantage of the beautiful weather, jumped once more to the lake and scampered to Łódź afterwards.

Hanne’s short visit to Bronek, June 2011

Wednesday 15th June 2011, 12:20 AM No comments

As we always need to take the maximum of our spare time to spend it together, I did so again in this four days of Christian holidays in the beginning of June. Immediately after work I left to the airport, so the same evening I arrived in Poland. After some nice sleep together we had a walk in the city centre of Łódź and did very little shopping. Next day I visited for the first time Poznan, very nice city. Only the market square was little wasted. The houses around the square were so nicely painted in different colours, but unfortunately they were hardly visible because of some ugly block building they build in the middle, than some ugly advert, too many terraces and so on. Still it’s a big, nice city worth paying a visit. On Saturday we visited the Zoo of Łódź for the first time since Broneks mother retired from there. So many nice things we did together, so the short weekend flew by, and quickly came the time to say goodbye again.

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Somme, Picardy and Amiens 2011

Friday 29th April 2011, 09:43 PM No comments

I took off some days extra of work so we could make some small trip while Bronek was visiting me in Belgium for Easter. We took camping stuff in our car, took a map, and left to the Somme Bay. Weather was very nice. We did’t take only highway but also some smaller roads through nice villages in the north of France. This way we saw some very nice big cemetery from First World War, about which(without knowing back than) Bronek had to learn for his exam of Architecture.

The first day we went for what we thought will not be that big walk. But we were a little wrong. Sun was shining very bright, not a cloud in the sky, only some small bottle of lemonade we took and our camera. The walk turned out to be a walk of about five hours. We started to dream of some ice-cream shops or some bar, but there was only the reserve: endless sand, sea and birds. Completely tired we arrived at our campsite Les Crocs and refreshed ourselves with some nice 6-minute-shower ;-).

Next day we visited the nearest by city Rue and bought some nice sweet bread from a French bakery. From here we went to the gardens of the Valloires to makes some nice drawings together and have an espresso. We stayed till the bell was ringing several times to scare the tourists away as it was closing time. Back in the car we headed straight away to the beach to have some nice sunset with our very tasty sweet French breads.

Today was the last day of our small trip. We packed all our stuff. Last was the tent as we first wanted to try to drive my car inside of it J. We visited Amiens, which was quit dead on this Easter Sunday. But after all we founded were all the people were hanging out. The old part of the city was a lot more busy, there was a nice big park were all the people were relaxing, playing sports and so on. There were small swinging roads paved just like in Brugge, you know with all those stones which completely shakes you awake while driving a bike. I immediately felt at home.

Next day we went for a family Eastern dinner next to a canal somewhere close to Brugge. Bronek and I took the bike, and probably drove in some record time for us, as we left home a little late. With nicely filled tummies we took another ride to the city centre to have a little last taste of Brugge before end of small holidays.

French time-lapses

Wednesday 27th April 2011, 05:08 PM No comments

During Easter of 2011 we went to camp a little bit in north France. Here’s a sneak peak.

Bronek in Jardins de Valloires

Hanne picking shells in Fort-Mahon-Plage

Hanne & Bronek, Fort-Mahon-Plage

Hanne drives into our tent

Christmas 2010

Wednesday 5th January 2011, 05:11 PM No comments

On the 23th of December after coming home from work, I packed my stuff for my yearly Christmas trip to Poland. And what a long one. I was supposed to leave early morning next day, but the weather decided differently. My father and me left in the evening around ten a clock, as there was some snowstorm announced. I slept a little in the car, but not very peacefully as it really started to snow hard. I guess we arrived in the airport Zaventem around midnight or one a clock, my father went home immediately after notifying my trip so far wasn’t cancelled. A long night a head with no sleep. I was fighting and fighting in order not to sleep, but after all I installed my self somewhere in a corner and got some other not very peaceful sleep again. When it was my time I noticed my flight was still not cancelled so far, so I went for check-in of my luggage, the guy behind the desk still couldn’t assure me the plane was going. What a long time of insecurity if I will or will not see Bronek, and I missed him so hard, so I really wanted to get there. I went for security line and started to wait and wait and wait at the door to our plane. After all we weren’t getting so much later as planned on to the plane, here I felt little more secure I was going to see Bronek, but after like more than four hours of sitting on the plane, we got the message there came an urgent-meeting in Zaventem to decide which planes could fly and which couldn’t, again fear came to me and my neighbour, who also wanted to see his girlfriend in Poland. After another hour of waiting we finally got to know we could fly, whole plane very happy, which was off course full of Polish people who wanted to visit their family for Christmas. After like six hours spending in a still stand plane, we only got some water, I had no food, as I was supposed to arrive in the morning in Warszawa, we finally took off. In the meanwhile at the other end in Poland, a guy named Bronek was waiting for his girlfriend. He also didn’t sleep in the night, as he took the train straight away after some evening with friends. He was also waiting and waiting and not knowing and suffering if I will ever come after all. But eventually we could find each other after all in each others arms. We were both so starving, that without realising, forgive us our tiredness, we sinned and ate meat on Christmas eve in some Kebab place in the railway station of Warszawa.

Home in Łódź we had a very late Christmas eve family diner, I was fighting in order not to fall a sleep. We had to cancel the trip to church, because the bed was calling for us to sleep.

A long text about one long day, but during the Christmas holidays it was the most spoken subject.

Many diners with family came after this one and a lot of nice playing with Zuza.

Hanne plays with Zuza

The 31th of December we were heading again to the airport to go and celebrate new years eve in Brugge with my family. The waiting was a little shorter this time, but we got to hear that we were the last plane who could take off, as there came a sudden snowstorm.

Pancakes in Bruges

The rest of the story you have to figure out from the pictures…

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Tatra + Gdańsk 2010

Friday 20th August 2010, 06:56 PM No comments

After another long separation, we could finally spend 4 weeks just the two of us, what a nice prospect. 4 weeks so a lot of time to do different stuff. First trip brought us to the mountains to our all time favourite place in MaÅ‚e Ciche. We got our favourite room with the wonderful view on the Tatra mountains. The mountains were great as always, but unfortunately the weather was a little less great. The first day we started with an easier walk to help us get into some better shape, so we went to the sanctuary of Wiktorówki for tea and bought our favourite oscypek on Rusinowa glade under GÄ™sia szyja (Gooses neck – mountain). So far everything fine, but after eating some snack the water started pouring down from the sky and, in fact, it didn’t stop till the last day when we left to Łódź. But now don’t think this kept us inside, oh no! We went for a long walk everyday, cold and wet we enjoyed it, took some precautious medicines every evening, held a rami bridge marathon, read a lot in our books cosy together in the bed while it was raining on the wooden roof.

Before departure to MaÅ‚e Ciche, just like for Zuza’s first birthday we got again a donkey, but this time for Zosia,the daughter of Marysia, the daughter of our host Zosia. Again a present with quite some success.

Last day in the mountains we went first to the railway station, bought our tickets, put the luggage in a locker and went for one final walk. Suddenly the weather got summer-like nice, blue sky and sunshine. We took a walk to the more higher mountains and to finish the trip in style we got so lucky to see a mother brown bear with two children in the wild. Check the pictures!

After a few days of rest in Łódź we left for a second trip. This time to completely the opposite site ofthe country, namely GdaÅ„sk Oliwa. We had little sunshine here and there, but unfortunately the rain kept following us also at the seaside. By now we were used to it. Our home here, room in a student dorm in Oliwa, was little less luxurious than in the mountains, but still very fine and very budget-friendly. We visited the Zoo of GdaÅ„sk, had a walk to the tower with wonderful view over the 3-city (GdaÅ„sk-Sopot-Gdynia), took a boat to the peninsula Hel, had a walk around Oliwa with Broneks father (who grew up here), met the grandparents of Bronek, had evening walks on the beach (meeting some weird drunk people), visited the port of Gdynia and were very lucky again to have a very nice last day on which we could bath a little in the sea. We got a free, but a little too fast 😉 ride home from Broneks father. On our way we stopped to visit the castle of Malbork, originally named Marienbourg. This used to be the headquarters of the Teutonic Knights Order and capital city of the order’s country.

Visit in Gent, May 2010

Sunday 30th May 2010, 07:05 PM No comments

The Volcanic Ash cloud has caused a little delay in our meeting schedule. After all we met during the Polish May long weekend. As for such a date the tickets were strangely cheap. We were willing to spend together as much time as possible so on Monday the 3rd when Hanne had to go to Gent to take an exam in Polish I went along. Hanne was busy all morning so I took the opportunity to sniff a little bit around our old quarters. In the afternoon on the other hand we were so busy with ourselves enjoying the city that we didn’t take any pictures at all.

In the morning I managed to trample the entire city across. I took a look over the canals, the area of Sint-Lucas Hogeschool and Portus Ganda. I walked everything around dropping by our old flat. In Brabantdam, in a furniture store, thinking of Zuza I noted down the address of the manufcturer of “growning desks”. Unfortunately they are quite expensive 😛 Very practical though. I do not publish pictures from my mobile – go to the website yourself.

Our old quarters turned out to be teeming with life in the characteristic, hasty rhythm. What prof. StanisÅ‚aw Fisher named recently in his lecture in arcyARCHIwizje in Łódź ‘flickering facades’ one can observe with bare eyes here. If on a map you would mark every new investment with a blinking dot, a map of Gent would look like the starry night sky. An animated map like this was shown to us in urban design class by docent André Coene. I wondered back then how a map of Łódź would look like, if you animated it like this, taking all the data since beginning of 20th century? Since the 50s – like a collapsing black hole?

On one of the most beautiful water avenues of Gent, the canal separating Graslei from Korenlei they started renovation and reintroduction of Oude Vismijn, the old fish trading hall. Lofting Gorup will transform it in to some merciless commercial miracle. I do not know the new function and a little bit I regret for the wooden part of the building which you can see at this picture. Anyway the building was vastly neglected and it is good that somebody is taking care of it. By the way I captured the covered facade of Design Museum at Jan Breydelstraat. Looks like nothing special, but I find it cool, that pedestrians get a couple of archive pictures as a substitution of the real facade. Why no commercials?? 😛

Another romantic canal can be found at Ketelvest. There you can see the back of recent developments of SumProject, office of the architect Paul Lievevrouw. Residence Kouterhof is a standard which the polish “development” will long strive to reach. And I do not mean here the aesthetic interventions, rather the method of financing. The last apartment here was sold in the summer of 2007, before the constructions started for good.
You also get a look towards the west along the same canal, The Flamish Opera and Handelsbeurs. The first hall we already visited two years ago. It served a very cool Swan Lake performed by the Royal Ballet of Flanders and the Flemish Radio Orchestra. The neoclassical facade of the building dated back to first half of the 19th century hides an operetta interior, lavishly reminiscent of the French theater in a somewhat baroque revival style. The hall pleases with good acoustics, and most of all with the performing team. We hope to visit Handelsbeurs in the future.

Wandering in the area of Ketelvest I came across a very interesting church, which I have never noticed before. I don’t know who was this church of, it is situated at Savaanstraat.

The plague of decorative fowl bands, attacking humans in parks is a kind of local oddity. The problem was described in the local papers some time ago. The birds from Muinpark were happy to pose and seemed innocent… 😉

We spent the afternoon together forgetting about the camera. We had a lunch in the patio of Post Plaza at Korenmarkt. This is another building which somehow missed my attention so far. Once it used to shelter the main post office of the city. Postmans gave way for the introduction of consumption and commercial functions. It is a place worth visiting due to the interesting operation hall with brick-steel detail and a glazed, double canopy, characteristic for this area of the world.

In the stream of new views I also noticed the new quarters of Artevelde Hogeschool at Kantienberg and the Polish consulate still in grief at Lange Kruisstraat.
My legs said ‘no’ around 5pm after the 7th circle around the 300-thousand-citizen town. We spent the evening in Brugge…

Trip to Wroclaw, August 2009

Tuesday 18th August 2009, 04:38 PM No comments
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