6 things learnt in Poland

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near main square, Krakow

1. There is a ton of nuns. I’ve tried to figure out why the country is still so catholic despite its oppression during the Communist regime. Of course, to do with Poland’s history and the church replacing governmental structures, being a place of coming together. Judaism is on the rise, however, as many people find back to their routes.

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Schindler’s Factory, Krakow

2. Schindler in real life: wasn’t just like in the movie but there were pots involved. The factory is one of the best museums with interactive installations makes history feel alive for you.

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Park Chopin, Warsaw

3. There is a free Chopin Concert in Warsaw every Sunday. Go there. It’s super cool. Don’t try the waffles sold in the small stall located centrally in the park.

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Cloth Hall, Krakow

4. You can meet a lot of amazing people in Poland. Despite the population not being overly international, people are open-minded and lots of travellers pass through. Couchsurfing’s new Hangout-feature really helped finding amazing people in the area.

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5. You’ll always end up in one place when in Warsaw: Pawilony. It’s basically like the same bar over and over again with hallways inbetween. It’s amazing. I especially recommend Comix Bar (super-hero themed shots)!

6. Political opinions: I learnt that the Communist Party is forbidden there and young people are less prone to feeling left-wing.

P.S.: Contrary to its reputation Poland’s cities are a Paradise for vegan food!

5-ourite places in Kopenhagen

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After a rather disappointing Rock am Ring experience I decided to take off a long weekend and share through a weekend in Denmark. We went by BlaBlaCar, stayed over in an AirBnb and went back with gomore.dk. Saving money on travel helps you enjoy your sightseeing more and worry less about , after all.

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1. Borgen
As a viewer of Danish Drama I didn’t miss out on the Danish parliament, visiting the secret night-discussion spots of twilighty politicians.

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2. Tivoli
A view like this or similar is to be expected from Tivoli, which is not only the second-oldest amusement park but also a go-to place for the youth. On Fridays, evening-tickets are available from 7pm and you can enjoy a concert or just the magical fairy atmosphere.

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3. Nyhavn
The number one place for people who like bucket lists and places-to-go-list readers. The beautiful colours of buildings reflecting in the water (and prices) are almost too much to handle – be it by day or night.

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4. Food – Smushi and Døp

For my Veggie friends: there are options! Denmark’s third-most-famous thing, Smørrebrødis available in sushi dimensions (half size, double price though) at Smushi, a place uniting Danish design and food (and somehow Japan).
There is an amazing hot-dog stall called DØP just next to it to fill your stomach after with a variety of sausages and hot-dog variations. I recommend the one with mash and pickles, but make your choice.

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5. Everything else
Everything. So much beauty to discover just strolling around the neighbourhoods and independent Christiania with its Green-Light district. I also enjoyed the Lille Havfrue quite a lot – whoever is disappointed by her size should probably lower their expectations a bit and understand what “Lille” means. 😉

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Thoughts from Denmark

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My visit to Denmark last weekend lasted a mere 30 hours, but tiny Aalborg (spelled Aalborg rather than  Århus because the Danes didn’t have the right typewriters at some moment, but also quite a controversial issue to do with anti-German sentiments etc…) was easily explored thanks to some lovely guides.

On the way I was reading preparational material: “The Almost Nearly Perfect People” by Brit Michael Booth. As I had no former experience with Denmark I was mostly struck by several things he wrote about: the incredibly high tax levels (up to 70% of a monthly pay check); the Danish word kaerste is used for both ‘taxes’ as well as ‘darling’.

Also, there were some remarks and anecdotes on Danish safety, society and equality and that people from different classes weren’t as socially seperated – both looked at from a positive as well as negative way. I got to know the notion of Jante Law, according to Wikipedia “the idea that there is a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within Scandinavian communities that negatively portrays and criticises individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate” .

The following ten rules were first published in 1933 by Aksel Sandemoose to describe this Scandinavian mindset.

1. You’re not to think you are anything special.

2. You’re not to think you are as good as we are.

3. You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.

4. You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.

5. You’re not to think you know more than we do.

6. You’re not to think you are more important than we are.

7. You’re not to think you are good at anything.

8. You’re not to laugh at us.

9. You’re not to think anyone cares about you.

10. You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

Discouraging thinking a lot, yet still intriguing.

It seems rare to have a set of social norms spelled out that radically and to get baptized (categorical imperatives and golden rules just do not have the same dimension to me). I doubt that Danish people make their every decision based on it, yet the term Jante Law seemed to ring a bell to everyone.

Reminding me of a very different video of 70 years later, maybe Jante Law could be the next export hit to a very individualistic society after LEGO and Skype. Whether that is better or not – we are not to think. Or are we?

A little list about london

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So, I’ve “lived” in the UK’s capital for one month now. So here I am giving some advice to the one-month-ago me.

1. London is the only city where you can buy the citizenship for a fiver. Get an Oyster card, and no-one will be able to tell that you are not from there. (As soon as you know how to tap it the right way). Even if you wear a huge camera or can’t speak English that well, people will think you are a photographer or just from Chinatown, little Italy, etc.

2. Know places other than Pret, EAT and Starbucks. Of course they always come handy when you are in need for an open network connection, but they are also boring. And London has a lot of good, cheaper-than-average tearooms.

3. Make it through rush hour in the tube. The only thing that counts there is survival. I don’t know if it’s the absence of light or internet, but people become animals in there.

4. Take the bus whenever you can. With my monthly travelcard I can explore London in that way, and people aren’t quite as brutal there.

5. Find a cheap cinema. Not even cheap, but affordable. I love the cinema, but I hate paying £15. For a STUDENT TICKET.

6. Check event pages. London is big, so there’s a lot of stuff going on. If you don’t want to miss out, try TimeOut magazine or some facebook pages. I’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon the Africa Festival and Hyper Japan so far. Good stuff.