Thoughts continued...

I am now back from my Nordics trip... It was good to come back to Sweden. And I don't think much has changed since the year I spent there - 2004-05. And I got to see Denmark for the first time! It was such a useful week for me - full of impressions and people I met, somewhat dark and gloomy as well - but with lots of candle lights... with some good time on my own, plus with some reflections on the Scandinavian attitude to life.

According to one quite widely spread stereotype the Swedes - and the Scandinavians in general - are quite cold and emotionless people. I don't think this is exactly true, but certainly they know how to control themselves and be discrete with their emotions. It's not considered OK to show your true 'needy' self and complain. In addition to that it is not OK when your negative emotions or feelings are directed to other people and aim at controlling or reproaching them. Interestingly, if you translate the Swedish word 'svartsjuk'(jealous) literally into English it means 'black sick', so jealousy is viewed as a black disease and this is a feeling one is ashamed of and is not supposed to display.

Images by Camilla Engman

Also another quite interesting thing is that being single is regarded as a strength and craving for being with someone is rather a weakness. (And the question here is - is it just a good excuse to cover up the misery of being lonely?). But then lots of Swedes prefer to stay single and open to anything which might come their way in terms of new experiences and they are quite direct in terms of expressing what they want - they don't play games and are just plain honest in saying what they are up to. So the key word here is individualism. For me coming from Eastern Europe with a culture totally different from this, it is quite a difficult thing to get used to. Here we are all so much more 'social animals', we wait for each other to go grab a coffee together, we wait for colleagues to go back from work together, we make plans according to the plans of other people - look just how dependent we are!

Image by Olga

Well, the disarming thing about the Swedes is the dry and self-deprecating humour they have and they do joke quite a lot!

Thoughts from Göteborg

Greetings from Nordic Gothenburg. I'm spending this week here - and there is still a lot to discover about this city! I have found this picture in Google, and for me it's quite interesting as it gives a glimpse of the office I work from to the left of the bridge.

Image by Google

The weather was just wonderful when I arrived on Saturday, I even managed to catch some sun, but then Sunday was unbearable - it was raining really hard for the whole day plus the wind was too strong... it was impossible to survive such a combination outside!

So I have been having some time alone trying to adjust myself to the Scandinavian rhythm/lifestyle/atmosphere. Gdańsk seems to be not too far away from here, but the difference is of course huge. It is very interesting to observe the Swedes and their tranquil but creative way of arranging their lives, decorating their homes with lights and things, following the traditions and gradually getting ready for Christmas...

I spent one year in Sweden back when I was a student and I quite often come back to that time in my memories. A year in a country so well organized with people so tolerant and open was a great experience - and I did learn a lot. One of my friends who spent 5 years here said that life in Scandinavia is good, relaxing and... black and white (by which he meant 'boring'). Many Swedes admit to that and I agree to some point. Still I think the Swedish people are good in engaging themselves in various activities - and some are far from being bored :)

So far I can say that the Swedish are more forthright in speaking about their achievements, are more spontaneous in their decision-making, offer personal opinions and express disagreement more readily and of course have a greater tolerance for individual style differences, and a more flexible definition of protocol - all quite positive observations. I just wish it would be easier to socialize with them! But I think I myself can be quite a recluse at times...

God natt...

Salvador Dali's Alice in Wonderland

Dali’s incredible illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” (published in 1865) have caused it to become one of the rarest and most sought-after Dali suites. With the original gouaches published by Maecenas Press-Random House, New York in 1969, the Suite now contains 12 heliogravures - one for each chapter of the book - and comes with 1 original signed etching in 4 colors as the frontpiece. This collaboration brings together arguably two of the most creative minds in Western culture, as both are considered ultimate explorers of dreams and imagination.

The originals of these works are open for public in the Espace Dali Museum in Paris, Montmartre - a very unusual and phantasmagoric place to visit, which I really recommend.

Alice Frontis Piece

Down the Rabbit Hole

The Pool of Tears

A Caucus Raceanda Long Tale

The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

Advice From a Caterpillar

Pig and Pepper

Mad Tea Party

The Queens Croquet Ground

The Mock Turtles Story

The Lobsters Quadrille

Who Stole the Tarts

Alice's Evidence

Morning Coffee?

Latte, Capuchino, Caramel Macchiato or Espresso.. :)?

Images by Pacifist

Portugal Highlights. Day 1

I'm really enjoying this autumn - somehow I finally have a bit of free time, which wasn't the case in the summer. The summer was too hectic to be able to keep up with everything which was going on - travel for work, travel for pleasure, work back in Gdansk and catching up to do... and all the people visiting here in Gdansk... plus of course blogging :) Good times, but very very busy... Now I think I'm in a calm phase of reflection and am very much enjoying the slower pace of life.

I have finally found the time to start going through all the pictures brought from this summer travels - and there are a lot of amazing places to talk about. I already have some posts about Portugal - and it deserves even more attention - as it was a real discovery for me. Definitely a place to go back to and explore in every detail!

If you are in Lisbon one of the great places to go to enjoy some sea food is Cervejaria Trindade - a historical traditional beer house with lovely interiors and even better food.

Image by Arek

And afterwards a perfect place to go to enjoy a cup of coffee or ginginha - the tasty Portuguese liqueur - is the famous literary cafe A Brasileira.

Image by Arek

Don't forget to pace the streets of Lisbon by night to indulge in the cosy atmosphere of this historical city and taste some grilled sardines prepared right on the streets - they are too good to pass by without trying!

Image by Arek

You can start your morning from a trip to Mafra - a beautiful town 28 km North-West from the center of Lisbon. A must see there is the Baroque Mafra Palace with its fabulous interiors and artifacts.

Image by Arek

The building also includes a major library, with about 40,000 rare books.

Image by Arek

After that take a trip to a little town of Ericeira - previously a fishermen village, which later on developed into a picturesque summer resort.

Image by Arek

Image by Olga

Image by Olga

Image by Arek

Image by Arek

Beautiful beaches, tiny restaurants with fresh and delicious typical food, lots of blue-white coloured fishermen houses and azulejos all around - a perfect retreat from the busy life of a big city!

Image by Arek

Image by Arek

Image by Olga

On the way back from Ericeira to Lisbon you need to make a stop to visit a tiny city - an imitation of real rural houses created by a Portuguese enthusiast on his own property (unfortunately I can't remember either the name of the architect or even how the place is called :( ...) Can you please help me out? :)

Image by Arek

And finally spend a nice evening back in Lisbon itself enjoying beautifully illuminated historical sights.

Image by Arek

Image by Arek

Image by Arek

Image by Arek

Take a metro on the way back - every station is skillfully decorated with modern azulejos and the metropolitain itself is very modern and not crowded.

Image by Olga

On the final note of this post - very warm greetings to dear friends TI and Ze without whom this great trip wouldn't be possible!