Vanity Card #55 – The Epitome of 125 Days

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Before you say anything, I must stand on trial and admit that I am guilty of not writing any update here for ages. Today Facebook randomly informed me that I have not published anything for 125 days and it hit me – my life has changed almost completely in the past four months and I have been way too silent about it.

So here is a small recap what happened.

First of all, I learned many various life lessons from my travels in Europe. Life is short. Known fact, yet many think that they live forever. Best possible option is to start aiming higher and focus on your own ambitions in life; what makes you smile, what gives you strength to wake up in the morning, what gives you a purpose.

I enrolled into University of Applied Sciences to study IT and perhaps gain a foothold in an industry that is still growing and evolving on the various fields it offers. I have dreams to one day weave entertaining stories and characters into personal driven game experiences. I have a lot of thoughts and plots to be deployed into the market.

I had a lot of personal baggage from my past and the long dark years had made it difficult to search for someone special. Someone who understands who I am and what I seek from this crazy thing called life. Nevertheless I decided it was time to make conscious moves to start dating people and get exposed for possible heart breaks.

For my astonishment it didn’t take very long before I ran into this one beautiful, amazing and incredibly hilarious woman that stole the very beating thing under my chest. I have now learned to smile again. You know what feeling is the best in the world? To know that someone accepts and loves you just the way you are.

With this newly acclaimed happiness, I feel like I can do so much more in life.

One more change that happened – I did this one huge money contract with bank where I gave up almost everything I had and now I own a apartment. Well, the bank still owes it technically but I am paying a huge chunk of money every month so I can hang around naked in the apartment. Anyone want to come help me hang my curtains? Or help hang my paintings together? No? Shiii.

In all shortness, I am not sure how I will continue to update my site here in GeorgeCarcain.com – I do update my Instagram with small written pieces every now and then. But perhaps I have to open my thought tank and let it spill freely here on the web as well. I am also wondering about starting to write in Finnish once again..

Summer, I hope you arrive soon! I have many plans for you..

Thanks for reading!

– George

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Travel Journal Entry #21: From Ostrava to Krakow

Europe Travel Journal TWENTYONE

There are always plenty of surprises when you travel. Most of the surprises are usually bad apples but when our feet touched the ground at Ostrava we were up for a treat. Truthfully I did not have high expectations for Ostrava as the main reason we decided to visit the city was our lousy butt muscles. The train travel time would have been roughly seven hours if we had taken direct connection from Prague to Krakow, Poland. The fine city of Ostrava met us in the middle.

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Ostrava watch tower has a quite a fountain. Willy on the loose!

The hotel we picked was the best we’ve had so far – the owners wanted to pick us up from the train station so we had zero hassle with luggage. Hence we were able to get our classic people holding a sign with our names on it – moment on our trip. Ten minute car trip and we received keys to our hotel room. For our surprise the room was actually a whole apartment with separate bedroom, living room and a open kitchen space.  Would have been awesome to spend a longer time with this kind of apartment setup but we only stayed two nights here. So we decided to make the most of it!

Ostrava did not have many wonderful sights to visit so we ended up visiting the local watch tower and stroll around the city. The entrance fee was minimal and the height was reached via elevator. The views were pretty sweet but unfortunately the safety fence ruined the Kodak moment. Other option was to steer your camera lens through the safety net and risk dropping your phone. Mission accomplished!

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Down below the majestic circle of casual traffic.

Our host dropped us back to railway station and we were off to our final destination of the Europe trip, Krakow. It felt sort of sentimental to hop off from the last train and understand that your not boarding a train anymore. The only thing left is to experience this city and all that it offers – then fly back to homeland. I was kind of scared of how long it would take to adjust back to the normal day-to-day life. I wanted to hide that thought to the back of my head for now.

I can only say that Krakow was a delight and there were so many things to see and explore. As we knew that our flight out of Krakow to Helsinki would be a really early one (7 AM or something), we decided to visit the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau on first day in town and explore the city on the last one.

I am sure most of you have watched the documentaries and read about the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau but you only get a glimpse to the torture, destruction and slaughter of innocents. When you actually land your feet on the ground and walk through that gate with the innocent looking railroad tracks..

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Your steps get a bit more heavier with every step.

You read the informative boards, stories of survivors, events that occurred and the actions that were lashed upon innocent souls. Just the first one you read after walking through the gate gives you a solid punch in the gut:

Immediately after getting off the train, the Jews were ordered to line up into two columns, one of women and children and the other of men. Each column was subjected to “selections” by SS doctors and medical orderlies, there and then on the ramp: the strong and the healthy were separated from the old, the sick, and children. People selected as fit for work were sent to the camp. The others, usually 70 to 75 percent of a transport, were sent to be murdered in the gas chambers.

Of course nowadays the place is only a shadow of the horror it used to be.

I believe it’s best just to look at the pictures and let them do the talking.

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The memorial plate in front of Auschwitz-Birkenau
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Road to the “living” quarters.
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Imagine having one minute to do your business next to hundred others. Sit a bit too long on the toilet and you will be beaten, possibly to death.
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Endless rows of uncomfortable bunk beds. When the mornings came, there were literally dead among the woken.
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Lone chimneys standing inside a two meter high razor spike fence. Every single chimney was once lit in order to survive.
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The road you only walked once. The prisoners were lied to be taken for a refreshing shower but it was Zyklon B, cyanide gas. One minute in the chamber was enough to kill an adult.
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Some of the prisoners fought back and were able to burn the original gas chamber factory.

“On October 7, 1944, members of the Sonderkommando – the special detachment of Jewish prisoners who were forced to empty the gas chambers after a mass gassing and undertake the burning of the corpses – organized the only armed revolt that ever took place at Auschwitz. They succeeded in destroying Gas Chambers and Crematorium IV. More than 450 heroic prisoners who took part in the revolt were murdered by the SS, either during the revolt itself or subsequently for the purpose of retaliation.”

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The only thing we can do now is to remember the victims and make sure it never happens again.
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The (rail) road ends here.

It was a long, hard day and made me really grateful for the things we take for granted. Freedom of speech, freedom of own choices and actions. Freedom to live life as we see fit. The next morning was the last day of our long trip and we spent it wondering around the city center of Krakow.  Last few remaining sightseeing moments flew by and the remaining time was spent hunting down some souvenirs for the folks at home.

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Our hotel was next to the Grunwald Monument. The battle of Grunwald between Poland and Lithuania is considered to be one of the greatest battles ever to take place in medieval Europe.
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The market plaza had a lot to offer for tourists and various museums, shops and churches were only few steps away.
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The river Veiksel flows gently through Krakow. Picture taken from the Wawel Castle wall.

There we have it.

The journey through Europe was finished the next day with a flight via Amsterdam to Helsinki.  So many thoughts, stories and memories. Great laughs. Truthfully there is plenty to tell about and perhaps I will share some of these memories later in my website.

As all of you might now, I am finishing this travel diary almost three months late as I have been extremely with life in general –  going back to work and actually passing a entrance exam for another study program. In 2018 I am going to expand into a whole new territory in the work department.

All I can say for now is the fact that my traveling days are not finished.

Catch you on the flipside!

– George

Travel Journal Entry #12: Every-Bari Dance Now

My advice to anyone to traveling in Italy: if you have already seen the big cities here and their main attractions, relocate asap to the smaller cities. The true italian lifestyle doesn’t really shine in a busy colossal city like Rome but you learn to appreciate it in a city that has a slower pulse rate.

Castles in the sand.

That is why I like Bari far better than the others. You find a lot of good restaurants and they have empty tables to swoop in without reservation. The streets are not too crowded to let pickpockets snatch easy targets. The city is easy to walk as you don’t have to bet your life on the line every time you cross the street (red light means “go but be very careful” to italians rather than “stop”).

Beach of Bari. Guess the season has ended.

What’s better for a northener like me, the coastal city has slighly lower temperatures due to the ocean breeze. Even 31′ degrees celsius (87.8 fahrenheit) feels a lot colder than in the main land. There are some sights to see (couple of churches, castle and other monuments) so you can spend a day or two exploring them. The beach almost fully covers the coastline and you can sit freely on a bench breathing fresh air.

Chuuuurch. Walked in and there was service in action.

I am rather conflicted do I like Italy or not, as during our stay here we ran into minor trouble, theft, traffic violations, unworkable public transportation, scammers and a lot of unlogical reasons how things work around here in Italy. The quality of restaurants, friendly people, street musicians and general ambience in smaller cities like Bari balance the scales.

Perhaps I have to ponder about my final verdict when I get back home. Tonight we’ll say goodbye to Italy and set sail to Croatia. First stop will be Dubronivk, also known as Kings Landing from hit-series Game of Thrones.

Enjoy your saturday, you know I will!

– George

Travel Journal Entry #10: All Roads Led To Rome

You are going to hate me for this travel entry the same way I will hate myself for writing this. This will be a bit of an angry rant my beloved readers. Blame it on the heat.

My two day experience of Rome is a bit of an homage to the negative history of the once grandiose city. Unfortunately it seems that Rome has not been able to amend the defective mentality and social constructs of the society that enabled its fall to ruins in the first place.

The Pantheon. Visit inside free of charge.
Before I continue any further I want to make myself clear that my homeland is not perfect in any way imaginable. We have many current flaws in our current society and we have no shame in admitting that. But we do our damn best to fix the issues at hand.
As per my experience as a traveller I feel like the people in Rome just let things be broken. Then everybody clears their conscious by pretending it’s “the way of things just work around here”. 

Fontana de Trevi. Water fountain loaded with tourists.

My visit to Rome started with a way too crowded bus to our hotel and a sloppy but oppressive pickpocket attempt. An old man right behind me started to feel me up and search my empty pockets. I immediately slapped away his hands and watched him crawl further away in the bus. We exited the bus on the next stop and took the metro instead. Jeez.

The incident got me paranoid of other strangers pretty quickly. I had to abandon my cosy shorts because the front pockets were too easy to pickpocket and to change into heavier capri shorts which had more secure pockets. Have you ever wore jean-fabric in 35′ Celsius heat? Not pleasant at all.

Vittorio Emanuele monument. Yehaw.

First off the public transportation in Rome is laughable at best. I had heard the tales that one cannot trust the timetables in Italy but in Rome the timetables are literally non-existent. The busses arrive to your stop when they feel like it. You might wait 45 minutes and still see zero busses coming your way. It’s depressing when you see even the locals give up and just walk away from the bus stop. 

The old history, architecture and monuments of Rome and the Vatican city are fascinating but the general loss of logic in supermarkets, elevators, buildings and the people itself eat away the experience. 

Quick example: How many doors one elevator should need to be efficient and easy to use? The correct answer apparently in Italy is three. A door that opens the elevator shaft and two more doors that slide open inside the elevator. If even one of the doors is not 100% in place, the elevator will not work.

The Square of Vatican City.

If something has hit the sweet spot in Rome it’s definitely the food. The restaurants serve amazing delicasies and even a simple pasta carbonara will make you miss the chefs that prepared that heaven for you. Cafeterias will serve you fresh cappucino and tasty pastries for couple of bucks. If you are thinking about food-traveling, please do keep Rome in mind.

Yo Xzibit, Pimp my Pope Chariot.

Tomorrow will be our last full day in Rome and we will spend it by exploring the historical amphiteather Colosseum and Forum Romanum. Oh and shopping for a new mens shoulder bag as my “old” one broke down today. Never buy anything from Zalando kids. 

On Tuesday we will continue our journey and travel to Naples! Summon positive vibes and stay cool y’all! Good night!

– George

Travel Journal Entry #6: Merci et Au Revoir, Paris

I will state it as it is my dear readers, Paris is kept in a high regard in Europe for a reason. Visit the city for at least three days and you will adjust to the rhythm it speaks out loud. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternite – these are the virtues the people of France hold dear.

The architecture everywhere in the city is stunning and the people living here complement the very ambiance of Paris. The way of life here is not the way of life we Finns tend to live in the north but there surely is a certain kind of charm to it. 

I am now obliged to tell you I’m writing this piece while holding a red wine bottle in my other hand and a belly full of croissants mixed with appetizer cold cuts. I call it the French Night Delight. So my current opinion on Paris might be biased at the moment.

Yesterday we woke up early to get breakfest and set afoot to see the Eiffel tower in all of its glory. It’s never a challenging task to find a suitable breakfast place in Paris as the streets are full of restaurants, créperies and coffee shops. However if you’re on a tight budget you’ll soon find out that the global fastfood restaurants here have the best value for money menus. You’ll be amazed what you can get with 5,00 EUR.

After finishing our breakfast we hopped on a bus near the Paris latin quarter and watched the street signs change for a good 15 minutes. Soon enough our eyes gazed on the majestic Eiffel tower from the ground up. To see the whole building as one we had to walk roughly 200 meters away from the monument. The lush park around Eiffel tower smelled wonderful and the amount of tourists wandering around the monument was not too bad considering the popularity of Eiffel tower.

Le Pointy Thing, Eiffel Tower.

The only thing that was a nuisance was the street merchants that were a bit of aggressive in selling Eiffel tower merchandise around the park. We soon found out that best way to avoid scammers, pickpockets and desperate merchants was to inform them we do not speak english.

After we had made our peace with the Eiffel tower we headed out to see the Arc De Triumph. Man the monument was larger in real life than I was expecting it to be. My biggest worry was the car traffic around it and the careless tourists that wandered fearlessly in it to get the perfect vacation picture. 

Joanne D’ Arc De Triumph. Oh, wait, no.

The monument is located on the Champs-Elysee road which is filled with restaurants, fashion shops and bars. We even found an event celebrating the transfer of famous football player Neymar Jr. to the team PSG. If I understood correctly the star player was giving out signed team shirts to fans. We settled for an icecream in nearby shop.

Football hype that I wish I’d understand.

Finishing the Paris experience with some slightly guessed statistics:

  • The amount of croissants eaten: 12
  • The amount of wine bottles enjoyed: 5
  • The amount of Bonjours: ~ 74
  • The amount of Merci’s: ~ 63
  • The amount of trying to act like you understood what the cashier told you: ~ infinite

Paris, you are alright. Next time I will come to visit you will be with the love of my life. Tomorrow we have to pack our bags and the planned destination will be Bern in Switzerland! Have a great night everybody! 

– George

Vanity Card #54 – The Long Stretch

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Paul Coelho, the author of the novel The Alchemist, once wrote out to the world:

Life was always a matter of waiting for the right moment to act.

The summer breeze caught Finland by its balls in the start of June and nowadays we are experiencing a delightful twenty-something degrees of Celsius. It sure took long enough, as we experienced slight snow drizzles still in May.  I never quite understood how the weather shapes the people that live under it’s unjust ruling; until I started this year observing other worker ant’s like myself while commuting to work. From gray face to mild smile, The Finnish standard of expressing “I am enjoying the sunshine!”.

Summer has not been the only thing I have kept myself waiting for months now. I reckon’ it was last spring when I started to harbor feelings of exhaustion, being on the rocks and searching for a meaningful answer to the question “Why am I working so hard to cash in 37,5 hour weeks at the office if I don’t feel like this is the way my life should venture forth?”

Today marks the special date when I have set myself completely free for an extended period of time and I can only hope that the adventure that awaits will give me some answers that I desperately seek on this journey. This week I counted the remaining days at work with a shameless amusement and yesterday slow clapped myself out of commission. For all it’s worth, I have to give sincere thanks and gratitude for my employer for giving me another chance to continue my career in logistics.

Ever since I started studying 2009 at University of Applied Sciences to get my degree in business, I did not take any vacation as I was working the summer months to keep more than just an empty plate on my table. I was taught at a young age to always work harder than anybody else to stay ahead of the recession and I believe it took a major toll on me. To never relax under any circumstance.

I really need a break. No, I need an adventure.

A one of the parting gifts I received from my lovely colleagues at work was a compass. To guide me back home. I just hope I will find where that home is.

Two and a half month adventure through the Europe starts 1st of August, July will be mostly spent planning, exercising and buying all the necessary equipment to enjoy the train rides and keeping sure that I have a fresh pair of underwear when the shit hits the fan. Figuratively, of course. Well, you never know. I have a sensitive stomach. Did I gross you out?

Great, mission accomplished.

I sincerely promise that there will be a flow of new updates on this site as now the only currency I have plenty to spend is time. I have already bought myself a sweet Bluetooth keyboard and a quality tablet which I will be taking with me through Europe.

Perhaps I should do a test write on it? Oh yeeah can dooo!

– George

Vanity Card #53 – The Struggles and Payoffs

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Song to accompany the reading experience, performed by Welshly Arms:

 

The Nobel prize winner John Steinbeck wrote a quote about the journey of life that has stuck with me through all these years of soul-searching.

A journey is a person in itself; to two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

We humans have a heartfelt tendency to think ourselves as complex demigods, but we frequently tend to perceive others as something transparent.  I have always felt it very troublesome as I am always eager to connect with other people – to find a common ground among strangers. It would be a narrow-minded lie if I said that every single person I connected once upon time with is still in my life. We are on this rampart journey we can only try to plan and hope that most of our dreams materialize into being.

As we are along the subject of becoming something through the journey, all the hardships you have suffered to this breath have made you the person you are today. In classical Chinese philosophy the natural world is on bound together by Ying and Yang, two opposite forces that compliment each other. The duality that teaches that the whole is always greater than the assembled parts. In layman’s terms, what does not kill us makes us stronger.

No matter how good of a strategist you think yourself to be, there will always be a wild card or two among the tall grass. It might be the fact that every single day of our lives, we are being fed by millions and millions of stimulus so in contrast, we have developed a mindset filter to shift through the parts that feel like matter the most. But we are not perfect, the Latin saying errare humanum est stands the test of time. So in the long run, we miss a rough-rugged diamond every now and then.

Nevertheless, my mother didn’t raise no fool, life is a numbers game. Probabilities, chances, uncertainty are all over the board and all we can do is hope that everything will be alright at the finish line. Bargaining is callous part of the deal of owning a self-conscious mind. The only advice I can sell to others is to make sure that you take the ships wheel of life and steer where you want to visit. The only mistake you can make is not to raise the anchor and let the dices roll.

I have a feeling that this time the house does not always win.

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– George