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

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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

VanityCard54longstretch

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

VanityCard53TheStrugglesAndPayOffs

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

Vanity Card #52 – The How You Like Me Now

VanityCard52TheHowYouLikeMeNow

To set the right mood, press play.

The camera slides into focus with a wide lens capturing the whole office room. George sits at his work desk and drums the pen on the keyboard.  The song can be heard through the headphones and it visibly irritates the coworkers. Boss enters the room, assesses the situation and walks to remove the headphones. Dialog begins.

When was the last time you really felt freedom? Like you could do anyone and anything in the world? When was the last time you were thinking about your life and thought to yourself, man, I am winning this game so bad.

An hour later the man in question walks free from the conference room and the days of breathing damp office air are numbered. Tickets have been drafted, plans have been made. No more of this old mess.

I am getting ahead of myself here. There is still 60 days left. In conclusion, I have decided to follow my good friend’s wisdom of leaving everything behind for a while and search for experiences in the open wide world. Many would question my choices – our bloody generation was well tempered into a loop of eat, work and sleep repeat.

Tickets have already been purchased and now the ecstasy of planning enthralls the brain, going back and forth on all the possibilities and places to see. Truth is I have known already for a while my personal calling and during this year I am ready to go through all the hoops, hell and high water to achieve the goals set for 2017.

So all I can do tonight is to play this song over and over and over.

– George

See, I been a bad bad bad bad man.
And I’m in deep, yeah.
I found a brand new love for this man,
And can’t wait till you see.
I can’t wait.

So how you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How You Like Me Now – Performed by The Heavy