duminică, 15 martie 2009

Feed your billfold in Slovenia

My staying in Slovenia was like a complete circle.

A short stop in Italy: Venice and Trieste

On my way to Slovenia, for "Feed your billfold" training, i had a stop in Italy. I arrived on Treviso airport, and from there i took a bus to Venice.

The rain worried me a little bit, thinking that I will have to visit the most romantic city in the world on a difficult weather. But when in arrive in Piazza di Roma, the rain stopped. I went first to the train station, to leave my luggage and to see when do I have a train to Trieste, where I was supposed to spend the night.

One of the first advices I received was from an American girl (from the accent), that was accompanying an older lady to a cash-machine. I asked her where I can leave my luggage, and she told me that in this city is better to have it very close to me and not leave it out of my sight. Probably the romantic mood didn’t catch her too much.

I bought a map from the tourist office in the train station and from there I just followed the Grand Canal, on my way to Piazza San Marco. I tried to see all the sides of Venice, taking the touristic ways but also the small streets and the small canals. I saw many beautiful buildings, palaces, but also ones very deteriorated, where the plaster felt down many years ago. But the feeling was great, and I had a deep feeling of peace inside me. A guy from CS told me to just close my eyes on the small streets, keep my breath and if there is nobody around I can hear the sound of Venice. And indeed, once you are closing your eyes, far away from the crowd, you can hear drops of water, some small waves hitting the walls of the buildings, bells of a cathedral near by, the tic-tac of a clock from a tower.

The palaces were well maintained, probably newly renovated, and the predominant colors were white and orange. I wanted to see necessarily three things: Ponte Rialto, Piazza San Marco and Ponte dei Sospiri. First the left side of the Grand Canal, then a little bit of the rights side. When I arrived at Ponte Rialto a lot of people were taking photos. One of the main attractions, I think J I also took some pics and continued my way. I wanted to stop each 10 meters to admire the city, but I didn’t have enough time, and the fact that in the evening I have to take the train to Trieste was pressing me. I tried not to live through the photo camera and I think I succeeded.

I was surprised to hear Romanian almost every 500 m. I knew that I can find a lot of co-nationals in Italy, but not that much in Venice. I was a little bit worried too about the relations between Italians and Romanians, especially because lately there were a lot of tensions and even some of the Italian politicians had some crazy ideas.

In Piazza San Marco I am welcomed by a flock of pigeons and seagulls. I took some time to take some pictures, because since I received Jonathan Livingston Seagull (the book of Richard Bach) at the end of FIT, I became inspired by seagulls. Basilica San Marco was interesting, but surrounded by so much history, didn’t impress me too much. A lot of people were in front, waiting in queues to go inside. I admired Palazzo Ducale and then, finally, I saw Pontei dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). Looking for information about it, I saw that there are different opinions. The one that you can find in most of the books is that the bridge took its name because the view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice out the window before being taken down to their cells. In reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built, and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals. Also, they could barely see any view from inside the Bridge due to the stone grills covering the windows.
A local legend says that lovers will be assured eternal love if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the bridge.

There was a dense fog around the lagoon, so I could barely see the cathedral on the island close to Piazza San Marco. I took the small streets back to Ponte Rialto, where I wanted to cross on the other side of the Canale Grande. I was lost a little bit because I wanted to find my way without the map. Anyway in Venice it’s hard to get lost, because you can see written on the buildings the directions to Piazza San Marco and to Ponte Rialto. The bridges where everywhere, beautiful small bridges where probably a lot of couples kissed across the time. I was wondering how many people walked the same way I did … probably more than 100 millions, and I am not exaggerating thinking how old Venice is and how many tourists are visiting each year.

It became more and more dark, and it was more quiet and just a few people on the streets I took. Now the windows of the shops were more visible, and through many of them I could see the famous masks used especially during the Carnival. The night was making Venice more mysterious, you could expect a character from the books coming from around the corner, with a big hat and a sword. I was enjoying a lot the atmosphere, the people around me seemed so relaxed, and the time almost stopped.

I crossed a bridge for the last time just near the train station, I asked a guy for a cigarette and I sat on the bank of Canale Grande. I wasn’t sure if I will come again after the training from Slovenia, so after I finish the cigarette, I took a deep breath, I said good bye to Venice and I went to buy my train ticket.

In the train, after I installed myself comfortable in the chair, I noticed a curious warning on the back of the ticket, that I can receive a fine if I don’t validate it. I asked a girl what is that all about, she told me that an the entrance of the platform there is a yellow box where I must introduce the ticket. I was not sure how much time I still have, so I run to the box, and when I was back I saw her looking after me very worried, and taking care of my luggage. I was happy to meet a person like that, and when she leaved the train we said good bye like good friends. Meanwhile I met a guy from Sierra Leone (if I remember correctly), who was very dressed up, with lots of clothes, and he told me that even if he is here for 2 years already, he couldn’t get use to this weather. He was using slang, so I understood maybe less than half of what he was saying, but we were kept in the discussion, so time was passing by very fast.

Around 10.30 I arrived in Trieste, and from the instructions I received from Domenico, my CS host, I was supposed to find the way to his house quite easy. It wasn’t so, and I had to ask some people, from the few I met on the streets at that hour. But everybody was very nice, explaining me in lots of details how I can arrive in Piazza Garibaldi J Especially one guy riding his motorcycle, he came from the middle of the intersection, climb the sidewalks, came with me again in the middle of the intersection to point me clearly where I have to go. Finally I am there, and my host welcomed me. He was quite an interesting person, working with mentally disabled people, some of them in a very advanced stage. We discussed for a couple of hours, and I liked his direct way of speaking about things. He gave me the key, even if the next day I was leaving to Slovenia and probably we were not able to see each other. After some cultural exchange grapa-tuica, I went to bed, he went to work.

The next day I was supposed to be near the train station at 4, to meet Dinka, my old friend from Belgium and Mollina, and Alan, and to be picked up by Pietro, the trainer, with his car. I arranged a meeting with Elena, my next-host, for the night after the training. We had a walk around the city, visited the harbour, and after that she went with me to the meeting point with the guys from the training.

Exploring Belgium, south-east to north-west

How i arrived in Belgium is an experience.

One night in Munich

For a long time i wanted to see Munich and Bavaria. 

Finland, 2nd-8th of February 2009

February started as a month with many trips. I had a training in Finland and another one in Belgium. The one in Finland was called SOHO, a training on European Voluntary Service, between 4th-8th of this month. I came two days earlier, to have some time to visit Helsinki. 

As many times before, i arrived in the city quite late in the night, and i was supposed to spend my first night at a couchsurfer's place.  The deal was to send him a sms when i am taking the bus from the airport to the train station in Helsinki, and we will meet inside the station. Due to some problems, my sms didn't reach him, so i found myself at almost midnight without any idea where i will sleep that night. I tried to call him, but a finish voice was telling me something that i translated as "The owner is not available for the moment. Please try again later".

New Years Eve Reunion in Portugal

I arrived in Lisboa with the rain that i carried with me from Barcelona.

Barcelona after Christmas

For a long time i was thinking to start writting in English, because of my friends that I met in different trainings abroad. I think this can be a good start.

After a year with so many experiences, trips in Turkey, Belgium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Iceland, UK, France i chosed to spend my New Years Eve in Portugal, in a reunion with my colleagues from FIT. 

On my way to beautiful Lisboa, i arranged a stop in Barcelona, because i wanted to meet Fatima. After i spent the first days of Christmas with my family, i took the plane to Catalunya, arriving in the Gaudi's city quite late in the night. Arriving around 1 AM at my hostel, in the heart of the town, i met an interesting group of people from Norway and New Zeeland. We discussed for a couple of hours about music, life and trips, and because at 8 o'clock i woke up, my room mates didn't even noticed that somebody slept there :)

I met Fatima for a walk in the rainy Barcelona, having the company of the two little cousins of her, and La Rambla was our way to the sea. Being here in the summer, the city was a little bit different in december, and unexpectedly cold. I had my flight at 14.30 to Lisboa, so i had just a couple of hours free. As ussual, i said good bye to Fatima in the metro station, thinking about the next time when we will see each other.