Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Riga Cool Times 2012

I keep constantly pursuing the happiness to confirm 2012 as one of the best years I had (and still having) in my life! So much fun, learning and achievements!

Last year I joined CouchSurfing event called "Riga Good Times" (Maybe not officially a CS meeting, but mainly spread in there) and I had the greatest time doing pub crawling, parties, drinking and so on. 
So, I thought I could add few elements of previous "happy years" into this one to make 2012 a year with boosted fun and unlimited possibilities.

In this photo, you can see from right to left: Heikki (in the background), Valeria, Michael and me. This Michael is the guy with the never-ending laughing.  He can fix anyone's bad mood with his positive mood and jokes. Seriously, he laughs 101% of the time! :)

Apart from the happy element "Riga", I also added some elements from 2007, which was a great year for me too! - I went to unforgettable Slovakia again in May and visited my favourite Slovak cities: Zilina, Bratislava (skipping Poprad unfortunately). 
I then also made another cultural exchange by going to Russia in June (Trying to have a similar cultural shock as I had in AIESEC's Peace project in Feb/Mar 2007).

Unpredictably, I had the opportunity to spend 4 months in beautiful Sweden, working with awesome people and having loads of fun! 

Less than 1 month to its end but 2012 is still very promising. :)

Link to my post on Riga Good Times 2011:

Friday, 30 November 2012

Follow the light

Recently, I got this advice from a good friend: "Nano, follow the light!" and I think it has a deeper meaning than it seems, as it reminded me the advice given to Neo (from the movie Matrix): "Follow the white rabbit". 
These advices were given to two distinct persons: Neo and Me, and both of us were living a dream at the moment we got them. 
The difference between us is that: Neo wanted to wake up from that dream and live the reality whereas I just wanted to dream on!
Funny in it is that: the darker it gets here in Scandinavia, the brighter I see my way back home after my melancholic evenings poured with alcohol in Lund (the town of magic and dreams) // thanks to the Christmas decoration in Malmo's city centre.

I tried something awesome lately: I went riding a bike alone (with only one small led in the front of it) throughout a dark cemetery and listening to the song "The Wolf" by Fever Ray. This is simply an easy way to fully unplug the brain from reality for exactly 4 minutes and 45 seconds.

...
You are the sound that I hear  (2x)
We are not standing
We are falling
Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
...

This was my last week in Sweden in 2012 and if the world won't end by 21st of December, I wish I could live this dream again. Good bye, Sweden (for now).


Special thanks to Derek! (for the advice!)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Supporting Brazil in Wrocław

Brazil is playing a serie of friendly matches as a preparation for the World Cup in 2014 which is going to take place in Brazil.
After playing against China and Iraq, our national team came to Poland to play against Japan! So I joined my brazilian friends and went to the stadium in Wrocław!
The Polish press did a great job publishing our photos in many sites like gazeta.pl and sportowefakty.pl 
I'm the one wearing glasses in the photo beside and I'm carry the flag of Esporte Clube Bahia, one of the best football teams in the Brazilian first league. :)

Thanks for reading, and here the links to the news releases:

Monday, 1 October 2012

Eurasian Lynx by my lens

I'm not a photography geek and I don't have a fancy camera (these which cost around 2000 USD). I'm just a nature enthusiast and I use the good camera from my smart-phone to take the cutest photos of amazing and unique animals such as the white tiger, polar bear and Siberian leopard.
In this post I'm bringing to you the amazing Eurasian lynx (Specie: Lynx lynx) which I could photograph from very close (I almost got bitten by it). This photo beside was taken without any zoom and has a very high quality! (If you would like to have it as a wallpaper, then ask me for the one with full resolution and I send to you via e-mail).
These photos were taken at the Skånes Djupark, nearby the small town named "Höör" in the southwest of Sweden. To get to inside the park an adult should buy a ticket which costs 180 SEK and, apart from the lynxes (I could see at least three of them), you can also see brown bears, foxes and lots of other local animals. It's not a full-range zoo with lions, tigers, monkeys, elephants or giraffes but you will find animals from this non-tropical zone of the globe. More info at: http://www.skanesdjurpark.se
The other zoo still in my must-see list in Sweden is the Björn park (Bear park), which is more specialized in carnivore predators and has a larger range of animals like the snow leopard, polar bear and Amur leopard. More info at: http://www.orsabjornpark.se

Here few more photos of the lynx. Just click on them to enlarge:

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Life in Skåne

After two months in Sweden, living in the sunny town named Lund, I already have my opinion about the Swedes; They are honest, very well-educated, polite and sociable people! Additionally, few decades ago Sweden became a multicultural country and racism can't be seen anywhere here. It's a very migrant-friendly country (perhaps too much) and workers have extended social benefits if they are hired legally by a company in here! For sure a very suitable country for those seeking some changes in life. However, every country has its minuses and here are the ones in Sweden: Taxes are very high, government holds a monopoly of alcoholic beverages (meaning: very high prices on alcohol), all the night clubs and bars can be open only until 3 am (an parties close to dormitories even at 2am), the country is quite colder than average for an European country and few problems with Muslim immigrants. If you are OK with this, so... Välkommen!! (And bring some bottles!)
Skåne is the name of the southern state in which cities like Lund, Malmö, Helsingborg and Landskrona are located. It's fully connected by exclusive bike lanes so, it's a paradise for bikers like me, during summer. I wish I could have done more bike trips (I've done only two). I liked my bike trip alone from Lund to Malmö (46 kilometres - both ways). The photo beside was taken in Malmö by the turning torso, which is said to be the highest building in Sweden. 
Maybe next summer I will have the chance to make a longer trip, lets say... Helsingborg? Destiny will tell. So far, I keep focused with the hard work on a modern smart-phone to be released soon!

Photos are being upload to this album as I take them:


So far, 130 have been added since the beginning of my trip. Enjoy! :)

Friday, 10 August 2012

Weekend in Copenhagen

After almost five years living in Europe, I finally visited one of the remaining Scandinavian countries in my list of "must see countries". Among Scandinavian countries, only Iceland is not in this list. But I'm not trying to say that I'm done with Scandinavia already since I visited only capital cities in Norway and Denmark so far. Still plan to visit Roskilde some day during some metal festival. Sweden was much more explored by me already. I visited many cities in Sweden already, such as Stockholm, Uppsala, Vasteras, Lund, Helsingborg and soon I will visit Malmö.
Copenhagen has many green areas and a very efficient metro system connected to trains and buses. A single journey within the 1st and 2nd zones won't cost you less than 14 DKK if you buy the 10-rides ticket. It's cheaper than paying the normal fee in the metro (23 DKK).
Since it's summer, the city is quite crowded as you can see in the photo beside, taken in Nyhavn which is the most famous spot in Copenhagen. A typical tourist in Copenhagen would go to Nyhavn street to take the boat trip departing from there. I'm not typical, so I was basically walking everywhere. ;)
The night-life is surprisingly agitated, people know how to have fun in Copenhagen; the clubs were crowded in the evening and I saw no fights there, maybe because alcohol inside the club (or even outside) is expensive. For a Heineken long-neck (0,33L) inside a club you pay 40 DKK (~5,5 EUR). Perhaps I will stop complaining about alcohol price in every post I publish here, because people may get bored! So, whenever you see a post about Scandinavia in my blog, just know that alcohol was expensive there! :)
There is one peculiar thing about Copenhagen that is not so widely spread worldwide but through my blog you are now about to find out: There is one neighbourhood called Christiania (or Freetown) and soft drugs are tolerated there such as Marijuana or Hash. So you can buy "freely" and even consume it. Just don't buy it as souvenir and take it to the aircraft or train with you. You might get into trouble. :)
On Sunday morning (almost mid-day), I even managed to go to a chill-out festival in the park, for free. But it was SOOO chill-out that I got bored and left earlier back to sunny Sweden. It was a nice weekend in a very nice city which I'd love to visit again soon! :)

For full album of photos, click here!

Friday, 27 July 2012

First week in Lund


My first days in the sunny town of Lund, in the south of Sweden, are being quite good and relaxing. Lund is a small student's town of around 80.000 inhabitants, very clean, safe, and with bike lanes everywhere. People don't actually need cars here.
Only 10 km away from Lund there is a small municipality of Lomma in which there is a very nice beach with shallow and calm water. There is even a 10km-track for bikes only to get to Lomma beach from Lund. There is, as well, a 20km-track to get to Malmö. I've been here since 9 days ago and I feel very healthier than normal since I go to work by bike everyday and I can also go to gym after work or in the hotel. One more positive thing related to health is that beer here contains maximum 3.5% of alcohol and can be bought also in 0.33l cans, so if I need to open one can of beer when watching TV, it doesn't need to be 0.5l with 5% of alcohol. I know it's not a big difference but can definitely be perceived on long-term basis.
Beer with ~5% alcohol at bars/clubs cost around 50 SEK (~6 EUR), so it's also preventing me from buying those since I don't 'like' this price. So, when partying with friends, it's better to drink beer from supermarket with 3,5% and complement with high-quality Polish vodka. Since alcohol is veeery expensive here, if you are the person carry some bottles and offering vodka to people here, you can get many friends! ;)
The weather here is awesome. For the last 5 days, it's been so sunny and warm that I "had" to pay a visit to to Lomma beach (by bike, of course) with my new group of international friends (from Couchsurfing and Facebook) to play some volleyball and to barbeque. I haven't taken so many photos so far but I am putting them on my picasa album, little by little. To see the photos, click on the link below:




Sunday, 1 July 2012

Saint Petersburg


My last stop in Russia was the marvelous city of Saint Petersburg. I decided to remove Moscow from my original travel plan, so I could enjoy seven days exploring the enchanting streets of "Leningrad" (this is how St. Petersburg used to be called before 1991). 
St. Petersburg is a very big city! Its metro has five interconnected lines which are very efficient and one can ride for as low as 27 RUR for a single-trip. It's definitely recommended to get a map at airport because it's easy to get lost and people won't talk to you in English on the streets - So get your self a phrasal book too!

It's summer, now in St. Petersburg they have their so-called 'white nights'. The sun actually sets but it won't be completely dark until it rises again. Nice time for parties and clubbing. 

If I would have to describe St. Petersburg in one line I would simply use the equation: "Vienna + Amsterdam = St. Petersburg". The sumptuousness of Vienna with the channels and fun of Amsterdam. Does anyone have a better equation? Please comment on! :)
One thing I should warn you, my reader, is about the price of the beer! Russia in general is famous for cheap alcohol and drinking practice but, well, this won't apply to Moscow or St. Petersburg. Beer costs more than 200 RUR (~ 5 EUR) in bars/clubs in the city center. I've seen a pint of Guinness for 270 RUR (~6,50 EUR). So, organize well your 'pre-party' somewhere else before going to a bar or club. By doing this you may save a lot of money.

Most of the fancy places to see, restaurants and bars are located in Nevsky avenue (Nevsky prospect) or close to it. If you like arts, you should definitely see the hermitage  museum. I'm not much into arts, so I just visited nice spots to take photos like the church of the spilled blood (depicted in the photo beside), as well as the fortress of Peter and Paul and Kronshtadt island. I was much more tuned in the night life. :)
I guess this is my last post about my 1-month trip to Russia, so here are my last comments on Russian beer: My favourite Russian beer is Nevskoe lager! Really nice one! The beer "Baltica 7" is also good, but must be very cold. I really miss the Nevskoe now that I'm back to Poland! 
Bottled Guinness in Russia are fake, they just taste like a normal "porter" beer (bitter dark beer). They can fool other people, not me! I've been to St. James' gate in Dublin, I know the taste of a real one. ;) 

I've added more photos to the album, so there are more than 200 now. To see them, click here!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Russian language


I guess I'm already able to write a quick overview about the Russian language to demystify it a bit! Russian language is very easy when compared to rich languages as Portuguese. :-)

Alphabet

People might have a mental barrier to learn Russian due to its different alphabet (Cyrillic alphabet) which sometimes makes me think it was created to confuse everyone since it has letters that look like some of the Latin letters but mirrored, for example: Я, И, З - They don't sound as R, N, E... There are also identical letters to Latin alphabet but with different sound. The letters H,P,Y,C,B,X in Russian sound like N,R,U,S,V,H in the Latin alphabet, respectively. In the beginning it's very hard to read since reader's brain is used to Latin alphabet and it tries to "convert" these letters while reading it.

Handwriting

To make it even more messy, the handwriting in Russian makes the lower-case of the letter Д looks like the Latin letter 'g' and the lower-case for И looks like the Latin letter 'u' while the lower-case for T looks like the Latin letter 'm'. You can check the handwriting in this picture beside.
If one manages to catch up the alphabet, the grammar isn't so hard and the verbs are VERY simplified.

Verbs

They have full conjugation for present tense, meaning: every pronoun has its unique conjugated form for a given verb. However, for the past tense you just need to know if it is singular or plural and if singular we also need to know the gender. They don't have a non-virile form for the plural (In case of women or animals performed the action). So, it's so easy, that when you have the male singular form of the verb, you just need to add 'a' if the pronoun is feminine, or 'o' if the pronoun is neutral. If it's plural you just need to add 'и'. (of course there are some exceptions).

One more annoying thing about the Russian language is the verb "to be". It almost doesn't exist in the present tense. There is only one form (Есть) for all pronouns but it's not used in the present tense anyway. The rule is simple, if there is no verb in the sentence it means that the 'to be' verb is being used implicitly. It sounds so primitive! For example: to say "I am Brazilian", I have to say "Я Бразилец" (I Brazilian). The only thing I can compare it to is to Tarzan introducing himself: "Me Tarzan!"

Summarising my short analysis: Russian language is far from being rich - no offense! - and the pronunciation isn't so different from other Slavonic languages but it's still worth learning because it's widely spoken and is a key language!

Have fun!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Petrozavodsk


After ten days in living and learning Russian language in Petrozavodsk, in the northwest of Russia, I can re-enforce my theory that smaller towns in the country-side are perfect for deep cultural immersion into a society. When I ride a bus and I see no signs in English nor hear no foreigner talking, I think to myself: "Oh my god, am I really living this? I made my way to Karelia!".
Petrozavodsk has less than 300.000 inhabitants, so for me it's quite small comparing to St. Petersburg or Moscow. It's situated by the huge lake Onega and has a nice, cheap and effective (but I didn't say clean) transport system of trolley buses and mini-vans. A single ride costs 12-15 roubles, while in St. Petersburg it costs 30 roubles. The beer price range in a club is 90-120 roubles. Which ISN'T cheaper than in Wroclaw! (Shall I go even farther to found cheaper?) :-) On the other hand, food is quite cheap in restaurants. I could get a pancake for 50 roubles today.
The nightlife is not as intense as in Wroclaw. However, the clubs seem to be quite crowded due to a better ratio of people/clubs in town.
By the lake there is a quay from which fast boats depart to Kizhi island, a very famous island with wooden chapels and churches built in the 18th century. It's a must-see attraction. Some people actually go there to get completely drunk which I think is inappropriate. :-)

More photos were added to my photo album, click here to see them

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

First days in Russia


All I wanted was a full month of vacations to completely forget about my present routine in Poland (at least for a month) and have the opportunity to learn Russian.
My idea was to reproduce the experience that I had in Poland in 2007 in the AIESEC's "Peace project" - deep cultural immersion, language barrier, new friends and cultural shock.
So, thanks to Kamil (my friend from Warsaw) I got to know about an exchange program in the city of Petrozavodsk, in the far lands of Karelia (8 hours by train going North from St. Petersburg) - as depicted in the map. The program includes Russian language course and cultural activities. More details about the program in here: www.enjoyrussian.com
I landed in St. Petersburg on 2nd of June, flying from Warsaw in the modern LOT Polish airlines Embraer jets and then taking the night train to Petrozavodsk. I've never been so far away from my mom. :)
 I have only two pocket phrasal books of Russian language with me and of course nearly no one here speaks the English language... why would they?
The first days are being hard not only because of the language barrier but also because of the bureaucracy in Russia. I couldn't buy a simcard yet because even for pre-paid phones they require passport with local residence registration and it takes few days for the program organisers to provide the necessary documents. I only have my Polish number with me for now.
Monday (4th June) was my first day in the school and I met my colleagues from different parts of the world: USA, Great Britain, Japan, Austria, Canada, Italy and of course I'm the only latino-boy in the group. :)
The overall experience is outstanding and so far everything is going according to the plan.
I created an album of photos which will be increasing day by day with new photos, so stay tuned!
The first photos are already there:
https://picasaweb.google.com/112672070244693587780/RussiaPetrozavodsk

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Slovakia 2012


Continuing the trip from the last post after leaving Vienna by boat and then sailing over the Danube to Bratislava...
It's the same trip, but split into different posts since Slovakia and Austria are totally different countries.
Europe has more than 40 languages spread over several countries and sometimes sailing 1 hour may take you from a Germanic country like Austria to a Slavonic country like Slovakia! When I try to compare... from my hometown in Brazil to get to a country with a different language I'd have to ride over 50 hours by bus. :)
My first time in Slovakia was in November, 2007 when I took a train from Poland to attend an AIESEC conference called 'Highway', in Tatranska Strba (near Tatra mountains). I liked Slovakia so much that I went back there over 10 times in the last 4 years but for small trips only. Such a small developing country with so cozy atmosphere... I like it! Apart from its beauty, I also have many friends in there and that is the best excuse to go there for a zlaty!
I could meet again good Slovak friends like; Zuzka, Katja, Rudo, Crystinka(not Slovak actually), Dusan, Janka... and, unfortunately, I couldn't meet Mike, Pavol, Peng, Janka#2, Atdka, Mirka... (maybe next time?).
Bratislava was so sunny and warm that was perfect to make a nice set of photos, especially near the Bratislava castle. The courtyard of the castle was open for visitation as well (even though there was nothing inside to see). Nice pubs and restaurants (even a Brazilian steak house) are located by the Danube nearby shopping center "Eurovea". The green areas are also a nice place to sit down with a beer and relax.
Leaving Bratislava by bus and following to Nitra for the Music festival (or was it a beer festival?) - Majales, sponsored by the brewery Zlaty Bazant (mentioned above). That was my second time in Nitra and I barely remembered the place... I only had a small remembrance of the round square and that's all. This time it was possible to visit a small castle on the hill with a nice view to Nitra and then go to the festival.
I liked the Slovak band "Puding Pani Elvisovej" so much! Nice melodies sang both in Slovak and in English. I recommend! Their website is http://ppe.sk/.
On the fifth day of the trip, heading to the final destination in Slovakia: Zilina, following the second day of Majales festival, with the same bands, same beer but different friends. My first and last time in Zilina was in 2007, so it was a trip to remember the past! I could see how much Zilina developed in 5 years; two new big shopping centers, a new McDonalds and more restaurants and cleanliness of the market square. The best of all was a small cafeteria in Bottova street (in the centre) which sells Açaí smoothies! Delicious! So, if Açaí has already arrived in Zilina so maybe Wrocław is very delayed in time because it's not possible to get it there. :P

Well then, if you'd like to see HIGH QUALITY 6MPX-PHOTOS from the trip, click here!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Vienna 2012


Being a tourist again in Vienna! (For the 3rd time). I just can't get enough of this beautiful, unique city. This time it was really hot! +29c! I'd prefer temperatures between 10 and 20 for a month like April. :P 
One very positive thing is that I have a better camera now than the one used in 2008 when I first came to Vienna. So you can enjoy the high-quality and full-size made with my Xperia phone. 

I'd like to say THANK YOUUUUU, to Natalka for being very hospitable and for showing the nice spots in town. :)

For full album of photos, click here!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wrocław's new stadium for the EURO2012


Recently, I got award with a VIP ticket to watch a match in the new stadium in Wrocław (the one built for the Eurocup 2012). It was a very nice experience for me to watch a football match so close to the field (I took this photo from my seat). In Brazil, the stadiums are bigger and between the field and the seats, usually there is a small path for small vehicles/ambulances and also some track for running competitions or similar. It's harder, for example, to throw an object to the field, but here in these European stadiums it's even possible to spit in the coach. :)

Well, resuming the post.. the match ended with a draw:
WKS 1 x 1 Ruch.
In October, the Brazilian national team will play a friendly match against Japan in this stadium, I hope it will be a better match! :)

To see more info and nice photos of this stadium, click here!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Skiing in Czarna Góra

I like when the weather is nice, the quality of the snow is awesome and there is not so many people on the track.
Czarna Góra is a hill between Poland and Czech Republic. There are slopes on both sides. This time we were on its Polish side. I went there with a friend, Mariusz, who was snowboarding (quite well btw) and I was skiing. The destiny kept me away from snowboards so I accepted it and I will always ski. Snowboards are forbidden for me. :)
The weather was so cold! -16c! That's why I couldn't do so many photos because my hands were freezing. I hope you like the ones I took though.

Click here on thumbnails to see in full size:



For full album, click here

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

High Tatras


Hi folks! I just came back from an amazing trip to Tatra mountains. For years I've been enjoying Slovakia for its magic but never for skiing! This time, thanks to my friend Michał Dębosz, I could go to Slovakia for a ski+newyear's bash with friends. Awesome week!

The plan was to book the whole cottage by the mountains (by the city of Liptovsky Mikulas) in the centre of Slovakia and then enjoy the snow and water parks. The trip took 6 hours, and we arrived by the end of the day. I was travelling with Tomek, Ola and my brother. The rest of the group departed from Krakow.

So, in the first day the whole group (of about 23 people) went to the ski station "Chopok" in the low Tatras. The photo beside is from the first ski day, it was snowing a bit and the tracks were in perfect state for a ride. In Chopok, the one-day skipass costs 33 Euros (27 Euros after 12:00), the scheme of ski tracks is included in my photo album (link is on the bottom of this post). That ski station is comparable to the ones in the Alps. If you are bored with short ski tracks in Poland and don't want to fly to Switzerland, so just go to Slovakia! :)
The second day was for relaxation in Tatralandia which is the biggest water park in Slovakia. It's possible to play volleyball in the outdoor pool while the snow is falling. The heated pool is very comfortable. The slides are also very entertaining, I recommend the one called 'Tornado'. Very funny specially in the winter. :)
The third day: back to Chopok for more skiing!! I found out that the track #5 in Chopok is the best I've even been. Very long and not so steep.
The fourth day: Besenova - Water park with thermal pools with healing power. That's what the legend says. Pools with +39c water. Nice for relaxation.
The fifth day: Tatranska Lomnica - The second highest point in Tatra mountain chain (2634m above see level), only 20 meters lower than the Gerlach peak. It's possible to reach the very top of this mountain (Lomnicky stit) with the help of a cablecar. The two-way ride costs 39 Eur per person. I recommend. I took nice photos, so don't miss the link below. :)

Some photos (click on them to enlarge):



For full album of photos, click here.

And a video: