Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Oslo 6 years after

Visiting Oslo six years after my first visit brings nostalgia and good memories from the year 2008 which was the year I traveled the most. Back then, I was so fascinated with low cost airlines that I wanted to travel everywhere.
This time was different; I visited Oslo during the winter and I came by car already as a Scandinavian resident (Sweden) and the sensation was very different (not mentioning the temperature and darkness). The empty streets and the cold, reminded me more the song "No one there" by the Finnish metal band "Sentenced" then anything else. :P
Norway has one of the highest GDP per capita in this blue planet and very high HDI. It's a very well developed country with very expensive products and services for those not working there. Traveling in Norway is very expensive and Norwegians (mostly living in the south) prefer to travel, for example, to Spain or Italy for much less money and more fun. Norway is perfect for ecotourism though. Its high latitude (especially if you go a bit up north to at least 63°N) allows you to seen the Aurora borealis (Northern lights).
Many people dream of moving to Norway because of the higher salaries and social welfare they may get in there, however this is not a perfect dream as you may think. I recently found an article explaining a lot of how life in Norway can be, so it may be useful for a migrant to take his/her decision before going for it.


Ok, but back to my tourism post, I got more stuff to show: 
The photo above and the ones below were taken at the Vigeland Sculpture Park, one of the main attractions of Oslo, which is basically a beautiful park free of charge and sculptures of naked people. Worth visiting!




Other 'must-see' attraction in Oslo is the Holmenkollen ski tower & museum, with the highest viewpoint to the city and a ski museum and simulator. There are good photos to be taken there if the weather won't be too foggy. I made a video even! Watch it in HD:



Few photos too:







To visit the museum and take the lift to the top of the tower, the adult admitance fee is 120 NOK and the 5-minute ski simulator costs 60 NOK per adult!

I want to discover the unknown in 2015, so maybe Iceland. Who knows? Stay tunned! See ya! Bye! :)

Friday, 28 November 2014

Fighting the darkness

My first post about my emigration to Sweden was after two weeks of my arrival. Now, I'm a writing a second post having now stayed 2 months here in total.
Some Polish friends have asked me already how it's like to live in Sweden and if I wouldn't like to come back to Poland instead.
Well, there are pros and cons everywhere. No country will be perfect. After living in Sweden for 2 months being employed by a Swedish company, I now more than ever see Poland as an amusement park. So much more fun one can get in Poland than in here! But life is not only fun. Even being a carpe diem guy I need to also think about the future. For example, in Sweden the alcohol is very expensive and liquor shops are closed by 18:00. Great! I've been drinking much less than in Poland and I feel much healthier here. It also prevents people from buying alcohol late at night and getting completely drunk in the streets. I know that doing that looks like fun but in this case it's better to go to Copenhagen! It's just like a house party: it may leave a great mess for you to clean up the next day, so why not making it in your neighbor's house instead of in your own? ;)
The salaries here are much higher than in eastern European countries, especially if working as an IT freelancer. So, as long as current taxpayers won't get a retirement pension in Poland because the country is broken and Polish government has been already stealing money from taxpayer's retirement funds (In Polish: Otwarty Fundusz Emerytalny) to pay country's current debts, why not making some real money here in Scandinavia and then go back to Poland already as a rich man? ;)

Darkness

Many people complain about the darkness here, but they shouldn't. I've been here during summer of 2012 and the sun can also be very generous to Sweden. Even after work, it's possible to go play volleyball outdoors until 21:00. So, there is an overall balance when taking the whole year into consideration. But I like the darkness anyways cuz... I'M METAL!!!! \m/

Integration

Well, I'm still striving to have some more Swedish friends but it is not an easy task. I think in total I have 4 or 5 Swedish friends. The rest of my friends are Palestinian, Danish, Greek, Egyptian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belorussian, Romanian, Yemeni... Then one may ask me: What about people from your work? Well, I have met some very kind Swedish colleagues indeed! But they have wives and kids and it prevents them from joining me, for example, for a concert in Copenhagen or socialize more. I think they can't be more than just good work colleagues since they have other priorities in life.

Bureaucracy

It's been hard with the paperwork here. Sweden apparently makes it easy for the immigrants to come but then it may get complicated too.
In Sweden, in order to do any thing one should have the Swedish person number, which is an unique number for everyone registered in Sweden's population records. Without this number, it is very hard to open a bank account, get paid by a company or even to pay for the parking with the smartphone.
Imagine how life can be unfair: For example, someone coming from China, applied for a working visa in the Swedish embassy in Beijing and came to Sweden. He or she will get the Swedish person number in Sweden upon arrival (max 2 or 3 weeks). 
I could come to Sweden without visa nor work permit, because I'm an European Union permanent resident (but not a citizen), so I applied for Swedish residence card already being in Sweden and by doing this I joined the same queue as hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who also applied from here (and I'm no better then they are), so the estimations are that I will get my Swedish ID by 2016 only.
True fact: For an EU permanent residence card holder it can take much LONGER to get the Swedish ID than for someone who had never been to Europe before.
I keep repeating: I never expected life to be easy! Not even in Sweden. Fortunately, I manage to open a bank account just because the company I work for is one of the most traditional and renowned here in Lund.

Politics and bizarre facts

I was very surprised when I was using my hooded shirt with "SWEDEN" written on it and a Swedish girl who I met during some "language cafe meeting" told me that I shouldn't be wearing it.
The first things that came to my mind were: "Is she anti-Sweden?" and then "Are we not in Sweden?"; but it just turns out that she is a supporter of the feminist political party here in Sweden and, for her and many others in this country, everyone carrying any Swedish flag and/or t-shirts with the name of this country are potentially supporters of the far-right party called "Sweden Democrats". Seriously? Gimme a break! I'm a latino guy and I am an immigrant myself. Why would I be a supporter of a far-right anti-immigration party? She then explained me more that in Sweden it is advised not to carry any Swedish flag on the streets unless you are going, for example, to a football match to support Swedish team when it's playing against another country in any sport.
So, here there is no space for patriots or just fans of Sweden (which is my case). All of these categories are likely to be labelled as Nazi. True story!

Sweden is the most open country to mass immigration in the World. For example, The USA have a yearly diversity immigration program that takes 50.000 people with no selection criteria, just a lottery. Is it a lot? Not really. For a country that has 300 million inhabitants, it is nothing. Sweden takes 200.000 asylum seekers and refugees per year. The country has approx. 9 million inhabitants. So, that is a lot when you compare the percentages.
You can see beggars in the streets, but a bizarre fact is: These beggars are mostly from Europe. Well, I didn't check for their passports but I heard from people here that the asylum seekers and immigrants are actually covered by the social benefits and housing from the government but poor people from other EU countries are not entitled to seek asylum here (which makes sense) so they are the ones begging for money. Refugees enjoying social-welfare while poor Europeans as beggars in the streets. It's not Sweden's fault! Just a bizarre fact. :)

Conclusions

a) Good friends don't need to be Swedish. They can be from any country, as long as they are friendly.

b) Through darkness and evil, we persevere!

c) Polska jest rajem!

d) Carpe diem!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

New chapter in life: Sweden

After two weeks already living in Lund, Sweden (and this time I think there's no return), I finally found some time to sit down and speak out why that happened, because people are still asking me: Nano, WHY?

My situation in Poland deteriorated and I felt a bit lost and without perspectives (Not entering in details here).
Well, I then basically followed the rule: If things don't go right, turn left! 

Among others, the reasons that made me move to Sweden were: 
  • Better chances of acquiring an European citizenship
  • Considerably better salary
  • More metal bands and concerts (I already attended to one)
  • Sweden is not part of NATO (the coalition of war)
  • Better infrastructure (trains, roads, buses, bike lanes)
  • Better public social benefits
  • More snow! (I don't fear the global warming anymore)

My first two weeks in Sweden have been quite intense. Lund is a lovely city but has one major problem: housing. 
It's so hard to find a flat or room to rent in here. The city is crowded with students and many people who work or study here have no other choice but to live outside Lund, in one of the surrounding cities like Malmo, Kavlinge, Lomma, Dalby and even Helsingborg!
Fortunately, I was lucky to find a room to rent in a shared flat and I am proud to say that I have a Lund postal code and my street is called "Vikingavagen", the Viking street! I now feel like a real latino-viking even though my modest height of 1.86m is no big deal here
Still I haven't found a garage to rent for my car. It's freezing out there in the cold nights of Scandinavia, but I hope to find a warm garage for it soon!

The company which I work for is very caring towards its employees and I'm starting to like all of it! The work environment provides me with breakfast, hot/cold beverages, fitness center, bike, very fast computer, Linux as default operating system, flexible working hours, additional holidays paid by the company and etc. Apart from all of this, I can say that the team is also very friendly and the work load is adequate.

Lund city is beautiful, green and with lots of tech companies. Its location is quite strategic: just 40 minutes by train from Copenhagen which has the biggest airport in Scandinavia and one of the best night lives in Europe (even comparable to Riga or Wroclaw). Additionally, Lund is only 10km away from Lomma beach, the so-called "Swedish Miami Beach". Lomma waters are shallow, warm enough during summer and shark-free.

The cities in the state of Skane are fully connected with exclusive bike lanes which makes it very safe to ride for example from Malmo to Lund, or from Lund to Lomma by bike without the risk of being hit by car. The cities are generally bike-friendly and "car-rudely" (not so many places to park a car and expensive parking fees). The trains and buses in Sweden are very quiet, clean and reliable. People shouldn't use cars here unless it's for racing or show-off purposes, like drifting in Copenhagen or for icy driving.

Sweden implements the Nordic social democacry which gives many social benefits to its legal inhabitants and this model is criticized by many who don't know this system very well. People here rely on their government, poverty is non-existent, education and medical assistance are ensured to everyone. The public enemies number ones like alcohol and tobacco are highly taxed so, the abusers of those are actually paying in advance for their damages. It makes sense even for me, a guy who loves drinking beer.

Moving to Poland was more than a challenge for a 24-year-old Brazilian guy back in 2007 and I'm grateful to Poland and to the Polish people for amazing life-changing experience I had. I wouldn't be the great Nano of Today, if it wasn't for my time spent in Poland. Now it's time to use this experience to conquer the world, starting from Sweden. ;)

Monday, 4 August 2014

Przystanek Woodstock

I've just been through an awesome experience in a Woodstock-like festival in Poland called "Przystanek Woodstock"! I'd never been camping in a festival site before! But in such a huge festival like this(500.000 people) and being in such a small town like Kostrzyn, there were no other housing options. So, get your tents on and let's rock!

The festival had 3 nights of good music! The best evening was on Thursday 31st of July because among the bands playing on the main stage were: Hatebreed, Skid Row and Volbeat. So, after the first night I was already musically satisfied. The following days I was mostly enjoying, talking, drinking and relaxing with friends as the other bands' music was left as merely background music (at least for me). :P

The site had a quite nice infrastructure with LIDL shop, ambulances, showering areas and even some places where one could recharge a phone.
The festival had no entrance fee, and the beer was almost for free: 3,50 PLN for a 0.4L Lech beer. That's ~0.80 EUR! Beer cheaper than mineral water!

Crazy! For more info about the festival, click here

Monday, 30 June 2014

Discovering Switzerland (and Liechtenstein!)

Switzerland in my imagination was always like 'Neverland' (from Peter Pan's tale) meaning: a wonderful place where people would dream about going there and (why not?) living there, forever!
During all these years I've been living here in Europe (it already counts 7 years!) I didn't have the opportunity to go there because there were no cheap flights going there (at least from Poland) and no optimal train connections neither. Additionally, I didn't have any friends in there. So, a trip to Switzerland would be expensive and unjustified since there were still so many beautiful places to visit which were much nearer to my location and reachable for much less money, so I kept Switzerland on the bottom of my destinations list (together with Liechtenstein).
Finally, I now managed to gather some essential ingredients for a trip to Switzerland, which were:
  • A FAST CAR
  • HEAVY METAL CDS (Including Rammstein, Motorhead, Soilwork...)
  • FRIENDS IN SWITZERLAND
  • MONEY
The Swiss dream became then something achievable!! The sound of inevitability was ringing in my head: Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire! Go!

Interlaken

The first place to visit was Interlaken, a paradise town between two lakes (and hence its name) and surrounded by many peaks with infrastructure for tourists. I regret I spent only 2 nights there, now I know that a recommended minimum is 4 nights.

The most "mainstream" peaks are the Jungfrau (the top of Europe), which has the highest train station in Europe (above 3000 meters above sea level) and Schiltorn (where a James Bond movie was recorded in the 70's). These two attractions are very expensive and full of tourists (especially from China).

There are several other peaks with breathtaking views which not necessarily must be above clouds, right? This photo of the valley above was taken from the village of "Murren" which was an alternative to Schiltorn or Jungfrau (since these are terrible choices on a cloudy day).

Another choice for a cloudy day would be Niederhorn, with 0 tourists, nice view, still bellow the clouds. Nice photos can be taken from there too:




These photos were taken in Niederhorn. Absolutely, no tourists. If you are searching for relaxation, this attraction is really good!

I already miss Interlaken. I shall go back there some day. For now, the trip goes on. Next stop: Zurich!

Zurich

Not the best place for a tourist! I had difficulties to park a car in a residential area. I was riding in circles with my car for nearly half-hour searching for a place to park (even in a place a far from the city center!). The public transportation is not 24-hour, no night buses neither. If you miss your transport back, you need to get a taxi.
It's better to go there to work for a bank and make some money. Because the night life is weak and the city isn't so vibrating. I can say I was frustrated a bit. Definitely, not my cup of tea. I'm too young for that city and I guess I will still be for few decades. :P


However, if you happen to have spare days in Zurich, don't miss the astronomical observatory! I was there and I could see the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Mercury. The visible planets on a given night may vary. Try to pick a day which you can see at least the Moon and Saturn. These two are the most fascinating to see on a telescope! :)

St. Gallen

This city has a plus! It's close to the Bodensee lake which is located between Germany and Switzerland.
St. Gallen itself may not be such a vibrating city but is charming and it's situated close enough to the town of Constance (Konstanz in German) which is much more vibrating during summer.

 
There is a recreational area uphill which has three small lakes which people use for bathing (for free). There is a small infra-structure like toilet and beverage's shop. Check it out: Drei Weihern

Other attraction in St. Gallen is the local brewery Schutzengarten, also open for visitation. Two nights is the optimal amount of time to save for St. Gallen.

Liechtenstein (Vaduz)


This is technically not Switzerland but is kind of. The currency is the same (CHF) and there is nearly no border crossing indication between the countries. There's only a mere bridge with a discreet flag at the end of with, indicating that you are entering Liechtenstein.

The capital, Vaduz, is not the biggest city but is definitely the one more visited by tourists since the castle of the royal family is there. I had a funny situation when asking the lady in the information desk if there are some tours to the castle. She answered me: "The castle can't be visited. It's private." --  as if I wouldn't know that the royal family lives in there! -- but, I insisted: "I know, I just want a closer view to the castle.", and then she showed the way to follow on foot between the trees to get to the castle but I ended going for a beer instead. Eh... no mood for climbing hills under such severe sun. :)

Well, I will go back to Switzerland some day. I still need to visit Matterhorn and Mont Blanc mountains, as well as the cities: Geneva and Bern.

Cya!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Porsche Museum (Stuttgart, DE)

When I thought about going to Switzerland I quickly had the idea that I could use the German autobahns and spend a night in Stuttgart so I could then visit the Porsche museum.
Porsche cars are legendary. When I was a young boy, the two car makers most spoken of were Ferrari and Porsche. Some Japanese cars can be cheaper and quite fast too but it's not only about the speed we are talking here. It's about the tradition! Porsche 911 model had its 50 years anniversary few years ago and I think Japan was not even in the map of gran turismo back then.
There are so many variations of the 911, but the Porsche model I like the most is the Cayman due to its central engine which gives better stability and ease when making sharp curves. Ok, I've never driven one of it yet but I read about it a lot and I also see the opinions of car testers from different YouTube channels. I will do a test-drive before buying it, for sure, but I need to raise the money first. :)

The photo above is of an 1997 model of the Porsche 911 GT1, one of the pieces I liked the most when visiting the museum. 

Below, see the photo of my current desire: The Cayman S. Why not? :)




... but not yellow. ;)

For full album of photos from the Porsche Museum, click here!

The entrance ticket to the museum is 8 EUR and is worth seeing when visiting Stuttgart. There is also a cool souvenir shop which is accessible without the museum ticket.


Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Soilwork pt.2

Soilwork with Nightwish's Floor Jansen after DVD live recording
Soilwork has been being part of my life lately, a high-quality death metal band whose lyrics are changing my way to see and interpret the challenges that come upon!
A good band (especially metal band) must have a good drummer and good front-man. Even though I'm a guitarist, I admit that guitarists are replaceable but a good drummer, not always. Soilwork has Dirk and Bjorn. :)
I flew to Helsinki for the recordings of their first upcoming DVD/Bluray because I wanted to be part of metal history. I believe this concert is going to be considered a master piece by critics when it will be out.
Bjorn's lyrics carry very motivational messages in it and, if well interpreted, may change ones life. I picked few lines from some of the lyrics:

"Don't let the light you see restrain you, don't put your trust in the dark outside, there will be more that you will ever could die for, this momentary bliss is a lie."
-- from the song "Momentary Bliss".

I think Bjorn's trying to say that one should never feel satisfied enough with what he/she has already achieved. This would be the 'momentary bliss' which is supposedly a lie. I think he wants people not to set boundaries to themselves, aiming higher and higher.

"Now that the search goes on, for another time to live, I might as well be gone, but I tend to always come back in the end..."
-- from the song "Rise above the sentiment"

I think in this song is about someone who's about to stop suffering with the current life he/she has and is to flee for some new life (or new 'time' to live). It seems that this person will be 'gone' for awhile, but will be back at the end. How wouldn't I identify myself with this song?

Well, the concert on 21th of March in Helsinki was a great success. I'm still waiting for the DVD to be released. I loved the afterparty with the band and I was glad that Bjorn remembered me from the concert in Poland 3 months earlier. :P

One nice souvenir from this unforgettable 4-day trip to Helsinki was a photo with Floor Jansen, current singer of Nightwish who took part in the DVD recordings singing one song with Soilwork:

Nano & Floor Jansen

So, follow the idea that you may feel already satisfied with material and spiritual achievements in life, so far, but there is still much more to come of which you could die for. Follow your omens and achieve your next dreams. :)

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Portugal and a bit of Spain

A country like Portugal may be very pleasant for relaxation and gastronomical purposes! When comparing Iberian and Slavic countries, it is easy to notice a culinary gap between them. Historically, Slavic countries always had limited access to food ingredients due to cold weather to cultivate and/or hard access to ocean. In Portugal and Spain there is a vast range of sea foods, refined ingredients and an old tradition of making good food! Just pick a nice restaurant combined with a nice view to the Atlantic ocean and you'll get a nice bliss. I myself like the codfish prepared in different ways, octopus stew and pastel de Belem which is some sort of cream pie. Google for it. :)

I was with my family and our trip's start point was Lisbon, but the next day we were riding to Seville for Christmas and then Merida (still in Spain) to see Roman archeological sites and via Badajoz crossing the border back to Portugal as shown:

Route

...going all the way up to Coimbra (which was a bit boring actually) and then reaching Porto in the north of Portugal for new years eve.

I made few photos of the Roman archeological site in Merida (click to enlarge):


Porto is a very beautiful city with sumptuous metal bridges and good restaurants by the river. I'm sure that during summer it must be quite agitated, but even with this rainy winter in Portugal, I could enjoy my Sagres beer and enjoy a bit. The beers in Portugal and Span contain hop. Something that (most of) Polish beers don't. :)


This is the great Nano, in Porto for the first time. :)

Lisbon area (including Cascais)  is a a must-see attraction! Lisbon is very "young" and dynamic city with many good places to see and go shopping. The big plus for me was the ease to get açaí fruit in a Brazilian canteen and to have barbeque with feijoada in a Brazilian steak house. Lisbon is the 'small Brazil' in Europe anyways! :)



Cascais
Cascais is the rich spot with fancy hotels and casino. I think most of the Portuguese celebrities live there (except for Bruno Aleixo, a famous critic who loves Coimbra). :)

Well, It took me a while to write this post since I was quite busy in the last couple of months but now my life is getting straight again. I hoped the photos are good enough. They were made with my new Sony smartphone. :)

Cya.