EUROTRIP – how to plan your trip in 5 easy steps.

As I wrote here my boyfriend Floret and I went for EUROTRIP two years ago and we LOVED IT. This was by far the best trip in my entire life, and even though I have two more eurotrips planned, I can’t imagine any of them top this experience. If you want to know details about my trip you have to check my previous post linked above, but the excerpt is that we travelled by car from Poland to Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. I wrote that we have two more Eurotrips left planned, well actually to be planned, that is: Scandinavia (Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden) and “wild, wild west” (Italy, France, Portugal and Spain).

Because this year we were offered to visit our friend’s house in southern Croatia to see Dubrovnik as well as Montenegro (hence not spend a single dime on accommodation), we decided to go there instead and postpone our Eurotrips for next year. That left me with quite significant time to plan our trip ahead and not end up being “spontaneous” (here the synonym of unprepared). I mention the impulsiveness of our first Eurotrip because it got us in trouble several times – hence I decided to plan everything in a little bit more detail. During my planning procedure I realised I have some experience which might be useful to all of you, sweet people, who might want to plan their own trips! Hence, I decided to share my 5 great tips for planning the Eurotrip!

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Amazing Plitvice lake we’ve seen during our first Eurotrip experience in Croatia.

1. Start by preparing overall plan

We decided to go for the Scandinavian trip first – let the working title for this expedition be; Vikingtrip. We started with the overall plan in our heads after a little bit of brainstorming – I wanted to see Copenhagen and the Oresund bridge to Sweden, Floret wanted to see Bergen and the fjords. Taking a quick look at the map we realised that our trip should look something like that:

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Our trip consists of: Warsaw, Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Malmo, Gothenburg, Oslo, Bergen, Oslo again, Karlstad, Stockhold and Gdańk.

The trip “ends” in Stockholm only because we decided to take a ferry to a beautiful Polish city of Gdańsk through the Baltic Sea. Now when our outline is ready we can see how long will it take to drive our little camper. We know from experience (we are together for almost 3 years and drove hundreds of kilometers) that it is optimal to drive around 500 km every 2-3 days. That way we won’t be too exhausted from driving, we will have time to see places we visit in detail and we will be able to relax.

Bearing that in mind we can move further and plan stops in between cities, which are too far away. That way I put a stop between Oslo and Stockholm in Karlstad – a city we were not really interested in, but decided it’s optimal to take a break in. I evaluate that the time needed to see all these places is around 3-4 weeks. Now when our trip is planned we can get into much more detail and check-out interesting activities and things to see.

2. Allow flexibility – don’t book all the hotels

Obviously in case of the Vikingtrip we are going to go in a camper, so arranging accommodation is going to be limited to us simply finding a campsite to stop. If you don’t have such an opportunity, I advise you not to book hotels for each night. What I realised during my first Eurotrip is that we liked some places way more than others. At some point on Krk island in Croatia we got a little bored of tanning on the beach and decided to drive to Slovenia earlier – which turned out to be a great decision – Slovenia is definitely my favourite destination out of all the trip.

Allow yourself a little bit of carpe diem moment. Be spontaneous and don’t worry – it’s not like finding a hotel is very difficult – you wouldn’t believe how many people book rooms and never show up!

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Floret on his way to see a mountain shelter in Slovenia.

3. Plan activities, relax and sightseeing in equal intervals

I used the word “interval” and got reminded of all the terrible moments I had in my High Level Math class in high school – I nearly got a panic attack, I swear. I am a firm believer in balance in the universe. I think that equilibrium between sightseeing, relax and activities should be achieved at all times, so that we don’t go crazy during a trip that is longer than a weekend.

At the end of my first Eurotrip we went to Vienna, Austria and were sightseeing the city and all the museum until I just gave up and had to simply… have fun! Floret saved me by taking me to Vienna Prater (an amusement park), where after trying one ride, tired I fell asleep on the grass in the park nearby. I realised then, that a great trip is packed with everything, not just sightseeing!

Usually Floret is the one who organizes sport during out trips; he took us for biking and kayaking in Slovenia, all the water parks on our way, as well as rafting. I am usually responsible for finding great places to see and visit; like museums, interesting places, reading the guide and analyzing where to go. I am also responsible for food and restaurants, while Floret looks for beaches and relaxation. I think we are quite compatible!

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Me kayaking on a lake Bled in Slovenia.

4. Always get a detailed guidebook

I know people who don’t believe in guidebooks and hate reading them. They prefer to simply go and see whatever they want. I am not one of them, and let me, sweet readers, explain why. When on my last Eurotrip I bought or borrowed guidebooks for all the cities and for most of them I read all the information. I simply stopped at a church, for example, and read all the trivia to Floret. At the end of the trip in Vienna I was a little lazy and didn’t bother to read at all, and… can’t remember half of what I’ve seen. I browsed through pictures to choose some for this page and it turned out I don’t even remember seeing these places. At all. I’ve never had amnesia before, so I think I’m right believing that it’s all because of not reading the guide – after all, I remember all the other ones!

Moreover, when you already have a guide you can prepare a more detailed plan of what to see in each place – you simply pick most interesting things and arrange to visit.

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Menu in one of Viennese restaurants – on the table an amazing guide I was too lazy to read.

5. Plan your finances and book hotels in advance

Since I ran out of points to close up in 5, I had to join two very important points. I know you might think I’m contradicting myself, above I wrote: “don’t book hotels for each night” and in here I tell you to book hotels. What I mean, is that I believe we have to arrange accommodation for most of the nights way in advance to get better deals. 

In terms of money… Money is such a sensitive topic nowadays. I know Instagram makes us believe all the people in the world are loaded and we are the only ones who don’t have golden Lamborghini, but the reality is I know very few people who can wipe with cash. When going for such a long, quite expensive trip, you have to assess how much cash you need and be prepared to use your credit card. We spent around 3500 Euro on our trip and it was a lot of money – we didn’t limit ourselves with anything really, which we should have, and we tried everything, so be prepared for that kind of money. We had to use our credit cards several times and weren’t really expecting it!

Right now, in case of Vikingtrip I know it will cost way more than what we spent before – Scandinavian countries are extremely expensive – hence the camper idea to not pay for hotels. You now know why I constantly preach about things being expensive and saving money, I just need it to travel.

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A dark sky above Krk, Croatia.

I hope with this post I was able to help you. If you have any questions please hit that contact button and let’s share! Follow me on Instagram and get fresh pictures from my adventures!

Dorota

 

5 great tips to start regular jogging – beginners edition – start today with me!

As I mentioned in my post about my long weekend trip I encountered astonishingly interesting book concerning jogging. It’s written by Sara Kirkham and entitled “Get into running”. Since my trip I spent several hours reading the book and decided to create a compendium of knowledge about how to start the entire process.

The book is great, If you have an apportunity you should definitely get it. Mine was discounted and I got it for literally less than 2$. Definitely a great investment. The author starts with all the information concerning benefits of jogging, which I’m not going to decribe in a great detail, since these are pretty obvious – you loose weight, you get healthier, sport is good. Obviously. Second chapter is a detailed description of all the fancy equipment joggers need for running – foot pads, meters, special clothes and all the other items, which I believe are not relevant for beginners. For me there is no point in investing all this money into something you might not stick to.

How to start?

Real content starts in chapter three, around page 43. The author needed this many pages just to tell us we should wear good shoes for running – sorry for the sarcasm in this post, but somehow I always get so annoyed when I read books with tips and the interesting part is literally 2 pages out of 300.

The concept is that you have to be frank with yourself and truthfully assess what level you are on. Have you jogged before and want to go back to it? You hate physical activity? or maybe you lack motivation to keep jogging? When you are the first type – you’re a quieter, if you’re the second type – you’re a newbie and if you are in the first group – you are an aspiring full-time jogger – in a nutshell a pro. In this post, mostly because I want to start jogging myself and I’ve never really done much sport in my life, I’m going to focus on the tips for beginners.

1. Plan ahead

Planning is great for everything really. When I was in IB my Business and Management teacher always said: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail“. Wise words that can be utilised for virtually every purpose. Since we start from the beginning it would be wise not to set the bar too high, you know what I mean? I am definitely not going to run 5k tonight, since I haven’t jogged since high-school. We have to be realistic, otherwise we might quit faster than anticipated. We have to start with… walking. Yeah, I know – sounds riveting. When we will be comfortable with walking chosen distance (I advise starting with chosen time period, rather than kilometers) we should implement very slow jogging in appropriate intervals. How often? According to “Get into running” we should jog every second day and every second Sunday. Below you can check my proposition of an initiatory plan (appreciate the Excel table):

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Because I might have a little extra kilograms from God-knows-what *excessive candy eating, fast-food, alcohol and tons of potato chips*, I decided to go easy on myself with this and hence my plan might be too basic for you. If so, you can simply start with any week you like and go up. You probably can see a pattern here – each week you have to decrease time of marching and substitute it with jogging – simple. With time going out for a walk is going to become a habit.

2. Prepare for doubts

What is obvious for me (from all these times I tried exercising anything and I always quit – hence the extra few kilograms, is that at the beginning it’s going to be hard. We just have to deal with it, my fancy reader, and move on from that. What I advise and am planning to do myself is to:

  • set jogging goals,
  • measure my achievements,
  • exercise for a jogging event.

My jogging goal (which covers also bullet point number 3) is that I would like to take part in a jogging event. I am a realist and I know I’m not going to run a marathon any time soon, but 5 km jogging event in Warsaw on 11th of November 2018 is within my reach. This is going to be a celebration of 100 years of independence in Poland and I wanted to join in, since each year all those brave people run just in front of my windows. Set your measuring goal (a one that you think objectively can be achieved) and let’s get to work.

Measuring achievements will definitely help you motivate to get off the couch and move further. I believe that each time I got better in something I was more prone to do it again. It’s the same with dieting – you see result, you will probably skip McDonald’s next time.

Remember to keep yourself focused on the goal and never let your sight off of it.

3. Find someone to join you

Jogging with someone else might not only improve your technique (apparently we should jog at a rate that allows normal conversation) but also make you more consistent with your schedule – there’s nothing better than someone waiting for you to make you go out. Running is healthy and the more people join in, the better it will be for all of us. Think about someone who might join you – your sister, boyfriend, friend and invite them in.

If it comes to me I think right now I am going to start alone – taking walks and jogging will not only be my activity, but also a way of quieting down and focusing on my thoughts. Ever since I was born I didn’t have much time alone (I have four siblings, I lived in boarding houses, never had my own room and now when I am an adult I live with my boyfriend. I work in an office full of people on a very busy construction site and I constantly have to talk to someone) and I think such activity might help me get my alone, relaxing time. What I planned is to find someone just like… well, YOU. Someone on the other side of the screen who is going to join me on this adventure and hopefully we might be able to help each other keep up with jogging.

4. Listen to music

I know it might be dangerous at times – don’t get ran over please! – but listening to music and focusing on music instead of how sweaty you are is something I believe is essential. Focusing on something else improved my swimming – I can now swim up to 32 length of the 25 m pool, and the only reason I am able to do that is by not thinking about what I’m currently doing. For obvious reasons I can’t listen to music while swimming, but for jogging it’s perfect. Get your phone or an mp3 player (ok, iPod can do as well) and let’s go out! If you have any nice songs that keep you pumped and energized, please let me know! I am currently looking for my jogging playlist to prepare for my start on Monday.

If you’re using a phone you can track how far you ran with Endomondo or any other tracking application. Do you know any I might find useful?

5. Let’s not forget about food!

Starving yourself is a terrible idea no matter what you’re doing – dieting or jogging. For running though (and burning all those calories) you need to eat properly – carbohydrates should consist of 60% of your diet, protein 15% and fat 25%. While we increase intensity of jogging your body will know what it needs and you might get some weird cravings. What I am planning to do is start my day with eggs or oatmeal, eat lunch prepared at home and light dinner. I will update you guys on my newly established eating habits on Instagram, so don’t forget to follow me there!

Food is important, but what is even more crucial and you already read it everywhere fifty times? WATER! Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate. I am currently drinking my favourite water which takes part in an interesting promotion since the company just turned 50 years old. Floret and I are trying to win a car, a bike or some other cool prizes, so keep your fingers crossed!

Summary

If you would like to join me on an adventure to start jogging write an e-mail or state in the comments. Jogging is going to improve our lives and no matter where you’re from we can all do it and help each other in the process!

Dorota

Long weekend at a seaside – Baltic Sea trip – day 2

Hello world, it’s Dorota again!

Like I mentioned in the first part of my long weekend’s coverage here my trip was so eventful I simply couldn’t limit myself to writing a single post, hence I split the story into two separate chapters. Day 2 at the Baltic Sea was not nearly as fruitful as the first one, but my boyfriend Floret and I visited some great places which are definitely worth mentioning.

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After the bonfire the previous night, and following the green sightseeing route, we were exhausted. Frankly speaking most of my holidays are quite tiring. I don’t think I ever spent any holiday during which I simply tanned on a beach and relaxed. This time though I decided not to join my friends on a red route (23 kilometers through the beach) and instead to spent some leisure time simply visiting the city of Łeba.

We ate breakfast in the same exact place as the day before, packed our stuff and registered out of the camping site. We couldn’t stay for another night (even if it was from Friday to Saturday) because our best friends were getting married at 2 PM the next day, and I still didn’t have a dress.

The city of Łeba is not a very big one. Population is quite small, almost reaching 4000 inhabitants, but during the season in summer it is one of the most crowded places I’ve ever seen. It is located next to a beautiful lake Łebsko, which we had an opportunity to see the day before on our way to see moving dunes and a Baltic Sea.

Since, as I mentioned, the city is mostly focused on tourists it is swamped with shops, restaurants and stands selling various types of magnets and souvenirs. As you might now (if you read any of my previous posts) I called magnets from all the places I’ve been to, so we got some. I’m not a fan of coffee. I very rarely drink it, and even if I do it tastes nothing like coffee, more like milk of slight coffee flavour. We found a really cute coffee place in the middle of the city center, but since the season hasn’t started yet and we got diddly squat. We found another place, but it was definitely not that magical anymore.

Our walk through Łeba drifted from bookstores to shops. We stuck to the main road and it took us straight to the beach. I used to make fun of people using all these colorful screens to separate from others, but since this trip I know what they really want to isolate from is the wind. Even with such a beautiful weather it was still extremely windy!

Sun was very strong that day but I still felt chilly and instead of lying on the beach tanning for the upcoming wedding we decided to travel home with several stops on the way. Our first one was, and always will be if I’m around, Warmia Park. This is a water park with slides, pools and outdoor jacuzzi in the middle of the woods. It is a great place to relax and have loads of fun on slides. The facility is located in Pluski, at the lake of the same name, just in the middle of our road home.

As you can see, the weather started shifting slowly. We spent an hour in the park (just to cool down and relax in the water) and starving we decided to have lunch consisting of leftovers from our camping trip. We drove to the lake and ate all we had with great taste (even if we ate canned food which was not ideally healthy).

After lunch we took off to Warsaw. We were very happy to sleep in our beds again and not feel all the pinecones stabbing us in the back. The next day we woke up early. You remember how I said I didn’t have a dress for a wedding yet? My boyfriend Floret was making fun of me for the entire weekend that I knew six months I will be attending a wedding and didn’t prepare. You want to guess who couldn’t find his pants for the suit and had to buy a new one? You guessed right! That’s karma in the purest form.

Luckily we managed to buy both and had a lot of fun during the entire long weekend!

And how did you spend the weekend? You prefer do travel or rest at home? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in daily pictures, please check out my instagram!

Dorota

A trip to Slawinski National Park day 1

One of my friends texted me recently if I want to join her boyfriend and her on a trip to Slawinski National Park in Poland. Just by pure coincidence it’s the exact same friend who invited me to tag along for a trip to Bieszczady which I described here. I didn’t hesitate even for a second and immediately agreed.

The first thing I did was making sure I packed everything I could possibly need. I used my sports bag for clothes and cosmetics (I never really got mature enough to buy a suitcase) and the rest of things was packed like I robbed a store and just threw it inside a car.

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My trip started at around 3 pm. I met my boyfriend Floret on a Wilson Square in Warsaw. Our car broke down recently and we don’t have air-conditioning, so in this temperature it was going to be a long ride. The place we were trying to reach is around 5-6 hours from Warsaw and believe it or not we travelled for almost 7!

As you can imagine we got to the city of Łeba at around 9 PM and after some short shopping we were all set. It got dark and all the living bugs around tried to eat us alive, but we managed to set our camp, eat dinner in a tent (like I said here saving money is a priority for me recently) and relax. Floret went to the shop to get some anti-bug spray so I was a big girl and I assembled the entire tent by myself. Here is the result:

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As you can see I chose a secluded spot far away from all other campers. It was very quiet and all of our neighbours were really nice. The showers were very clean so I can highly recommend this camping – if you are by any chance interested its site is right here.

Afterwards, since our camp was just 200 meters away from the beach we headed there to check how it looks like. Most of the beaches in Poland are sandy so it was a soft relief to our feet to take a short walk with a great view. Unfortunately, it was a little windy, so soon we headed back. We went to sleep at around midnight and I have to say that sleeping to the sound of waves hitting the beach is amazingly soothing.

The camping doesn’t arrange breakfasts but they did give us directions to a nearby restaurant, where for a price of coffee in Warsaw, we ate delicious food with a great view.

After breakfast we decided to take a walk and finally visit the park. We packed towels, flip-flops, water and SPF-50 cream and headed towards the park.

Slowinski National Park is a part of Natura 2000 programme which is a network of nature protection areas in European Union – that means that it cannot be in any way altered nor anything can be built on these areas without special permissions. We had a variety of choices in terms of touristic routes, but we picked a green one (of middle-length) and after around 40 minutes we encountered a Museum of Missile Launcher. It was built in 1940 as an experimental German polygon for testing missiles and explosives during Second World War. Germans destroyed almost the entire facility while retreating, but all that got saved can be seen there, including glass walls (of 5 cm thickness) and other missiles.

Floret really enjoyed the place, especially that the Museum also provided quite a lot of information about a certain scientist whose work was a great contribution to Polish military (especially missiles during the 60s) Mr. Jacek Walczewski who also happened to graduate from Floret’s University in Cracow.

Later on we ventured further to the moving dunes. We encountered many interesting boards with information concerning nature, birds and snakes which live in the park. We also learned how Baltic sea was formed and how it used to be a lake. What is I think the most interesting information is that the salinity of the sea is of 0.5% to 0.8% which makes it a freshwater really. Apparently drinking it for survival reasons would hydrate the body and not dehydrate it as is the case with ocean water. So if you are lost on a deserted island somewhere on a Baltic Sea don’t hesitate to take a sip 😉

The route in the woods ended abruptly and we finally saw the moving dunes, which turned out to be absolutely stunning!

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The contrast between bright blue sky and whitish sand was truly captivating.

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The rope limits the route so it was nice to take pictures of dunes without any sign of human existence.

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Hypnotizing, isn’t it?

The dunes are, according to the Park’s website:

a real sandy desert which lies on a narrow spit between the Baltic Sea and Lebsko Lake. Wind causes the dunes to move and rise to several dozens of meters. The downside is that they cover with sand coastal forests, marshes, and even inhabited areas. The greatest changes in the landscape occurs in autumn and in spring, during storms on the Baltic Sea. The dunes and quicksands in its precincts from the most beautiful desert landscape, unique in Europe, often dubbed the Polish Sahara. The moving of dunes happens because of the lack of vegetation, which normally limits the influence of winds.

After we marvelled at how amazingly beautiful the dunes are we had to head back through around 3 kilometres of a beach with very loose sand and I don’t get why but I got blisters on my toes. Anyone care to explain? After the trip we went for lunch and finally met my friends (who were running very late, because one of them got sick the other night) and we could finally eat. I was so hungry I didn’t even bother taking a picture to show you guys, but what I can say is that my fish was very tasty. After lunch, we went shopping for food and we bought all the things we needed for making a bonfire. I wanted to make one (ah the smell!) for a long time now, especially that Floret is very much in love with grilling and he suffers each minute of us living in the big city where we can only use electronic grill.

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When we were packing for a trip it was so hot that Floret didn’t even think to take something to protect against blasts of cold wind. It got quite cold in the evening and he had to rescue himself with a work-jacket that we get to work on a construction site. He looked like a security guy, but hey, at least he was warm!

The bonfire was a great success and we had a lot of fun. Many people from the camp joined us and it was a nice time for all of us.

Since the trip was full of events I decided to split this post into two, so stay tuned!

Check o

Dorota

 

Detroit: Become human – honest review

Detroit: Become Human is an adventure game produced by Quantic Dream, a French developer who previously launched such titles as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two souls. If you played any of the aforementioned games you already get the concept, but if you haven’t – let me just say, that games produced by this studio are great titles developed with use of motion capture technique and are based on a free choice. Each action chosen by the player influences further gameplay and by consequence the entire outcome of the game.

All of the games previously produced by Quantic Dream are partly criminals and that also applies to Detroit. The gameplay is based on stories of three androids: Kara, who is programmed to perform domestic chores, Connor, who is a highly specialized android created to solve criminal cases with humans and Marcus, who is a prototype taking care of an elderly man. Players have a chance to play each character: Kara, who helps a little girl Alice get away from an abusive father, Connor who with help of a human detective Hank embark on an investigation about deviants among the android’s ranks and Marcus, who faced with near death experience tries to lead android’s revolution.

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The game focuses in detail on these stories, slowly building climate and attachment to the characters. I played with my boyfriend Floret and we chose characters: I played Kara, he played Marcus and we played Connor in turns. As it happened with Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two souls I got really affiliated with all the characters and they seemed very close to my heart. Each time I felt disappointed with my actions I immediately wanted to replay the chapter and improve – which is conveniently possible without having to play the entire game. After you finish you can change the decisions you took during the game by simply replaying certain chapters.

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Detroit: Become Human has one of the best graphics I’ve ever seen (and yes, I played Uncharted 4). The level of detail of rendering faces as well as a portrayal of emotions is uncanny. With some games it is very easy to overdraw facial features, but in this case everything is performed perfectly. The climate, sound, storyline, plot turns and even control system all seem perfectly in sync and balanced with taste. I do believe that Detroit is the best game of Quantic Dream and undoubtedly one of the best games launched this year.

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I really enjoyed all the moral choices, development of characters and even moments which made me sad, angry or simply frustrating. Since I already finished the game I can also add how badly I played some of the chapters. My choices led many of the characters to their death and I am surely going to play the game again. If you are wondering whether you should check this game out – either because you don’t like playing games or because you’re not sure if it’s a game for you – let me just say it’s money worth spending. If you are worried you don’t know how to play – please don’t – the game is fairly easy to play and I’m pretty sure that even if you never held a controller in your hands you will do great and have a lot of fun.

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The only negative aspect I could think of is how slowly you are introduced to the revolution. It helps to build anticipation and of course affiliation but sometimes I felt the plot could go in a more adventurous manner. Also, some of the side characters are a little too black and white, if you know what I mean, but otherwise the game is simply brilliant.

Hope you will enjoy this great game as much as I did. Let me know how it went for you and what kind of ending you got.

Dorota

Stopping food waste and saving money – meal planning.

In my previous post titled “How to stop being broke” I have slightly brushed through the topic of money-saving by changing your diet and establishing a plan for shopping. I am myself not a very frugal person – I try, but I was never really thought how to save money, since I never had any – so I have some financial issues that need solving quite fast. Even though I may not be a saving expert, I consider myself a rather practical lad, hence I decided to start my saving adventure right about now. At 7 AM, in the morning, the day before the last exam in my entire life.

What I’ve found on YouTube and several other platforms are various posts considering shopping planning, meal optimization and other, that focused mainly on throwing out less leftovers. So not only am I gonna save money, but I’m also going to be more eco-friendly – great, let’s do it.

I started with giving myself a reason for why I should plan:

  1. The better you plan, the less you buy. Simple as that. If you think you’re not overspending on food look at what you bought recently and check how much of it you threw out. I had to get rid of many things this week – I bought too much and later, with all the events I attended, I didn’t have time to eat all of the food and had to throw it out (very bad Dorota, I know, I’m trying to be better).
  2. You improve your diet. If you plan a shopping list, drive to the shop, spend hours picking up all that you need, drive home, unpack everything, there is a very small chance you will go to McDonald’s later. That’s just it, the more effort we put into something, the more difficult it is for us to waste it.
  3. Reduce waste. I once heard a very interesting interview with a freegan living in Poland, who said that he doesn’t spend nor earn any money. He lives off food found in the trash or taken from supermarkets when it hits expiry date. Very noble indeed, and even though I did not agree with most of what he was saying (he lived in his friends apartment, for example, which means someone had to pay for it), I think the idea behind what he was doing was great. I’ve actually looked through the page of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and found some really bothering information. Did you know that food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people? 200 million people is just like more than half the population of the United States. If we reduce what we waste, by reducing what we buy, the market will adjust itself and produce less. The environment is going to thank us all for that. Let’s look up some UN statistics over here:

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Source: SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction by the UN.

I’m European and I feel ashamed we don’t respect what we have and waste such amounts. I think that’s enough of reasons to support, that meal planning is worth trying.

How I started?

With a rather basic concept in my head – what I can actually cook, what do my boyfriend Floret and I like to eat, is there something seasonal now that I can use which is cheaper than imported goods? I listed all my thoughts onto a piece of paper and moved from there.

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I prepared my plan – on an A4 sheet of technical paper I drew a table. I could buy one but I wanted to hand-craft something myself to try out some of my non-existent calligraphy skills which I gained by doing absolutely nothing ever with calligraphy, but I did get some special pens for a birthday gift (last October) and I think it’s time to try them out – even to write in my regular handwriting.

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As you can see I’m not an artist – duh! – but I tried to make it easy to understand and very clear. Almost all the dishes I chose for lunch and dinner are my home’s classics that we enjoy and are quite easy to prepare. I started out like that just because I’m not very used to planning everything in such detail (and none of my diets ever lasted longer than “until Tuesday”). I thought I will give it a slow start, just to make sure I don’t resign after couple of days. My main concern is that I work full-time from 7 am until usually 5 pm, so I have to eat lunch at work – hence it has to be prepared in a way that allows microwaving and also doesn’t make food taste like paper afterwards. I don’t necessarily eat breakfast at home either, actually I don’t remember the last time I did, so I might have to change that and start waking up a little bit earlier (I already suffer when I think of it, I will have to wake up earlier than 6 am!).

What I hope will keep me motivated is:

Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

I have to visit UN’s site more often.

I made my plan include a shopping list – since the designed place I would hang it on was the Fridge (notice the “F”. Not a fridge, the Fridge) it made perfect sense to me. I tried to use blue colour mostly, because the only elements in my house that are not white or wooden are blue – so I made a food table to fit my couch – so tricky. Unfortunately the Fridge itself is for some reason black (and it also makes a noise that annoys everyone that stays over for a night on my couch), and I don’t own fancy magnets, so I had to improvise and give you a little preview of what my other posts might be about.

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Here it is, ready-to-go plan for meals. I hope I can handle doing everything as perfectly as I wrote there. I think what might be the most difficult part is lack of chocolate, or generally sweets, but I have to start getting my bikini body (haven’t worn a bikini since 2012, but ok) and finally get back to my weight from before I quit smoking.

I hope you will get inspired with all the meal planning and hop aboard my train to reduce waste. I made my first step towards being more conscious last night. I attended one of my friend’s bachelorette party and at the end the waiter asked if we want to take the remaining food (which was a lot) out. Naturally I said “yeah” and that’s how some of my friends have great Balkan food to eat for the rest of the weekend. Small step, but what matters is that it’s a step ahead.

I hope to let you know in a week how it went.

Let me know what you think about food wastage and meal planning. Do you plan yourself?

Dorota

 

My Erasmus experience – a year long trip!

Hello World,

a couple of years ago when I was still a student I was offered to go for an Erasmus Programme (a European Union Students Exchange Programme). Since it was not very popular at my Faculty, I could choose every single country and city I could think of. My University works with best Schools in Europe, and I was very close to picking Delft in the Netherlands, but because I am undoubtedly stupid I decided to pick a little town in the middle of nowhere in Portugal.

I can imagine your thoughts now: she went to beautiful Portugal to lay on the beach all day long and eat all this amazing food. Well yes. If only the city I lived in had any comfortable connection with any respectable beach and if only the Erasmus Committee did bother to read my application data.

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Wonderful beach in Nazare where I spent most of my weekends.

If you don’t have any experience with Erasmus I can tell you that before you are qualified to go you have to fill in numerous questionnaires and mark boxes for truly everything. Do you want to study in English? Yes √ Do you want to get your student’s buddy? Yes √ Do you need help in arranging accommodation? Yes √ Want to guess? Exactly – they didn’t help me in any of these.

Even though my school usually started at 7 pm and finished at 11:30 pm – yes, I wrote it correctly, PM! – even though I had to study Electrical Engineering in Portuguese, which I didn’t know at that time, even if there were no radiators in my apartment and I was freezing to death in winter, it was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

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Drying fish on a beach in Nazare. 

Let me start from the beginning. I went to Leiria in September 2014. I didn’t know absolutely anyone else on Erasmus there, I didn’t know the city and couldn’t speak Portuguese. At first I felt depressed really. The weather was amazing but I didn’t have any friends to have fun with, the University did not give me my student’s buddy so I had no one to talk to really, up until… I decided to put myself there and literally searched for other people, both online and in real life. Whenever I heard English I was immediately joining conversations – of strangers, yes – and socializing with them. Suddenly I met so many people I had friends everywhere – some of these friendships survived until now, some didn’t – and I was living the life I always wanted – sightseeing, studying and partying.

Since all students on Erasmus get paid scholarships I was thrilled to try the Portuguese cuisine. I met many Portuguese people who told me very interesting stories and facts about their country. I tried their beer, their seafood, I attended concerts, even football games. What surprised me? How open people are. How easy it is to communicate even if you don’t know a single word of their language and they don’t speak English. How common it is to drink and drive there (terrifying really!) and how you can a perfectly cooled beer even in the smallest village.

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Amazing berbigao in Nazare. Best. Food. Ever.

I also learned a lot, not only about Engineering and Portuguese language, but also about myself and how I perceived the world.

I met people from literally every country in the European Union, we mixed our cultures frequently. Many times I organized dinners for over 30 people! I learned the importance of eating with your family, – Portuguese people always eat in such big groups! I was surprised at first how easy it was for them to invite me to dinner. Like I was a member of their family really and my strict, northern upbringing was truly shocked. – of rest during long work days – only place in the entire world where restaurants are closed from 12:00 till 3:00 pm so that the stuff can rest – and how to live peacefully and in acceptance of people, that are simply different from me.

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The beautiful Porto.

I also helped many of my friends and family visit Portugal as well. My mom, my siblings and best friend all visited me and we had a blast.

What is my advice? I think the most important thing, if you consider going for an Erasmus Programme, is that you should never close yourself for new friendships just because you go with someone you already know. I witnessed many people staying in these rather closed groups of friends and never really experiencing their adventure fully. I met people who have never even tried amazing Portuguese dishes because they were constantly claiming food is expensive. I met people who claimed that going out is for stupid people. If you want to go for an Erasmus don’t be any of these people. Stay open and curious.

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Stunning monastery in Batalha.

In order to prepare better for such experience I think it’s most suitable to plan ahead. Erasmus Community organizes many trips and activities which might be great to attend, but sometimes you just need a schedule to not miss out on anything. Of course if you would like to go to Portugal I can gladly help you with that – maybe in a little hectic way, but hey! No judging! – So e-mail me if you want some info.

What’s the most important thing to remember? I think: improvise and be spontaneous. I was very reserved at first and then, after couple of months I was greeting strangers with a kiss on the cheek, I was hitchhiking frequently including driving in a truck transporting onion, and did many more crazy things!

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I spent an entire year in Portugal, visiting many cities like Porto, Lisbon, Guimaraes, Obidos, Peniche and many others. I loved it so much, that even this year I am planning to go back with my boyfriend Floret, to check out the southern part of the country – Algarve. I didn’t have a chance to visit when I lived there, but right now it’s the spot I am hoping to see this August.

And did you go for an exchange programme? Let me know in the comments!

Dorota