17 hours

It’s official: I have my ticket for travelling to Bologna. I’m leaving on Wednesday, 1st October in the afternoon. I should arrive in Bologna around 10.00 the following day. In total, the whole travel would take around 17 hours. In that time I shall cover about 1240 km through four countries.

Yes, that means I’m taking a bus to Italy. Old school, I know, but that’s the “benefit” of living in a city that has no airport of its own. Travelling to another city, at least 120 km away from my hometown, with a lot of luggage and a drum seemed to be too uncomfortable, costly and tiring to even take it into consideration. Not to mention the extra costs of my unusual baggage and the risk of loosing it on the way.

I actually have traveled to Italy by bus before. I was much younger, about 12 I think, and the bus was full of screaming, overexcited children of my age. Not that I enjoyed it so much, I was more interested in the views outside the window, but I guess the journey went fast, cause they tried to keep us occupied. Now I will have to entertain myself and I have doubts about whether the bus has sockets, so I could plug my computer in for instance. But fortunately, I’ll also be “armored” with A Feast For Crows in original language and so hopefully I will get myself busy with all those characters dying around in rivers of blood and guts (don’t spoil me anything!).

For now, I have more urging matters to attend though. The following week will be all about the art of packing for a year.

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You can’t park on a roundabout!

Apparently you can. In Italy.

One of the most challenging things about moving abroad for a longer period of time is the so-called cultural shock. It’s a cliché to write about it, I know, but when I went to Finland for my Erasmus last year, they even organized some meetings in order to help us deal with it. I didn’t need any of them. I felt like I’m finally home. Everything was working exactly how it should, I was in a paradise. But, this blog is not about Finland.

There are many things I love about Italy. Volleyball for example. Also food (I discovered it quite recently, but I guess it counts anyway), ancient literature, Il Duomo in Florence and some others. But of course there are also things that shocked me each time I went there. You probably know well the reputation of Italian drivers. I didn’t until last year. I heard something here and there, but I never take stereotypes very seriously. Except the ones that are true, which is the case here.

Yes, those cars are parked

I’m going to live for 10 months in a country, where people park everywhere, don’t care about the road surface marking and basically where I’m risking my life every time I decide to ride a bike on the street (which is a must, because there are not so many bike paths in the narrow streets of Italian cities). And I’ve only been to the north of the country! I’ve been told that in the south, people respect no rules at all…

So, if you ask me what I consider one of the biggest challenges of my EVS in Bologna this next year, I will reply right away: THE ROAD TRAFFIC.
At least it won’t be boring.

What the… name?

The name of this blog requires some explanation.

So, I have actually been to Italy before several times now and in different places. And there was a time, this past summer, when I took a walk with one of the natives, Anna, who also happens to be my girlfriend. We planned to go to this place on the beach that she remembered from her childhood, but there was a problem: due to some fires in the area and protection of nature, the place was closed to visitors. Being rebels that we are, we walked around the fence and went there anyway. There were also other people doing that (like it could explain us in any way…). But after some nice time that we spent there, the guardia forestale arrived. It’s one of many kinds of police they have in Italy, that protects country’s natural resources. And so, we were basically screwed. But the policemen were actually nice and even though they noted our names (well, for me it was only my nationality and name, which had to be spelled letter by letter, since it’s… well, Polish), they didn’t give us a ticket, but just a warning. Then they sent us on our way — but not the way we took before: a longer, MUCH longer one around the whole area, through the countryside.

un sentiero alberato
un sentiero alberato

And just to make it clear: we walked on the beach, so we only had flip-flops and we were in bikinis (ok, I was not, but that’s another story). And this is when we took un sentiero alberato, a wooded path (I learned those words in that exact moment). It was crazy hot, it took us around 1,5 hour to get back home walking in those conditions and we were pissed off because of all the people passing us by on bikes. But we made it! And after that I was proud to say, that I had a true Italian experience: I messed up with the police!

So, that’s the reason why I chose those words for a blog title. The story reminds me of all the hilarious things that happened to me in Italy and makes a good starting point for my Italian adventure starting from October.
And let it also be a warning…

Blogging again!

“Here I go again on my own!”

I wish I could sing that for real, though… Not that it’s not true, but because I can’t actually sing so well. Anyways, here I am again in the blogosphere, with another project, Un sentiero alberato. It’s going to be an EVS diary most of the time. I guess, you never know with these things.

EVS — or to make it more clear — European Voluntary Service is yet another poster child of the European Union: designed to provide the so-called European youth a brighter future and better chances for getting a job. I’m not going to describe all the details here, you can find everything you want to know on the official website of Erasmus+. To cut the long story short: you pick a place where you want to work and the organisation you want to work for, you apply, they take you and you have the time of your life. Yeah, I know, a dream come true.

Well, for me it sort of is, or will be, since I haven’t started it yet. My project is going to take place in Bologna, Italy. So: sun, food, and crooked towers. I will work with Associazione Culturale Oltre…, which is my hosting organisation, and Betty & Books, which is the coordinating organisation. Both of those are deeply connected with the cultural life of Bologna, they organize various festivals and cultural events, engage people of the city and promote the folklore of Emilia-Romagna. I am a graphic designer and editor with a couple of years of experience, so I will definitely help them with this stuff, but I’m also ready to take up new challenges and maybe do things I’ve never done before, because this is mostly what EVS should be about: learning and gaining experience.

Now, it’s hard to determine what you’ll be able to read about on this blog. Might be some weird comments about the Italian way of life, things that shocked me, things I love about the country/city/people. Maybe you’ll see some photos, maybe I’ll share a song I heard on the radio. Maybe there will also be some videos with me not being able to find a way in all those claustrophobic Italian streets that for me still look all the same. Maybe I’ll say a couple of things about the people I meet and maybe afterwards they’ll chase me through the mentioned streets. But, in general, I’ll try to keep it simple and entertaining, so that you can read it with your morning coffee or afternoon snack. I hope you won’t get bored.

Just for your information: I have blogged from abroad before, when I was in Finland doing my Erasmus there. You can check it out here if you want.

See you next time!