A small side project

30 September 2013

Here it is.

Today was my first day in Warsaw really, as yesterday was a bit of a blur. I'm starting to remember the layout of the roads, but I enjoyed getting a bit lost in Saska Kepa and wondering around the leafy streets, snapping pictures.

How was your start of the week?


29 September 2013

For the next 35 days I will be living in Warsaw. I haven't lived there for over six years so I'm looking forward to seeing what's new, rediscovering my favourite places, rekindling old friendships. 

From what I've seen on the internet and during a number of short visits, Warsaw is changing. Even though I haven't grown up in this city, I have a lot of good memories from it; it's where I lived on my own when I went to high school, where I made some of my best friends and met my husband. 

Tonight I'm starting a new tumbler on "35 days of Warsaw" where I will be taking a picture a day using a simple digital camera. My friend Kristina said that moving back to a city you once knew gives one a new kind of sensitivity, an opportunity to see it almost as though you've never lived there yet finding some aspects of it familiar. I'm looking forward to it and I will link my new tumbler once it's ready. 

Take care! 

Picture above taken by J in Warsaw's Old Town a couple of years ago.

On gardening

24 September 2013

Whenever I talk with my friends about living in the modern world, the society and life I arrive at the same conclusion: I want to buy a piece of land in Poland and have my own sustainable farm. With a cow and ten chickens, a vegetable patch with courgettes and beetroot. I'm not even sure if I'd like to have Internet (how ironic of me to write this on a blog). Another dream is to live on one of the northern Isles in Scotland and work as a rural doctor. Those couple of days we spent on Skye this summer have been as serene as being in  Norway or in Polish mountains and I keep wanting to sit outside on a croft listening to the sea.

For the next 4 years we have to live in a city or a big town. Who knows where we will end up once I graduate: Edinburgh? London? Inverness perhaps? So to make my dreams a bit more realistic, I started planning to grow my own vegetables next spring. Why wait until we can afford a garden? Why not start small and see how it works out? My happiness would be even more complete if we could have a couple of chickens, but I'm not sure how legal it is. Or what our neighbours would think of that idea.

Last Sunday we went to one of my favourite places in Edinburgh - the Botanic Gardens. There was a brass band playing right next to the Edible Gardening project, which encourages people to grow their own vegetables, offers advice on how to get started and even runs drop in session and has a couple of patches for local schools. I think it's awesome.

Back in Poland my grandma has a vegetable patch in our garden (she lives close by and has recently given up her allotment place). Recently she's been telling me about all the preserves she was preparing with my mum for the winter: plum marmalade, cherry jams, sun dried tomatoes and of course pickled cucumbers. I remember removing stones from cherries when I was little, sitting with my sister in front of our flat, our hands red from the cherry juice. Or when my granddad's plum tree had so much fruit it collapsed and we sat on the trunk and ate ripe plums straight from the branches. I'd love to create more memories like those, so fingers crossed, next spring I'll have my own edible garden, or at least an edible plant pot with an odd tomato or courgette.

Do you have a garden? Or did you have one growing up?

Rome & Campania: Part 4

22 September 2013

After a whole day of travelling (including getting lost in Naples) I couldn't wait for a more relaxing part of our trip: 5 days on Capri. We were staying in the western part of the island (near Anacapri), which is not so popular with the glamorous crowds as Capri. We stayed in a small budget guest house, which only had 3 bedrooms and two hosts (Ubmerto and Ciro), who lived in the house full time. 

The area around our accommodation was popular with families, summer house owners and people, who call Capri their home (lucky them!). There was no shop, not many facilities and only a couple of small family run restaurants, which suited us just right as we weren't really that drawn to the more touristic (i.e. much more expensive and also, well, quite posh) part of the island. On the morning of our second day on Capri we had breakfast on the terrace (overlooking the sea and also with Ischia on the horizon) and we made our way down the cliff to the Faro lighthouse and beach.

There was a beach club there, but it was very overpriced and we quickly found a spot on the rocks where we could leave our towels and books and go for a swim. There was no beach, just a concrete platform, some rocks with a ladder. The sea was not that cold but still so refreshing. The fact that there was no beach didn't really bother me that much, as we had a swimming pool with beach chairs in our accommodation and I really just wanted to swim in the sea rather than stay on the beach to read a book. 

Even though it was still an early morning it was rather busy, lots of families and children jumping into the sea from the rocks. After a couple of swims we decided to got to Capri and check out Marina Piccola - another place for a swim, but this time with a pebble beach. We took a bus straight from Faro to Capri and walked through the town to via Krupp and down to the Marina. It was quite a walk, maybe about 4km. The views were just amazing and the water more blue than anything I've seen before.

In the Marina Piccola there were another two beach clubs but just the entry (without a deck chair or a towel) was 20 euro, so we passed on it and just went to the public part of the beach. The weather wasn't very sunny and we decided to just sit on the rocks and take in the views before going back to Capri for dinner. 

Umberto made dinner reservations for us in his friend's restaurant in Capri but we still had a couple of hours to kill. We went to one of the bars on the main square and ordered iced coffee. And then....a thunderstorm started and the heavens opened... rain pouring down. Luckily we were sitting under a waterproof umbrella so we stayed relatively dry. It rained for about 45 minutes, unfortunately I didn't take any pictures, but it looked very pretty. At 8.30PM it was time to go for dinner. A dinner of pizza and cheap wine later we took a rickety bus to Anacapri. It was about 11PM and we had to walk to our guesthouse in darkness from the bus stop, just using our phones as torches. Umberto and Ciro were waiting for us with a cherry liqueur and after a short chat we called it a night. That was the day we fell in love with Capri.

Rome & Campania: Part 3

21 September 2013

After one day of waking around Rome in the August heat we were ready to leave the city behind and travel south to the beautiful Campania region. 

Our B&B didn’t serve breakfast; instead we received two vouchers to a local cafe, where we could ask for a continental breakfast of a croissant, coffee and juice. Our train to Naples wasn’t leaving until around mid day so we had plenty of time for a long breakfast and a visit to a local supermarket to get some food for the journey. 

We were planning to go exploring Naples but again we were defeated by the heat. We wanted to be on Capri as soon as possible and even go for a quick evening swim. Little did we know that things weren’t going to go as smoothly as we wanted. We arrived in Naples at around 3PM and asked 2 different people what was the best way to get to the harbour. Confident that we received trustworthy instructions, we boarded the underground train and left at the station, which we were told, was very close to the harbour. We took 3 elevators up and it turned out we were at a tiny metro station somewhere in the middle of Naples. A lady selling tickets and she said we were about 3-4km from the harbour. We weren’t in a mood to go exploring with our luggage (especially after a work colleague, who’s Italian, told me that I should be careful as everyone is a foreigner in Naples, even other Italians). We took the metro back to the station and got a taxi, which was an experience in itself. 

Being a taxi driver in Naples should be classified as an extreme sport - the amount of horn blowing and overtaking that was going on made for a very entertaining, if a little scary, drive to the city harbour. Then it turned out the driver dropped us off at the wrong ferry terminal and we had to get a bus to the right one.
Eventually, we boarded our ferry at around 5 PM and we couldn't wait to arrive in Capri. The ferry drive was very quick, less than 1h and we arrived on the beautiful Capri island. Umberto, our host, called me a couple of times and gave us instructions on where to take a bus and he was going to wait for us in Anacapri. My first impression of Capri was: “gosh it’s beautiful, but there’s a lot of people here... “ even though I was expecting it, the crowds still surprised me a little bit. We made our way through the Marina to a bus stop and just managed to fit into one of the almost full small rusty buses. The bus ride to Anacapri was another experience I remember vividly: as Capri is a very rocky and high island most roads follow a hairpin pattern and are very narrow. Drivers have to use their horns to let the vehicles approaching from the other directions that they’re going to take a turning. Sometimes cars have to reverse to the nearest passing point as the road is too narrow. The bus was so full there was barely place to hold on to, most people had luggage with them and the driver was accelerating as much as possible on the rare straight stretches of the road. Needles to say we were happy to reach our destination. Ubmerto arrived shortly after and welcomed us like family: with open arms and by saying repeatedly how glad he was we were visiting the bella Capri. It turned out that Ubmerto and Ciro (our hosts) were going on a boat trip to Positano that night and we had the whole guest house to ourselves: the gardens overlooking the Med, the pool and a terrace with wine and snacks prepared for us by Ciro. Our room was simple but comfortable. We went for a quick swim in the pool and walked down the road for a walk and then for dinner to a local pizzeria. It was a long and tiring day but we were very happy to finally be close to the sea and couldn't wait to explore the island.

Marina Grande, a local public beach, just outside the bus stops. I couldn't wait to go for a swim, water looked so refreshing. 
A view from Mamma Mia road over Marina Grande and Capri
 Finally in our guest house, B&B La Guardia

 Unobstructed views of the Mediterranean from the terrace. It was so quiet and peaceful, especially on that afternoon when we had the whole guest house just for ourselves.
Our room was simple but comfortable. No air conditioning but certainly a bargain room rates for Capri. 

Our first walk on Capri, down a small path close to our accommodation. The sun was about to set, it was beautiful.

 View over Faro and a lighthouse.
 An old Fiat, we used to have lots of them in Poland when I was growing up, made me feel a little nostalgic.

 Pizza in a local restaurant. So delicious.
Sunset as seen from our terrace. It was a perfect ending to a long and tiring day. I was happy we were finally by the sea, with its breeze and those views. I couldn't wait to see more of Capri in the following days.