OLYA'S PASSIONS

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Category: Erasmus in Wroclaw

Żywa Biblioteka / Human Library Wrocław 2012

Photocredit: Human Library

Photocredit: Human Library

Have you ever read a Human Book?

I did. I read 3 human books with the following controversial titles: “ANTIDUDE”, “GAY” and “BLACK PERSON”. Amazing experience!

Imagine, you are face to face with people you meet for the first time, people that have a special story to tell, their own life story. And you are sitting just in front of them ready to listen and ask whatever you want, because this is what books are good for.

Books are good for being able “to answer” to all our questions. Human books are good for being able to make us feel the way they feel. In this way they teach us to be empathic. Human books can give us their energy, in this way we remain energetically connected with that book, with that special human being. Human books have a great emotional load in them. Once we “open” a human book we cannot stay indifferent, we proceed in “reading it” and by the time we read it, we start to understand things that we’ve never been aware of. Human books teach us to be tolerant.

Some weeks ago, on a cloudy Saturday afternoon I decided to go out to meet some new interesting people in Wroclaw, this was my single expectation about attending Żywa Biblioteka / Human Library event at Mediateka. Actually, I had a vague idea about what is going to happen there. So I went. After receiving a badge with my name I was asked to pick up a “human book” from a catalogue. I looked through the list and picked the “human book” called ANTIDUDE, I didn’t know what this concept means, so I considered it the best time to find it out. In some minutes the librarian brought my human book.

And here all the fun began 🙂 what I’ve seen in front of me was a man dressed in clothes for women, in a skirt, wearing ostentatious earrings and elegant little heel shoes, having pink lipstick and a perfect manicure done. Our 30 minutes of talking passed like 3 minutes. I’m very curious by nature, but the open and relaxed atmosphere created at the Human Library increased my curiosity. I didn’t feel ashamed to ask “uncomfortable” questions and I was glad to hear answers to all of them. The concept “antidude” also called “antibloke”, or “antyfacet” in Poland, is related to the attitude of being anti males. Well, this man is not trying to deny his genetics and is not going to take some female hormones to grow boobs or to make a sex change surgery. Don’t confuse an “antidude” with a gay, a travesty or a transsexual. He is just against the role of men perceived in the society. By the way, this man is a university teacher and says that attendance at his courses is higher than at other courses, because his extravagant appearance motivates students to attend classes.

The second human book I interacted with was called GAY. The society in Moldova, the country I come from, is kind of homophobic. The situation in my country is not very optimistic. There were even some cases of suicides among LGBT* youth. I was interested to find out if polish society accepts homosexuality and how people perceive it here.

My third human book called BLACK PERSON opened my eyes, properly. I had a conversation with a young student from Rwanda. He is living in Poland for 2 years and every single day copes with xenophobia and racism. It seems that polish community don’t accept black people. After several attacks on the street, my human book is afraid to walk alone in the city, and not only in the evenings, but on daylight as well. He told me he feels safe in just 3 places in Poland: in his room, in the class and at the office he is working. In any other places he should watch out his back. The stereotype polish guys have towards foreigners, not only about black people, is that they are going to seduce their “dziewczyny” (polish girls) and this is the reason they become so aggressive. Another fact that I found out from the experience of “my human book”, is that a polish girl will be considered a prostitute if she will date a black guy. This prejudice displeased me the most. I think polish guys have a problem with their self-confidence, if they think their girlfriends will easily leave them, for another guy, just because he has a different skin color.

I bookmarked my human books, I took their contacts, just to be in touch with them and keep on “reading” their special stories.

It was a great pleasure to attend the Human Library event, which is not just in Poland, but all over the world. The next events are going to take place in Turkey and Romania. Check here if there is any Human Libraries in your country. If you ever have the opportunity to participate, don’t miss it.

Enjoy reading!

P.S. This event was a special edition of Human Library, in the frame of WrOPENup Campaign.

P.P.S. At the event 101 readers borrowed 25 Human Books.

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Human Library Wroclaw

Human Library Wroclaw

*Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender

Sunday Market or let the treasure hunt begin!

mobila 2

First useful thing that I got to know about Wroclaw, before coming to Poland, was that here exists a special second hand market organized every Sunday. I was told that I can find there whatever I need, from pots, cutlery, plates, cups to clothes, bikes or furniture. As I prefer non conventional shopping rather than going to malls, I looked for this flea market on my first week of stay.

vesela 2

Dishes right on the ground

I found this “open air museum” in an old factory yard, somewhere on the outskirts of Wroclaw, in Młyn Sułkowice area. The size of the market and the variety of stuffs amazed me. Besides the old vintage and antique things, there are as well new high tech items. Most of the vendors dispose their goods properly on the ground, others on some improvised tables, while others make use of cardboard boxes to organize their “products”. These cardboard boxes are like “horns of plenty”, lots of things inside and you never know what else is hidden there at the bottom of the box. For this particular reason people are like swarming bees around these boxes. The crowd makes it difficult to find some valuable things in there. Though I bought some nice and useful stuff found in those boxes.

"This is how a "horn of plenty" looks like

This is how a “horn of plenty” looks like

Digging into botomless boxes

Digging into botomless boxes

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I should admit Sunday Market offers plenty of things between art and kitsch. It’s something usual for this kind of bazaars. In Australia they are deliberately called “trash and treasure markets”. The main idea is to seek out beauty through mediocrity, to look for quality through the large amount of junk.

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Ties in an old-fashioned suitcase

Would like to have this picnic set at home :)

Would like to have this picnic set at home 🙂

Vintage sofas

Vintage sofas

It's even better than at Ikea :)

It’s even better than at Ikea 🙂

Furniture for bedrooms

Furniture for bedrooms

Puffs for football fans

Puffs for football fans

In this period the Sunday Market is even more attractive. A lot of second hand “dealers” show off their Christmas decorations, lights, trees, candles and many other traditional holiday accessories. If you search for low-price decorations or gifts, all in good taste, Sunday Market is your shopping destination. The bazaar is also calling winter sports’ fans. You can find full skiing and snowboarding equipment, second hand or new. I’ve seen also some pairs of ice skating boots.

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

Christmas spirit

Christmas spirit

Army of skis!

Army of skis!

ski 1

Before you go to the Sunday Market, be prepared with some basic shopping expressions in Polish, because people rarely speak English there. The fun begins when you start negotiating the prices. I dare asking for a half price on everything and usually I get the discount. Do you want to know the secret? Be interested and insistent, a totally different attitude in comparison to the “negotiating style” in Middle East for example.

This next to a fireplace, please!

This next to a fireplace, please!

I told you, eveything is right on the ground

I told you, eveything is right on the ground

Vintage googies

Vintage goodies

I've met Woody Allen there :)

I’ve met Woody Allen there 🙂

a piece of Holland in Poland

a piece of Holland in Poland

Cute!

Cute!

especially for fashion girls

especially for fashion girls

I've found the treasure chest

I’ve found the treasure chest

Nice fence

Nice fence

Little things matter

Little things matter

Tandem bike, love it!

Tandem bike, love it!

biciclete 2

Good bikes from Germany

What else you should now is that Flea Market in Wroclaw is open just on Sundays from the very morning till 2 PM.

How can you get there?

By car or by bike- check the map.

By bus- Take the bus 116, direction Sołtysowice, get off at Poprzeczna station, check the bus schedule.

Are you curious what things me and my friends have bought there and how much we paid? Below you can find a short list of the things we bought from the Sunday Market:

  • 1 heart shaped oven tray- 3 PNL
  • 2 big white porcelain plates- 6 PNL
  • 5 small ceramic angels- 6 PNL
  • 1 kg raw hazelnuts- 8 PNL
  • 2 sets of hand made stars shaped Christmas lights- 12 PNL
  • A warm 100% woolen cardigan- 40 PNL
  • A second hand bike- 100 PNL
  • A new ski jacket- 140 PNL

Good luck with shopping at the Sunday Market!

Happy Birthday for my Sweetest Taboo!

She is Taboo, my best friend.

Today Taboo turns 24.

We used to be together always, especially on our birthdays.

Now we are far apart. Even though she is in my heart, I hope she felt it while watching this short “happy movie” we prepared for her birthday.

I want to say thank you to all Erasmus students from Wroclaw that contributed to this surprise. I hope you all enjoyed to say birthday wishes in Romanian, in a completely unknown language for you. Thanks, you are great!

A huuuuuge THANK YOU to my beloved cousins, as well. Criss and Dumi are the best in preparing the italian delight Tiramisu. I have never tried a better tiramisu than theirs. This is Taboo’s favorite cake and it was her surprise breakfast this morning 🙂

Thank you girls for being accomplices.

Taboo, happy happy birthday!

5 GREAT things TO DO this weekend in Wroclaw

1. Enjoy the big opening of the Christmas Fair in Rynek. The Christmas tree and all the decorations will be lit on Friday, 23rd of November. The magical atmosphere will last until 23rd of December, so we’ll have a full month to be delighted by the Christmas spirit. How are the preparations going on you can check here.

2. Attend the Night of the AdEaters 2012. It is going to take place on Friday night at Multikino from Arkady, beginning with 10 PM. What can you do there? “Devour” hundreds of the best commercials from all over the world. This event is a part of the Night of the AdEaters Worldwide Tour, for the tour calendar click here. I don’t doubt the show is going to be spectacular. I can’t wait to see the very best of British advertising. Besides American and Japanese commercials, there is going to be Romanian advertising as well. The full program you can find on the official Facebook page. Next week I will share with you my impressions as an “AdEater” 🙂

3. Take part at the next Human Library on Saturday, 24th of November, at Medieteka in Wroclaw, from 12.00 to 8.00 PM. The Human Library is an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding. The eight hour event is expected to feature more than 30 different Living Books including titles like the Arab, an Atheist, an American, the Belarussian, a Muslim, a Jew, a disabled Person in a Wheel Chair, the Ex-prisoner, the Ex-homeless, a German, a Catholic and a Black Person. More information about the project you can find on the official webpage of Żywa Biblioteka/Human Library. By the way they have cool contests on their Facebook page, yesterday I participated and I won a book.

4. Feel the jazz at the Jazztopad Festival 2012. The name of the festival is inspired by “listopad” which in polish means “november”. All the month long there were jazz concerts in Wroclaw. On Saturday, 24th of November will take place the last performance within the Jazztopad festival. In the program is JazzPlaysEurope with Laboratory 4, at the Wroclaw’s Theatre beginning with 7.00 PM. JazzPlaysEurope is an initiative which contributes to the artistic development of jazz musicians. It focuses on musicians commencing their career on the jazz scene. The project provides an international network and a forum for the exchange of young jazz artists. Information was taken from the official website of Jazztopad Festival 2012.

5. If it’s Sunday then it’s Sunday Market, a place where you can find everything, second hand or new, vintage or high tech. You can find there from bikes to ski equipment, from furniture to cutlery, from clothes to weird, funny or pointless things. Sunday Market is more than a place for shopping. It is an open air museum which I like to visit when I have no other plans for Sunday. It is place where I can improve my Polish, because people there rarely know English. It is a place where I can test my negotiation skills. The great thing about this market is that you can negotiate the prices. I will tell you in a separate post what things I’ve bought there and how much I paid. Check the map to see how you can get there.

What plans do you have for the weekend?

Coming soon: the big opening of the Christmas Fair in Wroclaw!

Thousands of twinkling lights are going to brighten Rynek, the market square in Wroclaw, begging with 23rd of November. This magic city is getting ready for the Christmas fairytale and I’m so happy about it.

I love Christmas spirit. I love the smell of the cinnamon in a cup of mulled wine. I love to hide presents for my beloved ones under the Christmas tree. I love my childish eyes when I meet Santa. I love Christmas songs. I love writing letters with my wishes. I love to warm up next to a fireplace. I love to lit candles at the Christmas table. I love to find surprises on the Christmas morning. I love to feel as I am a kid again.

I cannot believe Christmas is coming so soon, but it’s enough for me to go out and see just in front of my house a huge Christmas tree that is being decorated right now and instantly a childish smile covers my face.

There are a lot of small wooden houses in Rynek where we could find Christmas souvenirs and nice presents for our families and friends. Also there are going to be polish locals that will delight our senses with traditional Christmas specialties. I am going to enjoy this Christmas Fair all the month long. More information about the events during the Christmas Fair you can find here.

Wroclaw is a nice place to be for Christmas. If you haven’t decided yet where are you going to spend your holidays, you should come to Poland.

Watch an inspiring video of the Christmas Fair Wroclaw from the last years.

BTL marketing for Wroclaw’s ZOO

New armoured rhino in Wroclaw's Zoo

Wroclaw’s ZOO has a new “kid” in the house. A young Indian rhinoceros named Tarun, has just arrived to Poland less than 2 weeks ago. I would have never found out about it, if there weren’t 3 giant transportation boxes in the city, like those from “Madgascar” animated movie. Every time I passed by them, I had a smile on my face.

BTL activity for Wroclaw's ZOO

One of the giant transportation boxes

First, I saw one of these huge boxes with a Zoo inscription on it near the airport, but I didn’t pay attention to it. But when I saw 2 other boxes in 2 different locations, pretty crowded, I thought there must be something special about this “phenomenon”. Guess what, it wasn’t just a box. It had a small hole, like an eyehole highlighted by a red arrow, through which you could look inside and see almost a real rhino in it. It was a 3D image of a rhino that made it look so natural.

I really liked this BTL activity of Wroclaw’s Zoo, but I had the impression that something is missing there, concerning the feedback of this promotional campaign. I visited their Facebook page and they had a photo contest about these giant transportation boxes, it was really nice, but the question is how do people find out about the contest? They missed a great opportunity to bring new visitors on their official website and Facebook page. My opinion is that they should have printed on the boxes their internet pages, through which visitors can properly “get in touch” with them, to read more about the new resident of the Zoo, participate at their contests and then let the “word of mouth” work for them.

By the way, Wroclaw’s Zoo is very active in social media, their Facebook page is updated and they are regularly organizing contests, posting news and pictures. Nowadays New Media Advertising is one of the most efficient promoting instruments.

Another BTL activity of Wroclaw’s ZOO that pleasantly surprised me is the special event “Cooking for Rhinos”, that took place in the middle of September at one of the local restaurants. There the General Manager of the ZOO, Radosław Ratajszczak, found himself in a new role – Chief of Indian cuisine. So, the guests of the event had some special Indian dishes from the Zoo’s GM.

I hope these teasing activities increased the number of visitors, because the ideas were brilliant. In my case they worked, I paid a visit to Taruna and other Zoo inhabitants. I enjoyed going to Wroclaw’s Zoo, I spent there almost 4 hours, if not the rain I could have stayed there more.

I warmly recommend you to visit Wroclaw’s ZOO!

Taruna- newcomer at Wroclaw’s Zoo

Source: Wroclaw’s Zoo

A little moment of tenderness

The cutest bears ever, they were walking like dancing

Lions are enjoying their siesta time

A hungry suricate at Wroclaw’s Zoo 😀

The ugliest bird I’ve ever seen 😀

Lazy bear

Lunch time for giraffes

Source: Wroclaw’s Zoo

Urban knitting in Wroclaw

The fall behind my window is quite cold. Even if the leaves are still green, I feel that autumn took its role seriously. The windy weather makes me put on my favorite wool sweaters. It seems that I’m not the only one freezing in Poland. A lot of trees from the Centennial Hall Park in Wroclaw are “dressed” in colorful woolen clothes.

Hala Stulecia

Linden trees alley in Hala Stulecia Park

Linden trees "dressed in knitswear"

Urban knitting in Wroclaw

This form of street art is called “urban knitting” and consists of decorating with “fiber graffiti” urban elements as trees, benches in the parks, bus stations or street lightning. First I’ve seen a joyful tram station on Wroblewski Street, decorated with handmade knits, with colorful flowers and “spider’s web” made out of wool. Everybody in the station was cheerful and happy to touch and sit on that soft rainbow. On a cloudy day these decorations can easily bring some sun and warmth in the eyes of people. At least this was what I felt when I saw it first.

Photo source: http://angestrickt.blogger.de/

Hala Stulecia Happy Tram Station in Wroclaw

Photo source: http://angestrickt.blogger.de/

Colorful and “warm” tram station

On the next day I went for a walk to the Centennial Hall Park, I was amazed to find the long linden alley covered with “knitwear”. The trees were properly dressed for the cold season. Every “cloth” was unique, in different colors, textures and knitting patterns. One tree I liked the most, it wore a multinational “cloth” with different flags on it.

Flags on a tree-knit

My favorite “tree knitwear”

Centennial Hall Park Wroclaw

Urban knitting in Centennial Hall Park Wroclaw

Colorful trees

If I were a tree I would love to wear that kind of colorful clothes

Centennial Hall Park

Colorful tree

It was so warm and soft, just perfect for a hug

This “urban knitting” project is called “Angestrickt” in translation from German “On knit”, here you can find more information about it.  The initiative to decorate urban elements with “knitted clothes” is a part of the German Minorities Festival in Poland, organized for the 4th time by German Cultural and Social Society in Wroclaw that took place on 29th of September.

Urban Knitting in Wroclaw

Horseback riding and zorbing in Poland

I’m completely in love with the mountains. I can go there every season and enjoy it to the full. In winter it is about skiing, in summer it is about fresh air and cool weather. This fall I discovered some other exciting things you can do in the mountains, like horseback riding and zorbing.

Afera, a great horse

Afera, a great horse

Last weekend, our “entertaining mentors”, 3 polish ex-Erasmus students that take care about our “night life” and cultural experience here in Wroclaw, organized for us a trip to Duszniki-Zdrój, one of the most popular health resorts from Poland. There are some natural sparkling waters, that are used in treatment of a variety of illnesses. The Spa town is located close to the border with the Czech Republic, in the valley of Bystrzyca Dusznicka river, between the Orlickie and Bystrzyckie mountains. The altitude of the place does not exceed 600 metres, still the landscape is charming and you can feel the mountain climate. The surrounding hillsides are covered with spruce and beech forests.

Rancho Panderoza

Rancho Panderoza in Duszniki Zdroj

In the heart of the forest it is a farm called Rancho Panderoza. We’ve spent a great Sunday there. It was the first horseback riding experience for the most of us, so we started with a short training. We were tought the basics of the western style of horseback riding.  We’ve seen some of the best competition horses from Poland, they were so peaceful and calm, unable to do any harm.

The best competition horse in Poland

The best competition horse in Poland

Some years ago I got on a horse, it was amazing, but I cannot call it riding, because the horse was guided by his mistress. This time was totally different, after the training we went for a horseback ride through the forest. It was something between delight, fear and pain, but at the end it all turned into an incredible adventure.

Horse called Afera

Let me introduce you my favorite horse, Afera 🙂

Horseback riding training

Horseback riding trainning

Western style of horseback riding

Rancho Panderoza

Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland

Rancho Panderoza

Rancho Panderoza

Sledges from Rancho Panderoza

These sledges wait for the snow to come

Almost like Santa's sleigh

Almost like Santa’s sleigh

Great landscape in Duszniki-Zdrój

Great landscape in Duszniki-Zdrój

Then followed zorbing, also called globe-riding, that equals laughs and screems. First establised in New Zeeland, this type of  sport and out door activity consists of rolling downhill in an sphere, generally made of transparent and flexible plastic. The orb from Duszniki Zdroj was not transparent and looked like a giant football ball. There was place for two riders inside the zorb, so we entered by two and for 3 minutes we felt ourselves austronauts, it was really fun. In the zorbing homeland, people of all ages enjoying this sport are called zorbonauts 🙂

Zorbing in Poland

Zorbing in Poland

Running for the giant football zorb

Running for the giant football zorb

Zorbs have been adopted as a symbol of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. According to the Russian Winter Olympics Organizing Committee, the zorbing ball’s concept of openness fits well with the motto of the big event – “Gateway to the Future.”  And also the transparency of zorbs also reflect the accessible and inclusive society that Sochi 2014 Games is helping to build.

What else can I say, outdoor activities are lifegiving!

  Duszniki-Zdrój

Duszniki-Zdrój

Ladybug

Biedronka, the polish word for “ladybug”

Window with flowers

Love flowers at the windows

Colors, lights, music and advertising on water

It has passed already 2 weeks since I’m in Poland. By now Wroclaw exceeded my expectations. This place can be easily called “a rainbow city”. Its colorful spirit keeps surprising me.

First it was Rynek, the market square in Wroclaw that left me speechless. The buildings surrounding the square look like fairy tale houses. The distinctive style and the bold colors of the facades give to the city center a special charm. These beautiful houses reflect happiness and probably make the people living there be more happy. Some collegues of mine are going to rent a flat in that area, lucky them 🙂

Then it was a spectacular view out of my window, a real light show in “an unreal place”. The dormitory in front of ours became a dance floor for colorful lights. The colors out of the windows were changing in an amazing rithm. Later I found out that this is a part of a students’s project from Wrocław University of Technology, called P.I.W.O, in translation from Polish it means “beer”, but it can be abbreviated as “B.E.E.R- Big Electronic Entertainment Renderer”. The project is based on an innovative building illumination system, the idea of the project is to transform the buildings, in this case the dorms, into enormous displays. More about this project you can read here.

Amazing, right? But as I understood What we have seen last week was just a rehearsal. Watch how Polish Technology Students mess with Dormitory Lights in a hard way 🙂 This show took place in 2009, now I’m just waiting for the next one.

Well, Polish people really like to play with colors. This time “the rainbow” is not on the buildings, nor on illuminated windows. Now it is about a multimedia show at Wrocławska Fontanna, the largest fountain in Poland. I’ve been there twice and the shows were stunning. Even if it was raining, hundreds of people gathered there. And where people gather there is always place for advertising. Before the show there were projected some images on water drops and some advertising too, but I didn’t understand quite well the content because it was in Polish. Anyways it was not annoying at all, more than that it was nice to discover this kind of unconventional advertising.

The most recent show is “CZTERY ŻYWIOŁY”, which means “Four Elements”- Earth, Fire, Water, Wind. Apocalyptic music inspired by the soundrack of “How to train your dragon”, dancing lights, bouncing water, special lasers, everything was directed in a perfect harmony, it is an art to make it all work. Behind this project stand very tallented people. There are shows almost three times per week, from May to October, here you can find the schedule for the next period. During the cold season the fountain becomes a place for outdoor ice skating.

 

Love my colorful Wroclaw!