Tell me a little bit about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, some interesting facts about yourself.
I am 25 and I come from Gdańsk, Poland. Although I love my city and the seaside, my heart beats faster in the Tatra mountains (getting there requires a 700 km drive from my place… and it’s worth it). I have graduated in history of art with anthropology and international relations, but my passion is photography and all things art… drawing, designing, iconography, knitting, you name it. Travelling is a big part of my life as for the last couple of years I’ve been changing countries quite often because of my studies and now I can’t imagine staying in one place too long.
What is your blog about? What do you like to write about the most?
I love writing but I always need to ‘digest’ the trip, the story I want to tell, the thoughts and emotions… hence the name of my blog. I like to call it mindful writing, which may be against some blogging trends, but I believe that we need to slow down a bit. But, back to the question. In my writing, I focus on my impression of a place. I like to write about the people I meet, observations I make, particular situations. I like to contemplate, look at things carefully, experience the surrounding. My writing is a result of that, hence it doesn’t really matter whether I’m writing about my neighborhood or far away places.
When and why did you start blogging?
I created the blog over three years ago but only started writing regularly in February 2014, when I left for Russia. I simply needed a reason and motivation to write and wanted to share the stories and photographs. It was the time when the situation on the international arena was becoming tense in terms of relations with Moscow and I thought that it might be a good idea to write about Russia from a different perspective than just political.
Are you traveling long time or just occasionally?
Well, so far most of my travels were connected with living abroad for longer periods of time, but I’ve been taking short trips from time to time, so I’d say it’s fifty-fifty. Now it seems that I’ll focus on short, occasional trips, but my dream is to go on a 8+ months bike trip which would focus on one region (ideally part of South America or Central Asia).
Why do you travel? What inspires you to discover the world?
Sometimes it’s just a line in a book or a captivating image. Sometimes there’s a story – as was (actually, is) the case of Patagonia/South America now and I just know that at some point I’ll get there. Above all, deep inside, there’s simply a need to explore and experience the world in its variety. I started traveling because I was curious; now I see how much difference in my perception of the world traveling makes and that’s why I want to continue traveling.
What’s the craziest / most adventurous / most memorable thing you’ve done while travelling?
I’ll never forget my first night in the Caucasus mountains, when we got caught by a terrible storm on a crest of a hill, it was raining cats and dogs, it hailed so hard we couldn’t get out of the tent (by the way, three people in a double tent and all our backpacks and stuff), there were flashes of lightning one after another and our tents were pitched in the most exposed place in the area… I was just thinking that I may not have a chance to say the most important words to the people I love. Sounds like a tacky movie, right? I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared in my life.
Something more positive… I’d say sunrise above the clouds at 4000 meters and all stunning views I’ve seen. I also remember some crazy airport stories, including being stuck at the airport for 24 hours, missing flights as I slept in (it was Easter and I had less than 30 euros on my account) and trying to get home…
Your top 3 visited places and why?
That’s a tough question… but fine. Georgia – because of the people, food, wine, the architecture of old Tbilisi, and of course, the mountains. Prague – according to me, the second most beautiful city (after Tbilisi); I spent my 18th birthday there and have been there on a couple more occasions. Armenia – I was mesmerized by Yerevan at night, I’ve never tasted fruit so sweet (peaches! grapes!) and I’ve met the most hospitable couchsurfing host there. I feel like I need to come back there and explore this little, yet fascinating country; I’ve only climbed one of the peaks of the Aragats mountain so there are three left and I still need to see Ararat, which was hidden behind the fog at the time of my visit.
Which place in Poland would you recommend and why?
For lovers of nature – the mountains. Tatras in September, Bieszczady in August (actually, any season). I also find the east of Poland fascinating – a bit forgotten, off the beaten track, with hidden treasures and stories waiting to be told. As for cities, I like Toruń and Lublin the most – not so popular, yet absolutely beautiful. And Gdańsk, of course.
Your next travel plans.
Currently, I’m in Poland and hope to explore my country a bit, with a focus on the mountains (of course). I am also thinking of a bike trip covering part of Poland. I’ll probably visit my family in Brussels at some point. This year is a bit unpredictable because of my private life, but I hope I’ll have the chance to get to Central Asia, Iceland or Patagonia next year.
Other Polish blogger you’d recommend to follow.
Definitely Na krancach świata – amazing couple, passionate about mountains and bike trips. They’re really inspiring, take pictures which make you speechless and tell stories in a way that makes you want to pack immediately (and leave for Chile… mmm). I also follow Los Wiaheros – again, bikes, landscapes (this time Central Asia), and a very well written blog. Finally, I’d say Bear Girl – I guess I’m getting a bit boring, but… a bike, nature (Yukon!), mind blowing photography.
You’re probably the only blogger I know who happened to live in Russia. What’s the story behind that?
I’ve always wanted to experience Russia, so when I was searching for a master degree, one which included a semester in Russia drew my attention. Later it turned out that one needed to already be proficient in Russian to get a place in St. Petersburg, while I was in the beginners group, but somehow I managed to convince my professors that it won’t be a problem, as Russian is pretty much the same as Polish (right?), that my Slavic soul would easily fit in the new environment and that my master thesis would be Russia-related, so I need to go there. And so I did.
How was living in Russia? What did you enjoy and didn’t enjoy there and what do you miss about Sankt Petersburg?
If I had to use one word, I’d say it was an adventure. St. Petersburg is supposed to be the most ‘European’ city in Russia and sure it is in a sense, but it is also very different. I lived in a student dormitory which was far from Western standards, my roommate came from Bashkiria and we shared the flat with a Russian and Thai girl. I arrived in Russia in February, so I had a chance to experience real cold and darkness – waking up at 10 am and not seeing much difference with 2 am was weird… but then in June there were the amazing white nights and the sun only went down for two hours at night. Darkness and light, richness and poverty, hatred towards the West and willingness to cooperate… it’s a country of contrasts on all levels. I travelled a bit around St. Petersburg and the poverty outside the city struck me every time.
St. Petersburg is an amazing city, I loved the theatre, ballet, the white nights, the cathedrals, food and everything, but most importantly it was an eye and mind opening time. I didn’t spend that much time with other exchange students as I’m not really a party animal. I liked walking along the Neva river, going to the Hermitage anytime, exploring the metro stations located so deep underground, that I could read 10 pages of a book on the escalator…
There were some peculiarities, including majority of shops (and gyms, hairdressers, etc.) open 24h, extremely high prices of imported products, the bureaucracy – for example, I could not pay for the dormitory via bank transfer, but instead had to go to four different places, collecting a piece of paper in each. That’s part of the legacy of communism, sometimes funny, sometimes quite sad. I miss the city as I got attached to it; I guess what I miss most is the theatre – my friend is an actress there and so I had the chance to see the backstage, meet the actors and see incredible performances, including an over 5h ‘Macbeth’.
You take amazing analogue pictures. Why do you prefer to go old fashion way?
That’s how I started taking pictures and I like to go back to the roots sometimes. I do have a digital camera too, but every now and then I feel like I need to take a break and go on a ‘photography detox’ as I like to call it. I remember going to the Caucasus with my friends and they all were talking how good it was that I was coming with them, because they’d have great pictures from the trip. And I thought, no way, I’m not somebody’s photographer, I want to enjoy my holiday and not feel the pressure. So I took 15 or 20 rolls of film and an old camera, which was a bit risky, but in the end I was really happy with the effect. Also, when I travel alone, I feel safer not carrying expensive equipment.
Thank you Ewa for taking the time to answer my questions! We seem to share the interest in similar destinations and I can’t wait to read more about your future travels!
Is there anything you’d like to ask Ewa about?
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