Sunday, 17 September 2017


Ventured to North Italy in business earlier this week. The very decision of the senior management to fork out money and command me to take this (truth be told) useless business trip has taken aback many in my department, as our budget for travels to clients is rather tight. But then out of the blue it transpired splurging nearly five thousand zloty for a three-day foray was absolutely doable and coming by all sign-off despite strict cost savings turned out achievable.

The total cost was quite absurdly high (for five thousand PLN you could arrange two-week holidays in Italy for one person, provided they travel with a companion and share accommodation) because flights and the hotel had been booked less than a week in advance. Hence… Failing to plan is planning to… pay over the odds. But who cares if no one’s money is spent (if the travel budget is not fully spent, someone will cut it next year, so it is better to expend money foolishly than to pursue savings). If you can get a foray for free (or actually earn on it as you receive foreign travel allowance) who would not seize an opportunity to some nooks and crannies of a distant country?

Since there are no direct flights to Turin from Poland, one option to get there is to take a flight from Warsaw to Milan and then take a fast train which runs between the cities, or, arguably more conveniently, buy tickets from Lufthansa and catch a connecting flight in Frankfurt or Munich – we opted for the latter. “Catch” is the apposite word, since on the itinerary my imprudent workmates from sales department booked, the transfer time between connecting flights in Munich was 40 minutes.

Needless to say, after a delay in take-off from Okęcie airport on our way to Munich, we were late for a flight to Turin. Lufthansa kindly rebooked us for a flight three and a half hours later and equipped us with a snack voucher for 7 EUR (try to buy something reasonable to eat on the airport for such amount of money!!!). We ended up then flying with a cheap airline one hour later than planned (in total four and half hours later), missed a dinner with a client and checked in to hotel at 10 p.m. On our way back the first flight from Turin to Munich was delayed, but to our luck, the flight from Munich to Warsaw was even more delayed, therefore we landed in Warsaw mere 45 minutes later than scheduled.

The agenda of the visit was stuffed with meetings morning-till-evening and I only managed to take one brisk, long (15-kilometre) walk around the city in the evening the day before flight home. I need to confess for the first time since many years I ventured somewhere abroad without getting familiar with stuff such as local transport, local sights to be seen and other knowledge coming in useful while travelling (logistics was taken care of by the workmates).

Forgive me the quality of photos. I did not take the camera with me, all pictures snapped with a smartphone. To the right, Piazza Statuto, one of more famous squares in Turin, but I have no idea why (pardon my glaring ignorance).

I stroll (no, I rush) towards Pad river (with hindsight I have learnt it is Pad, not “some river”) and pass by a building which resembles a town hall. In fact, this is Madama Palace, now playing host to senate of Italy. So inconspicuous…

Less than half a mile closer to Pad, I stop by at Veneto Victory square. Should look like a life-bustling place on Tuesday around 6:30 p.m., but few tourists roam around, some local teenagers hang out, besides the place is quiet.

The day I turned up to Turin, a friend advised me to climb up the hill on the other side of the river to take delight in panorama of the city. Here, having ascended the viewing terrace outside Santa Maria del Monte church. It’s before 7 p.m., nearly one hour before sun goes down. Splendid.

Then I scrambled even further up the hill, to Villa del Regina (my sneakers from Lidl, bargain purchase for 27 PLN did not withstand the two-kilometre steep ascent) to stare at the sunset. The smartphone definitely proved inferior to even a compact camera which would have rendered far better how marvellous sight it was. I grabbed the moment, made it perfect, immortalised it, but with an imperfect device.

On my way back to the hotel (one night per 115 EUR, cheapie, but who cares if your employer pays) I cross the river again. Boulevards are anything but full of people. Conversely, nightlife does not seem to exist in Turin during the working week. On the other hand, I have not spotted any potentially dangerous immigrants, yet saw many homeless sleeping on the street, a disturbingly frequent sight, just as in Madrid.

While moving between meeting across the city and beyond we took taxis (too little time to use public transport). Driving in Italian cities proves to be governed by the law of the jungle, but Italian drivers have got accustomed to chaos well and excel in avoiding accidents (if inexperienced in driving in such traffic conditions Poles were behind wheels, prangs would happen all the way).

Price-wise, I was surprised basic goods in local discount stores were more expensive than in Madrid and Berlin which I visited this year, although I can boast about running across a restaurant where we ate medium-sized pizza and washed it down with mineral water for mere 7 EUR.

Finally, a foregone conclusion that Italy has seen its better days. Every time I travel abroad I appreciate how Poland has moved on and how in many aspects it has not just caught up with Western Europe, but often outshines the “old EU” countries.

Flying to Malta for eight days on Tuesday, next post in a fortnight.

By the way, any gee-up from readers after a few months without a single comment and seepage of inspiration since getting busy with more interesting stuff than blogging?

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Stressed-out, but why?

Psychologists, also those home-grown, excel at compiling seemingly useless rankings of most stressful events in life. The lists are usually based on surveys and top picks such as spouse’s death, divorce of job loss tend to repeat on all of them.

Oddly enough, when you speak of stress factors, traumatic events, such as bereavement, break-up or some other manifestations of losses naturally spring to mind. As it turns out, both trauma and joy can bring about serious anxiety. Nearly all life events which rank among top10 most stressful situations have one common denominator – they entail a noticeable change in life, which might be either positive or negative. If your close relative passes away, if you divorce, if your offspring fly the nest, the change is (in most instances) irreversible and you have get over it. On the other hand, birth of a child, taking up new job, getting seriously involved in a relationship (especially after years of living on one’s own), or moving to a new place, are considered to be positive changes in life, yet for most people cause some degree of tension.

The rankings also contain nerve-fraying events one has to live through, such as family gatherings during Christmas, meeting girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s parents for the first time, public speeches (for individuals affected by stage fright), job interviews, visits to a dentist or just doing something for the first time (travelling abroad, etc.).

Definitely stress should be tamed, yet since humans vary between among one another, there is no suitable-to-all prescription for coping with it. Personally, I strive to rationalise what exactly can cause anxiety, i.e. dig down to reach the roots of my anxiety and overpower them directly. I cannot claim to be successful all the time, but I am proud to have brought under control stress at workplace and to have learnt to keep safe distance towards things which wind up but are beyond my control.

Finally, I posit people get stressed-out every time they walk out of their comfort zone, which leads to a foregone conclusion stress is in many situations positive and natural since it accompanies making your dreams come true. As my friends says, everything you dream of is on the other side of you fears, the fears you need to overcome. In other situations, i.e. those categorised as traumas, experiencing stress proves we are humans and cannot get over some events in life devoid of feelings. 

Off to Italy in business next Sunday, so the next posting (photo coverage of the trip) around 17 September.