About the landing preparations

I dreamt about the San Francisco.
It looked more like New York city encompassed with the dense Hong Kong mist.
It looked like some place that San Francisco is not, but I knew it is,
I tried to take my mother and a dog out to walk a bit around the golden gate, she said no.

Why can’t we go and walk a bit around the golden gate bridge
Why can’t we

My mother was busy, so was my father. Busy was my sister, my cousins, grandparents, aunties, uncles, friends from school, university, kindergarden, the friends I missed and loved.
My dog wasn’t my dog. He looked different, bigger and more polished, and not like my dog at all really.

Come, let’s go see a world, we’re in San Francisco! We are not here forever. We’re only here for a while. How can you know we will not be in a whole new place by tomorrow.

Let’s
go
and
see

But everybody was too busy.

So I took a metro a couple of blocks away from our San Francisco house, the one looking just like in the Mrs. Doubtfire and went to the Golden Gate park. I sat by the river and looked at the tones of red lines and cables, rapid waters of the blue river. There was nobody else just me and the dog that didn’t remind my dog in any way, the endless lines and splots and contextures, the red of it, the metallic.

The intimidating beauty, and the power, and the time, the cold wind smacking my face, tearing my hair, pulling it, ugly, the face of the dog I didn’t know, faithfully smiling to mine

And so I cried

I cried because I have never felt more lonely in my life. I cried because it was me and the powerful intimidating beauty surrounding me from every angle while everybody else was gone. How powerful the world felt by just surrounding me, the world created and remained, forgotten and dismissed.

Everybody else was too busy.
People got to work you know

I dreaded whether they would see what I saw? How I could I know they wouldn’t say

SAN FRANCISCO IS FOR JUNKIES.
YOU NEED MONEY
MONEY IS IMPORTANT
YOU WILL MISS THE MONEY
IT BUYS YOU A BIGGER HOUSE
YOU NEED TO PAY MONEY TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO NEED MORE MONEY TO BUY A BIGGER HOUSE
YOU NEED MORE MONEY
YOU NEED MORE MONEY
WORK
WORK
WORK
WORK
WORK
WORK
WORK
WORK

But I just sat there. I sat on the grass, green minty grass and I felt what I saw with every bit of my soul like I looked at it through a little piece of a pink glass.

*

Two years ago on the sunny friday morning of October I launched the Apollo 13 from the small ugly Warsaw airport. I waved to my family and friends and the love of my life, I pulled the blue pulsating heart out of my bleeding chest, put it inside the big metal, flying Apollo, and launched it. Since I have done it, two years, seven hundred thirty nights and days of comparable length has passed on the planet earth, the third planet from the Sun, the densest planet in the Solar System, the largest of the Solar System’s four terrestrial planets, and the only astronomical object known to accommodate life. My mum, dad, sister, grandma, grandad, aunties and uncles went to bed around seven hundred thirty times and saw around seven hundred thirty sundowns.
I feel like all these days I have been in a different galaxy. I escaped time as I knew it.

I left earth in Sydney on Friday night and I saw it again, twenty hours later, in Dubai on Saturday early morning, just to leave it again with a repacked suitcase to see it again in London
I like going west, because it makes your day last forever. If you drink coke and coffee you can do with it anything you want.
You can get a little cute wrinkle throughout the day.

Can a fly live the day longer than me?
Does it make me the ambassador of the inequality of days and nights?

I’m so lonely
but that’s okay
I shaved my head
and I’m not sad

Some of my beloved friends has fell in love throughout these seven hundred thirty days. I am so happy for them. Some has changed their style and career, moved to another city, broke up with their boyfriends, got a big pretty tattoo, some stopped smoking and finished universities.
I just fly and fly, just ride you know,
keep on rolling like there’s no tomorrow
jump from one island to another, oh what the world is but islands, making passionate love to the Empire State Building in the May sun, in December nights.

I cried when it started raining in Coventry and I couldn’t explain why. I think I cried because it was so beautiful. It sounded so pretty, like little twinkles on the window sill. It felt so clear, so simple and normal, it felt like my soul has been taking a little shower, so I sat down, with my face wet in raindrops and cried.

I saw a grizzly bear. He has been eating a plant on the side of Canadian Highway number one, the longest Highway in Canada. He could kill you with a paw, but he ate the little green plants.
It was beautiful. I couldn’t take my eyes away.

Why do we underestimate the world so badly? Why do we let the system close us in the box, why do we let it make us breath the fake filtrated air and make quick unpassionate love to the computer screens.

It’s beautiful.
It’s wild.

That girl said i want to be like you
And who is that?
Red hat?
Glamorous lifestyle, the big glass doors of the beautiful hotels
London New York Paris oh baby
Tones of make up, red lips, sad eyes

That made me sad.
Can’t you see that’s everything I am not?

I worry my Apollo 13 will crush when touching down. I worry the atmosphere will torn it apart into million pieces, breaking my heart, turning it into something ugly.
I worry I will come back to all the busy people who couldn’t go to the Golden Gate park that day with my arms opened and it will not change a thing. I worry I will leave you, Empire State, to hear no sorry, go by yourself

That go by yourself I dread the most

And so I went

The long story of a backpack from the Chinese street market

I got my backpack for fair traded hundred hong kong dollars on the Chinese market.

It’s close to nothing. It says “Levi’s” inside and “JinTisMao” outside. I find it really cool, the kind of “I’m a badass traveller” cool, so I packed my wallet I got at some local store on omani souq, my big boy camera, passport, a pack of chewable fudge, Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”, pocket edition of Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” I carry with myself everywhere but never really open, and than me and the Chinese backpack became the closest friends.

Going around the world seems like a fairy tale right from National Geographic, but it kicks you in the ass. World kicks you in the ass. And it’s not just some kind of kick in the ass you get before an exam from a friend, it’s a motherfucking superpower kind of Chuck Norris kick right in the ass. Perhaps doubled. I wear my fancy uniform and smile to people more than I would intend to. I give them a massive check-out-my-teeth smile when they can’t get their meal and get angry, or when I kick them for the fourth time with my cart because there’s not enough space. So it happens and my face momentarily transforms into some kind of double cream birthday cake, which you can’t help but smile to. My silver armour. This is what sometimes I feel I’m becoming. A double cream birthday cake.

I stand on the ridge of Grand Canyon, some safe half meter away from the edge, and I can’t stop looking down, in this massive six thousand feet depth, being protected from it with nothing but my own uncertain sense of balance. This massive hole has been here for some millions of years and there’s been some idiots who fell down there and died because they wanted a cool photo, and some Djangos who shot each other there, and some Pocahontas making out with John Smith too, and this thing has seen all that, and it meant absolutely nothing to it. If I made a single step I would fell right into it and turn into a piece of meat eaten by the birds. Maybe there would be a little note in the news or something of that sort, but that would technically change absolutely nothing beside the daily menu of the canyon birds. Everything that surrounded me in that moment wouldn’t give a single fuck whether I am a cabin crew or a toilet cleaner or a president of the United States, Muslim or Jewish, raw vegetarian etc.

I remember the eighteen years old me having a conversation with my old friend. I don’t quite remember what were we talking about, but I remember me saying it’s all about loosing your ego and him let me know when you’ll find the way to do it.

So I flew sixteen hours and than rode for six more to go to this six thousand feet hole in the ground, sat on its edge just to dangle my legs a little. It has become one of the most significant events in my life.

To travel means nothing and everything. I find the word just as undefined as love, and probably just as fascinating. Where does the journey start? I believe it starts once you’re in the land of unknown and the big fluffy monster called “fear” appears right next to you. The moment when you take this monster by hand and decide to go wherever it takes you, this is the journey. Going out of your comfort zone. And than going out once again. My journey has been about looking for something without quite knowing what was it, and it took to go around the globe twice and another twice and than another one to understand.

What I was looking for was myself.

I was scared more times than I could count on my fingers. I was lost more times than I could remember too. I missed the buses, mistook the metros and walked the wrong directions way too late in the night in the places I have never been to before. I practised looking confident in what I am doing to perfection, just to hide how terrified and lost I am.

Me and dad decided we can’t sleep and went for the night hike to the Griffith Observatory in the North Hollywood. To actually get there with your two legs is quite an effort as most of the road goes almost straight up after what the road peters out leaving you on the sandy path in the complete darkness lighten by nothing but omnipresent night lights of California. On our way back in the late night we got completely lost walking some two miles in the opposite direction. We were left with nothing but two pairs of legs, a pair of brains and a cheap Chinese backpack. We didn’t know the taxi number neither the way to the metro. And you know what? It wasn’t even tiny bit scary. Because after all you got a pair of legs and a brain for the right reason. And once you have your little house right on your back that’s more than you would ever need.

Walking around the globe hand by hand with the old friend called fear I learnt one important thing. I found that sentence in my crumpled copy of Strayed’s “Wild” and it was just right. I realised I was no longer as much loose in the world, as bound to it. The world from the scary, unexplored, big place became the place I belong to. With every other step I feel closer to it, I feel more bound to it. I don’t know when was the very moment when the map on my wall started looking ridiculously inadequate to what it represents. World has nothing to do with the lines and colours. They are far too simple for the amount of blisters and sleepless nights for what it takes to make world feel a little like home.

You may imagine that travelling is sitting on the fancy Californian beaches in your magazine dress and contemplating the sound of the sea while analysing your life and meditating about who you are. I believe it probably is travelling too, but not my travelling. My journey reminds more of lying on that beach with your jetlagged face stuffed with dirty beach sand because an hour ago you literally fell right onto it falling asleep and you probably wouldn’t wake up for the next two days if some kid didn’t shout something next to your ear. Acknowledging that your face doesn’t really remind your face because you’re too tired to hide it under your make up, draining in the forty degrees heat anyway.

Catching up a glimpse of this face in the broken piece of a mirror in a public toilet in the city the name you don’t remember and smiling back to it, that’s travelling. There’s nothing I would rather be than the person in the mirror, you think looking at your watch with a wrong time zone set up. If that takes to go around the globe some sixteen million times to learn that, it is not a bad deal at all.

about sleeping in the night and eating breakfast in the morning

For the last couple of weeks I gave up on writing.

I would probably say that for the last couple of weeks I gave up on living in some acceptable human way, and that is my only excuse for abandoning my writing.

As I opened this blog, or journal, or anything you would call the thing you are looking at in the moment, I understood how much it is missing, and for all that I have the poorest excuse the world knows: I’ve been busy.

There is not a single word about how I caught the last metro in Paris to see my old friend and spend a night in a student house that looks just like Hogwarts, nothing about how I went on my sixteen hours flight to Houston, Texas, how I visited the actual Apollo mission centre. I didn’t write a single word about how great I felt with the wind in my hair when I rented the city bike in Houston city, or how beautiful it was to get drunk on the beach of small Texas island Galveston and run in the water with my clothes wet.


I did not write a word about how after a night of no sleep I was refused to be taken on board of the plane to my country and how desperate I was to go, how much it hurt when after travelling for 12 hours I had just one day to stay at my parents house.  I probably wouldn’t even know how to explain how I tried to make that day last forever and spend some time with all the people I miss, and how it felt when I had to get up in the morning and take the airport train, again, again, again.

I moved my flat in Dubai. I packed everything I have, a mountain of books, heavy photography albums, Buddha mask made of mango tree, frozen food, all my pillows and clothes I keep on buying to make myself happy. I used some superpowers of my new flatmate and we moved it all, from A to B, so maybe I can start everything from another beginning, in another place.

I was busy and this word is empty. It doesn’t mean anything anymore. Words busy and tired lost its meaning long time ago and I naively keep on using them, with a little trust that maybe this time I will be understood and learning over and over that the vocabulary I brought from my previous life does not have much communication to offer.

Tired, more tired, the most tired

Busy, busier, the busiest

During last month I probably went around the globe some three times, but it does not impress anybody anymore, and most importantly it does not impress me.

I did not write a single word about how after a night of work I jumped on my seven hours flight to get rejected on the assessment day for my dream job, and how I cried a river in a hotel room, the place I live in, with my boyfriend holding me and patiently saying

it will be okay.

It gets my eyes wet right now when I am writing about it too, but I learnt my lesson and I am thankful for it. It always hurts to get back to ground, and I suppose it hurts even more, when you spend most of the time around thirty two thousand feet above the ground.

Growing up in the world of dreams, books, summers and winters, cats and cakes, it gets hard to face the life as it is.

I should have written about how I met an Italian stranger once walking on the Milan main square in the chilly autumn afternoon and how he showed me the city . Maybe it was the smell of the European winter and my Christmas scarf, or maybe his italian accent and refusing to speak in any communicative English, but I couldn’t stop laughing for a second.

The smell of italian bakery, Poland covered in red and yellow leafs, the taste of pierogi. My dad and sister smiling at the airport arrival doors, the wind in my hair once I opened the car window on the Texas journey, the warm nights, the cold evenings. My friend laughing at me at Paris Cité Universitaire station in the night, the wind from the massive engines tugging my uniform once I’m standing on the airport and directing my passengers to the bus. Eating cheese crepes by the river Thames and holding my boyfriends’ warm hand, birds flying around my head in Milan.

Conversations with strangers. Sun rise

from

the

plane

window.

My job is taught, but beautiful. I have too many memories to share them with my friends. I have too many memories happening to watch news. I am too busy to tell my parents where am I going next. I am excited about evenings when there is nothing to do so I can go to bed early.

I feel constantly guilty for people I care about. I feel guilty for not having answered the messages, for not meeting friends the day I was supposed to meet them. I feel guilty because I’m missing birthdays, weddings, Christmas, mother’ days, family arguments, for not knowing what day it is, sometimes even being lost in another month. I bring wrong currencies to wrong countries, sometimes I forget to eat, sometimes I eat in the night and sleep in the day.

All the things I wrote make me realise one fact, which is, I am pretty much left alone with all my memories and my work. To spend most of your time in the sky is beautiful, but pretty lonely.


My life at some point has divided into the life itself and its narration. It is the nature of my job and I don’t want you all to listen to me whining, but instead of describing the places I see and get amazed with, I thought, at once I will describe the place I am in, so maybe you can understand it a little bit.

And if you don’t, it’s okay too.

About being 32,000 ft above the ground

I love my job

I love my job

Juices, water, soft drinks. More cups. Too much water. I am preparing the cart for the next service. I am doing it mechanically, I feel like I’ve done it so many times now. In the meantime somebody pops up in the kitchen and asks me for the tea. I make the tea, we talk.

Where are you flying to?

This is the question I asked so many times, it could be my name now. It comes out of my mouth naturally, feels almost like I was breathing it out. But it isn’t worn out. The answers still make me smile. The interest on my face is not fake. I want to know. I still can’t believe all the crazy places that people go to, and all the different reasons they have. I am just as passionate about traveling as I was being seventeen. There is more that one million reasons to fly.

The man asks me whether I miss my family. We’ve been already flying for ten hours. I haven’t slept for around twenty, the time zone change is killing me. It is dark in the cabin. All the windows are closed and most of the passengers sleep, some of them stretch their legs next to the kitchen, some watch the movie. From time to time I open the window blind just to look outside, but there is no Sun, it is still dark outside. All the big cities we are passing by look like Christmas trees. Looking at them calms me down. I think about what people do. I wonder whether they are happy. Once I saw how the half of some city got cut out from electricity. I looked at it, and the part of it just turned black, like it was never there.

You know, when the mine gets cut off, or some massive shopping center, everything just stops, people panic, some die.

But when I am up there and I see a part of the world going black, I don’t think about any of these. It is too far away to think about it. It just doesn’t feel realistic.

When the man asks me the question, I feel confused. I do miss my family. And I miss my friends. But I haven’t seen the Sun for more than fifteen hours, we are going West. What I miss the most at this very moment is the world. I think about blending strawberries. I want to blend strawberries. I miss the sound of the cars in the morning, when I sit on the balcony and drink my tea. I miss it how the day changes, how it cools down in the evening and people go out from their houses. I miss people riding their bikes. I miss making a grocery shopping and sitting in my bed eating chocolate. All these things feel so far away. They feel much more afar than these 32,000 ft that actually separates me from them and I don’t know which reality is real: the one up there, or the one I miss.

It is still five more hours to go. I feel tired. But not frustrated. I am doing my job. There is a young mum with a nine months baby girl on her lap in my cabin. The baby girl cries, and the older lady sitting next to her tries to help her best. She smiles.

There is around sixty people in the cabin I am responsible for. All the different kind of people: mother with babies, elderly going on the life trip, students, people who don’t speak any English, people who are tired, sad, happy, excited. I probably won’t recognize their faces on ground, but that is okay, they won’t recognize me neither.

One man comes to the kitchen to stretch his legs. I get him a water. His accent is Australian, but he tells me he goes to Warsaw. It makes me happy. We change to Polish, which uncomfortably distances us with it’s formal “Pan, Pani” (tr. Sir, Madam). It takes a while until our native language start sounding natural.

He moved to Adelaide in 1981, running away from the occupation in Poland. He tells me about these times, and they are still alive in the way he talks about them. There was nothing there, only fear, it didn’t look anything like Poland he is going to see again in next 10 hours. I asked him, why Adelaide. He doesn’t know. He didn’t choose. It was the only place he could go to right now, and back than he couldn’t wait, so he took his things, he took his wife and moved to the other end of the globe, knowing anything about it. We talk for quite a while. He says that life in Australia is just easier. It goes smoother, and that is where he belongs. But we also agree on the way it feels to hear your mother tongue up there, when you don’t expect to hear it at all. It feels a little bit like, out of a sudden, you were being reminded of who you are by a stranger. It is not an easy feeling to describe.

When I am in the plane I think differently. I think a lot about the consequences. I think what may happen, if this container is not latched properly. I think what may happen, when you stand up from your seat too early, or don’t put your seat belt on, or when I am too tired to think and to focus my vision at the fixed point. It is a job and as every job you do most of your time, it turns into a routine. But the part of my routine is also to think, at every single take off and landing, about how to evacuate all of my passengers the quickest I can. Whether I can open my doors or not. Whether I can open or block my doors if we land on water. I make sure whether the sound that the plane made, while the wheels got out is normal. Whether the wing looks all right. I think about where the oxygen bottle is, in case if the lady sitting in front of me looking pale faints. I wonder what medicines takes the older man in the other seat and whether it won’t work differently in the cabin pressure.

What I wanted to say is, that after fifteen hours flight you can forget you are the human being. You don’t think about whether you have to do washing next day or not, or whether your bills are paid. Up there everything is different. The air feels different. The sounds are different. Me, other crew (that I only met few hours ago), and all the three hundred people who go around the world for their own, unique reasons are in this all together. You can be tired to the point you are not sure whether you can stand straight, but you are responsible and there is no way out. I think this is my greatest lesson from my job. There is no way out different than patience.

Being a cabin crew is not only about going to all these amazing places and taking photos with the Eiffel Tower, buying all these great souvenirs and sending postcards to your friends, looking great on the airports.

You know what do I dream about when we get on the ground? That maybe somebody waits for me with the flowers on the airport. I always catch myself staring at name plates people hold on waiting in the arrivals meeting point. They stare at me too, but none of the plates has my name written on it. We go straight to the bus, load the suitcases.

The job is done.

NZ: about kiwis and sheep

First of all Kiwis don’t like Aussies.

And Aussies don’t like Kiwis.

It’s actually pretty offensive when Aussie’s call Kiwis “Kiwis”, but Aussies get offended once Kiwis call them “Aussies” too.

I asked one Australian lady on the New Zealand flight whether she would fancy any milk in her tea. She looked at me surprised and said “milk? We don’t really drink tea with milk in Australia. Only kiwis do”.

If you’re a bit confused, and still don’t know what do I talk about, let me clear it up.

Ladies and gents, this is KIWI. I know you thought it’s small green and tasty, but it’s not. It has feathers, big nose and it’s not suitable for vegetarians.

What’s the relation between this small funny thing and the New Zealand? Let me ask you what is the first think that comes to your mind when you think of Australia. Is it big, jumping and carrying a bag with its baby on a belly? I guess I got it right. Basically as much as kangaroo means Australia, kiwi means New Zealand. Or probably even more, because I’ve never heard anybody calling Aussie people “kangaroos”. That would be actually quite funny: “you know Kiwis drink tea with milk, but kangaroos just don’t”.

I hope this post hasn’t offended any sheep so far. Because sheep means New Zealand just as much. The Sheepland. The Promised Land of the Sheep. Everywhere you go, there’s some sheep randomly hanging out with its sheep friends, buying fridge magnets and postcards with sheep. There are sheep key rings, and sheep t-shirts too.

Okay, I’ve overdone it a little but. Beside tourists shops full of sheep souvenirs, you’re not going to see any of that. You’re not gonna see a sheep in the Auckland shopping mall, neither on the street. It is a stereotype. Just as much as people will associate Russians with vodka, England with tea, they assume that every New Zealander is a sheppard. And how New Zealanders laugh at this stereotype and turn it into touristic catch-up phrase only proves what an amazing, self-distanced and relaxed nation they are.

People in New Zealand wear relaxed clothes and do relaxed things. The houses look more cosy, shop assistants are more friendly. There are no Ferrari cars driving in Auckland, even though it’s ranked as the third city on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, among the cities such as Zurich, Geneva, Vienna. The difference between these cities and Auckland is that New Zealand simply doesn’t seem to care about the surveys. Nobody seems to be bothered whether the city goes up or down in the survey, nobody seems to care about Ferrari car and Chanel bags. Luis Vuitton store is just next doors to the tiny souvenir shop. People know how to enjoy their life and the life is good: there’s no point in making too much fuss about it. There are small dodgy looking weed shops just next to the noodle stores, there are parks, there are seagulls and the ocean. Nothing seems forced, everything looks a bit slow, a bit like it was taking its time. New Zealand feels a bit like it could be the philosophy of how to live your life.

This calm and relaxed atmosphere does not match very well with the extreme entertainments it has to offer. Stuff like bungee jumping, jumping from the tallest tower in the country, throwing yourself up to some 400 meters high in the metal ball are the things that people seem to be doing for fun. There is one particular picture that comes to my mind when I think about this funny relation between relaxed and extreme. The two friends of mine, the other crew I went to the town with, got in one of these crazy machines that sends you up to the sky and back. The picture I hold in my mind is the guy in his casual home clothes with two massive grocery bags in both hands looking up at my friends being thrown on some 400 meters up. He doesn’t seem impressed at all, he looks more like he was reading the ingredients on his muesli pack, he just stops for a second, looks up, and goes back home, or wherever people with hands full of grocery bags go. The reason why this particular shot comes to my head every time I think of New Zealand is because, this is exactly how New Zealand feels like.

It is a crazy, amazing place. You can see the Vulcanos from almost everywhere you go. It has the most beautiful islands on the world, places where penguins just cross the roads as it was the most normal thing on the world. If you feel a bit down, you can jump from the highest tower and stay alive. It’s where they shot “The Lord of The Ring”. Basically, it is a magical place. But just like the man in his too big flip flops carrying the potatoes and beer back from the grocery store, nobody makes too much fuss about it. Nobody is going to build there a new Burji Khalifa, if you know what I mean.

What I can say is, I love New Zealand and I love its people. Even when sometimes their accent makes me absolutely clueless. It is not the kind of place where I would take my family on the dream trip to shock them. It will not surprise you with “the biggest, the richest”, it is not a kind of place that would impress everybody. If you love Ferrari and starve yourself for a Chanel bag you’re probably not going to like it. Actually it’s going to bore you to death.

But it is okay too.

P.S. Have a look at this too: The 25 hardest things about living in the New Zealand. It’s pretty fun.

 



SYD, Australia

I was planning to write about Sydney since a while.  While it comes relatively easy to write and talk about faraway places that are so so different from all you know, it is not an easy task to write about Sydney and to show it the way I want to. The places like China, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, they shocked me. I loved them just like I love Sydney, but that was a different kind of love: a love to something new, shocking, unpredictable. In Asia people eat bugs on a sticks, in Nigeria sell shoes on the highways, Sri Lankans ride these crazy three-wheel vehicles on a busy roads: you cannot believe what you see, but it’s a fact, it’s a thing you can’t deny. Nobody eats bugs in Sydney (at least this is what I hope for), and all the cars look pretty normal. You get your shoes from topshop or h&m and there’s no much fuss about it neither.

Being a cabin crew gives you some new, different perspective. You go and see places, but you don’t live any of them. Most of the places don’t become anything personal for you. You get a general definition, but you see them from some kind of distance. I suppose it makes it much easier to write about them. I guess I’m able to tell you in few words what is Bejing and quite probably I will hit the nail better then a person who lives there for years. Does it mean that I know it? Not at all.

Believe it or not, but this 24 hours distanced perspective I get makes it much easier to describe and compare what I see. Have you ever noticed that the look of people faces in the certain places are so much different? Some places are made of proud faces, some of the tired ones, some ashamed. Living in one place makes you loose the ability to see that. Living nowhere makes you see it black on white.

In a way Sydney became my home for three nights and three days; even if the timezone change made nights the days and the other way round. Anyway, this most faraway place I will probably ever get to see, was not faraway at all.

In fact, it was so much  n o t  a faraway place that in the beginning I felt a bit confused. After a 14 hours chasing the sunrise flight, switching your watch to some crazy timezone in which you message your boyfriend saying “goodnight” in the morning, you do expect something shocking. More specifically, you expect to open the doors and get out to Narnia or something like that.

But Sydney just looks like it could be home.

I suppose it is shocking in a way. It is a place that comforts you. It is a place where older people hold hands walking in the park, where dogs look like they were smiling at all times and their tails go left and right, left and right. There’re no prices in the local grocery stores so after a while you decide to stop bombarding the shop assistant with billion of questions and just buy what you feel like. Massive buildings are surrounded by the parks where parrots chase you for a biscuit, people lie on a grass or go on a beach to say hello to the seagull. Maybe you’ll see some young couple getting married near the Sydney Opera House with all the strangers standing around, smiling and taking photos, just like they got a special invitation. People don’t seem to worry much in Sydney.

Time zone makes me wake up really early and really hungry, so I’ll go out as soon as the Sun comes up. I’m feeling restless in bed. I like these busy week mornings in a city a lot: people wear smart suits, they talk on the phones and walk fast. The sound of heels mixes up with the honks of the cars and seagulls singing, it wakes you up better than a coffee.

At the same time there’s a different reality going on five minutes away on feet. The high fence surrounded by the trees full of singing birds separate the busy, crowded Sydney from the Sydney of people holding hands and babies chasing the parrots. And I think this is my favourite one. Doesn’t matter how many times you go to Botanical Gardens: every time I get lost or find a path that didn’t know about. There’s a field full of birds not bothered about photographers, there’s a spices garden that makes your nose go funny, there’s a path next to the Sydney river full of boats going there and back, a small Greek garden and a palm house. And in all these places children run, people smile and dogs get their tongues out looking happy.

It does sound like a dream, and it does look like one too. But this dream has its price too.

There are no prices on the grocery stores and it’s okay coz I just buy a small coconut water. It’s relatively cheap, but still the most expensive I had. On a flight back I talk with the couple of European immigrants. They told me the Sydney gets more and more expensive. It was their heaven on the earth, they said, but they can’t afford this heaven anymore.

Is it the way of not getting the heaven overcrowded? I suppose so. I’m pretty sure there are more immigrants in Sydney than Aussie people. It may, or may not be a good thing. And as much as I’m trying to be objective and distanced, I cannot blame anybody who moved the half of the globe to spend there their life. It just seems like a right thing to do.














Switzerland

Zurich looks like a place where the life is a bit easier.
It makes a perfect sense, because they say it has the highest nominal wealth per adult in the world, and the Swiss people have the second-highest life expectancy in the world. You can feel it everywhere you go.
There’s no cheap shopping in Switzerland. The train ticket for the 30 minutes ride will cost you 24 franks, which is around 20 euros, and the fresh bread around 5. The only reason why you’re not going to decide to starve yourself and walk this distance on your tired feet is: in Switzerland you know where do your money go. The bread is just fresher, the train ride is more fun and the grass looks greener.

We woke up quite early, before eight and took a train to the Uetliberg, a mountain where the Zurich television tower is located. It was cold and grey: the thing about Switzerland climate is, it is not very regular. You may freeze your ass off during the springtime, and I’m usually too naive and spoiled by Dubai weather to pack any proper winter clothes.
The train goes all the way up to the mountains, passing all the Swiss little wooden houses and rides through the middle of the forest, making you feel like you were the Hogwart new joiner.

The city feels very cosy. This grey weather actually suits this feeling: you can see a warm light in the windows of the colorful houses. Gentleman in their big round hats sit in the teahouses and drink the hot tea. All the tiny streets go up and down, making you exercise your legs. The city is full of bicycles: this made me feel very impressed once trying to reach the top of another street going all the way up.

We went inside a small chocolate shop. Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, so you can find a fancy chocolate shop on every corner. The older elegant lady tried to explain me why the Swiss chocolate with some green liquor on the top is so special, and so worth its ridiculous price. As I couldn’t and didn’t really want to afford it, I tried to change the topic before she got too passionate. There was a photo of Leonardo di Caprio in the shop: the lady got very proud once asked about it and told me how Leonardo di Caprio came to her shop with his parents, and she tried to keep him forever, and he loved her chocolate. She made me smile.

The people in Switzerland seem relaxed. Everything seems a bit slow, people don’t run on the train station (well, except me) because the next train is going to be there in ten minutes. If you’re lost, the train station cleaners will explain you the way with their perfect English, looking happy about the fact they can help. It’s not the kind of smiley place: people are not going to smile at you everywhere you go, but there’s something poetic in it.
There is something in the city that is going to make you feel proud to say “I’m from Europe”. And as your Europe may not remind anything from what surrounds you there, it’s just nice to forget it sometimes and tire your legs in the place like that.