Soooo, as you may have seen, I'm back from my business trips.
Krakow, PolandThe first one was to Krakow, where I was for the first time since going there frequently, confronted with such bad pollution that I was actually glad to leave. It's a shame, because even in winter, the city is wonderful and offers visitors and inhabitants alike so much! But then you leave a building and think "boy, why does this feel like I've smoke a pack of cigarettes when I haven't been smoking in years?" The pollution is partially a problem of the weather in Krakow (which you can't do much about: when there's no wind, there's no wind and that's that), but also comes from the fact that many people are forced to use coal for heating their appartments because of high prices for oil, gas and electricity. Some even burn garbage (including plastic) because they either try to save on coal as well or simply don't know any better. The result is a pollution that is among the highest in Europe and sometimes rivals or even surpasses Indian and Chinese cities. You can read more about the issue here Something in the air in Krakow.
I'm not bringing this up to talk badly about one of my favourite European cities, but just to raise awareness about an issue that I thought was not an issue at all any more within the EU. I hope this will change and Krakow can be the beautiful city it's meant to be
Rio de Janeiro, BrazilMy second buisness trip wasn't even a week after returning from the first one. This time, I went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! And this time, it was not for my current project (as it was with Krakow), but for a project I had done the proposal for and the client wanted to have a seminar on the technologies. So I got to go to Rio for one day of giving a presentation (which btw went fine, thankfully!) with 12 hours of flight one way. The flight arrived in the early morning on Wednesday and we left again late on Friday, with my presentation being on Thursday with the option of the client keeping us in the office for Friday as well.
The good news was that they didn't need us on Friday, so we were able to take the day off and go to Corcovado which is where the Christo Redentor (Christ Redemer) statue, the landmark of Rio, is situated. And another piece of good luck: the clouds that had been hanging low over Rio even that very morning were vanishing and we actually had a great view all across town!
It wasn't perfect because of the haze, but it was still absolutely mesmerizing! I don't even know how long we just stood there staring and trying to identify landmarks You can see all the way from Galeão airport to Ipanema beach (not on the picture above, but when you're there, you can).
In those three-minus-one days I actually managed to take a swim at Copacabana (where our hotel was), sip Caipirinha in the bar at the roof of the hotel in the evening, taste some Brazilian dishes I have forgotten the names of (but one was black beans which seems to be very Brazilian but unfortunately tasted of nothing), get a taste of the famous Sucos (which are basically smoothies made from fresh (!!!) and to European people exotic fruits in any combination you like, with and without sugar - sem açúcar ), almost get sunburnt in February (almost! Thank god!) and get to know at least a little bit of Portuguese ("Obrigada").
It's a beautiful city and the people in it were great! A special thanks goes to my taxi driver who tried to talk to me even though I could only guess what he meant (I speak some French and Italian which is similar, at least in writing - plus I had just come from a 12 hour, season-hopping flight so I was completely exhausted anyways) and who still gave me a tourist's guide to Rio to keep so I would know what to do while I was there
I uploaded some of the pictures I took as stock on =kuschelirmel-stock - some examples: