Beautiful, historical and warm Cracow.

On Thursday 10th March I started in the morning my exciting trip to Cracow, Poland.

But as I want to do my things very well, I started my day with my morning running which is 10K. I took my breakfast and after I was checking if I had all my documents. Everything was done so I could start my trip.

I was driving to my favorit airport, Brussels Airport, where I took the flight with Brussels Airlines directly to Cracow. This is very convenient as Brussels Airlines is offering 4 flights a week to Cracow. The flight was perfect: smooth boarding, friendly staff, on time departure and an easy landing at Cracow airport.

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From the airport it was only a very short drive of 20 mins to the hotel. It was really amazing to be back in Cracow after almost 4 years. Everything was so recognizable, it was like coming home again.

The first day was an easy and calm day with some small preparations for the next day.

The evening was really amazing. The most wonderful, great and loving person organised a surprise for me in a very nice restaurant. The atmosphere was great, The restaurant was looking very nice, the food was delicious, great talks and laughing. Top of the bill was the dessert with a candle for my birthday which we celebrated also in Cracow. This was so touching, original. Thank you so so much again for this ❤

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And the surprises were not over yet. Later in the evening I received a great bottle of red wine from Israël. This was really a very good tasty wine. I felt so honored by this.

After a very good night and a good sleep, the next day was already there. So, time to explore the city. A city who has no secrets anymore for me but this time was with a private guide. So this is always very interesting as you come on places where you normally don’t come or who you just pass it by or you even don’t know some stories from behind the walls.

So the private guide gave a tour of in total 4 hours. It was very interesting and I learned a lot. Cracow was even never destroyed during the war. The Germans loved this city so much that they kept it for themselfs with a lot of headquarters. They even allowed that Jewish buildings could remain there. Only the Jewish people they brought them to the other side of the river.

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That’s also why the tour started in the Jewish part of the city. It is really huge but so interesting to hear the stories and to receive this knowledge.

When we left the Jewish part of the city, it was time to one of the eye catchers of the city which is Wavel palace. This is really impressive and enormous. First was an impression from the outside. Here you could see a lot of history. How it was rebuild a few times but also how they kept on certain parts the original stones, bricks to show how it was build very long time ago. From the highest part of the palace you have a very nice view of the river (Wisla) and the city. And yes, the city is changing a lot, very modern, very clean, very green. So amazing.

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After seeing the palace from the outside, it was time to see it from the inside. This is really huge and spacious. You even have a couple of churches inside the walls of the palace. Some of them are gone but the most important one is still there and I was visiting it. But no pictures from the inside as it was forbidden. But we, as Belgians, can be so proud of our country because long time ago, no less than more than 300 wall carpets were ordered in Belgium. Now you can see a bit more than 100 of them. But they are so beautiful. Those are all pieces of art.

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Of course, also the Germans loved this castle very much and builded their own huge, really huge, headquarter in it.

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After the castle it was time to take a small break and to drink a coffee and to eat a tasty slice of apple pie with cream. Hmmm so delicious and so welcome after an already interesting part of the tour.

After the break it was time to walk into the direction of Old Town. As it was Friday, just at the beginning of the afternoon, it was not that crowded of tourists. So it was really perfect to see everything very well.

Cracow has a huge and well famous square which is called Rynek glowny (1257). This is the biggest open air square in whole Europe. And yes it is because it is 200m on 200m wide. It is also one of the most beautiful ones in Europe. This is also the place where you can find most of the tourists, restaurants, pubs, souvenir shops, etc.

But I was, of course, most interested in the historial and beautiful buildings you can see there. The first one that I was visiting was the City Hall tower. When you see this tower than you think about the Tower of Pisa in Italy because also this tower in Cracow is a little bit crooked, but not that much, only 55 cm. This was due to the very strong winds in the 18 century. This tower is 70 meter high which I visited completely. From each level you have a great view over the city.

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On this square you will find also one of the oldest but one of the most famous churches in whole Poland, the Holy Virgin Mary church. The construction of it started in the 13th century. It has two huge towers, the highest one is 81 meter high. But both are not equal because the towers were guarded and they had to see the whole area in once, so that’s why the second tower is lower.

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It was a really great tour and I have a much better knowledge now of the city itself.

After arriving at the hotel it was time to refresh and to prepare for the evening out in Cracow.

After a good dinner in the Jewish part of the city, it was time to have a look what nightlife will bring. Ohhhhhhh yes, crazy crazy crazy but ohhh so good. If you really want to have a very nice night out than you have to go outside of Old Town and to be in the small streets. Lot’s of pubs, bars. The atmosphere is absolutely great. The first stop was a bar where we tried lot’s of Wodka shots. Ohhh yes, they were really good and was a perfect start of the late evening. . It was even so good that the evening after we went to the same bar to try the crazy dog 10 shots. I can tell you that they were so good. They were a bit stronger, it was also an other team behind the bar, so maybe that’s why. But yes, they were awesome good. After this bar we went to our favorit pub where they played very good music, really good atmosphere, very welcome, very warm, so great. The drinks were the best.

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The day after was a relaxing walk in the city. Enjoying a coffee and cake in a pub and seeing some very nice pieces of art during the walk.

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The day after was time to go back to Belgium. But with my mind and heart full of great moments. It was really amazing those 4 days and Cracow is really a city that I advice to visit as it offers really a lot.

All people are very nice, very warm, everywhere they speak very well English and they appreciate if you also speak a little in Polish, everything is very clean and sober. Awesome city with a very warm heart.

 

 

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Amazing and surprising Moscow, Russia

Last year I had the huge privilege to visit Moscow, Russia. As I am a passionate traveller it is not a real surprise but I have to admit that Russia was even not on my wish list of countries to visit.

But I say always, life is full of unexpected surprises, so it was indeed also with this particular destination.

But you can’t enter Russia just like that. It’s a whole procedure and it starts with finding the correct visa. In my case I had a double entry private visa. It takes around 30 days in Moscow to investigate and to accept it. The official document will be send to you and than I had to go to the visa center of Moscow in Brussels to request my visa. It takes an other 10 days but it went very quickly and in exactly 7 days I had my accepted visa. I was very happy.

I had a double entry visa, I could go twice to Russia which I also did and this in November and December last year.

The flight over Russia was amazing. It was very clear weather so I could see a lot of the landscape. It’s huge, so huge. Of course, Russia is the biggest country in the world. The flight was very smoothly and the arrival at the biggest airport in Russia, Domodedovo, was very good. Border control went fast.

It was cold, really cold. It was not snowing at that time, but freezing and the air was very dry. That makes that it felt much colder than it was in real.

During my trip in Moscow there was always one constant fact: traffic jam!!!! When you hate traffic jams, don’t go to Moscow 🙂 You really lose a lot of time. When you have an appointment, or you want to do shopping, or visiting places, at least 2 to 3 hours beforehand you have to leave your place just to be sure that you will be on time. It’s was incredible to see and to experience this.

But the traffic jam gives you also the opportunity to look around a lot. And please, do this because it’s an amazing city. The business city center is very modern with it’s huge, special and futuristic skyscrapers. More or less you can compare it with Dubai.

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The buildings of the government or other buildings are really impressive. They are huge, tall and bombastic. You look at them and you say: “waw”.

During my trip I visited museums, churches, The Kremlin, the planetarium of Moscow and a lot of parks. It was all amazing and impressive. But I saw also the real world, the daily life, how people are living, eating, how they see the world. I was very happy that I could see this and that I was all the time in the middle of this and not far away from it. I was not in a hotel and that’s why it was so great to feel this country how it is.

The Red Square, The Kremlin, Saint Basil’s cathedral were absolutely the top which you can see here on some pics.

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The Moscow city center, business center and the family districts just outside the Moscow city center are very vivid.

Malls you have all over the place, one next to the other and all in different shapes but you have also a lot of normal shops who are really cute and nice. All are very nice decorated.

But what I had to get used to it is that people don’t smile, they look all the time to the ground and they are very rude, not friendly and not helpful. This has of course to do with the culture, the past, some fear also.

But all in all, it was amazing. I was very happy that I had this privilege to see Moscow and to see Moscow not as a tourist but as a normal person who was there. This gave me a much better view of this city and this country. I’m much richer in my mind now, to understand them better too. There is a huge difference between them and us but that’s the beauty of it. The will to understand it, the will to see it and much more.

Life is beautiful and peaceful when we communicate well, when we do our best to understand and to express what we think or what the concerns are. I have learned so much.

I appreciated a new country, Russia, all with the good and bad things, because that’s life. But I saw the population, the average people and I can say that I have a very deep respect for them. They are fighters, they believe, they are patriots but they can learn from us too in being more diplomatic, more being patient, to express themselves better.

It was a trip with receiving and giving. Thank you Russia that you gave me a better insight, that you gave me more wisdom and to appreciate more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Communication

Last year I could experience again that people are not able to communicate. It should become one of the top 3 skills people should have.

Life is not always to see it from the bright side and to make plans. Life is also to share thoughts, concerns and to work together. If you have thoughts, talk about it, try to solve it, share your concerns instead of blowing up everything what you have. You lose much more on this way, you become weaker on this way.

You receive respect when you are able to solve a case together.

But the society is turning since a couple of years into egocentric people, people who are not able anymore to solve easy, practical and private cases. Business is more than ok but in private life we can see that people behave different.

Life is not to receive exactly the same back as you gave. Life is to appreciate what people do for you and this can be on a totally other way then you do. People can motivate, giving support, being for you 24/7, giving advice, to love and to give friendship. Others like to impress or to give material things. Each person is different, each person is different in approach but the basis/foundation is the same: love, friendship, respect, understanding and listening. This is all the same. How you receive other things, that’s what make it so beautiful, to be surprised. A different approach is good and welcome, being exactly the same makes is all so predictable.

Life can be beautiful, communicate on a proper way and life will be much brighter and colorful

 

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Skills

A very important word the last years was “skills”

The more skills you have, the better you are. But is that always true? You can be perfect in Word and Excel, finance or organizing meetings. But what is it telling you about your behavior/attitude? Not much.

When you apply for a job you have to give a bunch of “skills”. Via this way they will see and check where you fit the best.

Scary, no?? It’s very scary because those people didn’t saw you in real, they don’t know you how you are. They don’t know your productivity or other qualities.

What with “skills” in life? In my humble opinion, very important. The better your balance between business and private life is, the better you can take decisions, being able to have a good overview and to think clear. You can be at work for 16h or 20h and this for weeks, but who will give you a guarantee that you will be successful. Maybe a person who is working the normal 8h or 9h can have the same results or even better because of a clear mind and less risk of a burnout.

The current business models should think more about a good balance between business and private life. This to have and keep very motivated employees, strong people, who can think together with yourself.

Nowadays you can see that new office building will have fitness rooms, pools, restaurants and even a small shopping. Will be see in the next 5 to 10 years also bedrooms in our offices?? This is really scary and people don’t realise this that this keeps you away from the most important people, your family! Your husband or wife and your children. Less time with them because you have a lot at work and to keep you there. This is what is happening the last years and will develop more in the near future.

Work is good and important, but a good, strong and solid private life is the most important because they are your engine, your motivation and your support and they will not fire you when you made a mistake. Family above all!

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Visit to Brasov, Romania

In October of this year I decided to visit Brasov in Romania.

Brasov is more or less in the middle of Romania and out of this city you can reach part of the huge country on a very easy way by train or bus. The quality and frequencies of the trains is very good. The capital Bucharest is 166 km far from Brasov, the Black Sea 380 km. Brasov is therefore also one of the most visited cities in Romania.

Brasov is also the birthplace of the national anthem of Romania.

Brasov has a population of 260.000 people. The majority of the population are Romanians and Hongarians while it was in the past very different. The Germans were the main population followed by the Romanians and Hongarians.

Brasov has a very rich, interesting culture and history. When you visit the city then you start at Piata Sfatului (Old town square). It is so beautiful and nice. You can see the city alive there.

It’s the former city hall. At this moment it is a museum. The city hall is moved to a much bigger but also beautiful building. At the Piata Sfatului you can visit the daily market from the morning till the very late evening. It’s so cosy and nice.

When you walk there, watch the very colorful Baroc houses. They are very old but so authentic.

From the Piata Sfatului you see the imposant Black church. It’s a gothic church. It has it’s name since the huge fire of 1689. When you visit the church then you will notice two important things: 1) the largest organ of Europe with 4000 pipes

2) a large collection of Turkish carpets.

 

 

From the city center you can easily reach the White and Black Towers. Those are part of the Brasov Defensive Fortifications. Both were build in 1494. They are part of a huge network but they survived the so many years after and are well renovated.

 

 

When you go a little bit out of the city center you can go to the foot of Tampa Mountain. You can reach the top by foot or you can use the cabin. From the top you have a beautiful view over the city. It’s nice to sit there for a while, to enjoy the silence, the sun and the nature.

 

 

The city center has also a very nice and beautiful Saint Nicholas Orthodox church. Next to this church you can find the first Romanian school.

 

 

But Brasov is not only nice for it’s culture and history. You can also eat and drink there a lot. They have very fine and delicious pastry, good coffees and you have lot’s of good restaurants where you can eat and taste the real and authentic Romanian food. It’s so delicious.

 

It’s a very beautiful area to visit or to start your trip from there while you visit the other parts of the country.

It was a privelige to visit Brasov.

 

 

 

 

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The success of Brussels Airport

Brussels Airport, Belgium, is the largest airport of Belgium and will handle this year approx. 21 million passengers.

A couple of months ago, the aiport changed his logo into a heart. The heart is symbol of the heart of Europe, we are in the middle of Europe and Brussels Airport has also a heart for it’s passengers.

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But it’s not easy for the airport. The airport is sqeezed between major airports like London Heathrow, Paris Charles De Gaulle, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Those are major hubs and the home of some alliances like One World and Star Alliance.

But Brussels Airport is growing and growing on it’s own tempo and is different then those major ones.

Brussels airport is still an airport with space, friendly people, correct service and they have a heart on the right place and are involved in daily stuff.

A couple of years ago, Brussels Airlines, the main operator on Brussels Airport became a member of Start Alliance. That was the beginning of a bigger step for the airport and it was more easy to attract bigger airlines and thus also more passengers.

Since a couple of years some big ones arrived at the airport like Thai Airways, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Jet Airways, MEA, Ryanair, etc. The airport started to grow again and more and more people were attracted to work on the airport.

It was also a good choice to change the airport from a state airport into a private airport. This happend in 2004. The first private investor was Macquarie Airports from Australia. In 2011, there was a change in the portfolio. The Canadian Ontario Teachers Pension Plan took over the majority of the stock of Macquarie Airports.

Macquarie Airports and The Canadian ones were a blessing for the airport. They were investing a lot in new infrastructure, attracting airlines, shops, etc. It was again a very modern and nice airport.

The result we see today. They are now building “The Connector” who is a very nice piece of architectual construction between the Terminal and Pier A. It will be a blessing for the passengers as from next year. Also Pier A will be extented in the direction of the West and probably it will become a Star Alliance Hub.

Today there are working 20.000 people at the airport and about 40.000 people indirect at the airport. After our sea ports, Brussels Airport is the second economic engine of our country.

But it’s a nice place to be. You see people smiling, you see people crying but it’s all about happiness. It’s aplace who moves, it’s a place where you can meet people, all different kind of people, the whole world on a small place.

That’s Brussels Airport.

Credit: Brussels Airport

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Washington trip May 2014

Last year I was ready again to prepare myself for a long distance trip. I was looking on the map where I wanted to go. But first I was thinking by myself, what do I want to do, some culture or nature.
This time I took culture. So many years ago I was already in The States as a 20-21 years old boy. And I was thinking that Washington DC was such a great place and so rich about culture.

So my decision was made. In May 2014 it will be Washington DC, the capitol of the States. I can? Yes I can!!!

When you go to The States then you have to think about much more control and documents. So after I booked my hotel and my ticket in September/October of last year I filled my request for an ESTA. This take not so long. You go to the webside https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ and you fill in what they need and ask. It takes maybe 15 mins and after you pay 14 euro. In most cases you will receive in answer immidialtely that you are allowed. Very important: print this document and have it with you all the time. They will not ask for it as in every single system they will know that you applied for it, but it’s handy if you have it in case of a problem. This document you can use for 2 years.

Then they most nice and exciting part of the preparation is starting. What to visit!! hihi. A lot is there to visit, omg!!!!! So I booked immidiately a whole week to see all.

From the beginning it was Obvious. There are two major parts in Washington DC: the memorials and the musea.

Most of them are all situated along The Mall. The Mall is a very long green part between The Capitol and Lincoln Memorial.
To make the days attractive and easy – as I did everything by foot of course – I decided to split The Mall in parts and each split was represented by a day. So f.e. on day one I did all the memorials who were situated along Lincoln Memorial and so on.

On this way I had a good overview of my days in advance

And yes indeed, Of my 8 days that I was in Washington I filled 7 of them with all visits and I took one day off just to relax in a park to give my feet the needed rest and my brain the time to capture everything what I saw already. But also to look at people, behavior, seeing other kind of mentality, etc.

So after some time, my roadbook, like I call it, was finised. My roadbook is build up with my daily schedule what I want to visit, all kind of detailed information of what I’m going to visit. Indeed, a real book

And then it was waiting till May 2014…….

Friday, 9th of May. The day of my start to The States.

I was early up, I still had all the time as my flight was in late afternoon.

I had my breakfast, I cleaned a bit, I gave my cat Mr Jingles so many hugs and kisses and then it was time to go. I went early to the airport. I took the train as it is so easy from the place where I live and the train stops under the airport.
My flight was at 16.15 and I had to be at the airport 3 hours in advance. Of course, I was earlier at the airport as I don’t like to be in the rush.
Everything at the airport was ok. I was already checked in online 24h in advance with Brussels Airlines. I only had to give at the airport my Luggage. It was smoothly, no single problem.
Passport check and security check, all ok and I went to one of the restaurants with a view over the airport to have my lunch. It was great and I was feeling good.

Then it was time for boarding. It was so visible that the flight was not full. The aircraft was an Airbus 330-200 of Brussels Airlines and can carry about 267 passengers. Now it were only 80 passengers but we were fully loaded with high volume cargo and that’s why they only accept only a few passengers on the leg to The States as cargo is more valuable then passengers.

The flight went smootly, friendly staff, good food and drinks, perfect and the latest entertainment. Yes, I love to fly with Brussels Airlines. And during the flight I had some stunning views



The flight arrived on time in The States, it was 7pm.

My hotel was great. It was The Crown Plaza The Hamilton Washington DC, near to The White House in 14th Street.

And the day after I started my week of culture in Washington DC.

The Memorials that I visited were:

* Lincoln Memorial
* Vietnam Veterans Memorial
* Constitution Gardens
* World War II Memorial
* Korean War Veterans Memorial
* Martin Luther King Jr Memorial
* Franklin Delano Roosevel Memorial
* Thomas Jefferson Memorial


The musea that I visited were:

* United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
* National Air & Space Museum
* National Museum of the American Indian
* National Gallery of Art
* National Museum of American History
* National Museum of Natural History



Besides the Memorials and the musea I also visited:

* Predident’s PArk
* Washington Monument
* US Capitol
* The White House
* Arlington Cemetery
* Air Force Memorial
* The Pentagon
* Ford’s Theater and Petersen House


And then it was time to go home again. It was a late evening flight at 10.25pm, so it gives you the opportunity to spend the whole day in the city.
This time less cargo but an overbooked flight, but I was again checked in online so I had my seat already.

It was again a good flight and it was a wonderful trip in Washington DC. The food was good, the weather was awesome with Sunny and high temperatues and I saw everything what I had on my schedule.

It was again an experience and so much knowledge I have again in my head.

See you all at my next article and who knows where that will be.

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