Sightseeing: The Old Town of Warsaw

Sightseeing

Hello!

A few weeks ago, I told you about my experience attending ANTI World Tour in Warsaw. While going to Rihanna’s concert was my main reason for traveling to the capital of Poland, it was not the only thing I did there. After partying with Riri on Friday and wasting the night watching the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, I spent the whole of Saturday walking around Warsaw’s Old Town.

With the help of Google Maps, I strolled by the Presidental Palace, the Royal Castle, the Old Market Place, the St. John’s Archcathedral, the barbican of Warsaw, the St. Anne’s Church, the Grand National Opera Theatre, the Palace of Culture and Science, the University of Warsaw, the Nicolaus Copernicus Monument, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum, the Carmelite Church, the Mermaid of Warsaw next to the Świętokrzyski Bridge and many other sights and buildings that I can’t name.

I also really wanted to visit the Copernicus Science Center, however, the queue was huge, I would have probably waited at least 3 or more hours just to get inside. Moreover, due to the overflow of people inside the building, they had temporarily suspended the sale of tickets, so I might have spent the whole day just waiting. Well, at least now I have a reason to come back to Warsaw.

For lunch, I went to this nice restaurant where instead of chairs they had swings next to the tables. To remember Warsaw, I bought 3 postcards to add to my collection and a few fridge magnets. One of the magnets has a picture of the stadium where the Rihanna’s concert took place.

The weather for my walk wasn’t the greatest – it rained occasionally, however, at least it wasn’t unbearably hot. I will take rain and fog instead of boiling hot sun any day.

Warsaw has almost 2 million inhabitants and it is also the capital of Poland. I could definitely tell that the city was alive and buzzing even on Saturday – while the streets were mainly filled with tourists in the early morning, after midday, the actual citizens of Warsaw started taking  to the streets. I saw some kind of protest as well as preparations for either a running or cycling marathon being carried out.

Bellow, I’ve included a few galleries with the photos from my walk. I love old European cities and I felt extremely lucky to have gotten a chance to see another one. The features of Warsaw that I especially liked were all the buildings with patterns and a few modern construction dispersed in between the old structures.

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Eurovision 2016!

Music

Hello, my dear readers!

Once a year, the whole of Europe and Australia (and even the US for the first time) turns on their TVs and witnesses one of the most bizarre international events – the Eurovision Song Contest! Eurovision is supposedly a musical contest and yet it has always been extremely political and biased. This year was no exception! Actually, 2016’s show might be the most political Eurovision ever.

To begin with, let’s focus on the bright side and talk about the positive aspects of the event. The 61st edition of the contest was held in Stockholm, Sweden thanks to Måns Zelmerlöw, who won in 2015 with the song Heroes. This wasn’t the first time that Sweden won the contest (it was actually the 6th – previous wins in  1974 (ABBA), 1984, 1991, 1999 and 2012 (Loreen)), so the Scandinavian country was/is an experienced host nation and I think that they did a fabulous job. The event was hosted by Zelmerlöw and the fan-favorite Petra Mede and they actually were pretty funny and worked well together. Of course, there were plenty of awkward and uncomfortable moments, but that’s just part of the Eurovision’s charm.

A few stand-out moments from the hosts and the guests of the show were: the dance/acting performance The Grey People in support of the refugees during the 1st Semi-Final, the dance performance Man v Machine during the 2nd Semi-Final, the satirical, tongue-in-cheek performance by Petra and Mans and the appearance of/interval act by Justin Timberlake during the grand final.

The actual songs were pretty good as well. This was probably the most even playing field I have ever seen in all my 12 years of watching the Eurovision. There was no clear winner before the show or even during the voting.

My favorite songs came from the following countries: Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Latvia, Austria, and Russia (I feel ashamed to mention that last one). Ukraine was not one of my favorites – the song was not of my style or taste – but I appreciated it and was happy that they won.

I also did not hate my native country’s – Lithuania’s – song. We did pretty well this year, finishing in 9th place. That’s the 2nd best result for my country. This was the first year that I actually was able to vote for my native land as I no longer live there.

Now,  about the politics and the voting. This year, the jury’s and public’s votes were announced separately and this decision made for an even more intense watching experience. Stand out moments from the announcement of the votes:

  1. Australia took and early lead and won the jury’s votes. Everyone was expecting it to win and then Ukraine shockingly dethroned it.
  2. The juries were more biased than their respective nations. The professionals voted for their neighboring countries much more than the public did. I would have expected the public to be more biased, while the juries should have been way more objective.
  3. Ukraine and Russia were the last two countries to receive the public’s votes. Russia was the fan-favorite and could have won but it did not receive enough points. So, Ukraine had the best payback ever for the current political situation in Crimea. It gave Russia some hope and then crushed it completely. When you find out that a)Ukraine’s singer is of Crimean Tatar descent; b)her song was about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars during the 1940s by the Soviet Union and c) the song features Crimean Tatar’s language and cultural vocal styles, this revenge win is even more iconic. Layers upon layers of politics. 
  4. Germany’s jury gave 12 points to Israel. I guess the blame for WW2 is still on Germany’s jury’s minds.
  5. Poland received 7 points from the jury and 200+ points from the viewers. This was probably the biggest divide that the professionals and the public had ever had. I have a theory on why the viewers liked Poland’s performer – he looks like Weird Al Yankovic – internet-famous American parodist and singer.

All in all, I had a lovely time watching this year’s Eurovision. The show had enough pleasant surprises and a few listenable songs. Have you watched the show? Who were your favorites?

My posts on/about 2015‘s Eurovision here and 2014‘s Eurovision here.

eurovision-2016

 

Eurovision 2015

Music

Hello!

Some of you may know that I live in Europe, so this post shouldn’t come as a shocker, although, now you can live in Australia and be a part of Europe. Anyway, I am a huge Eurovision fan, I have always watched it as a kid, but I remember 2005 being the year that peaked my interest the most and that interest never diminished. You want proof – read last year’s coverage of Eurovision 2014.

To begin with, I believe that Eurovision allowed me to get to know so many artists that I wouldn’t have know otherwise,. I listen to pretty much only US and UK musicians, so Eurovision broadens my musical taste and cultural perspective.

This years contest, to my mind, was the best of the decade song wise. I have never had so many favorites. So, my top 7 songs were from:

  1. Sweden 
  2. Belgium
  3. Estonia
  4. Latvia
  5. Russia
  6. Denmark (they weren’t in the final)
  7. Australia

Other countries which had good songs were Romania, Georgia, The Netherlands, Greece, Belarus, Hungary, Austria, Norway, Israel, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Poland. – I warned you, I had a lot of favorites:) This year also had a variety of different types of songs: some were really fun and happy while others spoke about serious issues.

The inclusion of Australia, in honor of this being the 60th Eurovision and because of the fact that Eurovision is very popular in Australia, was a very nice touch.

The winner was Sweden and that’s one of a few times when my favorite song wins. The last time this happened was in 2012 when Loreen won -also from Sweden.

My own country finished in the 18th place, despite quite an extensive media coverage on my country’s representatives. The 3 kisses didn’t help and they just sparked a lot of fights in the comment section of a variety of articles. However, our song This Time was definitely the best entry we ever had. I was really happy that other Baltic States did so well – Latvia and Estonia finished in 6th and 7th place respectively.

Austria  did a great job as a host country.The stage looked unbelievably great. I am just sad that they didn’t got any points and finished in the last place together with Germany. The motto Building Bridges was also a cool one.

Eurovision being a political contest as much as it is a musical contest, the voting didn’t surprise but infuriated me. When are we going to stop voting for our neighbors and when are we actually going to vote for the songs and not for the countries? With all the developments with Russia and Ukraine, I am shocked that Russia did so well. The song definitely deserved the 2nd place, but I have no idea how it got it.

To sum up, Eurovision Song Contest 2015 was a fairly good one. Nothing really surprised me, except the quality of the songs. I got a chance to add some new songs to my playlist, refreshing it before summer starts. Rate 4/5

Have a great week!

Collection: Mood/Inspiration Board

Uncategorized

Hello!

Welcome to part 2 of my wall decorations. Last time I told you all about my posters and other little bits and pieces that are hanging on my walls (Part 1). This time, I will show you my mood/inspiration board.

First of all, it is actually not a board, just two A4 format pieces of papers glued on the wall with a bunch of sticky notes stacked on them.

Words that are on these sticky notes are mostly inspiring quotes of famous people like: Audrey Hepburn, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, John Lennon and authors like David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas book), Michael Grant (Gone series), and John Green (TFIOS). There are also some lyrics from my favorite Lana Del Rey songs (Born to die, Blue jeans) as well as Rihanna’s Shine Bright like a Diamond. In addition, there are also some random words that mean something to me: Bravery, Vulnerability, Solidarity, Equality and so forth and a little tag that says 1960s which is my favorite era.

My obsessions also have their place above my desk: there is a Mockingjay sign and May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor signature quote from The Hunger Games because I am the huge fan of the franchise. There is also a shadowhunter rune from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Okay? Okay clouds from TFIOS, double infinity sign, a sparkly silver star, LONG LIVE THE KING saying that reminds me of Game of Thrones and Reign TV series and other random things like: GEEK, NERD pins that represent me, names of the countries I have visited and other inspirational sayings.

I hope you liked seeing my mood/inspiration board. Every time I glance at it, my spirits are automatically lifted and all the bad stuff, negative emotions and sad feelings fade away. I wish that this blog post brighten your day as well. Bye!

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Eurovision 2014

Uncategorized

As you may know, I live in Europe. This means, that last night I was by my TV, watching Eurovision Song Contest 2014.

Some facts:
1. It took 700 workers and 500 volunteers to organize this event
2. This year it was held in Copenhagen – Denmark won last year with a song “Only Teardrops”
3. 2014 Eurovision motto: #JoinUs
4. 3 hosts
5. 26 countries
6. Broadcasted in 45 countries (in countries outside Europe as well as inside)
*The thing I like the most about Eurovision performances is these little creative intro-videos that present the singer. This year these videos showed artists making their national flag using weird material: sticky notes, lasers, dominos, puzzles, Rubik’s cubes, food, glass and paint and many more.

Surprises and interesting stuff:
*This was a year of sparkly dresses and facial hair. Every girl performing wore a sparkly silver or gold dress. The winner was a woman with a beard and the last place went to contestants from France: they were singing about wanting to have a mustache. All jokes aside, I hope that people voted for Conchita Wurst (song “Rise like a Phoenix”) because they believe in equality, not because they wanted to make fun of her.
*Ukraine – I was surprised, that given the things that are happening right now in that country, they were attending the song contest.
*Germany’s representative was literally a Pink’s twin.
*Russia was singing about the world showing some love. So why don’t you show some love to Ukraine and just leave them ALONE?
*I hated Poland’s performance. I know it was meant as a joke, but still. Too much boobs and vulgarity for my taste.

My TOP 10:
1. Greece – Freaky Fortune feat.Riskykidd – “Rise up”. I loved their modern, club music number that made me want to dance.
2. Norway – the ballad “Silence Storm” was breathtaking and too good for Eurovision.
3. UK – “Children of the Universe” – nice song with a powerful message.
4. Hungary – “Running” – song about violence in a family, another strong message.
5. Denmark – the lead vocalist looked like a Bruno Mars wannabe but I still enjoyed their “Cliché Love Song”.
6. Belarus – “Cheesecake”. Weird name for a catchy song.
7. France “Moustache” – another catchy and silly song. The artist was like a mixture of Jedward and LMFAO on crack.
8. Switerzland – “Hunter of stars”- a little bit of whistle action.
9. Malta – “Coming Home” – threw some country in a mix.
10. Finland – “Something Better”

My country didn’t participate in a final but was part of the second semi-final. Overall I would rate this Eurovision 3.5/5. Not too interesting but not too bad.

My personal winners: Greece

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