A life experience of a Polish girl on the Greek island of Crete.

Polka pisze wiec po polsku tez bedzie…

Friday, 25 March 2011

A hug of New England’s Beauty

What do you do when you suddenly have plenty of time?….Finally you can do things that you didn’t have time to do them before. 

Thank God for the time we all call HOLIDAYS (in Greek: diakopes/διακοπές). 

For me walking and recently jogging are those things that give me lots of pleasure and complete me with a feeling of pure happiness.  If I happen to be in a harmoniously arranged environment that distracts me from the grey thoughts of every day routine, I consider myself lucky because nowadays there are not too many places that offer a comfort of easy relax. Believe it or not, Crete as a place for living is not always as relaxing as it seems to be for holiday makers.

The word “relax” is so simple to pronounce but not too many people know how to relax anymore, including myself. I keep on forgetting how important those “brainless” moments are when I just look around, take a deep breath and no worries fly into my head, at least for a short period. 

Sometimes being far away from everybody and everything is what we all need. One of those few places where I really take my time and get turned off is Fairfield, Connecticut. The way a landscape, houses, climate and general aesthetics of that place are, it just makes me calm and peaceful. This place has a spirit of a fairy tale where houses form a perfect composition with their environment of woods, streams and grey squirrels that my mother-in-law calls one by one: Charlie. Yes, so you know, every single squirrel in Fairfield is named Charlie!

New England has its own, unique style. Oh, those houses here are to die for: they strike you with the colors of main entrance doors, shutters, balconies. Nothing seems to be built accidentally and illegally like it is very often in Greece. Here, every single detail just touches your heart:
-         -  sun beds standing on the little hill before the house looking like a ginger bread house, 
-        -   ornamental iron sign indicating the number of the house
-        -   rustic pots holding plants that perfectly match the color of the house’s porch.

No wonder that a house with a white picket fence, like many of those that I go by during my walks in Fairfield, is a part of American dream. Let me tell you, at least from outside, those houses look perfect. Like a good magic was done and those wooden palaces were created. 

The streets are broad and there are sidewalks …a rare element of any Greek town. Personally, I think that Greek engineers responsible for urban plans in Greece should definitely visit some New England’s towns to develop more environmental sensitivity, knowledge and taste!!!   

If you walk around Fairfield, you just feel it that the whole place is arranged in such way so you could enjoy your time outside. After Greek reality, right at the beginning it is always shocking for me when I go for a jog and then…I do not have to be afraid that a car will jump out of the narrow street and will run over me or that an innocently looking dog will suddenly develop a passionate love for my calf and I will have to stop running in order to finish my outdoor recreation with two healthy legs! Here in Fairfield, the cars stop, dogs are well controlled by their owners and the streets are big enough so you could drive, ride a bike or jog…

If you lived in Greece for a while, you will understand what I mean when I admire and enjoy Fairfield’s space and neatness. 

I took a few pictures during one of every day walks around Fairfield’s lake and made a short movie. Hope you will enjoy watching the area the way it mesmerized me.




Thursday, 17 March 2011

Welcome to the United States of America

Any time I travel, it is always lots of fun and I learn something new. I love travelling with my husband (he always carries all the bags –this is his way to show that he has everything under control) but it doesn’t bother me when I do it on my own too. Since for more than four years me and my hubby, we had a distant relationship: Warsaw-Chania, we’ve pretty much got used to travelling and coping alone if necessary. 

This time, as in 2 months I will be laid off (yeah, Greek crisis didn’t miss me) and I have to use all days of my annual leave (including weekends it is almost one month!) I thought it is a good opportunity to go to the States and visit my husband’s folks. America is a bit farther away than Poland and it is an expensive trip to go there only for 2 weeks. Plus, the country is so huge that if you are planning to see anything, you’d better have some extra time. So there is this optimistic side of me being unemployed soon…I will have a month in the States and when Andy joins me, we will have well-deserved holidays before the summer starts and we are so busy we cannot leave the island.

America, here I come!

My father-in-law still holds there a partnership of pizza restaurant so luckily I have a place to stay in.  If by any chance you pop into Fairfield Connecticut, you must have a pizza at Captain’s Pizza. The place is located next to Fairfield’s train station and it serves the best, home-made pizza in town (a thing that I miss back home in Crete since there is absolutely not a single place that serves the dough the way my father-in-law prepares: crispy, medium puffiness, a little bit oily on the edges for the better slide straight into your stomach).


Anyway, before I had my favorite seafood pizza at Captain’s Pizza the next day I arrived, I had to get to the United States first. It is probably not the most tiring trip you can go through, but I wouldn’t say that more than 10 hours on the narrow seat of Delta Airlines is the most pleasant experience of your life (yes, I’m talking about the experience that most tourists, who fly in economy class, have !).  Moreover, before I get on the main flight, first of all I have to fly myself out of Chania – one of the drawbacks of living on the island – it always costs you more to get anywhere since you have to pay for an extra domestic flight or take your time on the ferry!

There are two domestic companies that you can use while flying around Greece and this time I chose Aegean Airlines. Not a smart choice as I found out! I should have booked with Olympic Airlines since the Aegean has no co-operation with Delta and it simply means that your luggage has to be collected in Athens. No co-operation, no compassion for the passengers who have to pick up their suitcase and drag it again to another check-in.

This is lots of fun to travel to the Unites States of America. If you are not American citizen, like I am not, they can ask you about the story of your life. I am Polish so I need a visa. They already know about me in the system since this is not my first time on that route and alleluia, things go very smooth: I know what they want so I’m prepared with everything at hand: address where I’m going to stay, telephone numbers for contacting me in the States, comfortable shoes in case they tell me to take them off and show that I’m not hiding any bomb under my sole. 

Overall, my flight was very pleasant and I had a wonderful companion – Constantina and I were chatting almost through the whole flight (yes, this is something that only women can do, not shutting up for 10 hours in a raw ;). I can’t tell, we were decently fed by Delta Airlines although additionally I held some extra snacks, in case (as my husband tends to see it) they would serve sample food, not the regular portions.

We arrived in New York’s JFK, with a slight delay. As always, terminal for flights from Athens was crappy and old like hell (not a sign that you are entering so technologically advanced country). Though, custom officers were professional, helpful and polite. They took my declarations (filled in earlier on a plane, declaring that I’m not a terrorist and I do not aim to bring poisons into the country!) they took my picture, then my fingerprints and they happily allowed me to enter their country! 

I was so lucky that my folks arrived! Right on a day of my arrival, there was a drastic bus accident and a 95 highway from Fairfield to NY was blocked for hours. The bus with Asian people was on its way from the Mohegan Sun Casino to China town, but somehow the driver hit a huge pole on the side of the road and 15 people lost their lives! They say it is one of the biggest car accidents in the history of American road crashes! It took my in-laws almost five hours to get to JFK (the trip that usually takes less than 2 hours), but I was so grateful they made it! 

I didn’t sleep a wink for the whole flight from Athens and it wouldn’t be a happy experience to take a bus after that. Plus, the time difference of 7 hours backwards comparing with the Greek time, really started getting into my system: my body was getting ready for a night sleep while my eyes were seeing a nice afternoon sun;)

After 12 hours of sleep, I woke up with Good Day New York news!

Yes, no Greek drama for the next month!