Thursday, October 03, 2019

White privilege

I have been thinking about this issue quite some time now, so it is time to also write about this. This post will include some ranting, and several swear words, if you don't want to read it, stop now.

I am a Finnish middle aged white woman, naturally travelling with a Finnish passport, or ID in many European countries. Travelling is easy for me, I have a permanent job which enables my travelling financially. To most countries I don't need any visa, and even when I need one, a lot of times I can apply for it online, and in couple of days I get the visa in my email. Quite easy. Of course there's exceptions, but in most cases it goes like this. At the airports in passport controls I basically always get by really quickly, hardly ever I am asked anything.

Here's an example of it; I came back from my trip to Central Asia in May (where I was never really checked either, or asked anything at Borders or controls), I flew back via Frankfurt. When exiting the plane to the airport, there were 2 customs officers checking the passport already. Right next to me there was a Chinese family, parents, their son and I am assuming son's girlfriend. Parents spoke no English, but the son did. The parents showed their passports, the son was translating. This was their conversation (of course I don't remember exactly every word).
officer: passport please
parents: showing their passports
officer: is this your first trip to Europe?
son starts to translate: it is their first trip
officer: is it your first trip?
son: no it is not
officer: show me your passport, and checks the stamps and goes through the passport pages
officer: how long are you staying here
son: 3 days
officer: why only 3 days
son: we are going to Austria then

Didn't hear or see how long the conversation went on because it was my turn, and this is how it went:
me: hello, and handing my passport
officer: hello, looking at my passport pic for a few seconds and then look at me, then hands me my passport back, says thank you
me: thank you, and walked away

I am part of white privilege, and I am very well aware of it. Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of people who are not aware, or they think everybody has the same chances. I saw this pic in one of Facebook's travel groups I am a member of. A lot of people agreed with it, all white privilege folks, but luckily some actually see further than their own nose.


Everybody do NOT have the same opportunities. Millions of people struggle to eat anything every day, don't have a roof over their heads etc. Why don't you get off your high horse, and go tell them they just don't have the courage to travel? Some people even commented that yes, this is very true, because she is lower middle class in USA and she chooses to travel. Oh dear lord where to even begin when you face this kind of stupidity...  Another one commented that yes, very true, because she chose to sell her house to travel. What a f-ing MORON!!! How can someone be so utterly stupid not to realise that to own a nice house, to have a choise to sell it is already a privilege?? But oh no, it is just about courage, not about money at all... ARGH!!!

One thing I absolutely hate, is begpacking. Yes, it is an actual term, because in some countries it has become so common. It means that western people travel to poor countries (dude, you can afford a plane ticket!), and beg so they can continue travelling. This happens apparently a hell of a lot especially in Southeast Asia, but the beggers are almost always either Europeans or from US. They are doing this while next to them are local people going through thrashes to stay alive. There's even websites specialising on this, giving people tips and advice how to begpack and promoting how cool it is! Locals see it as an insult to them, I see it as an insult to humanity.

Another form of white privilege is volunteering in orphanages and similar places. Volunteers are usually white privileged, going to poor countries "because they want to good and help". Bitch please, you are doing that to shine your own halo, so you can take lots of selfies with African children behind you, all smiling, and then posting how amazing it is, waiting to get likes an people telling you what a good person you are. Then you go home telling how this experience of a lifetime changed you. Do you even remember the kids names? Do you have their permission to post their pics? And do you honestly believe that these kids need over and over again people leaving them?

I have also seen comments (I am a member of several travel groups in Facebook, so I follow these conversations a lot, I am not talking about I saw 1-2 comments but more like dozens or hundreds) where less privileged people feel that the opinion of white privilege people about this doesn't matter. That is also wrong, everyone's opinion matters as much. They are opinions and perspectives, not facts. When you state as a fact that everyone has an opportunity to travel, then you are wrong. My opinion matters even though I am white privilege myself.

Just my 2 cents on this subject. Rant over.

Going to Zilina this weekend, next post about that, and about settling in to Bratislava.






Thursday, September 26, 2019

Vienna

On my first weekend I did a day trip to Vienna, and fell in love with the city! I took a boat there on the river Danube, and then a train back. The boat takes about 1,5 hours and costs 20 euros. It is more expensive than the train or bus but it is worth taking once! The weather was nice so I decided to walk to city, it was about 3,5 km.

This is the terminal in Bratislava, that ufo looking thing is a restaurant.


I took a hop on hop off tour, it is a bit pricy with 30 euros, but you can take the bus all day and both blue and red routes. I also did them both and stopped a couple of times. Vienna is just amazing, so many palaces and museums, it is like the whole city is a museum! Lots of culture and history, I will surely visit often.

St Stephen's Cathedral, it is so huge I couldn't get a better photo!



The most visited tourist attraction in Austria, Schönbrunn Palace, dating back to 16th century and it is on UNESCO World Heritage List. That place is HUGE!!! It was the main summer residence of the Habsburgs, and it has 1441 rooms (!!!). I didn't go in because I didn't have enough time, but you could spend a full day there, walking in the enormous garden and see the rooms as well. The garden has a maze too! Maybe someone with any sense of directions could go there :D.











Their winter residence was The Hofburg, today it is the office of the President of Austria and it is located in the city centre. I didn't have time to go there at all, that is for my next visit... I was told that no one actually knows how many rooms that palace has, and it was built in the 13th century.

More pics of around Vienna










How credible is Literaturmuseum, if they have 4 mistakes in their name?




I took the train back to Bratislava, there are trains all the time, every hour, and it costs 10 euros and takes an hour. Very easy and comfortable.


I know this is not about Vienna, but at work the meeting rooms in the same floor are named after cities of one country. On the 7th floor the country is Ireland. So far I've been in Kilkenny, but today I was in Limerick :D. Just had to take a pic...


Otherwise, I have started working, second week going now and everything is fine. The order entry system is definitely more complicated than in Cook, but I will be doing only order management and no customer support. I love how quiet it is there when the phones are not ringing! I have settled in nicely, but of course after just a couple of weeks I still feel like a tourist. I am starting to find my way in downtown, sometimes even without Google Maps, and finding new places every day. Naturally I am planning weekend trips and day trips, so many places to see just a few hours away! I promise, next I will finish the post about white privilege!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Bratislava

Here I am, living in Bratislava! I arrived here on Monday night at the 9th, or actually it was already Tuesday since it was after midnight. For the first night I had booked a hotel with airport transfer because of the time. I got my bags super fast, like I just walked to baggage claim and here it was already! Amazing. The driver was waiting for me right outside the airport, so that was perfect. I was in my room by 1 and got ok sleep. The next day I got to the Airbnb I had booked for 5 nights, it was in Karlova Ves, which is a bit outside of the city but the price was good and the apartment was very nice. On Sunday I got to my own apartment :). I rented a small studio in excellent location, but it is still very peaceful here. I have settled in quite nicely now.

I started exploring the city by doing a bus tour and of course walking around and around and around... Here's pics of the city.














Bratislava castle, the tower was built in the 13th century, and the other buildings mostly 200 to 400 years later. I didn't go inside the castle yet, but planning on doing that. As you can see, the sun was shining... the weather for the first week was just amazing, over 25 degrees most days. It felt like the summer has finally arrived :D.










Slavin, the burial ground of the Soviet Army soldiers who fell in April 1945 while taking over the city from the Germans. It was opened in 1960, and the next year it was declared a National Cultural Monument. The cemetery has the graves of 6845 Soviet soldiers, with 6 mass graves and 278 individual graves, and 42 m obelisk with a statue of a Soviet soldier on top of it.






And here is my apartment! I have already started working, or training for work actually and everything is fine here. I have local sim card, and health insurance (mandatory in Slovakia), working on the bank account, and later will register to foreign police.



One of the first things I always do in my new home; fridge magnets


So here my first post about Bratislava! I did a day trip to Vienna, and will post next about that... I have also been writing about that white privilege I have mentioned earlier but I will do these travel posts first and then continue working on that.