Soldevelo is primarily people. They create this company, software, atmosphere. So we think we should pay more attention to them. That is why we present to you the first in a series of articles about our employees in quite unusual situations – doing their passions. For this time we are writing about Rafał, Łukasz, and Kamil, and Ula that wanted to share with you their stories.
Rafał – A subjective guide to boardsports
My name is Rafał, I live in Gdańsk and this is my subjective guide to boardsports.
As a kid, I wasn’t really an athletic nor extreme kind of a youngster. Plenty of my friends were already skateboarding or riding BMX bikes after school, having numerous scars from tricks they tried and nailed. When I finally got convinced by my childhood friend Krzysiek (high-five to him!) to pick up skateboarding, it didn’t take a long time for me to give it up. I could barely stand on this piece of plywood. So as an alternative, once we got tired, we would play “EyeToy: AntiGrav” on his PS2.
Throughout the years, I often got frustrated with being able to snowboard for only 6 days a year. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Finally, one summer my friend Kamil introduced me to kitesurfing. In case you don’t know, this sport is about riding on the water with a huge kite attached to you. And I could do it in Gdańsk. So it seemed to be a perfect solution – and I had it right in front of me.
Do you want to know the true value of boardsports? Here you are expensive gear aside. Competitions and Olympics aside. You don’t have to follow the rules, you don’t have to compete with others. It’s just you and nature.
So, if I were to guide you, I would certainly encourage you to try any of the boardsports available. There are lots of them and they have a lot in common! Each boardsport gives you space to express yourself and to make progress. Each one puts you in a flow state, where all that matters is you and the board at any given moment. Each one makes you travel and meet wonderful people. Each one teaches you how to be grateful in life. And last but not least, each one makes you fit.
Ok, time to choose your first boardsport. If you like snow and you don’t mind the cold – go snowboarding! With a snowboard on your feet, you can do anything – from cruising around, through performing air tricks to gliding through waist-deep pow.
If, on the other hand, you love the sun and water – go for windsurfing, kitesurfing, or wakeboarding. For speed – go for windsurfing. For super high jumps or cruising around – go for kitesurfing.
If you’re looking for snowboarding (but on the water!), go for wakeboarding. I’m sure you’ll love it!
If you’re not afraid of challenges, you are already familiar with some type of a board and you’ve got the balance, go surfing! It’s the hardest boardsport to learn in Poland, but it’s good if you’re skilled.
I hope some of you will feel convinced by what I said – and find your own happiness in boardsports sometime soon :). But please, do not try them on your own. They are all extreme sports, do not underestimate their risks.
Łukasz – How Japanese dreams come true
In the 90s, there was a popular TV animation series called Dragon Ball. I remember that the streets in Polish cities were deserted when it was aired. This was my first experience with the Japanese culture and from that moment on, I wanted to travel to this distant country. After several years, together with my wife, we were able to achieve that goal. The first impression was unforgettable. Until today, I still remember the unforgettable and exciting feeling of making the childhood dream come true.
Why do I love this country?
Firstly, because of the punctuality of its public transport. I heard a lot about it – but what I experienced really exceeded my expectations. In many places around the world, a one minute transfer between 2 trains is bound to end with a failure – but not in this country! What is more, tourists in Japan can buy a special season pass ticket that allows them to use public transportation for a fraction of the price? Even superfast trains – Shinkansen – are included in it. Traveling between the two cities is fast and enjoyable.
The next thing on my list of things to love about Japan is – of course – the food. I love Japanese ramen – you could call it a variation of the Polish broth. On my plate, there were raw fish, crabs, eels, prawns, and many other types of seafood. There were dishes consisting of ingredients that were unknown to me. I often ate sushi – even conveyor belt sushi which is an innovative way of serving the food in many Japanese restaurants. I was surprised to learn that, in fact, it is not the most popular dish in this country.
Every country has some special places. In Japan, I visited two of them. The first was Ōkunoshima – a small island known for the numerous feral rabbits that live there. The second place was Nara – a city in which you can meet deer… everywhere. If the animal sees you, you have to give them a snack or otherwise they run away really fast.
Bathing in hot springs called Onsen is a good option to take some relaxation during your Japanese trip. However, you have to be careful because water temperature can be greater than 40 degrees Celsius (about 104 degrees Fahrenheit). The southern part of the country is especially famous for such kinds of attractions – you can find them, for instance, in Beppu. Monuments and culture are yet another reason to love Japan for. Colorful temples, filled with various beliefs and demons, beautiful wooden buildings in Kyoto, and mysterious geishas in kimonos – these are must-see attractions for every foreign tourist!
The capital city, Tokyo, is very modern. Despite its large size, it is very easy to get everywhere there. The city literally offers something for everyone – I recommend you to visit its special neighborhoods, such as Akihabara. People in Japan are very friendly and helpful, even though they know very little English.
Over the course of six years, we have visited Japan three times, each time choosing different places to see. During all these trips, we managed to get to know a large part of the country. We were already planning the next trip but due to the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that our family has grown, we had to postpone it.
Kamil – the bridge master
I started playing bridge by accident. When I started secondary school (of mathematics and physics profile), my math teacher played bridge and promoted this game among all the students. There was such a tradition that every second year of math class was a bridge class – and it happened to us as well. According to the schedule, we had bridge classes twice a week, there were bridge tests for the assessment and we also went to bridge camps several times a year. Additionally, there were classes at the Youth Cultural Center for the willing ones. This is how my adventure started.
I have to say that from the beginning, I had a knack for this sport. Bridge requires logical/analytical thinking and good memory. I was totally hooked. Over the next few years, I devoted practically my every free moment to bridge. The bridge is played in pairs. I was lucky enough to find a bridge partner from our class and we made a permanent bridge couple for 5 years. We achieved our first significant success at the Polish Youth Olympics – it happened only after six months since the start of our bridge adventure. We managed to bring back the bronze medal from the pairs tournament. From that moment on, our junior career started off the hoof. On the national arena, in the following 4 years, we managed to get everything that was possible in junior categories up to 21. In 2011, we achieved our greatest success. We were called up to the Polish U-20 national team for the European Championship in Bulgaria. As Poland representatives, we won the gold medal and got the chance to sing Mazurek Dąbrowskiego (our national anthem!) proudly on the highest step of the podium.
The bridge is quite a specific sport because the greatest successes come quite late in life (after 40 or even 50 years of age). Experience is extremely important here. When I left my home town to study in Gdańsk, I fell in love with the big city life and there was no time for the bridge. It was not possible to transfer the successes I achieved as a junior to my senior years. At this point, I practically don’t play because I don’t have time for it – but I will definitely come back to bridge one day. This sport is especially recommended for elder people to exercise their mind and memory. I must admit that bridge helped me to meet my wife – I was teaching her how to play it. We tried to keep playing together, but I’m too ambitious about it and we were both nervous about our different attitudes. And to be honest – I really think that playing bridge with your life partner is not a good idea :).
I have a lot of interesting and funny stories from this period, but unfortunately, most of them are not suitable to be told in public ;). However, there is one story that I often tell. We played the Polish Junior Championships in Wrocław. On the first day we did poorly in the Open Pairs category, but on the second day, we won the gold medal in the Teams category (you play in two pairs as one team). The latter has always been the most prestigious competition. We celebrated that success loudly on Saturday evening. The next day a mixed tournament (a woman and a man) was supposed to take place. On Sunday, my female bridge partner, a strongly religious person, decided to attend the Holy Mass before the tournament at 7 a.m. When going out, she found me asleep in the corridor hall of the dormitory. It was clear that for me, it was a long and tiring night ;). We started the tournament at 9 a.m. and I barely made it on time. Till today, I still don’t know how we managed to win the bronze medal then. I simply do not remember… 😉
Ed. For the ones who are interested: Kamil has his page on Wikipedia 🙂
Ula – My newest passion
The current pandemic situation in the world influences all of us a lot and very often makes us change our plans and lifestyles. Closed gyms and swimming pools forced me, in a way, to take on a new activity which I’d been thinking of for many years before. I have been willing to try it for so very long but only recently (finally!) I’ve been able to put my ideas into practice. So today I want to present you with my new passion: Nordic walking.
Of course, first I read a lot of guides on the Internet on how to walk, what equipment to choose, and so on. I came to my first nordic walking meeting with my own equipment, which I purchased just the day before. I was very excited and motivated to participate in the event. All set to go, I arrived at the meeting point at the appointed time. And there was a surprise for me. Instructor Marzena, a Nordic walking enthusiast for over a dozen years and prize-winning, multiple champions of this sport, greeted me with a comment that the poles I came with are not only unfit for walking but also… very badly matched. At this point, my conviction that I already knew a lot about Nordic walking abruptly ended. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to borrow a pair of free well-chosen poles for my first walk.
To my surprise, the number of event participants reached 30 – despite rather crispy weather on that Saturday morning in December. The participants were both women and men, youth, and seniors – all of them at various levels of advancement. All of this only proves how universal this sport is. There was also one very happy dog :). I must also add that the whole Nordic walking event in Gdansk-Osowa took place entirely in our beautiful Tri-City forests, at a distance of 10 kilometers. Personally, it was my first contact with the local forests. I must admit I have never had the courage to walk in these areas before.
The first thing to learn when taking up Nordic walking is the right technique of… walking. And believe me – it has nothing to do with casual walking with poles. Fortunately, I quickly caught what it was about. However, the fight with my own habits and the natural human gait was quite fierce. To tell you the truth, only after about 6 kilometers it started to come out quite automatically – straight elbows, rotation with the shoulder girdle, longer step, movement of the hand to the hip, sticks giving the momentum forward, but without lifting them up, etc. Really, a lot of rules to remember and to put into practice. During the walk, nature continues to fight you, so you forget, for example, that the movement should come from the shoulder, not from the elbow – and you start to bend the latter again. Luckily, there are trainers around who watch over our technique and give us tips whenever necessary.
My second walk took place at 5 p.m. . As you can guess, in winter it was already very dark. The distance was the same, as well as the terrain. I got a headlamp, without which it was impossible to take part in the walk. My emotions were indescribable. I was terrified of going into the woods again – a walk through the forest during the day was almost impossible for me, much less at night. However, a strong group of smiling, brave, and positive people completely repels bad emotions from you, gives you support and courage.
Now I know for sure that thanks to Nordic walking, I managed to defeat some of my demons. Additionally, I met a group of great people, and the desire to practice outdoor sports – even in winter- returned. I also gained new experiences, got some fresh air, and aired my head. What is more, I noticed it gave me a better figure, too :).