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Cultural Differences

August 24, 2010

I’ve just returned from an amazing week in Krakow, Poland. I won’t be able to go into full travel details here per usual, as I’ve been assigned that piece for a mortgage paying publication and they get first dibs, but I can tell you a few general things, first … go.

No huge surprise here, like most eastern European countries, in Poland, the dollar gets you far. The old town section of Krakow (the best part) is built around a central square, so if you start there, you’ll be in excellent shape. Park it at a café, sip coffee with steamed milk and just soak it in. Later in the day, add some sight seeing and prosecco, and by gum, you’ve got a vacation from everyday American life.

The overarching theme I walked away with was taking time and allowing myself the space to just be. For us, this year has been one of twists and turns, and sometimes it has taken me a minute (or months) to integrate them into my life. To take time to fully grasp and appreciate the concept of the life I’ve built filled with close friendship, a supportive and loving family, and creative work that inspires me.

This trip allowed me the space to wander, think, write, and observe. The women in Europe are so chic. You’d never catch one in mom jeans looking haggard. No sir, even on long flights minding children and loads of luggage they still manage to put on mile high heels and lipstick. Affection is displayed quite openly and I found myself nostalgic about romance and those little moments I may not notice in my Atlanta life. It could also be because of the reason we were there … love was in the air.

We made the trek to Poland for a dear friend’s wedding, which was, without question, the nicest wedding I’ve ever attended (and like most people in their thirties, I’ve attended many). Planning my own wedding years ago, I made decisions merely to get them crossed off my list, but here that didn’t appear to be the case, seemingly taking such care in every decision from meal, to reading selection, to wine list. The loveliest ceremony I’ve ever witnessed.

Now, back to my cultural observations about both in being in Europe and being surrounded by mostly Irish and English wedding attendees. It seemed like in this lot, if one were to wear Jimmy Choos it’d be because they are good, quality shoes that’ll last, not because it’s something to boast to friends while sitting in your 5,000 square foot home one payment away from foreclosure.

Nothing seems to be done in an ostentatious way, just sophisticated and full of grace. It’s not about a carat diamond ring; it’s about the sentiment behind it. I could use a lot more weeks of taking notice like that in my life. Seems less about what you have and more about how you take care of it. I’ll take the moments over the material any day.