Pessegueiro Island, Portugal

Ilha do Pessegueiro, Portugal

This is a new series I decided to create, where I’ll present a few photos I took a while ago. Some more recent, some that I found deep inside my chest box while I checked old photo albums.

To start this new series, nothing better than my own country, that has so much to see! By the end of that road you can see an island, Pessegueiro Island, at the Alentejo’s coast. I took this photo in 2012 on my way to Algarve, by the coast, with my parents, nephew and niece. By then I was already living abroad, each time I go back to Portugal I look at my country from a different perspective, with more pride.

Ilha do Pessegueiro, Portugal
Pessegueiro Island, Portugal

This place, besides it’s natural beauty, it is also part of my childhood’s memories where I spent some short holidays several years ago, with my parents. I don’t remember much in detail, but I remember what I felt. When I wrote the article 5 places in Portugal I recommend to visit, I had this place in mind, and I’ll repeat what I said, this region should really be on your bucket list!

And before ending this article, here’s a song (in Portuguese) mentioning this island, which I listened to while I was writing this article 🙂

5 Epic Railway Routes in Europe

5 Epic Railway Routes in Europe

Some of the most famous railway routes cross entire continents, and for the majority of us time to enjoy properly such an epic trip isn’t easy to have. It isn’t easy to take a full month for holidays, and even though one only needs 7 days to cross Siberia, to enjoy it properly it’s better to take a few stops, and for that 7 days isn’t enough… We need time, always time.

A few years ago I made a dream come true, an Euro-interrail (article in Portuguese). It was my first solo trip which took 10 days on a trip from Germany to Portugal, it was a dream that ended up becoming a reality by chance. The return tickets to Portugal by airplane were way too expensive, much more than 10 days by train through Europe. The decision was easy to make.

This is my first infography (original in Portuguese), with a few suggestions of small train trips in Europe, and obviously with one route in my gorgeous country, Portugal

Europe - Railway Trips
Europe – Railway Trips

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Madeira Island – Machico and Funchal

Machico and Funchal

This was my first time in Madeira, and the main reason why I went there was for a wedding of a friend of mine, though, I also had time for some sightseeing obviously. One of the things I noticed the most was the huge amount of tunnels, so criticized in Portugal’s mainland, but that make such a big difference for those living there. A few hundred meters make the difference between several hours up to just a few minutes to reach the same destination. Unlike a lot of people think, the tunnels aren’t a matter of luxury or wealth, but something that is indeed needed. It is one of those things that one has to be there to understand.

Machico

My host’s city, where I also stayed and the first place I saw after my arrival. Coincidently, also the first settlement in Madeira Island, where João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira arrived and stablished the first port of the island.

The landscape is breathtaking, the city is in a valley with has several really steep roads through those hills. More towards east but not far, in Caniçal area, a totally different landscape with a very arid aspect. All part of the same municipality, but so distinct landscapes.

Something I noticed was the massive amount of small lizards, according to what I’ve been told, they are an invasive specie that was introduced by accident, carried by ships. Due lack of natural predators, the lizards became almost like a plague. Cats kinda of helped controlling the amount of lizards, but it is still very common to see those small reptiles through the whole island.

Escarpas na zona do Caniçal
Cliffs in Caniçal area

Funchal

The capital of the Autonomous region, was the place where, oddly, I spent less time at. However, for a Nature lover, I think this was kinda of expected. But I have to admit, the view is also fantastic, either by day or night-time. The historical center is really cosy, several narrow streets with old houses, and with a lot of street art as well. A bit of a paradox, I know, but it all combined really well. As I was the last guest to arrive I missed most of the touristic thingies the other guests did there. I haven’t been to the highest point, through the cable car, but maybe another time 🙂

Ribeira no centro do Funchal
Stream at Funchal’s old town

Something that I really enjoyed to see, but haven’t tried it either, was the Monte’s basket cars. A 2 km ride in 10 minutes, always sliding down the street, a bit overpriced, but certainly a very interesting experience. Again, maybe another time…

5 not-so-known places in Portugal you should visit one day!

5 places in Portugal you should visit

Have you ever been to Portugal? No? You definitely should get that flight ticket and go there, now! It’s one of the cheapest countries in Europe to visit, it has 800 years of history as a nation plus a few other hundreds of culture and heritage. Lisbon, the capital, is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe! Even older than Rome!

The average temperature in Lisbon, during Winter, is 17º! That’s like Summer for most of European Northern countries! And in average, we have only 82 rainy days, that’s even less than three months a year!

Portugal has culture, has history, has beaches (a loooot), has mountains, you can have adventure and relaxation! You can find it all in that tiny country next to Spain.

So, after this not so short introduction, here’s my list of 5 not-so-known places in Portugal you should visit one day.

5th – Douro Vinhateiro

Douro is the second longest river in Portugal, in the north with its mouth in Oporto city. The Douro Vinhateiro is a long valley which is the region where you can find the vineyards of the famous Porto wine, and where it is produced. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

You’d need a few days to properly explore the region, and to make your life easier, you can find several touristic plans and tours. My recommendation to visit this region is by car, but if you’re a new driver or not used to drive on the right side, then you should be extra careful. Almost all roads are two-ways lanes and quite narrow, through the edge of the valley cliffs. There is also the option to do this route by train or by boat on one of the several river cruises that you can find in Oporto city or Vila Nova de Gaia.

Douro Vineyards
Douro Vineyards, ©Paulo Soares

4th – Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo is a small city right in the very north of Portugal, also the seat of the district with the same name. If you like small and cosy cities, Viana do Castelo should be on your list to visit. Besides all that you should expect from a city to relax, certainly you will be surprised by some familiar architecture. The Saint Luzia Basilica will for sure catch your attention, placed in a very high and visible part of the city, it is quite similar to the famous Sacré Coeur Basilica in Paris, however, unlike most people think, this one isn’t a copy as the project for this Basilica was draft before Sacré Coeur being even built.

Those that are more into architecture might also notice that there is another landmark with characteristic lines, the railway bridge, which is also a work of Eiffel’s house.

180.2011
180.2011 ©Francisco Oliveira

3rd – Almeida

I don’t remember when was the last time I visited this small town, but I still remember that I was quite impressed by it. It is for sure a place to visit by all of those that like warlike architecture. Almeida is a star shape fort-village part of a group of 3 medieval villages (from the same municipality), located to form a strategic defense of the Côa river’s valley. Besides its cultural importance, this village isn’t an UNESCO World Heritage, however it is recognized as National Heritage since 1928.

After your visit to the Douro Vinhateiro, you can do a detour to Almeida, I can assure you won’t regret it 🙂

Almeida - Guarda Portugal
Almeida – Guarda Portugal ©[email protected]

2nd Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast

A really nice area in Portugal for those who like less crowded beaches even desert beaches, with several cosy villages and small towns, a huge natural park and much more to explore. It is an amazing area for those who love Nature, and tanking into account Portugal’s climate, it is also really inviting for ciclo-tourism 🙂

On of my favorite places in the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast is the Pessegueiro Island (direct translation would be peach tree) where you can find a 500 years old fort. On the opposite side of the Natural Park you can find the Cape St. Vincent, in  Portugal’s Southwest, very close to Sagres Fort.

Monte Clerigo beach. Costa Vicentina. Portugal.
Monte Clerigo beach. Costa Vicentina. Portugal. ©Ricardo Fernandez

1st – Óbidos

I left my favorite town for last. Since I was a kid that I go to Óbidos, my summer holidays were spent very close to this beautiful town, so often we used to go there to spend just a few hours. Óbidos is a castle-town, the name comes from the latin ópido which means citadel. It is easy to get there from Lisbon either by train or car, the trip by train takes a while, but it totally worths the waiting. The ideal would be letting yourselves get lost through the narrow streets, walk through the walls and visit the castle. Outside the walls you can also visit the Aqueduct. And if you go in March, don’t miss the Chocolate Festival, it is getting very touristic nowadays, but it is still an experience mostly for those who love chocolate. But who doesn’t anyway? 🙂

Óbidos
Óbidos ©Francisco Bernardo

I hope you like this list, it is just a list of a few places to visit in Portugal besides the most popular ones, which also should be visited 🙂 They are popular for a reason 🙂


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5 not-so-known places in Portugal you should visit one day!

2014 Review and 2015 Goals

2014 Review and 2015 Goals

Unfortunately the blog has been quite inactive, against what I planned last year, but surely I can’t postpone this post! Every year I write the previous’ year review and a few goals for the following year, I’ve been doing this for a few years and here I am again!

A heads up, I foresee that I failed a lot this year, regarding last year’s goals. A lot happened worth mentioning, but also a lot wasn’t done either…, but let’s see.

So, here we go!

2014 Review

English classes

Writing and speaking English is not an issue for me, but I want to take this travel writer thing really serious, and for that I decided to attend for some Advanced English classes which I’ll pay a bit for… but I see it as an investment.

Well, I did this indeed and I didn’t get much out of that. It is the second time I go for the wrong course, I want to improve my writing and the course I attended didn’t give me much of what I was looking for. Well, I won’t add that for 2015 goals either, as a few things will change.

Traveling

I plan to visit another continent, I postponed Africa so or I’ll go to North America or Oceania, I might pick North America first…

Well, this one was a fail… This year, technically, I left the Euroasian plate when I went to Madeira island, but that’s part of Portugal. So, not sure if I could count that as going to a new continent…, maybe I did 😀

Due to this, I’ll change slightly my original plan, in 2015 I want to visit at least three new countries!

Moving away

By the end of 2014 I plan to be away from Ireland or being preparing my move. I learned to like this country, though I feel that I need another life changing event soon.

This one was also a fail, but for a good reason. My personal life changed a lot, so I postponed this for later. I won’t say for when, but it is something that eventually I’ll do.

Discover Ireland

Still about Ireland, I am going to buy a car soon which I intend to use almost every weekend to discover new places in Ireland and share with you all my experiences!

Well, I did this and in fairness not because I had this goal, I actually forgot about it. I bought the car just because my personal life changed and this was a big plus!

I drove a lot, but I haven’t visit that much as expected either, but surely the car helped to get to visit a few places that were unknown to me 🙂

Blog

As for the blog, I want to post at least once a week and avoid long posts (like this one).

And fail…, I started quite well, but the lack of visits to the blog, and comments, affected my motivation. Recently I found out that Google isn’t targeting my blog to the right audience (my fault, I’ll change a few about that). Hopefully 2015 will be better 🙂

Bring it on 2014, I challenge you to become better than 2013, like 2013 did with 2012 😀

Well, it wasn’t better than 2013, but it was a really damn good year! I am happy to write and acknowledge that the last three years of my life were amazing! A few less good things, but in overall I can consider myself as a lucky person!

Three Windows
Façade in a building in Berlin

Now about the blog itself

Regarding travel journal, I wrote 14 posts for the Japan Series, about the trip I did the year before. Two posts about the Romania Series (I still have a lot to do about this one), one post about Stockholm and one post about Eastbourne.

I also wrote two app reviews and a Tips and Tricks post about planning versus preparing for a trip.

As I mentioned before, I also noticed that the stats decreased significantly. In the last weeks I have tried to figure out what’s the reason behind that, and when this happened. I think I finally figured out what’s going on, but I’m not so sure yet how to fix it.

For a few years I follow Chris Guillebeau‘s blog, and honestly I think I got inspired to write these reviews after reading one of his earliest ones. I love traveling, and Chris is like the travel guru for me, I have learned a lot from his posts so I looked at it from a different perspective this time. What do I like there and why I keep following him after he finished his quest to visit all the countries in the world. Shame on me, I realized that for the last years I only looked at his posts and I saw the letters he strategically placed to form words, I never read it.

I spend a few hours re-reading one of his manifestos (279 Days To Overnight Success), and that kind of hit me in the face. My stats dropped because I changed this blog for me and not for my followers, I used to write in Portuguese (my native language) when my target audience were Portuguese native speakers. I wanted to improve my English (which I did, a lot) so I totally disrespected my followers and I disregarded my geo-stats.

I don’t seek Chris’ success, but it would be great to become meaningful and inspire other people like he does to me. My stats tell me that my followers are from Portugal and Brazil, therefore in 2015 I’ll write for them, in Portuguese, and occasionally in English (or maybe duo-lingual posts).

2015 Goals

  • Visit at least three new countries in 2015
  • Become more active with the blog (for real)
  • Paying attention to the stats and to my followers

Three things, it should be enough 🙂

For 2015 I also have a stretching goal, this one will be tough but hopefully I’ll do at least half of it! Ireland has an amazing tourism trail of 2500km, the Wild Atlantic Way. I plan to do this by bike in several different stages, maybe one weekend a month which would be about 200km a weekend… Yep, that’s just a stretching goal 🙂

And Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for you 🙂

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2012 Review and 2013 Goals

Peru

I don’t write for a while…, a long while…, and this has to change. So, first goal for 2013: get my blog back to life!

I am doing this “reviews” for the past years, and reading my last review and goals, I surely need to do more and planning is not one of them. I think I still plan too much considering the amount of things I (don’t) do.

About 2012, I still want to learn or do something that pay me the bills, or at least let me travel and pay for my travel addictions. It’s easy to say “freelancing”, but harder to do it. I love my current job, and now that I have more free time I should invest it in other ways rather than pubs 🙂

FAIL! However, I don’t regret failing with this because the reason was not only the pubs, but the people I’ve met! Thank to these new friends that were such an important part of this year.

But I am going to get this “old” goal back to life, so second goal for 2013: Learn or do something that pays for my travel bills.

About the volunteering, I won’t do it in 2012 for sure, probably small projects or campaigns like the Movember one. Volunteering is still a life goal, but I am sure that I won’t be able to do it properly in 2012, I want to take 4 or 5 months off for that and since I just got a new job that I really like, I’ll postpone it a while. Probably I’ll do it in 2013, who knows?

I knew I couldn’t do it in 2012, and I didn’t. Movember is still Movember, and I can only support this cause (maybe I should also consider taking my health more seriously). This year wasn’t half the fun, and probably in 2013 I’ll collaborate differently (but still with the mustache).

Learning Spanish! I don’t know why I never did this before in a very serious way! I know some Portuñol, I have the advantage that the Portuguese grammar and vocabulary are really quite similar with the Spanish one, and with a good level of Spanish I’ll have almost half of the world as an easy “target” to conquer!

FAIL! Damn it! I am getting depressed now! However, due to my new (and great) friends, I am getting better with understanding French. Maybe I should invest in french instead of spanish, no? I am not going to make a goal of this this time…

Travel! That’s not a goal, it’s rather a lifestyle 😀 Until now I only have one big trip planned, to Peru, but I am looking forward for bigger days in Ireland because I want to explore deeper that country. I don’t believe I’ll do another big trip in 2012, maybe to Greece with my parents (if I manage to convince them…), but nothing more than that. But well…, already thinking about 2013 😀 Planing travels is really addictive 😀

Ahhh, another big fail! Regarding Ireland, not about traveling.

Peru was awesome, and I need to get back to describe the rest of the travel on this blog. I also went to Greece, last-minute decision and extremely spontaneous! It was great to decided, ask for days off and book flights in just two hours! 5 days in Greece was sooooo few, and I knew it way before hand 🙁 Greece and the friends I made there have a very special place in my heart! I don’t know when, but I’ll go back to visit you guys again 🙂

I also been to London, for the first time, to visit a friend. I am actually going back to London in three weeks, weekends are not enough to enjoy that city properly, most probably I’ll go there more times (it is so easy to go from Cork).

And Portugal, this year just for weddings, three! What’s wrong with people, everyone getting wed now??? Well, still great to come back to Portugal and this time I managed to travel a little bit with my family as well, and see long time friends 🙂

However, this Christmas I stayed in Cork…, not alone though, I brought my parents here for the first time 🙂 My mom’s first flight! I didn’t take them to Greece, but I did it to Ireland. It was great to have them here and comforting at the same time, because now they know that I am actually really well here.

Sports, I need to do more sports…, I started with the gym a few months ago, but I’d rather do more outdoors. After March I might apply to kayak lessons, and keep doing hiking. I’ll try to organize one or two hiking trips, Ireland is quite nice for that.

Oh, no…, another huge fail! I actually kept going to the gym, this year I even changed gym twice…, but I also managed to “recover” those 8-9kgs I lost the year before…, this is definitely a goal to 2013! And I am going to go even further, I might even consider to attend to the Cork half marathon! (This is not a goal)

And I think that’s enough for goals, few but possible to achieve! Everything else is bonus 😀

Ah, so funny….

Well, goals are just good to keep us motivated, not to make us feel frustrated if we can’t achieve them. This year ended up to be one, if not the one, of the best years of my life! I achieved so many things that make me feel so good that I wouldn’t dare to write it down. For the first time on my life, I could do “magic” helping my parents and give them exactly what they were needing and they couldn’t do, money wise speaking. I traveled to a new continent. I did my first transatlantic flight. I went back to Greece, after several years just “thinking about that”. And much more other stuff. But regardless everything, the best was and it still is, the friends I met on this road.

I failed all my 2012 goals, but I achieved all those lifetime unwritten goals. Who cares about goals, if life can be so great anyway? I didn’t fail anything, I just didn’t do it yet 🙂

2011 Review and 2012 Goals

Unpacking for 2012

Last year I wrote the 2010 review and 2011 goals, which turned out to be surprisingly good therefore I’ll do again this year and see what happens.

Unpacking for 2012

Some highlights about 2010:

I’ll keep this goal, to go abroad, but now with a slight difference I won’t make such a big deal of it.

Considering that I am now working in Ireland, I can tell this goal was successfully achieved! The best part is that I really didn’t make a big deal out of it, it happened almost by chance. I tried unsuccessfully several times to get a job abroad and at some point it was more important just to change my job, when I gave up with the “abroad” idea this chance appeared and I didn’t let it go, again 🙂

Another thing that I want to change is my blog’s name, but for that I need that something changes in my life, something worthy.

Look Left looks like a name’s change 🙂 And I guess I can say that something really changed in my life! 🙂

I need to do something meaningful with my life such as volunteering and helping those that really need it!

Not yet…, but I was part of the Movember Team, I believe that’s a start 🙂 And I just realized that I never wrote about that…, shame on me! I should do that ASAP!

My goal for this year is getting a way of self-sustain and invest sometime to learn something that I can earn money working at home and anywhere, this doesn’t mean that I will quite my job but that I want to get a Plan B.

I totally failed with this one…, postponing it to 2012!

I will keep writing in English

Mission accomplished! This one was easy, and I believe I improved my English quite a lot 🙂

My feeling about 2011, before I (re)read the 2010 review and 2011 goals’ post, was that half of my year was again a total disaster…, but now I think that the whole year was a huge success! Every single step I did was in the same direction, even if I didn’t realize it by then, quoting Steve Jobs:

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.
So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

And I am already feeling like it!

A more deep review about 2011, despite the pre-set goals, 2011 was really another big year like all my latest years. In January I started actively searching for a new job, and because of that I gave up of some opportunities I had, it took me several months to get it maybe because of the crisis, maybe because of my lack of experience, maybe because of my CV. I don’t really know. Normally this kind of things leads to frustration, and at some point I lowered my goals and I decided  to”just move”.

May was the month that everything changed, and I say quite often that if someone told me in May that I would go to Peru in less than a year I would think that person was crazy or just trying to upset me…, and now I am preparing a trip to Peru in less than two months!

10th June, Portugal’s day and the day I left Portugal again! New country, still in Europe. The fourth country I lived in in less than 5 years! I am still amazed by how much my life changed, and eager to keep doing it! I’m only sorry for not starting this life earlier, because I am really loving being me just right now!

I miss my nephews’ birthdays, but as a present I brought them to Ireland, their first flight trip! Well, both are too young and they might forget about it soon…, but I was with them for at least a few days and that’s the more important thing.

In October one of the most important person of my life passed away, after almost three months it’s still hard for me to accept it…, but life’s goes on.

I am back in Portugal now, for Xmas and NYE, returning to Ireland today! Again, looking back I can say the year was a blast again! Some very bad things, some really good, but in general the good ones were the majority.

About 2012, I still want to learn or do something that pay me the bills, or at least let me travel and pay for my travel addictions. It’s easy to say “freelancing”, but harder to do it. I love my current job, and now that I have more free time I should invest it in other ways rather than pubs 🙂

About the volunteering, I won’t do it in 2012 for sure, probably small projects or campaigns like the Movember one. Volunteering is still a life goal, but I am sure that I won’t be able to do it properly in 2012, I want to take 4 or 5 months off for that and since I just got a new job that I really like, I’ll postpone it a while. Probably I’ll do it in 2013, who knows?

Learning Spanish! I don’t know why I never did this before in a very serious way! I know some Portuñol, I have the advantage that the Portuguese grammar and vocabulary are really quite similar with the Spanish one, and with a good level of Spanish I’ll have almost half of the world as an easy “target” to conquer!

World Map

Travel! That’s not a goal, it’s rather a lifestyle 🙂 Until now I only have one big trip planned, to Peru, but I am looking forward for bigger days in Ireland because I want to explore deeper that country. I don’t believe I’ll do another big trip in 2012, maybe to Greece with my parents (if I manage to convince them…), but nothing more than that. But well…, already thinking about 2013 😀 Planing travels is really addictive 😀

Sports, I need to do more sports…, I started with the gym a few months ago, but I’d rather do more outdoors. After March I might apply to kayak lessons, and keep doing hiking. I’ll try to organize one or two hiking trips, Ireland is quite nice for that.

And I think that’s enough for goals, few but possible to achieve! Everything else is bonus 🙂

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2010 review and 2011 goals

Lisbon

In the beginning of this year I wrote a summary of what happened to me in 2009, a great year indeed preceded by a better year, 2008! Well, unfortunately I can’t say the same regarding this year and the name of this blog might give you that same idea.

I started this year with a goal, visiting castles in Portugal and writing a guide how to reach them using only public transportation…, well, I didn’t do it, just visited (again) Óbidos and nothing else, neither the Castelo de São Jorge which is 3 or 4 kms away from my current house…

Last year, when I returned to Portugal, I had the goal of going abroad again this time for a longer period…, that was the main reason why I accepted this job, I naively thought that being on a multinational company I would get a better chance, maybe in a couple of years I’ll harvest the result of this bet, but so far I see no vantage of this. We are now in December, and I am still in Portugal however not unhappy as you might expect, I really had the chance to prove myself that I am better than I thought, I just need to push a little bit harder and I will get it! I got the opportunity, I blowed it but most important, I also learned with it! I’ll keep this goal, to go abroad, but now with a slight difference I won’t make such a big deal of it.

I have now a nephew! That’s really a big thing for me, considering that there is nothing to be proud of my achievements this year, this is really something that makes me happy and really overcome everything else! Needless to say, that I really mean what I just wrote.

Another thing that I want to change is my blog’s name, but for that I need that something changes in my life, something worthy. The same applies to my life goals, I am almost 28 and I really had amazing experiences that makes me feel that I am having a great life! I shouldn’t complain about it, but I do. I feel that something is missing and I already know what that is, I need to do something meaningful with my life such as volunteering and helping those that really need it! This might sound pretentious or just another “Miss World” expression, but it isn’t. As I said, I am almost 28 and eventually I will die, sooner or later (duh), why spending my life helping others getting richer when I can spend my life helping others having a better life? My goal for this year is getting a way of self-sustain and invest sometime to learn something that I can earn money working at home and anywhere, this doesn’t mean that I will quite my job but that I want to get a Plan B.

In resume, 2010 was a failure as a personal perspective, but another amazing year regarding familiar aspects! The balance is positive!

2011 WILL BE better, definitely! Nothing concrete to do, and I don’t need to. I will keep trying to go abroad, maybe I’ll push a little bit harder, but as I said, I will just try! It is not a goal, it is a bonus in case I can get it! I will find a way to self-sustain and I will invest sometime getting good at it!

I am not lowering my goals to avoid disappointments, I just want to live one day at a time and keep avoiding to get resigned with my life!

Oh, and I almost forgot! I will keep writing in English, I have friends everywhere and not all of them know Portuguese (thanks google for the translator! but it isn’t the same thing), and I really need to improve my English…, is not that bad as used to be, but I really need to improve it! All the grammar-nazis are welcome to correct me, but privately, please 🙂