Can someone read 50 books in a year ?

Short answer is yes.
Long answer .. you can read even more.

When I wrote My wishes for 2017 someone people asked if that is really double, if I can read one book each week (the year has 52 weeks).

The math is pretty simple:

  • an adult reads about 250 words per minute
  • typical non-fiction books have ~50,000 words

50 books * 50,000 words / book = 2.5 million words
2.5 million words / 250 wpm = 10,000 minutes
10,000 minutes / 60 = ~167 hours

So if you read for 30 minutes each day you will read more than 50 books in a year.
Now think how much time you spent in front of the TV each day or how much time you spend on facebook or playing games on your smartphone.
And it is really easy to read these days. You can read paper books, you can read on your phone, you can read on your kindle, you can listen to audiobooks.

I suggest reading this article wrote by Charles Chu, you can find a lot more info there.

books

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Visit Berlin in one day

I went together with Iarina to Berlin this weekend. It is a nice city and we enjoyed visiting it. We are both glad we had the chance to do this, but I can’t say we liked it that much. I also visited Munich a few times and I like it more than Berlin.
We didn’t had a lot of time to visit it so I wanted to share what we did, maybe other people will find this useful.

I found some great tickets and we flew there with Ryanair. Everything has really cheap, 32 euro in total (round trip, both of us). We arrived there on Saturday at about 1 pm and flew back to Bucharest at 7 am the next day. So we had less than 24 hours to visit Berlin.

But we got to see a lot of things and walked a little more than 25 km.

We arrived at the Berlin Schönefeld Airport and from there we took the S-Bahn to the city. You will need a ticket that covers all 3 city zones if you want to get to the city center and one ticket costs 3.4 euro. You can buy the tickets from the station (card or cash; just be aware that the machine won’t accept bills larger than 10 euro).

From the airport we took the S9 until the Bornholmer Str. station.  And from there you can take either S1 or S2 and get to Brandenburger Tor station. Which is the station right next to Brandenburg Gate. The trip takes about 1 hour. There are faster ways according to Google Maps, but for me this seemed like the easiest one. Getting into the right trains and walking across the stations is pretty easy and you shouldn’t have any problems with this.


Main things we saw in Berlin

We visited them in this exact order. So you can even use these locations to draw a map on Google Maps and follow it across town.

1. Brandenburg Gate
It is really impressive and it is bigger than I thought it would be. It is one of the best-known landmarks of Germany, being built on the site of a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel.

2. Reichstag Building
I recommend you make a reservation in advance so you can also visit it. We didn’t so we only saw it from outside. It has a large glass dome at the very top with a 360-degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape.

3. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
This is like a maze of blocks of concrete. According to Wikipedia there are 2,711 blocks. We spent about 30 minutes walking inside it and making bad jokes. Just be careful not to bump into people while inside. There is also a museum you can visit, but we skipped it due to a really long line.

4. Tiergarten
We both like parks so we spent about 1.5-2 hours walking across it. There are a few monuments in the park so make sure you also check them out. I liked more Englischer Garten in Munich.

5. Potsdamer Platz
There are a few nice buildings, but not much. It was on the way to the other objectives, so we added it on the list of things to check.

6. Topography of Terror
This was the best thing we saw in Berlin. And if you are gonna check only a few places, make sure to include this one on the list. It is an outdoor and indoor history museum. It is located on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era. I think we stayed 2 hours there reading, listening and watching things.

7. Checkpoint Charlie Museum
It is named after the famous crossing point on the Berlin Wall, and was created to document the so-called “best border security system in the world”. You can skip it if you want. It is not that impressive.
But we saw a lot of Trabants there and this was fun.

8. East Side Gallery
“An international memorial for freedom”, Wikipedia says. It is a section of the Berlin Wall, longer than 1 km and has over 100 paintings from artists all over the world.
It is kinda far from the rest of the things we saw, so be ready to walk a lot. But it is worth it, I really really liked it and it has some amazing paintings.

9. Berlin Cathedral
I think it is better to see it during the day. It was pretty late when we got there and at night it didn’t seemed very impressive. But it is nice, so if you got time make sure to check it out.

10. Museum Island
It was late when we got there so everything was closed and there weren’t a lot of people around. We anyway didn’t want to visit the museums, because we didn’t have a lot of time.

11. Alexanderplatz
This was the final point of our trip. You will see a lot of interesting buildings and the famouse TV tower.


Where we ate in Berlin

We walked around a lot so we had to eat. I already had a few places in mind around our route and this is how it went.

Quchnia, Markgrafenstrasse 35
After we arrived in town this was our first stop. We stumbled on it while looking for another restaurant, but it was a good pick.
Food is good, the cakes are excellent!
Iarina had a cafe latte, I had a ginger tea, both were good. We ate the same thing, baked potato, with salad, chicken breast and a nice sauce. I forgot how it was called.. We usually order different things so we can try more stuff, but this place doesn’t have that many choices.
We also ate a fruit tart which was really good. Total amount spent was around 35 euro, so pretty decent for a good meal.

Madami – Mom’s Vietnamese Kitchen, Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 3
We went here for dinner. Man .. such a good choice! The food was excellent, cheap and the place is really nice. It was probably the best vietnamese food we have eaten until now.
We spent 25 euro for two dishes and a bottle of water.

Other places on our list: Chupenga, Mohrenstraße 42; Bibi Mix, Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 5-7; Scheers Schnitzel, Warschauer Platz 18. These were based on reviews I read and closeness to our route. Maybe we will check them next time.


All in all the trip was great, we had fun and Berlin has some must see locations. Now it is time for some sleep.

berlin cathedral
Berlin Cathedral

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New Home

We try to discuss about our future as often as possible. And I think this is important for all couples.
My favorite discussions with Iarina are related with what we want, what we wish, what we should do.

We both want to have our own home and we discuss a lot about this.

First question is if we are going to stay in Romania, or if we want to move in another country for a few years. Sure this isn’t entirely just our decision. It also depends on what opportunities we encounter, if we get any job offers, etc. There is no point in moving in another country if we are going to live worse that we do right now in Romania.
So if we are going to move to another country we will definitely continue to rent a place. There is no point in buying a home in another country.

If we continue to stay in Romania (right now the most probable outcome) it is possible that we will move to another city.
Bucharest is pretty nice, especially if you are visiting or staying here on short term. But on long term I can’t say I like it that much. It is crowded, it is polluted and it is getting worse.

We are thinking about Sibiu and Brasov. We like both of them and they offer plenty of job opportunities. Sibiu has a big plus because it is closer to Targu Jiu.

And if we stay in Romania we will probably buy an apartment or a house. The other option would be to build a house.
All 3 options have their weak and strong points and we still haven’t decided what to do.
In a few months we have our wedding and we will talk more after it. We will probably take a decision by the end of the year. But a lot of things can happen until then.

small house

Speaking about building a house.
We are thinking about a wood house and I’ve been starting to make some research on this. And I stumbled on this (really great info, but it is in Romanian).

Project – The honest Romanian guide

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks.
Initially I was thinking to open a google document and add things there when I encounter them or when I’m thinking about them.
And maybe in time I would have enough of them so I can publish an (e)book.

After starting the blog it only seemed natural to just make a page for it and put it online, so anyone can access it. The book idea still stands and maybe one day I will do that too.

But for now you can find here the project: The honest Romanian guide.

And as mentioned on that page it will be a collection of things Romanians hate or make fun of when someone else does them, but do them themselves.

open field

How to help people work better

Or what I would do as a manager

If you really think about it, we don’t work that much when we are in the office. Sure, we get things done, but I’m not talking about this. I’m talking about doing meaningful things, having ideas, being innovative.

Just remember the last time you had that great idea, or think about your greatest work. I bet it wasn’t done while you were sitting on your chair, surrounded by the 40-50 people you share your open space with.

For some it was really early in the morning, when you were the first one in the office. Or while you were commuting, or in the shower (I always have some great ideas in the shower or on the toilet). Or probably when you were sick and had to work from home.

And this because we get distracted. We get distracted by our colleagues, by our boss, by the endless meetings and conferences. The moments when we can work at something for at little as 1-2 hours without being interrupted are extremely rare.

Until we are able to work from whatever place we chose and at whatever hour we want here is what I would do and propose you all try:

  1. Make your whole team not talk with each other for a day once a month (or at least half a day) – you will see that a lot of stuff will get done and this because people will be able to concentrate on the their job without anyone bothering or interrupting them. This will probably be the best job benefit you can offer to your team.
  2. Cancel your meetings – go to your calendar and cancel half of your meetings and then go and do it again. If there are more than 3-4 people in a meeting, you can probably skip it. Even most of the 3-4 person meetings could be replaced by a short email. Give time to people to put their ideas in order and afterwards they can just send you an email with anything they would like you to know. The world won’t end, everything will be just fine.
  3. Replace most of the active communication with passive communication – if someone comes to your desk you will have to talk with that person. And even if it is for 20 seconds, you will have to stop what you are doing, don’t think at the problem you had in mind, and offer your attention to that person. But if we replace this with emails or even instant messages, we gain control on the moment we want to be interrupted. We can quit Outlook or our IM app, but we can’t quit our boss or our colleague. You finish your tasks and then you spend a few minutes checking you email. Also, it is enough if you check your email 2 or 3 times a day. For must of us there aren’t any urgent things that need our immediate attention.
    So encourage your team to use emails and IMs.

I hope these ideas will help or at least encourage you to change the way you work.

lego people

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Day 145 – A thought a day challenge

Balance

A thought a day – 1 year challenge, 145 days later

I’ve always liked writing and I’ve been thinking about creating a blog for some years.
The first challenge was that I didn’t know if I will have enough things to write about. Another problem was that I’m lazy and I get bored really fast.

So I thought I should start easy and that’s why I challenged myself to write something each day. This is how A thought a day – 1 year challenge came to life.
And 4 months later I created this blog.
I haven’t decided what kind of blog would this be and what I will be writing about. But I will see how it evolves. The important thing is to keep writing, I hope I will add at least 2-3 posts each week.

Now let’s get back to the challenge.

Day 145 – January 14, 2017

Level 28 today.
I don’t feel that old, not at all.
We had some cake in the morning and Iarina made pizza, I read, played a little on my xylophone and played some SWTOR. We finished Supernatural season 11. We will probably watch season 12 after all episodes are online.
The xylophone is really fun and I’m sure I will learn some songs by the end of the year.
Before going to bed we watched The Notebook.

We have a lot of plans for 2017 and a lot of things will happen this year. Somedays I feel a little overwhelmed.

Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom image

I think it all started sometime at the end of 2014.
I’ve always been the type of person that likes to save and doesn’t like to be in debt. But two books really changed the way I see things: The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
Since then I read a lot of books related to this and did my part of research.

The first step was creating an Excel and adding my income and all my expenses.
Now I can say that our savings in 2015 were only 4.7% from our income. In 2016 our income grow by 48%, but our savings were only about 4.87% from our income.
The savings rate reveal some crappy numbers. And as I said here, I want to raise our savings to 20%.
Is not that much, but it will be hard considering that we are having our wedding this year.

The books were just the start. In September I stumble on From cents to retirement blog and from this one I got to FI Fighter, another great blog, and from it to Mr. Money Mustache (which is my favorite one).

And if you get pass the funny names, there are a lot of interesting things you can read about. I know this because I read all their blog posts.

So right now I’m not thinking just about how to save money. I’m also thinking about how to have enough money so we can retire early. Enough money that we don’t care about money anymore.

The main idea is to spend less money than you gain. This not that easy.
But you can do a lot of things to help.
One thing you can do is to simply make more money (get a raise, get a new job, get new a part-time job).
Another important step (and this is overlooked by most of the people) is finding ways to spend less money than now.

And I’m not talking about moving under a bridge, eating cheap food or living a bad life. Not at all.
We tend to throw money on things we don’t need, things that don’t improve our life or things that don’t make us happy (not on long term).

This is were my Excel file gets really useful. I can see on what we spend money and we can find ways to cut some of the expenses.
I’m really anxious to see how this year will go. And I will also try to share some of the things I do to spend less money.

What movies I want to watch in 2017

2016 wasn’t a great year for movies, I think 2017 will be pretty much the same. But still .. there are some movies I would like to watch, so here is my list.

UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS – January
Watched the first movies, I loved them. Can’t wait to watch this too.

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER – January
Another series I like. I didn’t enjoyed the last two movies as much as the first ones, but still I want to see how things will end.
Trailer

THE FOUNDER – January
The story of Ray Kroc and McDonald’s. It should be a good and interesting movie if they don’t change the original story.
Trailer

XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE – January
Really liked the first movie, not so much the second one. But Vin Diesel should make the things pretty enjoyable.
Trailer

RINGS – February
The sequel of the The Ring.
Trailer

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 – February
A lot of people didn’t liked the first movie, but I enjoyed watching it. I will also watch this one.
Trailer

LOGAN – March
The last Wolverine movie for Hugh Jackman. I wonder who will replace him in future movies.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND – March
A remake, but an interesting cast with Samuel Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson.
I didn’t liked the other ones, but maybe this one will be better.
Trailer

GHOST IN THE SHELL – March
I have big expectations for this movie. I really like the game.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – March
I like the story and I want to see how Emma Watson plays in other movies.
Trailer

POWER RANGERS – March
Another remake. Loved it when I was young, hope it won’t suck.
Trailer

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS – April
Another one .. But I will still watch it.
Trailer

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 – May
I liked the first movie, it was really fun. This should be awesome too. I’m a fan of the Marvel and DC.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD – May
I like the trailer and it has some good actors.
Trailer

ALIEN: COVENANT – May
Iarina doesn’t like this type of movies, so I will probably watch it alone. It’s directed by Ridley Scott.
Trailer

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES – May
Jack Sparrow is back.
Trailer

WONDER WOMAN – May
I didn’t liked her that much in Batman v Superman, but maybe in her full movie she will play better.
Trailer

THE MUMMY – June
Another remake, now with Tom Cruise. He should play in other types of movies. He is getting old.
Trailer

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT – June
I’m sure it won’t be that great, but it is the kind a movie you can watch while relaxing for 2 hours.

WORLD WAR Z 2 – June
The first one was ok, will also give this one a try.
Trailer

DESPICABLE ME 3 – June
Can’t wait to see it. The first two were a lot of fun.
Trailer

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING – July
He was pretty good in The Avengers. I hope the acting style will be the same. And the movie feeling will be more Deadpool, less original Spiderman.
Trailer

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES – July
I like the idea, but I think three movies are enough and I hope this is the last one.
Trailer

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE – October
The first part was really fun to watch.
Trailer

THOR: RAGNAROK – October
This should be the movie where we see the last infinity stone. Thor, Loki, Dr. Strange and The Hulk.

SAW 8 – October
Not many things are known about it.

JUSTICE LEAGUE – November
Finally!
Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg.

STAR WARS EPISODE 8 – December
Ep 7 was ok, but not what I expected. I hope ep 8 will be much better.

JUMANJI – December
The first one was one of the best movies of my childhood. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black will star in this one.

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Is it time to move away from Facebook?

Probably yes.
Privacy is a big problem with Facebook. But we already knew this, since we are the product. Even Zuckerberg doesn’t trust Facebook. Remember this pictures from June?

Salim Virani has a really interesting post about this: Get your loved ones off Facebook. And if you have 10-15 minutes, you should give it a read.

If not, here are a few things Facebook already does:

And with the new privacy change there are some other interesting stuff they’ll be doing, things like: tracking what we buy, our financial information (bank account, credit card numbers), tracking our location via our phone’s GPS (everywhere and all the time), and much much more.

This is how Facebook makes money, sells us (and our information) to other companies.

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What I read in 2016

Back in June I was really dissatisfied with how much I was reading, I thought I should read at least 1-2 books each month.

I decided to also write down what I was reading to see if I can accomplish what I had in mind. I was already having a list with books that I wanted to read, so I just added a new column to that table.

At the end of October the company I’m working for signed a contract with Bookster. Bookster provides the employees of their customers with the opportunity to borrow any books or article they want from their collection. You can also read online articles, watch videos and more.

So now it is really easy for me to borrow the books I want and I don’t even have to pay anything for them. Great work benefit!
This is why my reading target for 2017 is 50 books.

So here are the books I read from June to December 2016:

  1. Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson
  2. Do you think you’re clever – John Farndon
  3. The founder’s dilemma – Noam Wasserman
  4. Extraordinary Leadership – Robin Sharma
  5. Originals – Adam Grant
  6. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street – John Brooks
  7. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
  8. What If? – Randall Munroe
  9. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History – Elizabeth Kolbert
  10. The Second Machine Age – Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee
  11. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
  12. The Bed of Procrustes – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  13. The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferris
  14. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business – Clayton M. Christensen
  15. How I see the world – Albert Einstein

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My wishes for 2017

I think it is a good idea to write your wishes and at the end of the year reflect on what happen, how everything influenced you and how you evolved as a person.

So here is my list for 2017:

  • get married – not necessarily a wish, but an important step for both me and Iarina;
  • visit a new country;
  • move to another country – already working on this; I hope we will achieve this in 2017, if not maybe in 2018;
  • get to read at least 50 books;
  • raise our savings to 20% from our income;
  • learn to play an instrument;
  • work on this blog and write weekly on it.

Most of these depend only on me and are achievable. Will check in 12 months how it went.New year

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Next 6 months plan

I had a few blog posts on the old website and I decided to move them here as they were. Originally written on May 11, 2016.

A lot of things had happened since my last blog entry, I’ve been really busy with work/learning/and some other stuff. I saw 2 new countries, finished a web development bootcamp, played with some new things and a few great things in my personal life.

Currently I fell a little burned out. Tomorrow I will soon celebrate 1 year in Allianz so I spent the last days thinking about what happened in the last year and what I want to do in the months that will follow.

Pretty soon I will launch 2 projects. I worked a few months on them and I will enjoy seeing them online. After this I will take a break from my front end freelance “career”. Right now I don’t know how long this would take by I feel I need it.

Now, what I wish for the next 6 months. I want to write more and hope to publish around 1-2 articles each month here. I have a long list of books I want to read. They are over 60 and I don’t think I will finish all of them this year. Another thing I want to do is improve my design skills, theoretical and practical. In my free time, programming will be on the second place for now, at least for a while.

More details will follow in my next blog posts.

 

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“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” – 3 months later

I had a few blog posts on the old website and I decided to move them here as they were. Originally written on August 16, 2015.

There have been 3 months from when I wrote the first part to this (“Stay Hungry, StayFoolish”) and I didn’t even knew there will be more than one part.
A lot had happened since then and I hope a lot more will from now one, maybe I will even write a third part to this.

When I quitted my job I didn’t really had a plan, just needed a break. But still I though it would be a good idea to start applying to jobs, since I would have needed a job eventually. But it went better than expected and I was pretty astonished to get so many calls, and more than a few from some big companies. Initially I was thinking I should have a little vacation, for at least a few weeks, maybe a month.
But it only lasted a week.

I got the opportunity to meet a lot of great people from a lot of big companies and it was a nice experience, even though I really don’t like interviewing.
In the end I decided to accept the offer from Allianz, they offered me a position as a web designer. It came as a surprise since I started learning HTML and CSS just a year before getting the job. But they decided I was the right man and I said yes.
Even the recruitment process was really fast. On Monday I had the first interview and two tests (coding and design), got also the second interview at Allianz in the same day. On Tuesday I had the third interview, on Friday I was already signing the papers.

It was great until now, but of course I always want more. So I started a few days ago to learn JavaScript. I knew some, worked with it (especially jQuery), but I decided I should know more.
So in the next period, JavaScript and Angular.
Maybe in a few month I will get pretty decent.

As a last few words .. it works. Risk, put yourself out there and you’ll get what you want sooner or later.

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“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

I had a few blog posts on the old website and I decided to move them here as they were. Originally written on May 3, 2015.

A few weeks ago I decided it was the time for me to leave the company I worked for in the last 3 years. Had a lot of reasons to do so and I really think it is the right decision.

Now I’m taking a break for a few days/weeks. Checking new opportunities, going to some interviews but I’m not really in a hurry to find a new job.

I want to concentrate more on web development, got some projects I want to launch pretty soon. Some books I want to finish. Maybe I will even start drawing again. I should also repair the bathroom door. In 2 weeks I’m running in OMV Petrom Bucharest Halfmarathon 2015 (the popular race, but still, I need some practice).

So, a lot of things to do and I’m sure good times are coming.

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Milan trip

I had a few blog posts on the old website and I decided to move them here as they were. Originally written on January 29, 2016.

I wanted to write about this for a few weeks now, but couldn’t find the time for it. At the end of November I went together with Iarina to Milano. It was a really special trip, first time leaving the country and first flight with the plane, for both of us. We only stayed for 2 days in Milan, but it was really fun.

The first “problem” of the trip was to decide if we should take our car to the airport and leave it there until we came back or the bus. But the bus looked like the smarter choice.

Tip for anyone coming to Bucharest/Romania and landing on Otopeni airport: Take the bus, is really cheap, less than 1 euro, and it takes you to the city center (bus 783) or the train station (bus 780). They come pretty often, from 30 to 30 min.

In the airport we were pretty confused and didn’t knew what to do. So we decided to just follow other people. We got to bagage control, all went great, and then custom. The problem was that we arrived pretty early and didn’t took the time to check at what gate our flight was departing, so until the flight was shown we were pretty anxious to see if we were on the correct side of the airport. But we were lucky and found quickly the gate. The flight was pretty ok, Iarina slept most of the time, while I was watching the clouds.

When we arrived in Bergamo the things were pretty simple and we found our way to Milan center. There Iarina’s uncle was waiting for us and took us to Rho, where we were going to stay. In the same day we had the chance to check some stores and I was really surprised to see that prices for food were the same as in Bucharest or even lower. Even though here the salaries are much smaller.
We spent the second day visiting Milan, we walked around 15 km on foot. We got to see a lot of places: the Dome, La Scala theatre, Sforza castle, Sempione park, a few shops (Iarina) and we even got to visit a university by mistake. The way back went smoothly (Iarina sleeping, me watching the clouds).

We really liked Milan and hope to come back. We even think to move there (I started learning italian and is going great). I really liked the public transportation, much better than in Bucharest. We managed to find our way in the city even though we don’t speak italian. The city seemed greener than Bucharest, even if it is one of the most polluted cities in Italy. The streets were wider and was really nice to walk around the town. I was really impressed by the Dome and want to visit it again. I heard a lot of people speaking romanian in Milan, which was really funny. I saw more beggars than in Bucharest. Was nice to see people juggling for money in intersections (in Romania they only wash your windshield). It was strange to see the flight attendants selling perfumes and lottery tickets while we were flying, never heard of this.

In the end, we really liked Milan and hope to come back soon.

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