Interview with Daniel Zagrodzki

Daniel Zagrodzki

Today we interview our IT expert Daniel from Poland. Daniel started working with us more than 2 years ago, initially helping out with the creation of our more precise maps. He took over as the exclusive programmer for our website two years ago and has been responsible for all the work done in upgrading the site technically and stylistically, as well as the design of 'new' NomadMania.

Flying over Poland.

Daniel, tell us something about your early days and how your interest in the outdoors developed.

As a child I used to spend a lot of my free time outdoors. This was a time where there were no cell phones, no internet and hardly any computers and so outdoor activities provided the best leisure. If the weather was right I would ride a bike with friends or build tree houses in the nearby forest. I lived my early years in the seaside and trips to the beach and swimming were my most frequent summer holiday activities. As I grew up biking trips and swimming were joined by mountain hiking and sailing. Presently I try to pass some of my small passions to my children.

What special challenges does travelling in nature pose for you and your family? And what are the rewards for you?

Since my children are old enough to take part in practically any travel endeavour the most limiting factor is time. Since my wife and I want to include our children in as much traveling as possible we are mostly limited to summer holidays – which unfortunately often coincides with my wife’s high season at work.

Nevertheless, I personally try to have a least one mountain hiking and one sailing trip planned for the family each holiday. I believe that these trips are the most rewarding quality time I spend with my family – it is a nice change to spend time experiencing nature without the usual digital distractions of the modern world.

You may not be the biggest traveller but you've seen a number of places. What impressed you especially and why?

I very much enjoy visiting places with old times architecture – in this regard Vienna's old city centre and Prague are my two favourites. Early morning breakfast in Vienna and an evening beer in Prague were two most memorable moments when I thought I could relate to the historical heritage of these two cities.

Apart from the above I also very much enjoyed hiking through the swamps of Finland. Since this was in the early Fall it was very refreshing to swim in a crystal-clear lake after an evening session in a wood-burning sauna in the middle of the forest a long way away from any city.

Central Park, New York.

And what are some of the gems of your home country, Poland, that you believe are unexplored and deserve more attention?

This in general pertains to Slavic mythology which (even in Poland) is mostly forgotten and overshadowed by Greek and Roman mythology and of course Christian culture. Nevertheless, Poland has a very interesting heritage of polytheistic beliefs dating back before 900 AD and there are plenty of small monuments and sites that were preserved – they are located all over Poland. Presently these serve as venues for neo-pagan religion happenings.

You are NomadMania's programmer. What are the special challenges that NomadMania poses with regard to IT? 

The most challenging aspect of developing and maintaining Nomad Mania are the 1281 world regions division and maps. It was very challenging to precisely reflect this division in practice with digital maps and I am grateful to the community for all the tips and suggestions that we received. Our recent changes to this division was another occasion to review our maps and make some necessary corrections. Although I personally overviewed the mapping of each region, it still happens from time to time that we need to make some corrections.

And what gives you personal satisfaction by programming for NomadMania?

Developing the new Nomad Mania portal and working with maps was a great occasion to generally broaden my travelling and geographical knowledge. For some of the regions I had the occasion to consult with people living in the very regions being mapped and having first-hand experience as regards local cultural/ geographical/ historical differences that would serve as a rationale behind region division.

The greatest satisfaction I take when working as part of Nomad Mania team is interacting with very special people that I would otherwise have no way of meeting.

Tatra Mountains.
What are some of the future possibilities for the website in terms of technology and programming?
We try to keep up with current trends in technology and make the site easy to use. In terms of future development, we are looking into expanding some areas for user interaction and providing functionalities that would most benefit the travel community in general.
We aim to respond to all queries as soon as we receive them, and you take all the technical problems. What are some of the queries that have surprised you or been especially memorable?

There are many requests we receive that are influenced by a very personal approach to travel by some users. We try to accommodate as many requests as possible but of course some of the desired functions will come before others. One of the memorable requests was to include an option to make group accounts possible – so that e.g. one person can manage many profiles for family/ friends.

Pieniny Mountains.
So, going back to travel, what places you haven't been to are on your bucket list?

As I mentioned before I very much enjoy old architecture. However, there are some natural wonders that I have yet to see and I hope to one day. These include places like Grand Canyon, Ha Long Bay, Wulingyuan.

One big dream of mine is also to organize a family sailing trip from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean.

Finally, a question we always ask – if you could invite four people from any time of human history to dinner, who would you invite and why?

This one touches on my other hobby – physics and cosmology. The four people I would invite are: Plato, Albert Einstein, Steven Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson. As you can tell – two of them are already part of history, but the latter two are still enjoying fame (at least in some circles). It would be very inspiring to discuss some of the aspects of life with the very people that helped and still help to shape the science developments of our civilisation.

The photos in this interview are from Daniel's personal collection and we thank him for sharing them with us at NomadMania!