Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Phone Pictures

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

I find it hard to travel with my Canon camera.  It takes great pictures, but it is heavy and not as important as my laptop or my kindle.  I took it with me this summer but it was often left in a bag in my room.   I have been trying to remember that my phone, which is always with me, also has a camera.  It’s nowhere near as good as the Canon but it’s often better than I expect.

Pictures taken with my iPhone

Leaving Frankfurt

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

I leave Frankfurt this morning and I will be happy to say goodbye.  I did not see much of the city but what I did see was not special.  The service in the restaurants and bars was so bad that when I had to eat by myself I just bought something in a supermarket.  I usually don’t mind eating out on my own but then I usually don’t have to wait more than an hour to be served food.

I was attending a conference and the venue was not great.  It was unbearably hot.  There was no air conditioning, very few windows that opened, and it was about 36 C outside.   The first day was the hottest and it is very hard to listen to talks or to even speak to people when all you can think about is the heat and how you need to cool down.

Last impressions also count.  It was difficult to check out of the hotel and the taxi ride to the airport made me fear for me life.  When the driver arrived he complained at length about the construction as if it was somehow my fault that there were roadworks.  I can handle grumpy but I could do without road rage.  He got so angry on the way to the airport that he banged his fists off the dashboard, beeped his horn, and started to chase the car that had overtaken him incorrectly.  He nearly crashed on a bend on the way into the airport because he kept impatiently changing lanes and accelerating wildly.

I hope it’s a while before I need to come back to this city.

City Sights

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

I did read a guide book before coming to Seoul but I didn’t know what I wanted to do yesterday. Marty had no strong opinion either but I gave him the guide book and asked him to decide. After a long lazy breakfast in our room we headed out for the day.  The first stop was Samsung D’Light.  Marty started raving about new phones and tablets, and well, what was I expecting when I handed him the guidebook?

I’m not overly excited by Samsung products, but it wasn’t a bad a way to spend an hour or so.  I spent much of my time there playing Angry Birds on a variety of devices but I did look at some other things.  There was a large LED display that looked really impressive.  It played music when you touched the glass and Marty had a lot of fun moving around quickly making a lot of racket  I was more excited by the interesting photographs that could be taken but I didn’t think it would be appropriate to spend too long taking pictures.

Marty at the LED Drum Display

Marty at the LED Drum Display

There were also an exhibit that allowed you to put a picture of yourself into an old painting.  It was using LCD technology, which in itself is nothing new, but it was on the front of a display cabinet containing cameras.  Once you took the pictures you could email them or post them to twitter.  The place was mostly empty so we did spend a bit of time messing around with this.

Karen, pretending to be serene

Karen, pretending to be serene

Once we left we decided to walk to the main bus station.  Things didn’t go quite as planned as I got tired walking in the sun after about an hour. Thankfully Seoul is like Tokyo with a great public transport system and we were able to hop on a train.  We had plans to go and see the Cathedral and to maybe do a bit of shopping.  I wanted to stop walking for a while so we decided to try to find the shops first.  We messed up.  When we arrived at the shops we appeared to be in a hardware store district.  I have no desire to buy a new set of ladders and at least four shops had displays of these.  We gave up on shopping and starting walking again and did find the Cathedral.  We also found the shopping area that had been recommended to Marty but then so had thousands of other people.  In the end we just walked through the streets trying not to get crushed.

Busy Shopping Street, Seoul

Busy Shopping Street, Seoul


Gangnam Road

Friday, May 4th, 2012

I woke up and the road with seven lanes on one side wasn’t a dream, no matter how dream-like the view from our hotel room is.

Wide Road

Wide Road

Arriving in Seoul

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

When we moved to Tokyo we had great plans to go and visit the neighbouring countries.  Great plans, but very little action.  It’s Golden Week in Japan and instead of staying at home for the holiday we decided to escape the crowds in Tokyo to go and see the crowds in Seoul.  We didn’t know anything much about the city apart from the fact that it’s very large, close to North Korea, and contains lots of spicy food. In my head Seoul was going to look something like Tokyo, but I was wrong.

We arrived at Incheon airport, which is about 40 kilometers outside the city, late last night.  We did consider getting a bus but our plane had been delayed and it seemed easier to get a taxi.  We got a bit confused as there were a number of different types of taxis but without too much hassle we were soon on our way to the city.  Our driver had quite a bit of trouble understanding where we wanted to go but we had a map in our guide book.  We should really have had the name and address of the hotel printed out in Korean, but we’ll know for next time.

It took no time at all to see the lights of the city, probably because the taxi flew along the wide empty roads.  From the back seat I could see the speedometer.  I asked Marty if he knew what unit of measurement they used for speed – miles or kilometers.  He thankfully said kilometers as the car was moving at nearly 150 of these.  When we got to the city we slowed down to about 90. Our driver wasn’t overly concerned about speed limits as the ones I glanced at the side of the road were for much lower speeds.

I could smell the river before I saw it.  I do think that we crossed it but in the dark I couldn’t see if the bridge was anything other than long.  Gazing across the river the city appeared to be full of very tall buildings.  As well as the lights of the skyscrapers I spotted at least six large Christian crosses decorated with lights.  Coming from Northern Ireland I have certainly seen crosses but those were mostly made out of wood or stone and do not glow in the dark.  They also aren’t stuck on the roofs of what must be incredibly large churches.

As we got closer to the hotel I stopped gazing into the distance and focused on the roads as now there was a lot of traffic.  In Tokyo they have built roads in the air but here there are wide roads on the ground.  I counted seven lanes on our side of the road, four for going forward and three for turning.  I tried to count the lanes on the other side of the road but there were too many cars and I was having difficulty believing that there could be seven lanes on any side of a road.

Wide Road

Wide Road


Friday, April 27th, 2012

I have finally booked flights for my summer travel.  I start travelling next week and will be away from home for 14 out of the next 21 weeks.  I have booked 20 flights and plan to be in Seoul, Pittsburgh, Rome, Chicago, Madison, Amsterdam, Belfast, Frankfurt, London, Tallinn, and Sydney.  I’m a bit apprehensive about the amount of travel I’ll be doing, but I will get to catch up with a lot of people.  As well as a number of family events I’ll be attending YAPC::NA in Madison and YAPC::EU in Frankfurt.  I’ll also be back home in time to attend YAPC::Asia in Tokyo.  As always when I travel I will try to meet up with local Perl Mongers.

Attending and speaking at the Perl conferences is important to me but I haven’t managed to come up with an interesting talk this year.  I will be speaking about The Perl Foundation at YAPC::NA and I may do this as well at YAPC::EU.  But I had really wanted to create a lightning talk based around the number 25 as YAPC::EU will be my 25th YAPC and this year marks the 25th anniversary of Perl.  I still have time to get inspired, but I have so many Perl related things that I’m working on that I don’t know if I’ll manage to make the talk a priority.

Osaka Trip

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

We are going to Osaka this evening. It’s been nearly 10 years since we were there.  It’s also been nearly 10 years since I started this blog and I was pleased to see posts about my previous trip.  I don’t remember liking Osaka much, but I think that part of that was the dodgy hotel we stayed in.  This time was are going to stay near Universal Studios and I’ve been researching food as some do claim that Osaka is the greatest food city in the world.

I’m excited about the journey as we will be travelling on the N700.  I realise that makes me sound like a train spotter but really the train is amazing. It has a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), though I’m not sure that it reaches that speed on this journey.  But it does mean that the 500 or so kilometer trip can be done in less than 2 and half hours.

I’ll try to blog about our adventures but I may end up being offline for around a week.


Last Flight of the Year

Monday, December 19th, 2011

I’m waiting to board a flight, which is a dull way to spend an afternoon.  Given how often I do this you’d think I’d be good at it, but I keep watching the clock wishing time would move faster.  I have another couple of hours to wait in the airport before boarding a plane to wait about 11 hours for it to land in Tokyo.


Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Marty and I spent a couple of days at Ashford Castle during September. One of our planned activities was archery with “cupid in mind”. I don’t find the concept of being hit by an arrow a romantic one but thankfully the arrows flew mostly in the direction of the targets.

Archery Practice

Archery Practice

Moving Around

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I have been travelling for nearly a month and I will continue to do so until the end of September.  I have not found a good way to be online when away from home.  So I neglect Twitter, Facebook, and G+.  I stop reading blogs, and I find no time to write blog posts.  My inbox overflows with important email that isn’t urgent.  I connect to the Internet in bursts that leave me feeling like I’m never achieved enough.  I did want to write more, but I need to check out of this hotel room in 30 minutes.