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I have unlocked the entry about the Science fiction WorldCon in Helsinki earlier this month, and made a (backdated) posting about the few additional days I spent in Helsinki.
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After the WorldCon ended, and a lazy Sunday evening, I had three more days to spend in Helsinki, go sightseeing and eat cake.

Monday: Suomenlinna )

Tuesday: Seurasaari Open Air Museum )

Wednesday: This and that )

Travel and food )

Thursday: Homeward bound )

All in all )

I'm now planning the next vacation, probably going hiking in October. Something simple.
And in December, the new train route to Berlin will be ready (one very much hopes!) and delays and weirdness will be a thing of the past. (And everyone will get a pony!)
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I'm trying not to make this the Post That Ate The World.
(Note: I'm referring to the program items as I have them in my notes. Which is the keywords that made sense to me, not necessarily the title.)

Getting there... )

The rest of Tuesday )

Wednesday )

Thursday )

Friday )

Saturday )

Sunday )

The Rest of Sunday )

And that's it, so far.
I am sure that I mixed up *something* in this summary.
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Last time I was on a business trip in Kosice, I wished that I could go there some time when it was warm. I got my wish. )

(Posted Aug 30th, backdated.)
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Thursday to Sunday of last week (June 7th to 10th), the choir I sing in was at the 2012 Choir Festival in Frankfurt. That was fun.

Getting there )
Arriving )
Music )
Evening )

More to come...
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I didn't pick up the co-worker from the airport, because he had ordered a taxi, and I wasn't too unhappy about it, because it was cold outside and I was in my hotel room, eating pastries and writing.

The following week, the weather became very nice. Work slogged along OK. Wednesday evening we went into town, into a pub with a basement that turned into a disco at 10 pm. Before it had been quite comfy and I had just stopped it with the beer and started with the whisky when the noise began and put an end to all talk, because it is hard enough to carry on a conversation when you do not really know each other and have to talk in English (which half of the party is not very fluent in), even without having to lip-read.

I left around half past eleven and walked home because it seemed completely silly to take a taxi, and it was mild and windy outside. I like windy. I hadn't felt completely safe inside that place, not being able to understand the language always makes me feel very insecure, and it spreads to my whole mood. Outside I felt fine.

The story is now missing only its final chapter, which will tie up the lose ends and set up everyone for the next instalment. I also started picking up some stories from another cycle and tried to decide how finished they were and what else they needed.

I read "Through the Language Glass" by Guy Deutscher, which R___ had given me for my birthday, and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", which I liked, and started on "For the Win" by Cory Doctorow, ate pastries with plum jam, and was, all in all, extremely happy with the week.

Friday afternoon, the co-worker had to go catch his plane again, while my train would not leave until 10 in the evening. We went for dinner in a kind of posh place, where I had duck breast (very good) and potato-chestnut-puree (heavenly), and some Czech beer, and then we went to the train station. My bag weighed a ton and I was quite content to let the men carry it.

I got a sleeper compartment to myself again, wasn't tired yet, and spent two hours listening to music and looking out of the window. The sky was full of stars, and close to midnight we were driving through snow-covered mountains. Finally I nodded off. This time, I had switches off my cell phones, and the only thing that disturbed me sleep was that it was a little too well-heated in the compartment, and I could not turn it off.

In the morning, the conductor brought coffee and then we were in Prague.

Prague is so close. One forgets, or one has never learned. In my mind, there is still the shadow of the Iron Curtain, blocking the way. But we passed the old border checkpoints without even slowing down, and at half past 12 I was home.

I am very glad I had that weekend. It would have been very unsatisfactory being abroad and not seeing anything but the hotel, work, and the bus to take me there. My boss said that I had been very frugal, and next time we should see if I couldn't travel first class. I don't mind being frugal, but I don't mind first class, either. And I wouldn't mind at all to go to Kosice again, but if I don't have to go there for business it's maybe a little far. Though R___ might be interested. Prague, Bratislava, some hiking in the mountains, Kosice, and the night train back? Sounds like a plan.

At home, everything was fine. There was a heap of junk mail but no bills. I did a lot of laundry, overslept on Sunday and so spend the day at home instead of hiking in the hills -- fooled by the weather forecast, the rain didn't start until late afternoon.

And now I have a lot of reports to write, not least of them my expense report. Oh, joy. :-S

Now that I am home again, I am going to un-lock the previous posts, here and here.
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As I had hoped, we left work halfway early on Friday, so I could wander through the town in daylight and admire the multicoloured roof of the cathedral in the evening sun, and the painted houses and palaces, have coffee and buy some cake for dinner.

I have given up on attempting to eat "reasonably", and now eat for high stress, meaning, as much chocolate and pastries as I need to be at full mental and emotional strength. This has led to three long evenings of writing, in which I have finally ironed out a tricky problem in timing and emotional development in the story I am currently working on )

Saturday the hotel was really empty, because all the business travellers had gone home. The breakfast buffet was limited to cereals, bread and jam, but one could order different preparations of eggs from a menu.

I was in town too early. According to notes posted, most of the places open at 9, but actually it's more like ten. I got to see the cathedral from the inside -- it impresses mostly but its size, light (the sun was shining brightly) and gothicness. An hour later the guide's office was open and I got a ticket to climb up the North Tower, which is 59 metres high, 160 steep, very narrow, and occasionally unlit steps, but these things have never stopped me. The view was more than worth it. I bought a few pretty things, just because, had cake and coffee and heavenly ice-cream, and went back to the hotel some time in between to change from coat and sweater into T-Shirt and hoodie, as the sun was shining with considerable strength. I also wrote a bunch of post cards and used my five words of Slovak (yes, no, good morning, please, thank you). I was back at the hotel around three, washed my hair, ate chocolates and read The Black Swan )

Sunday (today) I went to the zoo, just as planned. Zoos are simple outings, no complicated planning or navigation involved, and little to no language skills, and that was exactly what I needed. Unfortunately, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, there was sleet when I walked to the bus station. The zoo is 7 km from the town, up in the hills, and the sleet turned to snow. I envied the alpacas and the bears. A lot.

The good thing about the weather was that the place was, except for the animals, pretty quiet. Two red deer were fighting with noises like dry twigs beating together. The harbour seals grunted and snored when they came up for breath. The parrots spoke Slovak. There was a wood stove burning in the zoo restaurant, and I had chicken soup which did a lot to warm me up. All in all I spent about four hours in the zoo, despite the cold and the paths being short for the size of the place.

Back in town, I had a hot chocolate which was good enough to lift me off my seat, and then went back to the hotel to cuddle up under a blanket and read "Through the Language Glass", which is a lot more fun then "The Black Swan". I might write a review later, when I have finished it.

This evening I had planned to have dinner in the hotel restaurant, as the menu sounds utterly mouth-watering. But it was not open. Seems that the cook has the weekend off, sigh.
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I've been in Kosice (in Slovakia) for a few days now on a business trip, goal is to create a twin of the system we are running in the office at home, and get it running. Which is a slogging, two-steps-forward-one-step-back task, not like that "being thrown in headfirst trying to make sense of stuff" that I had in the US. This time, it's the local team who are thrown headfirst into the deep end, after running only a quiet outpost in the shallows for some years.

The work is OK, though I wish the sun wouldn't set so soon (not even Spring equinox yet, plus, being about 10 degrees to the east, sunrise and sunset come about 40 minutes earlier than at home), or I could manage to leave work before 6 p.m. some day. Maybe tomorrow. And even if not, the weekend is upcoming, and I fervently hope that the local guys are less enthusiastic about working on the weekends than my co-workers in California were.

The guys are a little over-protective, which, together with the work, and not knowing the language, is very exhausting. A bus ride and a walk do wonders to clear my brain, being given a ride in a car, not so much. Also it means that I have very little opportunity to use even the half-dozen words of Slovak that I try to memorise.

The weather is cold but sunny. Even the day I woke up to find new snow had fallen was sunny. I'm glad I checked the weather forecast and brought my winter clothes, though! The city is a little broken down around the edges, with big holes in the street and some large modern ruins standing around, there is some shabbiness and broken backyards, but the streets are clean enough for Switzerland, and the old city centre is quite shiny (as far as it can be determined in the dark). There are a lot of German chain stores in the shopping malls, which feels very strange.

My hotel is about 3 km from my place of work, which makes for an 11-minute-bus ride. I leave the hotel at 8 and sit at my desk at twenty past.

But I am tired. I have slept four nights here, and two of them I was in bed around eight and slept straight for 11 hours. The only night I didn't was when the co-workers took me to a pub, and, well this night, so far. I feel that language takes a big part in this. It exhausts my brain, and makes going into the city after work a task, so I don't and let after-work-exhaustion crash me instead of overcoming it with a walk and a cup of tea or some hanging out in bookstores.

Getting here was quite a journey. We were joking at work that it would be faster to travel to India. There is no direct train, no direct flight. If you do not want to fly, you take the fast bus to Prague (a little under four hours), and then a night train, which leaves in Prague shortly before 10 p.m. and arrives in Kosice at half past seven in the morning. A place in a sleeper car is affordable and quite comfortable, and I would have slept well if my damned cell phones hadn't rung every two hours to inform me that I was now entering a different network. Czech, Polish, Slovak, Hungarian, and Slovak again, wtf? Next time I'll switch them off.

I was picked up at the station by a co-worker and driven to the hotel. It's a nice hotel. I have one of the three-star "economy" rooms, which is large by a little sparsely furnished, and as it is on the upper floor, the windows go to the sky. Also, no comfy chair. But it is clean and non-smelly, the staff are very friendly, the heating is efficient, and there is sufficient hot water in the shower. The one thing I sorely miss is an electric kettle.

For Saturday, I plan sightseeing and some shopping, and eat some cake. Sunday, I'll really need to stretch my legs and rest my brain. Current plan is to go to the zoo. After that, have dinner in my hotel's posh restaurant, and at 11 p.m., maybe take a taxi to the airport to pick up a co-worker from home who has to set up another part of the system. Or maybe the guy can manage on his own. But picking him up would give me another excuse to be out on my own and make me feel competent. We'll see.

Meanwhile, Snow is looking after the cats, and she tells me that they are very concerned about the state of things, and very cute while they are at it.
lyorn: (wild roses)
One month ago in the bright spring sunshine I stood on a hilltop between strange art installations, looked at the surrounding hills, found on the highest and furthest away of them and said, "I want to go there".

Last weekend I did. Read more... )

Note: I'm backdating this because it took a while to write.
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I've had two weeks something of vacation, and went to the sea with [ profile] flederkatz. Came back last Thursday.

The long version )
Interlude: Movie review -- Ridley Scott's Robin Hood )

The rest of my vacation I spent doing the washing and, surprise, surprise, wasting too much time on the internet. But at least I wrote a story, which is with the betas at the moment. It's based on a true occurrence.... kind of.

ETA: Story is done.
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It's been more than one month since I came home, high time that I finish this.
Edited because everything I write in the small hours of morning needs editing.

Part 1
Part 2

The invisible ferret )
Not visiting flederkatz )

Books I read while travelling

...This was mostly what I could get from charity shops or pick up in some B&B.

Len Deighton: Funeral in Berlin (1964) )
Len Deighton: The Ipcress File (1962) )
John Grisham: A Painted House (2001) )
Richard Bachmann (Stephen King): The Long Walk (1979) )
Bernard Cornwell: Vagabond (2002) )
Charles Stross: The Family Trade (2004) )
Bill Bryson: The Lost Continent - Travels in Small Town America (1989) )
Ben Goldacre: Bad Science (2008) )

And that's it.
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This is about four times as long as I feel it should be.

Part 1

Second week: Porthleven to St Ives )
Third Week I: St Ives )
Third Week II: Cardiff )
Going home )

Part 3
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I have considered transcribing my travel diary into entries for the right dates, but unfortunately I do not have another four weeks of vacation (if I had, I'd still be travelling) and it's not that interesting to anyone else anyway, I guess.

Short summary:
- What I did: Hiking on the South West Cost Path in Cornwall for two weeks, and then being fangirly for a few days in Cardiff.
- Fun? Yes
- Other: Need to do that more often.

Longer Version
This is me being a wuss )
Getting there )
First week: Falmouth to Porthleven )

Part 2
Part 3


May. 20th, 2009 09:47 pm
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Arrived home at 1 pm this night. I'm now moving a couple of holiday posts from "friends" to "public", and start writing a more detailed entry or ten.
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Am in Cardiff. Will be home around midnight tomorrow. Flight arrives IIRC at 23:15 from Stanstead.
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Sitting in the same internet cafe in Penzance, but this time I came here by bus over from Pendeen. I guess I'm done with walking for now, especially as it started to drizzle. But I had a few more fun days and one brilliant one since the last posting (and one moment of far too much adrenaline, climbing some rocks and then, like a cat on a tree, having a very hard time of getting down again).
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Things are going kind of well. Weather is fine. I started out from Falmouth, made it around the Lizard peninsula and a little further and am now in Penzance. The old travel camera that I have discovered in one of my boxes is not working properly, so, no pictures for you. :-(

Mood would be better if Penzance station or tourist info had a left luggage office, or if I had a plan where I'd stay this night. Usually it's not a problem, but with today being Saturday and sunny, everything's a little busy.
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7 kilograms for the rucksack, two for the handbag (which has the books). I rule!

...of course, as long as I have my tickets, my wallet and my contact lenses, everything else can be bought, improvised or done without. But I expect I won't have to.
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This is going to be too heavy.

Why does one need all that stuff? It's, "yes, spare clothes. Not that much. Oh, spare shoes. And stuff for washing, and a towel... and a diary... paperwork... mobile phone... rain jacket... camera... When did it get such a heap???"


Apr. 21st, 2009 05:06 pm
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Booked my flight! Looked up a train connection! Now all that's missing is the train ticket and an mp3 player and I'm all ready to go.

Has anyone on my tiny friends list tips, hints, warnings or helpful advice for going hiking in Cornwall? Should I take the (heavy, non-digital, but quite good) camera?


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March 2019



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