17:14 Sun.
2 Dec, 2018

Petting a moose!!! :D

Stockholm , Sweden
6 °C
Cloudy
8:20 am
2:54 pm

I have seen Jean and Maggie a couple of times during the conference already, but when the conference ended it was time to move from the city center to their apartment, just on the opposite side of the conference complex. It was great seeing them again after 2 years. Time flies by so fast, the last time we saw each other was when they visited us in Slovenia.

I started my first day of vacation with Jean showing me his workplace – he works at King (The Candy Crush developers). I must say I haven’t seen such a great offices anywhere. Everything was decorated with motives from Candy Crush game, they had arcades, trampolines, pool and foosball tables, about 50 micro ways, free drinks and on and on, they even had a zen garden and rooms with beds, where you could take a short siesta. It really looked like a joy to work there, I’m wondering how they can do any work done.

After the tour of his office, we went to visit a friend of his, where we had a BBQ at the top of the roof of 15 story building. The views were nice, the sun was setting, and the food was great. It just so happens that his friend is from Croatia, so it was lots of fun teasing him (and his Croatian friends that were there) about losing the finals a week before.

View from rooftops in Stockholm
View from rooftops in Stockholm

One day we rented a car and drove about 200 km out of the Stockholm, it was interesting seeing this part of the Sweden, again lots of forests, lakes but the vegetation was different from the north. There was also a farm here or there. Our destination of the day was moose farm/safari. We were able to see the moose from close, even pet them a bit, it was so much fun. They are such a funny animal, very high and big on four tiny legs. Their fur was really fatty/sweaty, hard to describe, supposedly they excrete something that helps them stay cool/fend of mosquitoes or something during the summer. There were also some baby moose running around happily, such a joy to watch.

Petting a moose.
I was so happy I got a chance to pet it a bit. Was on my wish list since before coming to Luleå all those years ago.
Moose
Moose
Baby moose
Baby moose

After the moose farm we also visited a nice castle/villa near a lake. It is especially known by having lots of traditional Swedish deserts. I tried several cakes and after we were full we slowly returned home to Stockholm.

Taxinge castle, just beside a lake with very very good deserts.
Taxinge castle, just beside a lake with very very good deserts.

It was fun hanging out with Jean and Maggie, we visited different parts of Stockholm, tried tons of different restaurants and also cooked some interesting dishes at home. We also visited an “old school” arcade, full of Japanese arcades, supposedly they are still popular there.

Arcade in Stockholm
Arcade in Stockholm

One day Jean and I went to the outskirts of Stockholm and rented a canoe. It was supper fun paddling along the small islands in Stockholm’s archipelago and looking at big villas at the water’s edge. It was really serene and calm, a place to relax and talk. Will have to look if anything similar is possible here in Slovenia.

I was also very happy to try Japanese food again, another restaurant that I found really fun was an Italian restaurant, where kitchen was open, so you could watch how they made your food. Supposedly couple of months ago it was even more open, as you directly told the chef what you want, and he made it right in front of you, but it was supposedly too stressful for them, so they change it, nonetheless the food was great. As usually, when I’m with Jean I also tried something weird, this time it was some weird tea with milk and weird balls of soy or something inside – really disgusting stuff.

All in all the days flew by in an eye blink. It was really fun hanging out with them and visiting the city. The Stockholm during the summer is totally different experience than visiting in the winter, while the winter version is fun to experience, I would definitely recommend coming in summer as there is so much more you can do and see.

Soon it was time to say goodbye, we went for one last lunch at a pizzeria nearby. Its fascinating how Swedes (or rather people owning pizzerias up there – they are not native swedes in general) have absolutely no idea how pizza should look like. They always put a lot of some weird ingredients on it, the pizzas are usually very large and taste mediocre at best.

Pizza in Sweden. Suprisingly they are not expensive, about 10€ if I remember correctly, which is cheap for Sweden.
Pizza in Sweden. Surprisingly they are not expensive, about 10€ if I remember correctly, which is cheap for Sweden.
11:42 Sun.
2 Dec, 2018

This time during summer!

Stockholm , Sweden
3 °C
Mostly Cloudy
8:20 am
2:54 pm

The reception event for the conference happened on Sunday at the Stockholm’s Skansen ZOO. The last time I was here we also visited the zoo, but it was during the winter, when half of the animals were hibernating or sleeping, or were not seen since it was dark at 3pm already. This time we had all the zoo for ourselves, since the event started just after the zoo closed, at around 5 pm.

Moose
Moose

The weekend, we visited, was also the weekend of the finals of the football world cup and on the sunday France was playing against Croatia right around this time. I’m saying this because when we came to the event, we were the only Europeans there, everyone else were in a bar or somewhere where they were streaming world cup. Speaking of streaming, it was weird, in whole Stockholm, we couldn’t find a big TV/Screen in the open, where they would stream the cup, this is especially weird, since Sweden did quite well at the cup. I’m confident that even Slovenia, that did not qualify for the cup, had more screens in the open than Sweden. So in the end, Vito and I ended up watching the final game on the phone (thank god for roaming in EU), surrounded by hundreds Asians, looking weirdly why two guys were screaming at the phone.

Wolverin, if anyone else wonders, the movie character from X-men got a name from him, and not the other way around, as my coworker would hav eme believe :O
Wolverine, if anyone else wonders, the movie character from X-men got a name from him, and not the other way around, as my coworker would have me believe :O

After the game finished, we had free time to go around the ZOO. The sun slowly began to set, even in Stockholm, days were much longer than in Slovenia at that time, sunset was around 9.30pm. The animals were playful and active during this time, and it was a wonderful experience, much better than my last visit during the winter.

When the sun finally went down, most of the animals went to sleep. I found an elk that was particularly interesting at that time, the sun was setting and it highlighted his puffy hair over his antlers, it looked like his outline was shining.

Shining elk.
Shining elk.

 

16:57 Thu.
22 Nov, 2018

It's been long 5 years.

Stockholm , Sweden
-1 °C
Sunny
7:59 am
12:00 am
stockholm
Stockholm

It’s been a long five years since I left Sweden. A lot has happened in the meantime, I have visited 3/4 of countries in Europe, been in Australia, Hong Kong and USA, some of it as business trips to different conferences or meetings. It just so happend that this year the biggest conference for AI was happening in Stocholm, it was a no brainer, I had to go. I have planned my trip so I had about 8 work days in Stocholm at the beginning then 4 days with Jean and about a week in Luleå.

We flew from Ljubljana over Copenhagen to Stockholm. We arrived in early afternoon and quickly took the fast train to the city. The train is I believe quite new, and much faster than the one I  took to Luleå all those years ago, somewhere at the midpoint the train slowed down a bit, probably waiting for another train to pass, and my coworker complained why are we going slower than Slovenian trains, after checking the actuall speed,  the train was still going 180km/h.

Trains in Sweden
Trains in Sweden

We soon reached our hotel, it was located in the city center, on the same square as the cinema, from where I watched Hobbit last time I was here. The hotel was nice, with view over the square, the whole hotel was themed like an movie stodio, with losts of props from movie sets in early 20th centruy.

Hotel in Stockholm
Hotel in Stockholm

The first thing we did, after checking in was fiding some food. As it usually turns out in foreign countries the easiest thing to find is usually a fast food joint on a nearby corner. Since we were in Sweden, we decided to go into a Max – a Swedish version of McDonalds, although much better. It was interesting to find that you did all your orders through machine, got a number and when your number was up you could go pick it up.

Placing an order over a machine.
Placing an order over a machine.

First couple of days were very intense workwise, I had one presentation the next day early morning and another in two days. Despite the work I still managed to walk around the city a bit, find my favourit food in Sweden and do some basic sight seeing.

My favourit desert from sweden. Now that I'm googling it it might have originated in Denmark.
My favourit desert from sweden. Now that I’m googling it it might have originated in Denmark.

The last time I was here in Stocholm it was early January, the days were extremely short, there was snow, cold and fog. During the summer it was completely different city, we were just so (un)lucky to go there during one of the biggest heat waves in Sweden’s history. The skys were clear, the sun was shining 18 hours per day and the heat, the heat was unbearable. Since usually Stocholm only has couple of hot days (about a week) per year, almost nothing has AC. The worst was using metro, it must have been over 40 degrees inside, and to top it off they were always crowded. Another thing I noticed severly different than from my memories were amount of people on the streets. The streets were crouded, there were really a lot of tourists in the city and you could spot them a mile away.

The conference was in a big convention center to the south of the city center. It should be an easy place to reach, just hope on the metro infront of our hotel and jump off infront of the convention center. However, commicaly, the escelator broke (so it turned into the stairs?) on the main train station and because of this almost all lines had some problems, ours for example didn’t run. So instead of 20 min of no-transfer travel, we had to ride 2 trains, walk 20minutes to change train somwehre in between and all this in 35C. To ease the transfer, we took a taxi couple of times, when we had lectures really early in the morning, the taxi fare was about 50€ for 15min drive.

Somewhere between those train transfers I found a company from Slovenia. :)
Somewhere between those train transfers I found a company from Slovenia. 🙂

Despite all, the conference was interesting, but what was more interesting were the events that accompany it. We had a welcom event at the Skansen ZOO, then reception at the city council, dinner at Vasa museum and another dinner at University of Stocholm.

After one week the conference was over and it was time to move to Jean’s appartement. He was located just beside the conference venue, so I was able to visit him few times already.

After failing terribly at playing Angry birds, scoring lower than a computer. But nontheless the conference was sucesfully finished.
My coworker after failing terribly at playing Angry birds, scoring lower than a computer. But nontheless the conference was sucesfully finished.

 

15:00 Sat.
1 Sep, 2018

Dolphin Watching

Arguineguin , Spain
22 °C
Sunny
7:35 am
8:36 pm

The last two days we spent relaxing near our hotel, swimming, reading a book on the beach.  Not to waist the whole day just lying on the beach we decided to go on a short trip with a boat to try and find dolphins that usually swim nearby. Surprisingly enough after about 45 minutes of riding the waves we actually came to a group (school?) of dolphins. They were jumping out of the water and swimming around the ship. As per usual, I managed to miss all the good shots. They are surprisingly large up and close.

And the main thing … well you can’t say you’ve been in Africa if you haven’t ridden a camel – sort of.

Camel
Camel

On the last day, the sky was super clear so we again decided we should go and try to hike on the Roque Nuble. We took a different route now (with a car), it was suppose to be a bit faster. On the way there, we drove through some amazing valleys, they reminded me of Grand Canyon.

Reminds me of Grand Canyon.
Reminds me of Grand Canyon.

And somewhere along the way we found a big sign that sad camel safari. It didn’t take us long to decide to check it out. We found out you can actually ride the camels there for about 20€ / person. Well you don’t get this chance every day so it wasn’t long we were sited high on the camels, slowly swinging as they walked. Sadly they had these big ugly green saddles on the camels, so we weren’t sitting directly on them, but it was a fun hike anyway.

After the ride we finally realized we were in Africa, despite being April it was so incredibly hot on the sun, and despite using 50 sun sunscreen, you could actually see the “sleeves” later in the evening, the total camel hike lasted about an hour. The place also had some other animals there and a banana palm. Don’t think I ever saw one before, it actually had some bananas on it.

Banana tree
Banana tree

On our way to the top we stopped at a gas station. I’m mentioning this because the woman working there actually filled the car for us, I don’t remember when this last happened in Slovenia, must have been at least 20 years ago. Anyway this time we reached the top of the island and luckily there were no clouds to be seen anywhere. The views were really amazing.

Views from the center of island
Views from the center of island

In the evening we returned to Maspalomas, we had an early flight at 5 am or something, so we didn’t rent a hotel for the last night. Instead we went to a nice restaurant at the edge of the dessert to have another paella and then played about 30 games of briskula late into the night until it was time to actually go back.

All in all it was a very fun trip although a bit short. We did a lot of exploring and I will never forget the first hike to the rock in that fog and rain. Hopefully we will visit Canary Islands again soon, this time some other island. By the looks of it Tenerife island is even better.

15:00 Sat.
25 Aug, 2018

Around the island again

Maspalomas , Spain
23 °C
Sunny
7:35 am
8:36 pm

After a rainy Sunday it was only natural to go someplace that is know for a lack of rain – the desert. It just so happens there is a small desert in the south of the island. I’m not really sure if it really is a desert, but it sure looks like it. Large sand dunes stretch couple of kilometers around at the seaside in the south.

Mespalomes dunes
Mespalomes dunes

The town of Maspalomas is the most touristic area of the island, full of bars, hotels and restaurants. After the dunes we hiked  around the town before going back to our apartments. For most of the time we cooked for ourselves, I think in total we ate outside 3 times, and all three times it was paella time.

Paella
Paella

Sadly it wasn’t as good as the one Veronika and I had in Valencia couple of years ago.

On Tuesday we went to visit the main city on the island Les Palmas, the city is located on the far north of the island. It is quite large, almost 400.000 inhabitants, so larger than Ljubljana. We visited couple of stores and hiked alongside the main beach. Aside from few interesting shops there wasn’t much to do here and we were happy we picked south of the island for our vacation.

In the afternoon, instead of taking the highway and going down the same way we came up, we decided to go around the island. Again, the roads quickly became narrow, cutting into the edges of cliffs high above the sea.  The views were amazing though.

We stopped at a couple of places along the way. At the most west part of the island there was a iconic traditional colored lighthouse.

The westernmost point of Gran Canaria.
The westernmost point of Gran Canaria.

It took us half a day to get back home again. Along the way, from time to time, we saw this funny traffic sign, alerting drivers about donkey-cow, sadly we did not see any live specimen of the animal depicted.

Traffic sign.
Traffic sign.
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