17:14 Sun.
2 Dec, 2018

Petting a moose!!! :D

Stockholm , Sweden
6 °C
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.
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.
23:57 Sat.
7 Dec, 2013

Living the good life

Day 121 , 26 remain
Lulea , Sweden
-16 °C
9:15 am
1:35 pm

Ok, so this week I was helping at International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM), here at LTU.

So what exactly was I doing? Well first two days I was mainly at the reception helping with registration of newly arrives and showing them around. I was also allowed to go to listen to whichever presentation I wanted and of course all the food and drinks were free for us.

I’ve managed to listen to keynote presentation by Google and I think it was really good. He showed some nice applications we’ll be able to see in near future and of course didn’t forget to show us all the new Google toys aka Nexus 5, Google glasses etc…

For each day of conference we got a coupons that covered all expenses in central restaurant, for lunch. Almost all volunteers (students) were finally able to try the most expensive dish from the menu, with all the extra drinks and stuff (which normally costs around 10€). I think this was the first time since I came here in Lulea that I had pork and some other kinds of meat. Usually I only eat fish or chicken since other kinds cost more than 30€/ kg (and you can’t buy less than 1kg).

Here in Sweden they have a tradition of having so called “Fika” every few hours. Hm how could I explain this? It’s something similar to English Tea (time) though it can happen any time of the day. So every 1.5h of conference we got Fika, which included cakes, drinks, sandwiches, cookies, etc…

So despite being volunteer and not getting paid, I saved around 100€ in this week on food and drinks alone (since I didn’t eat/buy anything at home), and probably gained few kg (of winter isolation 😀 ).

We also got invited to welcoming event in 4* hotel downtown. Needless to say it was awesome.

Overall it was really great experience and I’m happy I’ve been given an opportunity to be involved. I’ve been able to listen to some very good presentations, meet and talked with a lot of new people including presenters. And lastly if I’m not mistaken we are going to get recommendation letter from professor next week. All in all it was great!

Me listening to Google's presentation. Photo by: Benjamin Planche
Me listening to Google’s presentation. Photo by: Benjamin Planche
00:29 Sun.
22 Sep, 2013

The "long" night ahead

Day 45 , 102 remain
Lulea , Sweden
11 °C
Partly Cloudy
6:08 am
6:36 pm

This week was very intensive in regards to school work. I couldn’t have waited for the weekend to come. Yesterday I slept for almost 12 hours, compensation for work until 2AM during week.

Yesterday evening (Saturday) we had a dinner with friends. We had 4 main dishes, French, Spanish and two Chinese as each one prepared dish from his country. I think Slovenian cuisine will be on the menu in two weeks although I still don’t know what I should cook. I’ll be very happy and thankful for any suggestions you can give me on what is a good Slovenian dish. 🙂 Anyway the food was really good and it was fun to taste what people in the other countries eat.

Here is Spanish dish. It’s fried potatoes with eggs. It looks like and is prepared somewhat similar to pancakes, but tastes nothing alike.

Mikel made us spanish pancake, well it's fried eggs and potatoes. :)
Mikel made us spanish pancake, well it’s fried eggs and potatoes mixed together. 🙂
French dish made by Jean, contains potatoes, cheese ham and lots of fat. :D
French dish made by Jean, contains potatoes, cheese ham and lots of fat. 😀
Chinese rice by Lin, made with rice and sea fruits.
Chinese rice by Lin, made with rice and sea fruits.
Spicy as hell Chinese broth made by Allen and Leff
Spicy as hell Chinese broth made by Allen and Leff
Chicken leg from the broth
Chicken leg from the broth

All together (except chicken which took longest to cook). (We didn’t burned the table, if someone is wondering)

Needles to say we were full as a drum (old Slovenian saying :))
Needles to say we were full as a drum (old Slovenian saying :))

Since I’m talking about food a fun fact … I bought some salad in local market few days ago. The salad was in some kind of bag (like bag for bread), you could only see the top of it (salad), so you knew it was a salad. The surprise came when I was at home and took salad out of the bag. It actually came with a pot. I’m not sure why is this, are you supposed to grow your own salad from now on, or is it just to keep it fresh a bit longer? Anyway just to make sure, I have a pot on the window, maybe I’ll grow some salad from now on, who knows. 🙂

Cultivating my salad
Cultivating my salad

September Equinox

Today (Sunday) is autumn equinox. This means that the day will be of equal length as night. Until now I had longer days than Slovenia (or majority of world for what it’s worth). From now on, days will continue to get shorter and shorter until only 2 hours of daylight in late December. Although I’m fond of seeing how it is to live only by artificial light, I’m starting to regret my decision of departure in first semester. I think it would be better if I went after New Year’s. If that were true I would arrive when the days are short and leave in June when there is daylight all day long.