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.
20:00 Sun.
6 Aug, 2017

Jean and Maggie visit bled

Bled , Slovenia
25 °C
Partly Cloudy
5:43 am
8:36 pm

When foreign looks up what to visit in Slovenia there is one destination everyone agrees is a must see, I’m talking about Bled. We saved a nice whole day trip for Friday, where we left Ljubljana, visit Bled, go through Karnsja Gora, over Vršič and back to Nova Gorica.

Lake Bled with an island in the middle.
Lake Bled with an island in the middle.

We rented a rowboat at Bled in order to visit the small island in the middle. Since Jean is the most experienced sailor among us it was only natural that he would be the one rowing for next two hours. 🙂

We soon reached the central island and despite being April it was crowded with tourist. To be fair it was a gorgeous day, warm and sunny, somehow I managed to get sunburned in April.

The island is small with a small church on it, not much to do really. We took some photos, fed a swan and went rowing around the lake again.

Me trying to pet a swan at lake Bled.
Me trying to pet a swan at lake Bled.

After it we climbed up to the castle above the lake to visit museum and for great vistas.

Veronika, I, Maggie and Jean at Bled castle.
Veronika, I, Maggie and Jean at Bled castle.

Before we left Bled we went for a Kremšnita, sadly everyone thought it was better than the monstrosity I made in Luleå. After Bled we went to Kranjska Gora to visit Planica. We climbed on top and wow I forgot how high it is. When you’re at the top you can barely see the cars parked at the bottom.  I think you can also do zip lining now that’s why there is a cable in the middle.

Top of a ski jump in Planica. About 250m away from the landing strip.
Top of a ski jump in Planica. About 250m away from the landing strip.

After Planica we departed toward Nova Gorica over the highest pass in Slovenia – Vršič, where there was still snow around, despite being almost 20 degrees in the valleys below.

Mounting Alpine ibex.
Mounting Alpine ibex.

When we arrived in Nova Gorica we got a chance to eat my grandma’s minestrone soup and for desert we had pancakes from Kekec. Next day (saturday) was the last day in Slovenia. We went to visit casino in Perla and go see Miramare Castle near Trieste.

We were pretty lucky with the weather in general it was much warmer that is usual for April, well until the last day that is.  On Sunday we departed early in order to visit Venice before Jean and Maggie left. The visit was not the best one, it was pouring rain as we were walking around Venice and despite bad weather there were still tons of people around. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the city but rather retired to the coffee shop near the airport where we waited for their flight.

It was very nice hosting Jean and Maggie here in Slovenia and I hope they liked it here as well. Don’t know where our next meeting will take place but by now,  it has become almost a tradition to see each other every few years. 🙂

20:00 Thu.
3 Aug, 2017

Visit Slovenia for the first time

Ljubljana , Slovenia
25 °C
5:41 am
8:35 pm

Last year toward the end of April, Maggie and Jean finally visited Slovenia. We met with them in the evening at Venice airport and just after an hour and half we were in Slovenia. We went to one of my favourite restaurants OK Corral near Nova Gorica, and Jean and Maggie had a chance to try some Balkan food like čevapčiči and pleskavica.

Next day we went to visit one of the most well known tourist attraction  in Slovenia Postojna’s cave and Predjama castle. If I remember correctly driving in a train through a cave was a first time for them :).

Jean, Maggie and me in front of Predjama castle.
Jean, Maggie and me in front of Predjama castle.
Stalagmites in Postojna's cave
Stalagmites in Postojna’s cave

After it we took the local roads back to Ljubljana in order to see some of Slovenian landscape. Next day we had a seaside to visit. The weather wasn’t the best possible as Jean and Maggie got a chance to experience burja, despite a bit of chill Jean decided to go for a swim. Since this was April, and it was only about 15 degrees he was the only person Swimming at that time, needles to say passers-by were looking at him quite interestingly.

Slovenian seaside.
Slovenian seaside.
Jean swimming in April
Jean swimming in April

Next day Jean and Maggie had a chance to explore the Ljubljana on their-own. In the evening we went to Brazilian restaurant near our apartment. We had a chance to try around 13 courses of meat dishes, it was very good experience, despite not being Slovenian. In the evening we walked through the city center and ended up in Nebotičnik bar with a great view of Ljubljana.

On Thursday we went to Ptuj, to see kurent and to eat some gigantic donuts in Trojane.

20:41 Mon.
1 Jun, 2015

First Impressions

Hong Kong , China
29 °C
Light Rain Shower
5:38 am
7:04 pm

Ok, let’s finally do this. After long, long flight(s) we have finally arrived to Hong Kong airport, at around 2pm on Saturday. After getting through immigration, Jean and Maggie were already waiting for us at the entrance of the airport. It was good, surreal to see them after so long.

Stepping on China's soil
Stepping on China’s soil

After quick chat we went to grab something to eat, to the Japanese restaurant at the airport, which happened to be one of the best meals I had there, I had ramen.

Boarding ferry - it's the only way to get to Jean's island.
Boarding ferry – it’s the only way to get to Jean’s island.

After lunch we took a bus (and another bus and a boat) to get to their island. On the road there we could already see tall buildings, around 30 floors, steep hills, just beside them, tropical vegetation everywhere, but no sight of Hong Kong. As I learned later, the area of the city is much larger than I thought, it’s around as big as “primorska” region in Slovenia.

View of the city - from the monkeys area.
View of the city – from the monkeys area.

After about an hour and half, we have arrived to the island Peng Chau where Jean and Maggie live. Somehow we still weren’t tired (that much) so we decided to go for a walk around the island. And there, at the top of the island we finally saw our first glimpses of the main city.

After good night sleep, we slept for probably 14hours, we decided to go and see the local wildlife (i.e. monkeys) in the suburbs of the city. After taking ferry, subway and a bus we have finally arrived to the location of the monkeys. The first thing we noticed after getting of the bus was heat, and really high humidity … subtropical climate. 10m from the bus stop we already saw first monkeys and a lot of signs that said you mustn’t feed them, look them in the eyes and much more. Despite them being small and not looking to dangerous, we ran on quite few occasions, when they tried to attack us or steal something from us. One even blocked our path and didn’t allow us to go further, always running angrily toward us when we tried to go by, I’m not sure what provoked it, maybe it was my shirt colour.

Monkeys are roaming one area harassing visitors and stealing food from their backpacks.
Monkeys are roaming one area harassing visitors and stealing food from their backpacks.
He wasn't to happy seeing us walking over the bridge. :)
He wasn’t to happy seeing us walking over the bridge. 🙂

We decided to go for a walk around park, the path led us through some dense forest areas, around water reservoirs. It was a nice walk, all vegetation looked much different then what we are used to see in Europe, and the noises from the birds and animals were more tropical. =) After about an hour of walking we arrived to a big dam, where we saw monkeys again. They tend to live close to humans, because they are used to get food from them (even though it is forbidden to feed them), sometimes they even steals food from your bags. They are really smart, strong and nimble, it should be fun to have one as a pet.

After the monkeys we went to the city, to the area where they sell a lot of electronics. It was really weird sight, it was something between big store, lots of smaller stores and a market, everything inside another building, if you can imagine that. After a lot of searching, and figuring out that Hong Kong is really expensive (more on that later), I have finally bough a SD card for my camera, which was 5€ (20%) cheaper than in Slovenia (if you know, that there are no taxes in Hong Kong, you realise that they cost exactly the same).

Remember where all those electronic devices come from on eBay? This is almost like offline eBay for electronic stuff. There is whole quarter of city full of shops like this.
Remember where all those electronic devices come from on eBay? This is almost like offline eBay for electronic stuff. There is whole quarter of city full of shops like this.

In the evening we went to the avenue of stars, where Leff and Allen were waiting for us. Finally after almost 2 years we were together again. It was great seeing them and it actually felt like we never were apart.

This is one of my favourite things in Hong Kong. Hot pot - a restaurant where you cook the food yourself.
This is one of my favourite things in Hong Kong. Hot pot – a restaurant where you cook the food yourself.
Allen, Leff, Veronika, Jean and Maggie
Allen, Leff, Veronika, Jean and Maggie

After, we went to have a big dinner, in a nearby mall, but not before waiting for table for 2 hours (a normal thing in Hong Kong, or so they say =)). I think we went to a traditional Hong Kong (maybe Chinese?) restaurant. I actually haven’t been in anything similar before. At the beginning we choose what kind of meet we want (for the table), then they brought 2 big pots with heaters beneath them, and we actually put whatever we wanted in ourselves. Besides meat, we could choose from variety of sauces and vegetables that were located in something similar to salad bar in Europe. The food was good, at least what I ate, I tried to avoid spicy things. =) At the end, you could say that we paid to cook dinner for ourselves.

After the dinner we were really full and slowly walked outside to the pier again to take some photos. It was a great yet tiresome day.

On Monday we went to the city center to exchange money for Philippines. You would think that we would go to a local bank, but no, Maggie took us to … not sure what, but exchange rate was like 20% better than at the airport, and it was in some building almost like apartment building. After quick lunch and few photos we took a bus to the airport and soon after we were already flying toward Philippines.

Old plane at the airport
Old plane at the airport
11:39 Sun.
19 Apr, 2015

Almost =)

Nova Gorica , Slovenia
10 °C
6:12 am
7:55 pm

Ok, first thing first, after really long time I finally managed to update some functionalities on blog. Firstly I have separated posts into multiple groups. All posts can now be seen on home page and also in their separate sub-blog (left of gallery). I have also updated weather information, so it now works for multiple different cities, no point in showing weather from Luleå anymore. If you mouse over weather info, the location should be displayed. Lastly I have updated gallery, so it looks a bit better, rearranging photos of different sizes randomly.

So what happened in past few months? Nothing much, I’ve started working on my master’s thesis. I will try to predict some heart diseases, like arrhythmia, few minutes into the future. So far I haven’t managed to do anything ground breaking, but hopefully soon. At work we have started a new project, automated help for elderly, I’m again leading 2 students, so far better than first time =).

And now finally to the interesting news. We (me and Veronika) have finally managed to get some vacation time from work and have booked a trip to Hong Kong to visit Jean and others. We are leaving on Friday 24th and returning on 10th of May. We are really excited, this will be by far the longest trip I have taken, we’re going to be flying there via Beijing for almost 15 hours. To top it off, we (also Jean and Maggie) are going to Philippines for 5 days as well. I’m so excited about everything, but the best part is seeing Jean, Maggie and others again after almost year and a half, half a world away.

Let this be for now. I will try to post a bit from abroad with quick updates, but expect extensive posts with lots of pictures when we return home.