Off to Spain

Next few weeks I’m going to get some sun light and heat in Spain. I’m first going to stay for a few days at Christian del Rosso’s place in Madrid. Christian’s my neighbour here in Helsinki and he is currently in Madrid together with his wife and little son Emilio doing an MBA. Last time I was in Madrid, I didn’t have much time for sightseeing so this time I will take some time to do that.

From Saturday, I’m renting a car and will be doing my usual neurotic routine of driving too much and seeing too little. The record still stands at around 4000 km in 3 weeks. That was on a trip to Spain where I visited Castilla y Leon and Extremadura. The goal of this trip is to go there again and this time visit all the stuff I somehow missed the last time, which is quite a lot.

I’ve spent the morning packing and (mostly) doing a bit of reconnaisance on Google. A few weeks ago I was considering to buy a travel guide when it occured to me that the lonely planet I have for Spain is mostly fluffy text and really thin on things like what are good places to see and stay. Sure it will cover the big attractions but the interesting stuff where I’m going is small villages and towns. I actually prefer staying in medium sized towns where parking is doable. My requirements are very simple: decent place to sleep, stuff to see, and lots of places to eat & drink. The average Spanish town has a plaza mayor, with a few bars and hotels around it and usually a parking garage nearby.

So that’s easy. So the algorithm is roughly: select town, drive to it, park on or near Plaza Mayor and try a few hostels/hotels. Never takes more than two or three attempts to find a decent place to sleep. Anyway, Google is good to that stuff so I spend the morning copy pasting together my own travelguide. I’ve a top five list of towns I’m probably going to stay in: Zamora, Segovia, Trujillo, Badajoz, Salamanca and maybe Leon again (depending on weather). I also have a few backup options and a long list of stuff to see and do. In the unlikely event I get bored with the area, I have Portugal and Andalucia within a few hours drive.


While updating my photosite I noticed I had accidentally broken it with some .htaccess rule that was redirecting index.html to www.jillesvangurp/index.php. Anyway, problem solved.

I also took the opportunity to upload photos from:

  • A trip to Madrid in April for the EU Sensei project I’m in.
  • Another Sensei trip to Guildford (UK) last week.
  • A visit from my friend Mark last weekend. We rented a car and did some serious driving to Nuuksio, Hanko (with a stop at Raseborg’s castle) and Naantali. Also we celebrated midsummer together with a lot of wet Fins in Seurasari, just behind my house.

Given that I’m traveling to Madrid again next wednesday (vacation), it was about time too.

Me on Plaza Mayor in Madrid.

My friend Mark admiring the boats in Hanko.

Still traveling

I’ve been traveling since Monday already. I left Helsinki for a short trip to Madrid to attend a meeting for the European project I am in since January. Madrid is great and I had a opportunity to catch up with Christian del Rosso, my neighbor in Helsinki who is living in Madrid for one year to do a MBA. The meeting was like most such meetings a necessary evil but the dinners were great. I had some nice tapas and on the second evening we went to El Buey, which as the meeting organizer suggested was not suitable for vegetarians or Hindus (beef only). Nobody seemed to object against that and the food was excellent.

Earlier, on the same day, my father had called to tell me that my grandmother had died (93). This was not really unexpected since she was not well the last few weeks and had basically stopped eating and drinking pretty much. Consequently, I had already decided I wanted to be there for the funeral. Luckily, my flight back from Madrid on thursday conveniently had a stop in Amsterdam that I managed to extend over the weekend. So I was able to attend the funeral yesterday without burning extra amounts of kerosine for an extra trip.

I’ll be flying back on Monday and will add some more photos shortly after.

Photos Zurich and Dagstuhl

I’m traveling a lot lately. Two weeks ago I was in Zurich at the first Internet of Things Conference. I uploaded some pictures already last week and some more today.

Last week I also attended a Dagstuhl seminar on Combining the advantages of product lines and open source to present the position paper I posted some time ago. Naturally, I also took some pictures there.

Interestingly, one of the participants was Daniel German who does a lot of interesting things including publishing good articles on software evolution and working on a source forge project called panotools that happens to power most of what makes Hugin cool. Hugin is of course the tool I have been using for some time now to stitch together photos into very nice panoramas. I felt envious and lucky at the same time watching him take photos. Envious of his nice Canon 40D with very cool fish eye lens and lucky because his photo bag was huge and probably quite heavy considering the fact that he had two more lenses in there.

Attendees of the Dagstuhl Seminar

The whole gang together. Daniel is the guy in the orange shirt.

One of the best features of Dagstuhl: 1 beer = €1. Not quite free beer but close enough. And afterall, OSS is about free speech and cheap beer definitely loosens the tongues.

Zurich Photos

Last week I was in Zurich and I took some photos, which have now been added to my photo album. Most of them were taken in the evening. Some of them are pretty nice considering I had no tripod and it was quite dark.

Zurich lake in the evening

For example this one was taken from a bridge in Zurich with the shutter open for 1.3 seconds. Despite this, it turned out quite OK. I did quite a bit of color correction and curves tweaking on this picture and it turned out quite a bit more brighter than I remember it to be or the original below.

Before editing

Killing time in a hotel lobby

In the past few days I’ve attended the Internet Of Things conference in Zurich. If you’re keeping an eye on my flickr feed, you might have noticed a few photos tagged with iot2008. I was responding to the invitation to put photos under that tag but so far I seem to be the only person bothering to do so.

This was sort of the core message behind the demo we did at this conference: people use the internet to check out places before they go there and again afterwards to e.g. upload photos but during your presence somewhere, the internet is pretty damn useless. Our demo presented our web based platform for smart places.

The conference was quite interesting and right now I’m enjoying the free WLAN in the hotel lobby of the Swissotel in the Oerlikon district. My plane isn’t leaving until 19:00, I’ve read my mail, had my daily dose of RSS goodness on google reader and am now thoroughly bored. So

Christmas Photos

Before leaving for San Francisco a few weeks ago, I also spent Christmas with my parents in France. Of course I took lots of pictures and I was a bit more lucky with the weather there than in California. Since I’m visiting my parents tomorrow (flying home for my sisters wedding), I figured I should finally do a little editing and polishing of these photos. Results are here.

Traveling in style

Picking up the car from Hertz this morning.

Hertz Guy? what car do you want? I’ve got X, Y, and a two seat mustang
Me: Mustang sounds cool ….


MustangTraveling in style

Screw Al Gore, this car is cool. I don’t even want to know the mileage.