Now you know I’m not the nationalistic type, right? I’m one of those “we are all citizens of the Earth, why can’t we all just get along”. It’s one of the reasons I wonder why countries think they can negotiate environment treaties between eachother – I mean when the Earth goes to hell it’s not going to care where your borders are!
Anyway, I digress. So it may come as a surprise to you that I was happily watching and really enjoying the Eurovision this year – and feeling totally proud of being a Swede!!!
First, let me start off by saying that yes, I do watch the Eurovision although I do avoid the Swedish “Melodifestival” like the plague. I usually don’t make an event out of Eurovision saturday but for a few years now we’ve started a tradition with a friend of Helena and her husband who comes over on the saturday of the finale for BBQ, relaxing in the spa, enjoying the show and sleeping over. This year was not too different, but there was one thing that made it more of an event than usual.
As you know Sweden’s Måns won last year which means the Eurovision was to be held here in Sweden, and in the Globe Arena. And if you’re not Swede you might not know this but Måns has been the host of alot of things on swedish TV (most noteably “Allsång på Skansen” for 3 years) so ofcourse he stepped up to the plate – and man did he deliver! He together with Petra was the best hosts of the Eurovision I have ever seen! Never before have I seen the show make so much fun of itself, its host, its contestants, hell even its audience as they did this time around! Major props to the script- and song-writers behind such hits as “Love, Love, Peace, Peace” which is trending YouTube now! The entire “Eurovision taxi” thing also showed the hosts don’t take themselves too seriously! And never before have I heard them make such a dirty joke like “grab your towels, it’s time to come together”, poking fun of their slogan “Come Together”. I absolutely loved it! You know the show is good when you feel that Justin Timberlakes guest appearence is the best time for the break for toilet and beer refill!
If you hate Eurovision for whatever reason, that’s totally up to you, but this year it was absolutely your loss!
Next year it’s off to the Ukraine. Which means it’s going to go down a few notches but now that we’ve done this new tradition for the third time it’s safe to say we can definitely keep it going.
And this is the cake is what my wonderful wife and mother of my son made for his 6th birthday – a Minecraft inspired cake. And it wasn’t a lie! (yeah, you shouldn’t get that joke…) It’s amazing what she can and will cook up for every occasion! She had actually prepared it for the previous weekend but since I was in bed all weekend we realised we had to push the birthday party a week.
Our families came over to celebrate his birthday and give him some cool presents, like this Darth Vader mask that is breaking through his wall now! And then he spent the weekend watching “Star Wars” Episode V and VI and being scared of zombies (thanks SVT!)
But it was a weekend of really getting over the fact that he’s not a little boy anymore. He’s old enough to make his own choices and you just have to let him do it, change his mind 10 times only to fall flat on his face for getting it wrong. Well guess what, he doesn’t get hurt, he get’s up and goes at it again! I love my boy!
The people that have spent enough time with me might have heard me say “what we need is a good pandemic”. That sounds very, very cold but the truth is for the Earth’s survival we do need one because overpopulation and the side effects of it are going to destroy Earth. Just look at “Cowspiracy”, episode 4 of “Blindspot” (“Bone May Rot”), all the times AI have decided that to protect humanity they must take over and cause havoc (“I, Robot” or the evolving story in “The 100”) or read Dan Brown’s “Inferno”. So something that is contagious like the flu, incubation period like the smallpox (10-14 days) and mortality rate of HIV (100%). Ebola isn’t close, it wasn’t contagious enough and had too short incubation period to ever spread big time. But unfortunately, going by how nature goes it’s only a matter of time until nature is able to combine that itself and bam, halv the population wiped out. Or the most humanitarian way would be for it to cause sterility, that’d solve it long term but nature isn’t very humanitarian.
It’s either that or start colonizing space! What’s more likely? But I sure as hell hope for the latter!
Anyway, I don’t know why, but movies/TV shows & stories about virus outbreaks have always intrigued me. I loved “Outbreak” although it feels kinda dated now. There’s a new game called “The Division” coming out next week which is based on the premise of someone releasing a virus through dollar bills on black friday in the US and the chaos that follows. (I loved the trailer where you can’t really see what’s happening but you hear how a mother is sitting by her sick child’s bed praying and crying … until she’s not). And I was fascinated to read up on the scenario they played out in the US pre-9/11 called “Dark Winter” based on the premise of Saddam/Al Qaeda releasing smallpox in 3 malls in 3 US cities. And Ron Howard is working on filing Brown’s “Inferno” coming out later this year.
Yeah, I know, this is an old story right, me and image galleries! I tried the new Imagevue but it just doesn’t work when you have thousands of images. And my NAS’ built-in system isn’t really that smooth so I’ve gone back to NextGEN image gallery for WordPress with the Justified Image Grid plugin. It just looks the best in my opinion.
So go here and go nuts.
As you probably know I have a home cinema in a, almost, dedicated room for the purpose of showing movies on a big screen with good audio. But I still like going out to the movies. The contrasts between the two are ofcourse that going out is about going out, it’s an event, an occasion. And you’ll take the long queues in to the movie, the bad service, the cramped space, trying to carry popcorn & soda while getting the tickets ready, the people talking, the queuing to get out and all of those bad things. When watching a movie at home you don’t have to put up with that – but all of a sudden it’s not so special anymore.
But the new VIP theaters at Mall of Scandinavia in Stockholm puts a completely new spin to it all!! Firstly you’ll get to a restaurant so you can eat actually good, cooked food! Not the food courts of Heron or Kista. You can then order in all the snacks and drinks you want for the movie and it’ll be delivered in a nice basket – even have a beer if you want. Then you go into the movie theater without the queues since it only fits about 40 people! And “why does it only fit 40 people” you ask? – because of the amazing personal space you get! Not only do you get to sit in a comfy recliner chair, you also have more leg space than you’ll need plus a good 30cm of space either side to put your snacks and drinks! Forget about people talking, you’re so far away from each other you can’t really talk when the movie is playing! Then after the movie is done you just calmly leave and go back to the restaurant for some beverage or whatever you like. Yeah, it was expensive but you’ll have to go there alot to make up for all the $$$ that goes into building and maintaining a home cinema.
It’s almost all of the pro’s of watching a movie at home but actually “going out to the movies”! The other con’s against going to the movies (1 – the time to get there 2 – the fact you actually have to drive so one person has to be sober and 3 – the lack of a pause button for bathroom breaks) well I guess there’s really nothing to do against them is it? I mean, scheduling a 5 minute break in the movie for people to do their things might work, but the chances of the building one close enough to me so we can walk are slim to none.
So basically I think this is as far to perfect as a movie experience can get!!
And even though my spontaneous feeling is to share the information and my thoughts on this here website I’m actually going to just say “too personal to discuss here”. Not because it’s too personal for me but rather to other people. And other people in this case is children who are too young to know what it’s about but when growing up may stumble on this and ask wtf this is about. So I’m not going to do that.
Besides this shit there’s alot going on right now. We’re in the last 2 races of the F1 season which turned out way worse than I’d hoped, we’re celebrating my wife and my sisters 27th birthdays and father’s day this Saturday. And there’s ALOT of good computer games coming out now. So it’s full steam ahead all the way until Christmas!!!
But one funny thing we managed to do was go on another 24 hours cruise to just get away from it all and that’s where that funny picture came from – we played Bingo and I won a wopping €50!
A few years ago my wife’s nephew was playing Skylanders on his PS3 and all he wanted was Skylanders figures to “unlock” in the game so he could finish it. I bought him a 3 pack figure set once because I can’t say no to kids wanting video games.
Fast forward about 4 years and I saw the trailer for Disney Infinity. And so did my son and he basically said “I have got to get me one of those!!”. I remember it well, it was when we saw the “Minions” movie. And I explained to him that it was pretty expensive, €90 for the “big” PS4 version that they were advertising. So he started saving up money and we started giving him allowance on the premise that we won’t buy any more toys, he has to do that himself now. We had a little setback with Minecraft on the PS4 but now he finally had money to buy it so off we went.
I expected a rather quick “here’s the disc, here’s the base, here’s the figure, let’s go!”. But no! First I had to create a Disney account. Then it had a parent check, and then enter the codes from the cards in the box to tie them to the account (you know, so I can’t return it or sell it second hand if I’m not happy with it), and all that has to be done on a PC. I wonder how many parents give up at this stage? Because after that you have to login to that Disney account on your PS4 when booting up the game and then… it started in a weird demo kind of way with testing different characters from different Disney franchises when all we wanted was to play Star Wars!? Aha, the “play set” item has to be on the base too so it knows what game we’re playing? Ok, done, “Twilight of the Republic”, go!
Finally it booted up to the awesome Star Wars theme followed by.. “this character isn’t available in this play set”?! What? Oh, we tried playing as Luke Skywalker in a “Clone Wars”-era game, well if that doesn’t work why tha hell does he, Leia and Boba Fett come in the pack?! Oh, you have to unlock the characters in the playset by finding their “champion coin” in the game (or play set?), not cool at all but ok, YouTube helped me and my son to sort that out. Now let’s test “Rise Against the Empire” play set that we got in this PS4 exclusive collector edition. This is the original triology, Darth Vader era Star Wars I know and love. Aaaaaaand “this character isn’t available in this play set” when we had Anakin on the base? Because ofcourse the champion coins are unique for the play set and you have to unlock Anakin “champion coin” in this playset since he “belongs” in the other playset?! Googled around to find out I had to get to the top of a building to get the “coin” for Anakin?! But this means if you buy a “Rebels” era character like Ezra you have to fin his coins in both play sets?!
But ok, all characters unlock in all games… sorry I mean “play sets”.. and let’s roll. On Monday evening we’d finished both ga… sorry, “play sets”. There was two of them and me and my son had them beat in less than two days? And he did most of the playing and he’s 5! What tha hell, what to do after this? … wait for the next gam… sorry, “play set” with the characters from “Inside Out” which kinda requires that Sam sees the movie to understand.
Really Disney? I know you want to make money, I’m not naive but .. really? Not well played Disney, not well played at all. Or to quote the Roberts – “this is bullshit”. You have to make it THIS complicated only to suck as much money out of us as you can? You have gone and totally confused me with “play set”, “power coin” and I haven’t even started with the “power discs” yet and you charge €90 for 2 “play sets” I could’ve played through in less than 3 hours each had I wanted to? That’s really low, the Lego games are atleast challenging and goes on and on! Speaking of which, guess I have to buy the Batman Lego game now that this is already done.
So if you plan to buy Disney Infinity for your kids, get prepared and read up.
So day 6 arrived and while the rest of our entrourage started their trip back to Sweden we went to a local Zoo. It was actually surprisingly good and had lots of animals and big enough to entertain us for about 3 hours. But after that we went back to the hotel because we were all totally beat after the past few days. We’d been walking so much and hurried from A to B that we just needed to relax for a while. To be honest we felt like it was about time to go home at this point but that’s totally in keeping with all of our other trips so far as well – 5 days was enough for us, 7 days was pushing it! We didn’t even go out to eat, we went to the local supermarket and picked up some sandwiches and yoghurt. And again Sam went ballistic how this sucked because he couldn’t buy some small toycars.
On day 7 we set sights on Milan. Of everything we’d done we had totally missed out on Milan and I wanted to show it to Helena, atleast the Cathedral and the shopping mall around there. So problem 1 was getting rid of the car and if you’ve ever been to Milan you know there are cars parked _everywhere_! We found a garage, one of those small subterranian dark garages where the girls gets raped and killed in the movies and managed to get over the translation barrier to park there for 3 hours. Then we walked – way longer than I thought. But then we got to see the Cathedral and tick that box! By this time my wife was desperate for something to eat so we parked our bums at a little restaurant right behind the duomo where a 33 cl. bottle of coke cost €6 and a pizza €15! I kid you not! But the view was unbeatable so we didn’t mind much, I mean I have paid more for less. (€25 for 2 cups of cappuciono at Starbucks at Antalya Airport!).
Then we navigated back to the parking garage and started on our next mission – finding a gas station! If we didn’t fill the car up before turning it in there was a €100 fine so I really wanted to avoid that and doing a crazy “I’m going this way until I find a gas station, SO THERE!” argument with my GPS we eventually found one. One that didn’t want to accept 3 of my credit cards – but fortunately I had a fourth. But trying to read error messages in Italian is .. well impossible since all it probably said was “transaction aborted” everytime!
After that we got to our last two hurdles before checking in and going home – handing in the car and paying the parking ticket. Handing in the car was surprisinly easy even though I had to take crap from the garage guy about how F1 is more of a business than sport nowadays but paying the ticket turned out to be harder. Avis couldn’t help more than to say “just go to a post office, they’ll fix it for you” – “ok so where is that” – “there’s one 100 meters around that corner… which closed one hour ago.. so no, we can’t help you. At all. We know you’ve leased a car for €500 and did everything right and turned it in without a scratch and all that, but no, we can’t help you to pay this €30 ticket at all”. Ok, I added the last part but it’s totally true and I still can’t wrap my head around a post office that closes at 2 pm on a normal Tuesday – at an _airport_!?! So we could just forget getting that paid there and checked in and waited for our flight. Fortunately they had a game there Sam loved and spent an hour playing. So we got on our flight and thought this is it, nothing can stop us now!!
.. except a pending Lufthansa strike that was bound to break out in a few hours! Fortunately our flight wasn’t affected so we landed at midnight in Arlanda, got our luggage, took the buss to the long term parking, managed to dig up the ticket I got a week ago and went home to sleep for four hours and then it was back to work again!
All in all a kick ass week in Italy, packed with food, sights to see, places to experience, a F1 race, awesome company and just awesome!!
After the night in old Bergamo we went to bed and set the clock early. Very early. Like 6 am (which is the usual hour for us to wake up – but not on vacation!!). We got up, got dressed, got into the car, picked up Alex and Jocke and dropped Sam off with his favorite aunt and then we set a corse for Maranello! Last time that I was in Milano I hit the Ferrari store but never made it to Maranello since that’s like a 2 hour drive. But now we did!
The Ferrari museum opened at 9:30 and we were there around 9:15. We took the tour around the place, checking out all the F1 race cars of old, the normal road cars, the exclusive “one offs” but the most impressive was the hall of champions where they had all their trophies and their championship winning cars all lined up. It was a beautiful site indeed, definitey a “I’m not worthy!” moment for me. Also around the museum they had plenty of “test drive a Ferrari for 10 minutes for $100” but I really didn’t want to risk it. I know that in Sweden they have a sucky insurance for them so you have to pay like $3000 if you damage it one little bit. So no, maybe for next birthday!
After the museum we set our Navigon to take us back to Monza. And I knew it was going to be tight for the qualifying but we had 1 hour margin on our side. That margin was eaten up by a quick stop for a bite to eat and then the other problem of finding somewhere to park! After driving 140 kph for almost 2 hours we almost got to the track but the police had blocked it off so we went around in circles trying to get as close as possible. Eventually we gave up and dumped the car and walked for about 4 kilometers! And just as we sat down the first car came out on track so the timing couldn’t have been better!
After watching the two Ferraris qualify 2nd and 3rd we walked back to the car and drove home to our hotel where we met up with the rest of the gang that took the train from the track. The plan was to dine at our hotel but it was a wedding going on there so it was fully booked. So we ended up at a local pizzeria that had some awesome pizza and pasta. The service was awesome, the food was awesome but there was this lady that must’ve been the owner because she was so rude and pushy that she should’ve been fired because she kinda ruined it for us. Also trying to pay was very very difficult.
Then it was sleepy time to get ready for Sunday, also known as Race Day!!
Me and Helena decided to not go with the train as we were supposed to since that involved walking for 2 kilometers with Sam so we took the car and we went in extra early. The traffic wasn’t bad and we found what we thought was a parking spot and dumped the car and walked over there. Sam wanted to play the Playstation games in the F1 village but as everything else F1 related – it’s not very child friendly. It’s too expensive and too long queues, also he’s too young to handle actual simulators with actual pedals and wheel. So things started off bad for him that early. After grabbing a quick bite to eat we parked our asses on what we thought was our seats only to be shoved away because Italians can’t be bothered to mark things or handle such simple things as information. We eventually found our _real_ seats and parked there, watching the drivers lap on a lorry and the very weird protocol of ordering the grid with the flags and the girls and everything. Then the race started and it was just awesome! I pretty much put the camera down for the entire race and just enjoyed it. So did my wife, although she was trying to take care of Sam as much as possible. But she was really happy when her pretty-boy Rosberg was threatening Vettel – only to have his engine gave up!
After that we went back to the car only to find a parking ticket! 20 meters in front of our car was a “no parking” sign that was put up that we could’ve swarn wasn’t there when we parked! (and it wasn’t a fixed sign really so could’ve been placed after we parked) We called everyone trying to get it sorted but was told we could sort it when we handed in the car to Avis on Tuesday. So went back to the hotel then on to Bergamo again and found a nice restaurant to eat at. Unfortunately this nice restaurant thought we were there for the entire evening so they were really, REALLY slow serving us so that took almost the entire night. Then some more ice cream and say good bye to AC, Alex and Jocke who were going home the day after.
10 years ago for my 30th birthday we went to Silverstone for a F1 race. It was a legendary trip. So now for my 40th we booked a trip to Monza but with me and my wife taking Sam there for a few extra days as a bonus vacation.
So last Wednesday me, my wife Helena and my son Sam boarded a flight from Arlanda to Milan, with a short stop in Frankfurt. The cabin crew on the Lufthansa we kind enough to give my son a free Lego set of a A380 to build while we flew over there. After arriving (and with all luggage this time) we went to Avis to pick-up the car. We got a size-bump for the car which was nice, however we hit the first out of many, MANY! unexpected expenses – the insurance. I hadn’t checked up what insurance was covered by what so I ended up paying €120 for nothing since it was covered by my Mastercard! So I recommend everyone to check that before they go!
Then we set off to our hotel with the help of my preprogrammed Navigon GPS app and that’s when the second unexpected expense popped up – tolls to use the highway! Noone had told me about that and at first we didn’t even know what the hell this was and we ended up with an unpaid toll ticket! In my defense we tried calling everyone (Avis and even the company running the toll system) but the hotell staff said it shouldn’t be a worry.
Then after about an hour drive we ended up at the beautiful hotel Settencento. Small hotel but placed right next to a road with pretty high traffic. Fortunately we didn’t spend much time at the hotel so wasn’t that much of a bother. We reconned the area for a super market but ended up having our first dinner at the hotel – which was awesome! Sam insisted on taking a dip in the pool and although the weather wasn’t the best for it that didn’t stop him!
On day two I insisted on a trip to Como to check out the lake and everything that everyone makes such a big fuzz about. After about 2 hour drive (and 4 toll booths) we arrived and it was as beautiful as I’d hoped! The scenary there is amazing! It was a tourist friendly place to say the least and we walked around for a few hours and drove to a small village just outside for a better view. Time very well spent indeed!
Then we went to Bergamo where my sister AC, her youngest son Alex and my brother Jocke was about to land and stay for the weekend. We drove the “scenic route” to see more of Italy and less of toll booths and we ended up at a restaurant called Pasti Frutti. As a restaurant it was by Italian standards decent (but awesome by Swedish standards!) but as a command post it served it’s purpose well. And that’s when the heavens opened up and let loose a few tons of water and thunder! We had checked the weather reports and it said rain & thunderstorms all week so we were just grateful we’d had a beautiful day so far. Eventually they showed up, grabbed some food and some beers until we had to go back to our hotel and get some sleep. Sam was a trooper pretty much all day but we bribed him with ice cream all day.
On day three we split up. Me, Alex and Sam went to watch the F1 free practice while AC, Helena and Jocke went to a vineyard – Castello di Grumello. They had a blast (since I wasn’t with them I can just take their word for it) and tasted alot of their wines and managed to offend the owners when AC didn’t really appreciate it. But still impressed how they’ve managed to keep the business in the family for so many generations.
On our way to the F1 track we hit a very expected problem – parking! Taking your car to an F1 race is normally only “hard” but when the race is in an urban area like this it’s almost mission impossible. Since this was only Friday free practice it wasn’t that hard but we ended up parking where noone knew if we could park or not. Then a long walk to the F1 track and we hit the next problem. Serious lack of information and language barrier! Some people said “go left” while point right, some said up, some said down. But this being free practice it wasn’t that important. Unfortunately after about 80 minutes some got very tired and bored of the entire thing and wanted to go home.
So we went back after seeing Mercedes owning it on the track. We went back to Bergamo to meet up with the rest of the gang and took a tram up the hill to the “old town” of Bergamo where we ended up at a tourist friendly restaurant that served up some pretty good food. Although the people that ordered what they thought was “pasta with beef” that turned out to be just beef were seriously disappointed!
And so I’m back after a week in beautiful Italy. I don’t know why but I love Italy!!!
The primary reason for going there now was Monza! 10 years ago for my 30th birthday we went to Silverstone, and now for my 40th we went big with Monza. My wife, my son, my sister, one of her sons and my brother all joined in for a week of fun. And fun we had – plentiful! We ate, we drank, we cheered, we got a parking ticket, escaped toll station and walked about 10 miles during the entire week but it was all good! Will do a better writeup of everything that happened… but man was it fun!!
I know I may regret this in a day, a week, a month or even a year – but I’m at a point where I’m getting used to awesome and I’m afraid when it’ll end!
My life is awesome right now. I live in a awesome house, have a awesome wife, a awesome son, have a awesome job and everything is just great right now! Sure I may have ringing in my ear, I may have legs that want to get up and dance when I’m in a meeting, I may get an itch so bad I need painkillers (very rare but it happens) but those are minor things in the grand scheme of things.
And I have an awesome trip to Italy planned in 2 weeks! When will this madness end?! Will my wife realise she’s too good for me? Will my job get outsourced? Will my house burn to the ground? Something has got to give because this awesomeness can’t last.
Unlike the saying – I don’t need to lose anything to appreciate what I have!
When I posted about our trip to Turkey I mention that I had to draw them a picture. I wish I was exaggerating but that’s actually exactly what happened.
A bit of background – when I was traveling for our government (yeah I know, it was over 12 years ago LET IT GO!) one of the safety things we learned was to always use the hotels safetybox for your passport, tickets and a valid credit card. If there isn’t one in the room the hotel always have one in the reception. That lesson is still with me. So still everytime we arrive in our room, thats the first thing I did. And I checked it every day to make sure they were still there. But after 3 days I couldn’t open it. At first I thought it was “user error”, i.e I had set the wrong code when locking it (every time you locked it you set the code) so I tested every combination of it. But I thought it was weird that it didn’t say “error” or “wrong” or something when entering the wrong code. It was also weird that it didn’t have a “lockdown” function after 10 failed attempts. Instead it was constantly showing “bA-hI”. After not being able to open in the 100th attempt I googled the error message and it’s apparently a sign that it’s on backup battery power and saying the “battery charge level is high”. But when on battery it won’t open the safe, kinda the opposite of what happens in “Die Hard”. Looking at the powercord showed it had been repaired atleast once so it’s more than a probable reason for this.
With this information I went to the reception to say that it was broken. What they heard was “another dumb ass guest f*cked up his combination to his safetybox and we need to save him”. So they promptly sent a guy from maintenance to hook up his unlocking device and open it. But before he did I showed him the error and he looked confused as hell over “bA-hI”. But understanding is irrelevant, only results matter so I was happy he opened it so I had access to our passports again.
Then I tried locking it and ofcourse that didn’t work. Because it can’t look while on battery power either. So again I went to the reception and told them about it and what they heard was “another dumb ass guest f*cked up his combination to his safetybox and we need to save him”. I tried explaining to them but in the end I had to draw them a picture to explain the error message and that it didn’t have any power. I think they understood me, they just didn’t have an answer for it and it wasn’t working even on the day we left. I’m just happy our passports weren’t stolen!
If they lost your luggage, what would you miss the most? I thought it’d be my laptop. Maybe deoderant, or mobile charger, or underwear, maybe a new shirt, comfortable shoes.
When going to Turkey one week ago I was faced with that. They lost my luggage. I was told the morning after they found it (although I’m still confused how one bag can end up in a different terminal than all the rest!) and it would be sent out to me during the day so I wasn’t panicking much. But it wasn’t until about at 3pm that I realised that there was one thing I couldn’t wait for – as my wife and my son were playing along having fun in the pools I realised what I really missed the most was my swimming trunks!! Totally unexpted that that was the one thing I couldn’t live without because I wanted to join the fun!
So I promptly ran out to the bazar outside the hotel and bought a pair and jumped in cause I’m a problem solver like that!
It’s that time of the year again when we go on vacation to some family friendly resort and just relax for a week. Last year it was the Sunwing hotell on Rhodes in Greece and this year we went to Long Beach Resort outside of Alanya in Turkey.
We went with another couple who has a daughter that we know Sam likes and they play great together and we decided to go to this hotel because they had a .. well a long beach and some pools, some waterslides, they had a small amusement park, plenty of restaurants and just seemed like a place you could stay at for a week without having to leave the hotel much.
We were not disappointed!
The trip started with an evening flight to Antalya airport where the crew excused the poor tax free delivery due to poor IT switchover from the old IT system to the new. Although I have nothing to do with the IT system of our tax free service I still felt embarassed but that’s probably because of my occupasional pride than anything else.
When we landed in Antalya we proceeded to the luggage belts where my wife’s and son’s luggage arrived after waiting a while but after waiting for over an hour I ruled out that my luggage was going to arrive at all so I went to customer service to report it missing. After that we went to the Ving representative and asked where the taxi’s were because by now the transfer bus to the hotel had surely departed. But it hadn’t. So we boarded a buss full of people upset they had waited for over an hour – on me! Even though it wasn’t my fault and I didn’t want the bus to wait it did – somewhat embarassing compunded by the fact that I actually work for this company! Then the bus made a pitstop at some place they obviously get kickbacks from because we had to be there for 20 minutes aven though everyone just wanted to go to the hotel.
We got to the hotel in the middle of the night, checked in and got to the room that they hadn’t prepared for 2 adults + 1 child at all! So I had to call the reception to order more linen to make a bed for my son and then we had to wait an extra 15 minutes for them to actually come with our luggage, which wasn’t at all fun at 3 am!
I woke up the next day to a text saying “they found your luggage and will send it at 8 am so you should have it soon”. I’m down with that and so we went out to check out the hotel area and that took over a day to explore because it was HUGE!
They really did have a very long beach area by the sea but unfortunately the closest tunnel to get to it was closed and we had to walk quite far for the other tunnel so we got a lot of exercise from walking back and forth to the beach all week! They also really did have lots of waterslides and even a pirate ship which became Sam’s favorite place to hang out. What we didn’t realise was that you could rent gazebos by the beach and by the time we did realise that they were almost fully booked but we got one for three of the seven days we were there. It really helped alot to have a somewhat of a private “base of operation” when we were at the beach – which was pretty much everyday.
Then we had dinner at the buffé and it was great! Great food and service, nothing to complain about. And at 8 pm I finally got my luggage, only 12 hours later than promised but not a big deal for me. Then it was bed time since we were still lacking sleep from travelling.
The next day and all the other days pretty much followed that same pattern – get up, catch some breakfast, pack up for the beach, go to the beach, have fun, get tanned, go back, have dinner, relax with the couple we were there with and sleep. We really didn’t ever have to go off the reservation! We went a full 100 meter from the hotel to the bazar they had outside to do some shopping (my wife really wanted a *cough*genuine*cough* Michael Kors bag that I paid a full €30 for but other than that we were content being in the hotel. There were enough restaurants to keep us satisfied and enough to do to not get too bored.
But it wasn’t perfect. The buffé was the same in every restaurant every night. They only changed one thing that they barbecued there and then, but everything else was the same all the time which got boring quite fast. Did they ever hear of themes? And also that the tunnel under the main road on our side of the hotel was closed which forced us to walk, that wasn’t cool at all! And the level of english of the staff really left alot to be desired as well – sometimes I felt that they would have understood me better if I spoke russian because 90% of the people there were russians and some of the staff were also russian. Not that I mind russians, but I expect an international hotel of this size in Turkey to have staff that can understand english without having to draw them a picture (which I actually did once, but more on that later).
After a week of that it was time to go home – at night! Again the bus stopped at the some joint as before and forced people to go out to buy refreshments “as a service” when everyone just wanted to get to the airport. When we arrived to the airport I was apparently the first one to understand how security checkpoints work and information screens because for the first time in my life I was #1 in the queue to check in our luggage! Unfortunately that also meant that when the check in counter opened the guy behind it had alot of issues getting his computer to work with him and it took atleast 10 minutes for that – 10 minutes of the same people looking at me with annoyed eyes that had waited for me on the buss earlier. That was not cool but again not my fault! During all of this we had to keep our son awake since I know you have to walk through the next checkpoint on your own feet – you can’t carry your child though it, they have to walk. But 5 minutes after we had cleared that he was out for the entire night. So my wife asked me to get her some coffee and I ran around and only found a Starbucks and that’s when I purchased the most expensive coffee I’ve ever paid for – €25 for 2 normal cappucinos with vanilla syrup!! €25!!!
After that we got on the flight, had to be embarassed again when they excused the poor tax free with IT issues again, landed on Arlanda at 3:30am and when we stopped at the gate we had to wake Sam up. And he was sad that he slept through the “getting on the plane”-phase, the take off, the movie, the meal and the landing – basically everything he’s looking forward to about the actual travelling part of a vacation. Thankfully Helena’s mother met us at the airport at 4am so we went home, unpacked the essentials and hit the bed at 5am and slept until 9am.
So to sum up – we had a blast, especially Sam! Photos can be found here – login as “Gäst” and the short, Swedish name of my employer, with a capital first letter as the password.
I’ll post some other random thoughts about our week later.
Yeap, today is a day that has been in the making for 40 years. Today is the day I turn 40. And it doesn’t feel special in any way. I remember when I turned 30 it didn’t feel that special either, I had a headache for months I remember that and I remember setting my ass in a pub while all my friends dropped by to wish me happy birthday. But this feels really “same same and not at all different” than last week. Or the week before that. And not gonna have a big party either because I’m not too good at hosting parties. And with our two holiday trips planned can’t really afford it either.
As always we go out to my parents place in Lyngsta to celebrate my father’s birthday, mother’s day and my bortiday on one and the same day. We had picked up 2 tickets to the Paul McCartney concert this July for my mother and that was certainly hitting it out of the park! Then my family had bought me a new BBQ with a smoker on the side so I’m all good on that front for a few years now. All in all, I’m doing quite fine.
But just wait till September when I’m sitting there on the bleechers in Monza rooting for whatever Ferrari that is leading the race, surrounded by the people I love and a Peroni, that’ll be kick ass! But before that we’re going to Turkey for some sun, sun, more sun and even more sun!
Yeap, life is good right now.
Lots of stuff happening, so much I barely have time to update here. Alot of people’s birthdays, not to mention my own. I turn 40 in about 3 weeks, not gonna make a big deal out of it but going to Italy in September. Other than that it’s full throttle at work still and doing work on the house. And as always wishing I had more time for gaming, and my wife, and my son… just more time basically. 24h simply isn’t enough, even when I only sleep 6 hours…
But on the plus side, finally ordered the “Battlestar Galactica” Bluray pack that I’ve wanted to buy for a while. It was on sale, at €30 it was hard to say no. Because that show was awesome!
I am an avid fan of aviation. Always have been, always will be. I, like any other boy, wanted to be a pilot but never worked hard enough to get the grades to get into that and not doing military service (which was obligatory in Sweden at the time) kinda ruled that out. So I wanted the next best thing, an air traffic controller. I got as far as the trialouts at Arlanda (Sweden’s biggest airport) but for reasons unknown to me they decided “I didn’t have the proper predisposition for this job. This decision is final and cannot be appealed”. That was the end of that dream and I got into computers instead which worked out pretty nice for me.
But I’m still interested in aviation. And I try to see every episode of “Air Crash Investigation” that I can and do my best to follow it when something happens. The bad side is that it takes months, sometimes several years, from a crash until the investigation can conclude something. Like that Air France plane from Brazil that dropped into the ocean, took them 2 years to find them (good job on that by the way).
And about 3 weeks ago I saw the “Air Crash Investigation Special” on the 1 year anniversary since the disappearence of MH370. In it they through the Sherlockian (I love making up words) method of eliminating everything they know didn’t happen come to the conclusion that one of the pilots, most likely the captain, sent away the co-pilot, locked the door, disabled the transponer and the ACARS (which really only a well trained pilot would know how to do), dropped the air preassure so everyone but him would lose consciousness and then he navigated around radar stations before setting a course for the antarctic. They never had a clue why anyone would do it but that’s the only theory that is NOT disputed by the available data.
And exactly 2 weeks after that airs, a Germanwings plane crashes into the alps killing everyone. I’m not going to say that “I knew it must have been a deliberate thing by a pilot” because I really didn’t. I think it was clear right away it was “human error” because the rate that they were loosing altitude couldn’t have been missed by anyone and the fact that they didn’t turn back or radio anyone suggested that what happened wasn’t a technical glitch. Unlike the Greek plane where everyone lost consciousness when a service engineer had forgotten to reset a switch, this plane crashed right away whereas the Greek plane kept on going for hours. So it couldn’t have been a technical reason for it, it had to have been caused by the human factor which is the case in a surprisingly amount of crashes. But I really didn’t think it was deliberately crashed but very quickly it was clear that that’s what happened. And I have to say I am very surprised that this amount of information have been released this soon. As I said these usually take months or years, this one was a few days. The full investigation, with the proper recommendations to the airline industry and regulatory institutions, will ofcourse take a few months but it’s really rare to see it being cleared up this quickly. And I think that’s a good thing, if not for the world to feel safer flying again (or do we?) then for the victim’s families that already this soon have answers. I like that.
I also can’t help but to feel that this isn’t entirely unrelated to the post about corporate greed in the airline industry that I posted a while back. This was a pilot that had mental issues he delt with but from all official channels was cleared to work. But he always had this cloud of uncertainty hanging over him because of the situation in the airline industry – and remember, the Lufthansa pilots have just been on a strike about their situation so it’s got to be serious for them. Not that I’m justifying his actions but I just want to raise the point that that might have been a small contributing factor that shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve been fortunate enough never to have been unemployed in my entire life, although I’ve been close 3 times and all of those times I’ve been extremely stressed out over it. Once I almost got an ulcer because of it so I think everyone can relate to a persons worry about his employment, especially if you’ve worked hard enough to reach the pilot seat.
Another point here is that I don’t think this is just an issue in aviation. This could just as easily have been a train driver that deliberately drives his train into Paddington station at full speed in rush hour, imagine the death toll on that. And the accident in Spain a few years back when a train driver wanted to challenge how fast he could take a curve proves that there aren’t safeguards there either. Did the train industry decide all of a sudden that there should be two people in the driver seat for trains? No, but they have on planes.
But still – you’re more likely to die on the way to the airport than on the plane!
Yesterday there was a big event by some of today’s biggest artist to together really kick off the music service Tidal. It’s the newest and most likely candidate to challenge Spotify’s ownership of the digital music throne. I should like it. But here’s why I don’t – and keep in mind these are MY issues, they don’t apply to everyone!
– The artists keep saying that this service will reward the actual artists way more than the evil Spotify. And that sounds noble, right? Well that certainly goes against most research I’ve read that says Spotify is most certainly paying their share – it’s just not going to the artists. Reason for that is.. well, they aren’t the ones with the contract with Spotify, the labels are. (their own report can be found here and here is a report from Time.com)
– They say it’s good for consumers. And usually I’d agree, nothing like some good competetivness to bring out the best in people and companies. But this is different. With Spotify I have ONE music service where I store my music library. And I can access that music from any cellphone brand I want, from my TV, from any of my computers, from my Playstation, my Sonos and even my TV. If you add another service which has material the other one doesn’t it forces you to either choose or have both which will cost you €20 per month. How is that good for consumers? And the amount of time it will take for Tidal to be supported by say my Samsung TV, Sony Playstation or Sonos… it’s just not good for consumers – IMO – from that technical point of view. It’s the same with the “video on demand service” – I wouldn’t mind paying €50 for one service that had it all, but I don’t wanna pay €10 for 5 difference services!
– They say their music quality is better. I don’t know about you but 90% of my music listening is done from my cellphone on the move. And with those small earplugs I dare say noone will ever notice the difference between Spotify HQ audio (and most people don’t even sync their music in HQ mode in Spotify because of storage limits) and Tidal HQ audio. I hear the difference between 128k and 192k audio in MP3’s but above that it’s simply not noticable – for me! Sure there are audiophiles out there that can spend €500 on earphones and maybe they will notice, or I might notice when turning it up in my home cinema. But it certainly won’t be a big enough quality different to hear it!
– I trust Spotify more than I trust JayZ. JayZ with wife Beyonce have enough money to not give a shit for the rest of their lifes. If the Tidal service is bad, “so what”, that don’t matter shit for them, just a failed project. If Spotify is bad they’ll hear it and change because they can’t afford not to. I got pissed when Spotify introduced their “you have to have a Facebook account” but after tweaking it I really don’t mind. And I trust that Spotify will not make an exclusive deal with say Apple that the hottest music will only be available on the iPhone app first because Spotify can’t afford to piss Android, Windows and PC users!
So I’m left thinking this isn’t just a noble thing and JayZ’s gift to the world of music industry that it’s painted out to be. It looks to me more like it’s their way of trying to increase their revenue. Which is totally fine by me, I wouldn’t wanna work for free. But just don’t make it sound so noble and say it’s for us consumers.
Wind back the clock some 17-18 years when I was working as a computer guy at Min Dator spending my days building computers and installing them for our customers. I thought I was pretty darn good at what I did and good with computers. But then we merged with a consultant firm and getting to know those guys with high certification levels made me realise I didn’t know a helluvalot. And then we merged with Pulsen and I tried being a consultant but I could never compete with those guys. And it didn’t help when the boss referred to me as a “resource filler” – that kinda killed my ambition. Then I worked at the lawfirm and it was the most secure employment I could ask for and I had no need or reason to get certifications. But as I was doing my two rounds of trying to get a job before and after the Carema disaster one question kept coming up during interviews. “You’ve done a few courses, do you have the certifications?” – which I didn’t. I never heard anyone say that was bad or that was the reason I didn’t get a job but it showed me that employers actually do care about that.
So when I got the job here I said I didn’t only want to take the courses I wanted to take the certifications too – and my employer said ok to take that expense (granted, it’s only €100-€150 each but still a nice gesture). And after I had the first course, studied for the exam and made it with flying colours I realised how easy it was for me. So my boss and I sat a goal for me (which we use for bonus calculations) to become MCSE – Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert.
Now 2 years and 7 exams later I did it! It doesn’t change my salary, it doesn’t help me with the ladies, it doesn’t do much at work or at home at all – but it’s a personal achievement that has been in the making for quite a while but I never got the thumb out of my ass to do. It’s also something of a growing up thing – which is totally lame thing to say 3 months shy of being 40. But it is for me! I don’t expect anyone to really understands what it means to me since I’m the only “me” there is – but just respect the fact that for me it’s AWESOME! AND EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!! (yeah, we just saw The Lego Movie)