So after a few rounds with customer service at Cloud Imperium Games I got the LA County “Department of Consumer and Business Affairs” involved and that’s when my refund request was finally accepted. So I got all my money for all digital purchases and pledges refunded and my accounts closed and within a week the money was safely in my bank account. End of story (until the game comes out, if ever) I thought.
Well it wasn’t. Because the response to my request from their legal counsel was… in lack of better words – horseshit!
The reasons I stated for requesting a refund was
– They changed their terms of service to free them of all accountability to actually deliver anything. That’s an indisputable fact. I was totally fine with my initial Kickstarter pledge going down the drain but that was a small portion of all the money I’ve pledged to the project so far. Chris, the man in charge, stated years ago that they were solid financially and would still be able to deliver a game if funding stopped. It didn’t yet they haven’t.
– The game is nowhere near being complete. The content that has been delivered so far is barely 10% of everything promised and it’s all buggy as hell as it’s still in alpha. That is also a fact. If you forecast based on that it’s gonna take them several years to deliver the rest and then do the polish to go from alpha to a launch-able game.
– They themselves set “estimated dates” for when features are launched and they are constantly missing them. That is also fact.
– They set November 2014 + a 18 months delay (that’d be May 2016) for launch or they would show their financials and explain “wtf happened!?”. It’s now August 2016 and they haven’t launched any part of the game nor taken any accountability for the failure. Those are also facts.
Those were my 4 main reasons. I never mentioned anything of all the other rumors (like their Austin office being shut down) or issues one may have with the project (like the fact that Chris the CEO is married to the marketing director/actor Sandi) that involves anything that isn’t fact or tangible.
So what did the legal counsel say? “Customer’s allegations […] are completely unfounded and based on internet gossip. Oh and he made the allegations to the wrong corporate entity!”. That is just so insulting! Everything I’ve said are facts that can easily be checked by anyone! If they didn’t think it was good enough reasons to give a refund that would have been one thing, but to say that I’m lying and quoting gossip, what the hell is that about!? That pisses me off so much that my initial thought was “crash and burn you assholes!”. But this is so much bigger than that, it’s a million people strong community, a game that is based on some of the most amazing games I’ve played, the most successful crowdfunding campaign ever, the biggest “up yours!” to major game publishers ever and so much of that good stuff that I can’t be so egotistic and want it to fail just because they insult me. But it really pissed me off and I wonder where the line for “slander” is! And also I hate whenever a company makes that stupid remark about “it’s the wrong company” – I ALWAYS go to the people that I actually paid. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or whatever, I make the claim to the company that charged me!
You know I’m a nostalgic, retro kind of person right? And I’m a gamer. So I fondly remember the days of “Wing Commander” I & II, the space fighting but most of all the story and the interaction with the crew. And I very fondly remember “Wing Commander III” with Mark Hamill and Tom Wilson and the rest of the cast. And I very very very fondly remember playing “Wing Commander IV” for days, weeks even months. I really wanted to see every possible way that could go, the “evil ending” and everything in between. I absolutely loved it – not for the space combat but for the story. The dialogue is cheesy and the plot quite simple by today’s standards but still, for a computer game it was awesome!!
So in 2012 when I heard that Chris Roberts is coming back with a “spiritual successor to Wing Commander” I got excited. It couldn’t be called “Wing Commander” since EA owned the rights to it so it was called “Star Citizen”. Or “Squadron 42”.. at first it was a mess what was what but that’s to be expected when a small group of people get together to try to do something great. But this time Chris didn’t want a big publisher telling him what to do. He didn’t want a publisher that demanded the game be released at this date, finished or not. He didn’t want a publisher to tell him to make the game so it can be ported to consoles. He wanted to do the game his way, released when it was ready and for PC only. So they started a crowdfunding campaign that got so much attention their initial web server couldn’t handle it and they had to take to Kickstarter for crowdfunding. I happy bought into it at “Colonel” level which then was $125. That’s quite a lot for a computer game I agree but I thought it was worth it considering how much joy his previous titles had given me. I’d gladly paid that for “Wing Commander IV” any day!
Back then they set the “estimated release” at November 2014 but I’m actually pretty sure that’s because Kickstarter forced them to set an “estimated delivery” date and the max they could set was “2 years from now”. So I actually never expected them to deliver that. As a matter of fact, their “Terms of Service” agreement was even altered in 2013 to give them a 12 (then 18) month delay window.
After the initial crowdfunding campaign they kept promising more and more stuff. Not only had the game gone from being the “spiritual successor of Wing Commander” (a single player game), it was blowing up to be a full MMORPG. And I was fine with that. At first. I was so fine that when they showed off the Retaliator bomber I loved it and dished out $225 for one. And the idea of being information smuggler sounded cool so I dished out money for that too. But then as they continued to get millions of dollars every month I kinda saw it getting out of hand. I fully realise I know very little of what it actually takes to deliver a game and I know it takes a lot of time to make a game. A delay can easily be a year. But when they were promising new features, new ships without actually releasing much I kinda saw the problems of this ever being released. If they take two-three months to get a ship to “flight ready” and they keep coming up with 7-8 new ships every year, how are they ever to get done? If they add new feature to the scope before releasing the basic ones promised during Kickstarter like trading, how are they ever gonna get done? This picture to the right pretty much sums up what I felt all throughout 2015. And during July of 2015 Derek Smart happened. He’s a game maker who has tried to pull off these grand space games for years and never really made it. Which means he knows some of the pitfalls of even trying. He started criticising the “Star Citizen” project – very vocally, bullyuishly, annoyingly, contrived, “deliberately wanting to turn everything into a bad thing” way. And he got very personal against Chris Roberts, his wife and his lawyer (that all co-founded the studio) in a way that was really uncool. But he always stopped right at the border of lying or making shit up. Yes, he twisted everything into a negative thing. And I was right there to point out the actual facts. But the problem of trying to argue with him was the fact that “CIG” (the studio making the game) never managed to prove him wrong. They never managed to shut him up by stepping up to the plate and deliver. Instead, they made his case stronger by coming up with more irrelevant features (plants anyone?), more subscriber flare, more ship-concept sales, more of everything except actual game content. An all this while constantly missing “estimated” release dates that they themselves estimated and set.
Then they went ahead and wrote a new Terms of Service that we have to accept. Which is fine, Blizzard does it all the time. But I actually read those things, it’s a result of working with lawyers for 8 years – I actually read before I sign. And in this Terms of Service they had removed any accountability what so ever, every chance of demanding a refund. It was basically a carté blanche for them to sail away with the $117+ million they had gotten from backers and as long as the company CIG was still “active” and stating the game was still being worked on (without ever actually delivering anything) then we had no rights at all as consumers. I really wasn’t OK with that. So I refused to accept the terms of service. That had the side effect of me not being able to login to the so called “game”.
And what they call “the game” (as it was the last time I checked) consist of
1) running around my hangar looking at the static non functioning ships that have gone from concept to “hangar ready”.
2) Fly around in a very gorgeous but limited space environment fighting against enemy ships without ever feeling like “I’m so into this battle”, it’s rather plain but a totally acceptable test bed for flight mechanics.
3) Run around one planetary landing zone. Think of Orgimmar in World of Warcraft. But about half the size if that. And never being able to go out the gates.
4) Run around a station, call the ships I “own” that are “flight ready”, getting on board, flying around trying to repair comm relays, exploring a small little station for clues about corporate evilness
.. and that’s it. And it’s all full of game breaking bugs as you can expect from alpha. But compared to what was promised even in Kickstarter, before they even had $20 million, this simply won’t do. There is no exploration, there is no trading, the space combat is mediocre at best, there are no systems to travel between (so no jump points with that mechanic), there is just this. And that’s at “estimated delivery + 18 months”. And there is nothing to indicate that is about to change, that there is a magic key that once implemented will unlock all the missing features and mechanics.
At the end of last year they came up with a trailer for the single player game “Squadron 42” that promised released in 2016. It was freaking amazing! The “admiral” speech was precisely the classic cliche dialogue I know from “Wing Commander IV” and the visuals, oh man… but there is nothing to make me believe that it will actually happen. The space combat right now is way to limited to be close to what has been promised. The cutscenes may be breathtaking but it all needs a space combat simulation to build on, or I might as well see “Wing Commander The Movie“.
I really do hope I’m wrong and that they do actually release “Squadron 42” this year, or maybe even next year. I really do wish that they actually release the game they’ve promised. But right now I don’t see anything that suggests they will.
So where does that leave me? Since I haven’t accepted the TOS I can’t login to the “game” that I’ve spent well over $600 on (not counting merchandise). I was fine waiting until 2020 to see the game develop into what was promised, I really was. But when I’m banned from the game for simply not accepting the most consumer-hostile terms of service I’ve ever been presented with, that becomes impossible. And since there is very little to support the idea that the game will be done anytime soon I find my only recourse is to demand a refund. Although I fully accept that backing a Kickstarter project can go either way and is a bit of a gamble, when they were successfully funded and kept bringing in millions it goes from a gamble to being a downright fraud. My first attempt was denied. But I’m not giving up. Even though I’m fortunate enough to be able to write these $600 off as a dream that didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean I have to accept it without a fight.
And this is not on Derek Smart – this is on CIG failing to deliver. Piling up the “to-do” list of ships and features to get into the game, wanting to release a perfect and fully featured product, delays and now not taking any responsibility for it in their TOS. And I’m not putting the project in jeopardy by requesting a refund. This is a $117+ million project, my ~$600 of that should be less than a fart in space. Think of this as a customer cancelling a preorder because the game changed too much since I made the preorder – which is exactly what I did with The Division & the new Deus Ex when those publishers changed things. Because no one can honestly say that what CIG are pushing today is what they tried to sell during Kickstarter!
To be continued – unfortunately.
So I work for the oldest (and biggest) tour operator in Sweden and I’ve never sat foot on Mallorca. Well I wasn’t having that anymore. After trying to find someone to travel with this year we eventually concluded that maybe it was a good idea to go at it alone. To avoid that daily problem of organizing lunch at work – if you’re 3-4 people it works but once yo get to 6-7 it won’t.
We’d done Turkey and Greece already so Mallorca was the one classic still to-do. We found a hotel that was recently built (Viva Zafiro), had good rooms and so we booked it. The wife really wanted the best room with a terrace and private spa and the bells and whistles so ofcourse she got that. After all, I get a discount. As usual we booked an early summer vacation for May because when june-july-august comes Sweden isn’t a bad place to be really.
We started off early with Helenas mother picking us up and driving us to the airport at 5:30am!! I managed to screw up the boarding cards so we didn’t have as much time in Arlanda as we wanted to. So get on the flight and there’s no need for introduction with my colleagues on the plane as I’ve flown with this crew before – twice! Get to Mallorca, manage to find our transfer buss to Alcudia and away we go. We get to the hotel and as usual when a bussload of people comes there’s a queue. But this place is so classy they served us drinks while we waited! After that it was off to check the pools and check out the rest of Alcudia!
Our daily routine became pretty much sleep, breakfast, pools, lunch, go around Alcudia, dinner, 9 o’clock show at the hotel and then sleep. And everything was just great!! We didn’t try as many restaurants as we had hoped but that was because we had all inclusive at the hotel which included free alá carte, so there was really no need to go out for fancy food. We did try some local restaurants and the best one by far was Bodega des Port down in the Alcudia harbor! I’ve never seen such a family friendly restaurant and staff at local restaurants before! And the food was awesome too. We also paid a visit to the Sunwing hotel in Alcudia, pretty much because I’m curious of what it looks like.
The only real “touristy” thing we did was a bus ride out the Porto Cristo and to see the Hams caves where we got some awesome photos from. Also a short stop at Majorica who have been making pearls since 1890 and Helena had to do some shopping. Then when it was time to go home it was ofcourse the day when they had extra security meassures & checks at the airport so we spent most of the time waiting in line at the airport and just a few minutes to browse the tax free.
All in all it was a great week, Sam had an amazing time! And we’d definitely go there again but maybe to Palma next time!
So that happened – UK voted for leaving the EU. I, as a swede, shouldn’t bother too much, right? Well I do. A helluvalot!!
It’s not only because half of my family and a few friends are Brits or are currently living & working in the UK, although that’s a very good reason to care. It’s not only because I’m working for a company owned by Brits. No, it’s not that small, narrow minded, shortsighted or personal.
It’s a freaking issue of mankinds survival! Bare with me here!
The fact that we are overspending the resources on this planet isn’t even in question (“Earth Overshoot Day“). That we are poisoning it and overpopulating it like bunnies, those are all facts. So we need to grow as civilized & evolved creatures and let go of the archaic notion of nations, of mankind’s made-up stuff like borders and currency. To realise that when an earthquake hits it doesn’t stop because it crosses a border. When the ocean’s rise it’s not going to stop because this country signed a treaty! When a flood hits it’s not going to care about your economic growth!
We need to grow beyond thinking of “my country” & “my people” (I cringe everytime I hear the words “my people” in The 100 which Clarke says ALOT!). Every leader in the world is protecting their country and their people which noone can blame them for – but is it productive in the long run? I know it sounds like a “Star Trek” sci-fi fantasy but I wish the entire Earth was just one big country, with one currency and one interest – to save the planet, stop hunger, cure diseases and most of all reach for the stars! Because if we stop hunger and cure diseases we will need another planet pretty soon. And none of that is going to happen if people are only interested in looking after their country, their little piece on this Earth. And after the second world war when EU was created it was a good step towards globalization. This was a huge step back and I can only hope it stops with UK because if the EU falls apart there’s no telling how it’ll end up for mankind!
Just a quick update to say we’ve now sorted through and uploaded the pictures from our trip to Alcudia (Mallorca). Will post a full update about the trip later.
Enjoy! As usual, the password is the short Swedish name of my employeer with capital first letter.
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.