I am DVDKOURIL. This is my blog.

David goes to USA: final part, the road trip

The final part of my trip to USA was a road trip on the west coast with three colleagues. I think I already mentioned that it was a big deal for me to go to US (farthest I’ve ever been from home, fulfilled a dream of going there) and I had a chance to experience a lot on this road trip.

I’ll put my tips first: if I’d do this again (and I want to!) I would:

  • plan and book the accommodation beforehand; we had to figure out where we’re gonna sleep on the fly and it made it a little bit more stressful (but also more adventurous, depends on what kinda person you are)
  • get an US sim card with mobile internet; from my experience the wifi coverage is not as great as I read on the internet before leaving. Also we had problems to reach some US numbers from our phones.
  • make sure that I can pay with my credit card; one hotel pre-authorized a large sum of money of my credit card and I couldn’t raise the limit because I forgot the phone I use to authenticate internet banking actions at home. You should also make sure that you don’t have a geolocation control/lock activated on the card.

I wanted to put these down mainly for myself to remember. So let’s get into the trip itself!

We started in Phoenix. On the way to San Diego we slept in El Centro (still not sure how that’s pronounced) and continued the next day. We went to La Jolla Cove and I really liked it. It had a great atmosphere and we arrived at a perfect time when the sun was setting.

We slept in a motel in El Cajon. It was probably the place I liked the least of the places we slept the whole time, big motel in a big city, lots of noise and weird people.

So I was very glad to go to Sequoia National Park the next day. Sometimes I’d rather face the nature than the people. In this case we had to face the cold at night. It was a good decision to bring Gabi’s sleeping bag.

We slept in Grant Grove Village (which I think is technically Kings Canyon National Park but they are very much connected so…) and met there the most friendliest guy at the reception of the camp.

After Sequoia we drove to Yosemite National Park, sleeping in a tent-cabin in Half Dome Village. 

Yosemite is simply breathtaking. We did one big hike to Nevada fall and some small walks around the Yosemite Valley. Once again I was amazed by how well organized the national parks are. I simply have to come back to explore more of it, the 2 or so day we spent there are just laughably short amount of time for it.

For the last weekend we stayed in San Francisco and I have to say that I think I fell in love with this place. We stayed very close to Market street which might have been a mistake but hey, at least I’ve seen this part of SF/USA as well. I was just amazed that I’m there. I’m in the place where so much has happened, where so much is happening now, the place I’ve heard, read, or seen so much about. I was happy to be at this place even if for such a short time.

Our flight home was from San Francisco International with Lufthansa to Munich and then from Munich to Vienna with Austrian. I was actually very surprised how easy the flight was, it didn’t feel long at all! And the flight to Vienna was almost funny—we ascended, flew for maybe 10 minutes and then the flight attendant announced that we are starting the descent to Vienna.

I’m now back home in Vienna and I have to say that I’m suffering a bit from post-travel sadness. And jet lag (I thought I’ve recovered already but yesterday I passed out at 8pm and woke up at 1am…). But I’m happy to be with Gabi again and I’m really excited to be working on things now. There’s so much I want to accomplish and experience in life. I’m happy to be back at working on the life I want to create for us.

I guess I’m really going to the USA

I’m gonna be visiting US for a conference this October! I’m part of the people from Vis-Group attending IEEE VIS 2017. It’s gonna be the first (bigger) conference I’m gonna attend.

I am also the one given the responsibility of planning the traveling. I bought flight tickets on Friday, it was really a pain in the ass. I was buying a multi-city tickets because we’re gonna make a road trip after the conference and we would be flying out of San Francisco (the conference is in Phoenix). I don’t know what’s the best way to book flights, I was looking them up using Google Flights but then I realized that I still need to look those flights up on the website of the airline. And then things happen…like when you try to pay, you can’t choose certain countries for the billing address.

I’m pretty excited. I’ve wanted to go to USA for a very long time and although I’m kinda growing out of wanting to live there, I’m still very curious to see it.

There’s still a lot to happen until then however. Like our vacation for example. I’m really looking forward to that, our vacation last year was game changing for me.

But I need to finish some things before I leave for Greece. We have a big projects that’s coming to an end and I need to still implement some things for that. I hope everything goes well, I have about 2 weeks for that.

As for this week, there was a public holiday on Tuesday. I stayed at home on Monday too, but I was working from there. It sucks that both me and Gabi work on a different public holidays schedule. It’s rare that we get to have it on the same day so usually either one of us still needs to work.

There was a dinner with a guest visiting the vis-group happening on Wednesday and we went there. It was in a place on the edge of Vienna and it looked typically austrian I’d say. We drank some wine and had schnitzel. It was nice.

On Friday we tried the second IKEA in Vienna (the north one). We found out that IKEAs are pretty much the same everywhere. But they didn’t have the suitcase we wanted so that was pretty disappointing. At least I got the hot dog and we brought zimtschnecke.

Last thing I wanted to write down is that I think something is switching in my head when it comes to programming. It starts to click. For a long time I had a really hard time actually putting down my ideas into the code. I was always getting guided by a library or an API that I was using. I felt like there’s no way for me to make the code my way, go with my ideas and actually make things work. But now I’m figuring out that I can. I’m realizing that the most important thing when programming is to keep it at the right level of abstraction. At certain point you just need to abstract things into separate modules and rely on them to work. I guess I’m a really bad programmer cause I’m figuring this out just now. But I don’t really mind.

I think using git and branching a lot helps tremendously. That way I’m less scared that I’m gonna fuck something up, I know that I can always come back to the working version of things.

Oh and we went to Schönbrunn on Sunday.

A trip to the zoo

I’m writing a diary on my computer that comes in real handy when I write things for the blog. It usually seems that there’s not much happened and I have nothing to write about. Then I look at the diary and see all kinds of stuff I did, or things I thought about…and bang, there’s your blogpost.

Like this week, we had a jam session with colleagues. Apparently, a lot of researchers play some musical instrument (myself included). So we got together and made some noise. We also drank which didn’t go well with the playing that much.

I experienced a little bit of crisis this week too. I felt like I didn’t really get a brake ever since I finished school (and the sprint to that was taxing by itself), and even though I was working on a lot of things, I didn’t really have much to show for it. That was my impression at least. Of course that’s not true, but in the moment it was an overwhelming feeling. I’m really looking forward for our vacation in Greece in 22 days.

I like being disconnected. That’s when I get into the right headspace and think about important things, ask important questions, and figure out what’s important to me. This get’s easily lost in the day-to-day, when the stress and emotions are the primary drivers.

I got a bit of taste of that this weekend when we visited my parents in Czech Republic. We went to the zoo and just chilled. Of course the two days were enough for me to want to go back and work on things. But I take it as a good thing.

First week living together in Vienna

First week of both of us living in Vienna—Gabi was back in Brno for 2 days, I went for a beer, we had a fight, and after we made up we cooked a lot of delicious food. That about sums it up.

The work week flew by very fast it seems to me. It’s actually really hard to get something done and it’s very easy to get distracted with little tasks. I have a lot of those.

Gabi was in Brno because of work so she didn’t really enjoy much of Vienna at the beginning. It really isn’t the same without her. Even in a nice apartment with all our stuff. And I swear, if I lived alone, I would have the nastiest apartment ever. I don’t have the slightest motivation to clean up when I’m all by myself.

On Thursday, we went for a beer with VisGroup. It’s fun, but I always feel so miserable the next day. I couldn’t eat anything and I was tired. Not a good idea to drink on Thursday. I don’t really drink very often so I need very little to get in the mood but I have a really hard time stoping at the right time. And also…peer pressure.

At least the weekend was peaceful. We cleaned the apartment, cooked, I did some work on my iOS project. We also went on a little ride along Donau on our bikes on Saturday. And on a walk to Augarten on Sunday (a rainstorm caught us on the way home).

I was losing my mind over the weekend a little bit. It felt like whenever I wanted to do something, I couldn’t because of technical issues:

  • I tried to buy a washing machine—my card didn’t work (“technical error”).
  • I tried to see what’s up with my Jahreskarte (public transport card)—couldn’t load the page, technical outage.
  • I had to submit a final version of a poster to a conference submission system—no way to do so, the review not even visible.
  • I wanted to login into UPC administration for the first time—credentials in the email instructions didn’t work, couldn’t reset it. I had to create a new account, for which then I didn’t know what the username is (it’s the email! thought it’s written nowhere!)

I was only able to resolve the UPC thing eventually, which means that I have other little errands to do next week…uhhh.

We are now completely moved to Vienna

Wow, it’s the first time I’ve missed putting out a post on Sunday. The reason is that I was just completely exhausted yesterday.

We spent all weekend with moving. On Saturday, it was another trip with a rental van, only this time without our friend’s help and with the rest of ALL our stuff. You don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to physically, with your own hands, move each and every one of them from one location to another. We also bought a couch, which meant we had to somehow get 60 kg to the first floor. But we managed!

We went back to Brno to return the van, relax for a while, and sleep there so that we could hand over the apartment in Brno. There was also a lot to clean still.

I would say that we are very clean people. We can take care of the place we live in. That’s why we were pretty angry that we had to pay for a kitchen unit doors under the sink because it got wet and wrinkled slightly. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think we treated the apartment as best as we could and this was just an effect of actually living in the apartment. It was some kind of chipboard or something like that BTW. Something that almost wrinkles when you just breathe on that. I don’t think you can expect something made from the cheapest materials to last forever. But I don’t know, maybe I’m the asshole…

Oh no, it's completely ruined!

Oh no, it’s completely ruined!

But anyway, we handed the old apartment over, put the rest of the stuff into Gabi’s mum’s car, and went for lunch to her and her partner’s apartment. After that they took us and our stuff to Vienna. The rest of the Sunday was spent putting our things into places and cleaning. We also finally found out where our storage compartment in the cellar is. The door sign was “parteienkeller” which translated by Google Translate was funny—”party cellar”. It’s pretty nice to have something like that, in this previous apartment we had to keep everything in the apartment. We were lucky to have the bikes down in the bike room. The bike room there was able to only take 4 bikes. And there were 12 apartments. Here in the apartment in Vienna the bike room is HUGE. I guess it’s not surprising when you think about how many people use bikes for every day commute here.

The new apartment look awesome in my opinion. Even now when we are not done unpacking yet, it’s getting cozy. I like that. I can only hope that we are going to like it here. It’s been pretty scary and emotionally taxing, this whole procedure of moving. At this point, I’m glad we are doing this. I’m glad that we are trying this big scary and outside-of-comfort-zone thing. Now I just hope that it doesn’t turn out being a bad move.