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.

David goes to USA: part 2

The main reason of coming to the US was the IEEE VIS 2017 conference so that was what this week was all about. The conference was held in a Convention Centre in Downtown Phoenix.

It was my first big conference so there was a lot to process. I wasn’t there for any specific reason. I wasn’t presenting a paper, I wasn’t there to meet people I know. I was just really curious about how the field of visualization works in the bigger picture, outside of the groups I know so far.

I took notes throughout all of the conference, here’s some of them:

  • My biggest takeaway probably is that I want to learn how to be a good speaker.
  • Other thing that I wasn’t expecting is how easy (and inconvenient) it is to get sick while traveling. Especially here in Phoenix, where outside it’s hot, and inside it’s freezing because of all the AC. Next time I’m going somewhere I need to prepare my immunity system for that.
  • Demos, videos, pictures, GIFs…any of this is better than trying to describe what you’re presenting.

I got to explore some of the food in Phoenix. Cornish Pasty was very good!

But the best thing I had was a burger at Welcome Diner, a place close to the motel the receptionist recommended.


Downtown Phoenix is kinda cool. It’s amazing however that you can walk somewhat short distance and suddenly you are in a not-so-nice area.

We left Arizona for California. The plan of the road trip is pretty fluid right now, hopefully we figure it out somehow and will have a good time.

David goes to USA: part 1

This was my first time flying to US and also first time on a long haul flight. First flight with Austrian (close to 9 hours) went perfectly well, they distract you with food and drinks, and I had podcasts to keep me entertained.

The other flight was with United (for around 5 hours) and I got lucky, I was sitting next to a lady who shared a Philly cheesesteak with me.

The immigration checks (or whatever it’s called) went smoothly too (it’s something I’ve heard is kinda random).

We went to SLC for a meeting of people working in the same field and I got to say that I left feeling very inspired! I really liked having Salt Lake City as my first contact with USA, the mountains are super pretty, the city itself looks very clean, and the University of Utah campus looks like a typical american university campus (very nice).

From there we drove to Grand Canyon. But we are stupid and didn’t book any accommodation for that night and it turns out it’s kinda difficult to find a room around Grand Canyon at 11pm in the night.

We ended up sleeping in a car on a parking lot next to Horseshoe Bend. At least we got to see it on sunrise the next morning.

We did two hikes while in the Grand Canyon national park: short one on Saturday and brutal long one on Sunday. The short hike was along the South Rim. The long one we hiked down on the South Keibab trail, then changed to the Tonto trail, and finally hiked up the Bright Angel trail.

After that we drove to Phoenix and now we are here at the conference. The conference ends on Friday 6th and after that our road trip starts.

Preparing for the USA trip

I’m going to USA in a few days and I’m excited (and just a little nervous) about it.

First, we have a meeting with collaborators in Salt Lake City and afterwards we will attend VIS 2017 in Phoenix, trying to squeeze a Grand Canyon visit in between those. After the conference me and three other colleagues are going on a road trip on the west coast. Plan is not exactly clear for the road trip yet, we want to go to national parks mostly but I would really like to see some of the big cities too. We are flying back from San Francisco on Monday, October 16th. That’s almost 3 weeks I’ll spend there and I’m just super hyped for that.

I’m looking forward for all three parts: In Salt Lake City I will meet people that I’ve only talked to online so far, I’m sure the conference will be inspiring, and the road trip afterwards is going to be awesome too. I’ll be giving a short presentation in SLC, nothing at the conference, I’m only coming there to watch, get inspired, and network.

But most of all I’m looking forward to just experience US. Ever since I’ve been a teenager, I’ve been living in the US world through the internet. Even though I’ve lived in Europe my whole life, I know a lot of the American culture from second hand. You get the feeling that this is the place where it’s all happening. I’m really curious to see how is this world experienced in person.

I’ll try to continue with writing updates on blog (with lots and lots of photos) but besides that I think it’s to be expected that I will be posting a lot of my instagram.

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.