Posts tagged: travel

Far east

Lately the job and the project I am working on kept me busy and didn’t have much time for the blog. Don’t want to let it die though so here is a small update.

Work kept me on the go as usual and this time I ended up for 10 days in South Korea, the farthest east I’ve been so far. I’ve been to the Samsung shipyard in the southern part of South Korea and I must say that is one impressive place. It was an interesting but kind of tiring experience, the flight time alone is some 15-16 hours, plus waiting time.

The shipyard specializes in building ultra-large ships like container vessels, oil tankers, floating platforms and the like. Those ships are just enormous, everything on the shipyard is on a scale that I have never experienced so far.  Everything is built in huge pieces and then put together, not unlike a lego game. Couple of pictures so you can get an idea:

Otherwise the country is not so much different from Germany, you find pretty much the same products, the same stores. Prices are slightly lower on some things and quite a bit lower in others, for example a pack of cigarettes is about 1.5 Euros, unlike 4.9 Euros here.

In the first couple of days I have not seen one single european car on the roads. I initially thought that car manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes, Renault and the like are banned in South Korea. By the time I left I actually saw 3 european cars, one BMW and 2 Audis. Otherwise you only see Asian cars, and nice, expensive-looking too.

Some other oddities include really dark windows on almost every single car I saw, which would be quite illegal in Germany. And almost all drivers have a really big display on the dashboard where they watch TV while driving. Another thing which would be maybe slightly illegal in Germany :)

Coffee is a total disaster in that country, so is bread. But otherwise you can find good food and while I am not a beer drinker, the little I had was ok too. I had some big slight difficulties with them damn sticks but after some practice period my skills vastly improved and I could eat my food without looking like a retard. I am pretty sure it was still not the proper way but it somehow worked :)

That’s it for now, Merry Christmas to everyone :)

Visit to Prague

Last week we took advantage of two free days and we went for a quick getaway to Prague. We left on thursday, we wanted to leave in the morning but it didn’t quite go as planned so we left a bit later in the day. But still, Prague is not that far from where we live and almost all the way is only autobahn so we got there in the afternoon.

That was not so bad in itself because the weather was rather bad that day, it rained a lot. So we only went a little bit to the city to look for some things at Tesco, one supermarket which is not present in Germany. Even though I did read a lot about this before, I still did the mistake of trying to park in the city center. That was a bad mistake, the timing was bad and traffic was horrible. We did find a place eventually but it was very annoying.

The next two days we had really beautiful weather. This time we parked some ways from the city center where parking was really cheap, at least compared to Germany (something like 60 cents per hour). And then we walked through the city. A LOT. We spent about 7-8 hours that day in the city and most of that was walking, except some breaks for food, stores and stuff. Even though we were kinda dead at the end of the day, we liked it a lot and it’s one of the best ways to actually “see” Prague.

The city is beautiful. Even though it also suffered some bombing from the americans during the 2nd world war, the damage was far less extensive in comparison to other cities which were bombed during that time. As a result one can see a lot of very beautiful old buildings in very good condition. You also see a lot of cobblestone roads which reminds of Bucharest, there are quite a few there too. But unlike Bucharest, Prague is a very clean city. It’s actually quite a lot cleaner than many German cities.

As prices go, Prague is in quite a lot of aspects cheaper than Germany. Food is cheaper, cigarettes are cheaper,  diesel/benzine  is the same, accommodation is much cheaper. As everywhere, you can pay hundreds of euros for a room if you really want to but the normal prices are much lower than in Germany. First night we stayed at a hotel closer to the city center for 55 € and second night we found another hotel, little bit farther from the center for only 39 €. That is for a double room, breakfast included. There is no way you find that anywhere in Germany, not in a city anyway.

On saturday, before we left for Germany, we went and visited one of the biggest flea markets in Prague. The place is huge indeed and we went there thinking we will  get loads of nice and cheap things. We did not, unfortunately. The flea market is big indeed but most of it is full of junk. I mean that’s what you usually find at flea market but here things were really junky.  So we were kinda disappointed with the whole huge flea market thingy. I did make some pictures though:

Anyway, overall it was really nice and we plan to go there again because there is a lot we haven’t seen. And of course, some of the pictures I made in the city:



Last week I’ve been on the road a lot. We’re doing performance tests for  Cisco TelePresence systems in different locations and I had to do them in Berlin and Fritzlar (yeah, I never really heard about that one before either).

My tour took me from home to Berlin, then 2 days later to Fritzlar and then back home, almost 2000 km in 4 days. It’ a alot but it was not that bad I guess. It’s my first time on the A9 section of the autobahn from Nürnberg to Berlin and I have to say driving was a pleasure (except for the non-stop rain, that is): 3 lanes, no traffic jams, no roadworks. And only “130 km/h recommended speed limit”, which basically means you can go as fast as you can but you better not cause any accidents or you are in trouble. If you survive, that is.

Which is more than I can say for the biker I saw  in an accident on the other side of the autobahn. First I saw a banged up car, then half of motorcycle, then the other half and then the biker. He was dead, covered by the police with something but you could clearly see that the shape of his body was slightly unnatural. I don’t know whos fault was it but why people drive at high-speed on a motorcycle while it rains heavily outside, it’s beyond me.

Anyway, I also got to drive on the A2 autobahn, the last major autobahn in Germany I have not been on. Same as A9: 3 lanes, no traffic jams, no road works, no speed limits. I think that when people talk about the no-speed limit on some of the autobahns, they assume everyone drives with 250km/h but that is not true. Yes, you do see people driving fast, which you can actually do since normally nobody stays on the high-speed left lane. But most of the cars don’t even if they could. I would say most drive at a cruising speed of around 150-170km/h.

Unlike Stuttgart with its 600.000 or so inhabitants, Berlin is big in comparison: 3.5 millions inhabitants and almost 5 millions in the metro area. I didn’t have time to see much, first day it rained continuously and the second day I only had a little bit of time in my lunch break. But it reminded me of Bucharest in a way, to be honest: long streets and avenues, high building density, many small shops and stores along the streets, etc. It’s a lot cleaner though, the buildings look better and the streets are really wide, not just the avenues.

Another notable thing is the one of Berlin’s airport, Tegel. It’s basically inside the city and since my hotel was really close to it, I could see the planes flying really low above the buildings while they were landing.  Took some time to get used to it. They don’t fly at night though (or I didn’t hear any) so I could sleep without problems.

Lots of streets with 30km/h speed limits, I most likely got flashed by a radar car I think on one of them. Like I said, I didn’t have time to see much of the city, only been to Alexanderplatz and walked a bit around that area but that is only a tiny part of the whole city. Maybe next time, whenever that may be.