Karlsruhe

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Karlsruhe is a large town (or small city?) in southern Germany, quite close to the French border. It is a place I’ve visited several times now, always for business purposes. I’ve never really spent much time looking at it though. My previous visits have been in more wintry months where darkness falls early, this combined with working with people who’re happy to stay in the office until late rules out most sightseeing. I was in Karlsruhe again all of last week and both these conditions were reversed, so I got to check the place out a bit.

All in all I think that I really like Karlsruhe. It’s big enough to have everything you’d want but not so big as to feel like just another city. Great features include:

  • The tram (light rail) system is amazing: goes everywhere, regular, and cheap.
  • Overall openness and spacyness of the city is relaxing (no super-hi-rise city centre).
  • Excellent range of food for eating out (amazingly there are many sushi bars – 15.90€ for all-you-can eat sushi that’s actually very good? Beats the heck out of London).
  • A good bit of history around (though most of it is probably reconstructed).
  • Yet general modern design and planning make it less haphazard than truly old towns (it’s actually very young by Germany standards, at only a couple of hundred years).
  • Highly amusing modern sculptures scattered around the place.
  • Great German beer everywhere. Germany is always the best place to be stuck in hotels thanks to hotels always having good beer. The local Hoepfner beer is pretty good, most interestingly they actually do a good porter!

Time to learn German and move there? Heh, after the pain and suffering of moving to the UK? I don’t think so. Maybe in 5+ years! :)

I took some photos while I was there, with the new camera we bought while stuck transferring Bangkok a couple of weeks back, and have used the opportunity to give Google’s online photo stuff another spin. No doubt my interest in online photo systems is obvious, having written several entries about such (especially when it comes to mapping of photos). I’ve never been happy with Flikr or Picasa Web Albums on previous trials. It seems that the Google offering has really advanced however! Including just the sort of mapping features I’m interested in.

So I’ve bunged my photos into Picasa Web Albums and mapped them. The drag-and-drop mapping is a refreshing breeze compared to all the overtly complicated methods I’ve played with before. The most significant disability is that it is geared to work with Picasa. This would be fine if the Linux version of Picasa had the bits to interface with Picasa Web Albums but, alas, it doesn’t (yet). This leaves me only able to upload photos in lots of 5 at a time, which really sucks.

I might finally be happy to move to a nefarious online photo service. I still don’t trust them, but I really hate using Gallery. Picasa Web Albums isn’t free if you want to store more than 1GB of photos, but I’m willing to place a reasonable value on not having to maintain and worry about Gallery.

London Sunday

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

For the keen slave of capitalism London is rather disappointing on a Sunday morning. I fly out on a work trip at 14:30 today from the city airport so we came in to the city in the morning to do a bit of shopping. Now, because none of my clothes fit very well and our washing machine has packed it in I need some new garments. Clearly Oxford Street in London would be the place to go!

We got into the city just before 09:00. Upon tunnelling our way out of Oxford Circus station we noticed Oxford Street to be pretty dead — but it’s before 09:00 so fair enough. We popped around the corner and had an unsatisfactory type of coffee from one of the usual trashy coffee chains. At around 09:15 we headed back to Oxford Street… still dead. Look at the opening hours, open from 12:00pm (and 12:00am on several shops that clearly don’t know their AM from their PM).

Shopping on London, Oxford Street, on a Sunday morning? Stay at home. You can have a coffee, even have a few beers in the pub, but to buy items of apparel you’ll have to wait until noontime hours.

So I now sit in a nat little café on Neal Street (since Monmouth is closed on Sundays, the bastards) and drink some adequate espresso. Bonus points for insecure wireless networks.

And Back Again

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Touched down at LHR today (Monday June 11th) at 19:00. Yes, that’s more than 12 hours late! Yay!

Apparently the First Officer for our Bangkok to LHR flight came down with a sudden ear infection. As a result we got to spend the night in a Novotel near Bangkok airport. This wasn’t all too bad though, it was a fairly swanky place. No Thai stamps in the passport sadly, the process was that they took away our passports at immigration and gave us numbered cards as a replacement. We picked up the passports on our return from the hotel in the morning (I should say later that morning since we got to the hotel at 02:30).

A good couple of weeks. WA was relaxing. Sydney slightly less so, since it covered friends and work as well as family — but it was great to see everyone (well, almost) again.

We probably wont be back in Oz for another 18 months (So we can sync up with summer next time, and avoid gale-force winds and pelting rain in Sydney!).

More later, as time permits. Right now I’m halfway to being a zombie.