One month have gone and I've been absolutely terrible at keeping the blog updated. Getting stuff done has in general been extremely hard since it takes a long time to create routines while constantly traveling. Every time I go to a new place, I need to find out how to get around, somewhere to work (proven to be hard), a grocery store, a good enough gym, supplements store, etc. Also, although hostels are cheap and you meet great people, everybody is on holiday and you get constantly tempted to go out partying.
After many rough weeks with long nights and bad habits, I've finally calmed down staying in a beautiful AirBnB house near the beach in Alicante. My hopes are that I will be able to become productive and live a good life here for a while.
Anyhow, since that's a different story, here's a recap of what I've actually been doing since NSConference in Leicester.
The Athens of the North
Straight after NSConf, I was going to Edinburgh to visit friends and meet up with some Scottish devs. The night before I had a chat with a friend and coworker who was doing her master's studies in Edinburgh about where I was staying. With 30 minutes left to cancel my previous booking, she convinced me to instead book the Castle Rock hostel. Since it was the first hostel I've ever stayed in, I didn't know what to expect. But now when I've been to a couple of ones, nothing beats it. Everybody was super friendly, the staff lived at the hostel themselves and they arranged awesome pub crawls and parties.
One of these events was a weekly beer pong tournament, a first for me. Everybody was randomly arranged in teams and I ended up with a New Yorkian guy we dubbed Captain America. After failing miserably the first match with my team mate having to cover for me, I got the hang of it as we progressed in the bracket. Winning with more and more margin, we ended up as champions and got to enjoy the spoils of victory at a nearby club. :D
It wasn't all partying in Edinburgh. I also attended some meetups that Marius Ciocanel told me about. There I met Markos 'qnoid' Charatzas who earlier gave an interesting speak about sound debugging at NSConf and Mike McQuaid from GitHub. One meetup I particularly enjoyed was the Product Tank, hosted in Skyscanners office next to the gym I went to. It was a first time for me heading to a product management meetup and I found it super interesting to discuss with people that have other perspectives.
All in all I really enjoyed Edinburgh. Everybody was super friendly, there was lots of tech people and the views were magnificent.
After Edinburgh I went on to London to meet up with a bunch of people. For the first few days, my mom came from Sweden to visit me and do some touristing. So after that I went on visiting the new Apegroup London office and going to some meetups. Sadly I missed out on the London iOS Developer Group with Dave Verwer (curator of the awesome iOS Dev Weekly newsletter), among others. Without knowing anybody, I signed up and went to the bar where the meet was. Turns out the bar was pretty big and I didn't recognize anyone. So after looking around for a while and trying to get hold of people through Twitter, I gave up.
Besides surprising my colleagues back in Sweden by turning up for the weekly meeting (with the London office Skypeing in), not that much exciting actually happened in London. I really wanted to go for Startup Weekend but unfortunately I was way too late with my application.
Also, I never would have thought it, but I found London way to big for my taste. Wherever you went it was at least a 30 minute commute, even within the centre of the city.
Moving on to Amsterdam, I stayed right in the centre of town at the Flying Pig uptown hostel. Within 10 minutes I had found two drinking buddies and we went on to roam the night. The nightlife was awesome with every bar having a good DJ and dancefloor, even went it wasn't a proper club.
Next day I went to visit the Appsterdam community at A-lab, just north across the river from the central station. After a lunchtime presentation about Sencha Touch, I had a coffee with the very friendly Patrik Beeker who also showed me around in the area. Working a bit in the awesome co-working space and walking around in the city, I got a great feeling about Amsterdam. Too bad I was due to leave just the day after. Reflecting on it now, I'm definitely going back to stay longer.
My stay in Amsterdam concluded by the mandatory Flying Pig pub crawl. Only problem was that my flight to Valencia was due for lift-off at seven in the morning, so I figured the best idea was to keep on going all night and then head straight for the airport, which I did...
Valencian football and decay
Last week I stayed in Valencia and frankly, got no work done whatsoever. Five minutes after walking inside of the Purple Nest Hostel, I met a german guy who told me about a football match the same night. I've never been that much interested in watching football, but now when I was in Spain, I couldn't miss the opportunity. I knew that a week later, the Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Real Madrid was going to be played in the Valencia stadium, but the ticket prices were outrageous. This match however, was between the local Valencia CF and the Swiss team FC Basel in the Euroleague with tickets for a measly 15€.
The match was a rematch from which Valencia came out losing 3-0. Naturally, the crowd wasn't too excited as the referee blew the starting whistle. But then Valencia started to absolutely dominate the match, scoring more and more and leading with 3-0 as the regular match time ran out. Since I never knew about the previous match, I almost left while everybody else waited for overtime. In the end, Valencia won with a whooping 5-0 and the crowd went absolutely crazy, hugging strangers and chanting songs while exiting the arena to party on the street.
Getting to Alicante
After partying for five nights straight, me, a Belgian teacher and a kid from Finland went to stay two nights in Alicante just two hours down the coast from Valencia. Getting there was another story though. After having no luck finding ride sharing through BlaBlaCar, we checked the train schedule and decided to go by train instead.
Arriving at the station we thought the train left from, turns out it was the wrong one. Now we had to take the slowest shuttle bus ever to the other station just a few hundred metres away. With only 10 minutes left until departure, we ran towards the ticket vending machines when the next problem turned up: we couldn't pick Alicante among the destinations in the machine. By some odd reason, these particular tickets could only be bought in the manual ticket booth. After trying to convince some grumpy old people to let us pass to the front of the queue, things were starting to get desperate.
It was 5 minutes until departure. We already knew we couldn't go through the glass gates to board the trains without a ticket, but with desperation kicking in we ran towards the gate guard, begging him to let us through anyway and buy a ticket on the train. While he refused us and turned around, the Finnish guy found a leftover ticket on the ground and it actually still worked! One by one, he stood on the other side, opening the gates for the rest of us while the guard stood literally two metres away from us. Running towards the platform, we made it with seconds to spare!
While we made it to the actual train, we now had to face the problem of the ticket inspector. Since we were pretty sure we couln't buy tickets on the train, we figured our best bet was to pretend to be asleep so the he wouldn't want to disturb us. After some tense 30 minutes, we spotted the inspector walking down the wagon. Taking a quick look at one another, me and the finnish guy entered sleeping position. Suddenly, I heard the Belgian guy Simon (who taught Spanish) starting to talk with the inspector. I knew Spanish good enough to follow the conversation but not to explain the situation as well as Simon did. Finally, the ticket inspector let us stay on the train and get tickets. Although we paid 10€ more than we originally planned, this was considerably cheaper than taking a fine.
As we arrived in Alicante I immediately fell in love with the place. The atmosphere was much calmer than in Valencia or London and the beaches were stunning. Still, there was a lot of young people from the University and the night life more than adequate. Thus, I decided to stay here while the others went on to other places, something I know I will not regret.