Travel update 3: The fall

My last travel update concluded just as I was leaving Rome to head for UIKonf in Berlin; a trip that Apegroup made possible by sponsoring my conference ticket. Since I had already booked a plane from Rome to Prague, I had to take the train the last stretch to Berlin. The timing was supposed to be perfect. I would go straight from the Prague airport to the train station and then arrive in Berlin in enough time to check in at my hostel and go to the UIKonf pre-party. Or so I thought...


Of course my train gets severely delayed and I end up an hour late in Berlin. "No problem", I keep thinking. "I'll just go straight to the party and check in my stuff later". So I did. Well there, I meet both old and new acquaintances and we end up drinking a few beers at a Russian bar. Time flies by and as my cab arrives the hostel, I notice something. The windows are dark and the reception door is locked.

Desperately, I try calling a telephone number which I then hear ringing through the door. Without any clue or WiFi in one of the shadier areas of Berlin, next to a drug dealer's nest (Görlitzer Park), I walk around to see if there's anything open. After a while I then realize there's a slim chance that some drunk tourists who already checked in at the hostel, might head back home to sleep. So instead, I resort to stalking people. After a few embarrassing moments I finally see a girl heading straight for the door. Luckily, she doesn't pepper spray me and believes me after I show her my booking confirmation. Since she had a free bed in her room, I stayed there and it later turned out to be the exact bed I was booked for anyway.

The next day UIKonf began, dubbed "The independent conference for serious iOS developers". Even though it only started in 2013, organized by Chris Eidhof of, it has quickly become a high-profile European event in the community. I originally planned to write a dedicated blog post about it, since it was so great. But as you will soon find out, unforeseen circumstances came in the way.

Depending on how you see it, UIKonf lasted two to four days. The day before the actual conference, there were several workshops you could attend with topics ranging from Core Data to Microsoft Azure and UI-design. After the two-day conference, there was also a hack day which spawned incredibly useful tools like Pod Roulette and gave people mind-blowing insights on the Berlin Metro ticket system.

The conference itself was hosted at Heimathafen Neukölln, a gorgeous theater whose name took me the entire week to pronounce properly. Between the presentations, you had your usual coffee breaks. Except the coffee came from Berlin's best coffee shop and was of a different mix every time they served. That level of detail was found throughout the conference. Even the badges were uniquely etched in wooden plates.


The talks had well varied topics with a higher focus on practical use than the many inspirational talks at NSConference. The sheer quality of content and presentation of the talks at UIKonf really surprised me. A rising theme among the speakers was to use custom, interactive presentation apps instead of the usual Keynote (or Chris' hot new Deckset). The animation guru David Rönnqvist started this off with a gorgeous, fully animated SceneKit app to explain how OpenGL works on the iOS platform. Then Nick Lockwood took over by doing realtime image loading benchmarks on a custom iPad app, containing all slides and everything. These guys really set the bar and I hope we will see more interactive presentations from here on.

On thursday night, the conference concluded with a party hosted by Facebook, who recently impressed the entire community with Paper and all the great open source projects they've released. Waking up on friday, I felt like shit. Thinking it was a regular hangover, I went to the gym to sweat out the last drops of alcohol in my body before going to Betahaus to hack. When I later crashed at my hostel dorm, I could feel that I was on the brink of getting really, really ill. Just as I was going to fall asleep, a bunch of girls enter the dorm, cheering, all ready for a night out. And of course, my stupid self gets convinced by them to join on their nightly quest.

The Berlin nightlife is famous for the underground techno scene and its notorious bouncers who reject party-going tourists like flies. We ended up with around 10 people trying to get in to some of the more prominent clubs. In Berlin, you can't just go in as a group. They're to cool for that. What you instead do is split up into pairs and spread throughout the lines so the bouncers don't get suspicious. While some make it in, others don't, seemingly random.


After a great night out, I woke up feeling even more shitty than the day before. Thinking my hangovers just stacked, I once again went to the gym (worst decision EVER). When neither that or eating a solid meal didn't help, I started to gain suspicion that I might have caught something.

Taking the train back to Prague, I knew for sure I was having a bad throat infection. As beautiful and lively of a city Prague is, I couldn't enjoy it much and just rested as much as possible. Before I could tell, my days in Prague were over and my condition was only getting worse.

Budapest was a city that really made an impact on me even though my condition was progressing towards abysmal by the hour during the entire stay. It has incredible beauty, lots of stuff to do, great people and awesome nightlife. Since this was my last stay abroad before chilling heading back to Stockholm in wait for WWDC, I booked the craziest party hostel I could find together with Chad, the guy I went hiking in Morocco with. This idea turned up to be both great and disastrous at the same time. Retox wasn't your run-of-the-mill backpacker hostel. The partying there happened from mid-day till dawn, every single day. In fact, when we arrived, the staff warned us that their neighbors hate them so much, they sometimes throw buckets of shit on bypassing guests. ¯\(°_o)/¯

On the first night we met Tyler. Tyler was an American guy who was getting married in Slovenia a couple of days later and was on Retox for his bachelor party... except he was alone. By some weird force in the universe, all his friends who were invited had different mishaps happen to them, which made them unable to come. So there were me and Chad, his new stag's mates. Later on, Chad even joined in on Tyler's wedding in Slovenia and stood on his side as a groomsman.

My life in Budapest consisted of three things: partying, curing the hangover from last day and abuse painkillers to stay afloat. My throat was so bad at this point that I had to take cough drops every hour just to be able to talk. Alcohol and four hours of sleep a night didn't exactly help but there was no possible way of avoiding the parties. One of the more remarkable events was the sparty, set in the Szechenyi Baths outdoor spa. Imagine a hot spring pool, a DJ, lots of tourists and alcohol. How could you go wrong?


After all the craziness in Budapest, I was ready to drop dead. Arriving in Stockholm I went straight to the doctor, who took one look at me and concluded I was in dire need of penicillin. I looked forward to meet all my friends in Stockholm again, but that was outright impossible in my then current state. I recovered as best I could for a couple of days and then, it was time for San Fransisco and my very first Apple World Wide Developer Conference :D

Travel update 2: The rise

A long time has gone and suddenly there is less than two months left on my journey. The last months have brought several literal and metaphorical ups and and downs. What strikes me over and over though, is how many amazing people I have met and how each new person takes me by surprise. The experience has broadened my mind, to say the least. Without falling further into delirium, here's the story.

Last time I did a proper travel update, I was on my way to Morocco from Spain. I ended up in Marrakesh, "The Red City". Visiting an Arabic country for the first time, Morocco was a brand new world unlike anything I've experienced as a westerner. Although it took a while for the culture shock to settle, I later fell in love with the place. The atmosphere was so different from any European city, I've never felt safer walking down the street in the middle of the night.

As it happened to be, Chad – an American guy I met at the Castle Rock hostel in Edinburgh a month before, was staying in Marrakesh at the same time as me. After meeting up, he proposed to hike up Toubkal, which at 4 167m was the highest peak in the Atlas mountains. Since I'd never hiked in my entire life before, how could I say no?

To get on top of Toubkal, we first had to take a cab to Imlil, the last outpost where cars could get through. Since we arrived late, we stayed at a local bed & breakfast where we could also rent equipment. From there, it was a grueling 6 hour hike past goats and killer mules to the refuge camp below the peak. While I was staying the night inside the refuge, Chad and his newfound friend Matthieu (who he had met on the ferry to Tangier) tented outside.

Matthieu was a French guy who took budget traveling to an extreme. He always carried a tent and hitchhiked wherever he went, even when in the cold vastness of Iceland. All that hitchhiking had him built up his cardio, which made us feel like bulldogs with astma as he raced on in front of us.

After a freezing night at the refuge, it was time to climb up the peak. Conveniently enough, the entire trail was clearly visible on Google Maps, which made pathfinding a no-brainer. It took us roughly two hours through rocks and scree to get up and when finally there, the view and feeling of accomplishment was incredible!


On the way down we found some snow patches to have fun in. Having a snowball fight after hiking through the scorching sun in over 35°C was as surreal as it gets. During the final stretch before reaching camp, we walked past a group of 16-17 year old kids and slid down the final bits of snow. Just five minutes later as we were arriving at the camp, we noticed something had gone very wrong. People ran past us with a stretcher and then we got the news: One of the kids we just passed, slid down the same patch of snow as us but lost control. On-site doctors had a look and concluded the boy had fractures in his spine and skull and an emergency helicopter was called for. We never found out how the kid did, but it surely bummed out the hike back home.

I spent a couple of more lazy days in Marrakesh (trying to get rid of the blisters on my feet), before continuing my journey. At this point, I didn't have much planned in terms of where to go when. The iOS developer conference UIKonf was drawing near in Berlin but I figured I wouldn't afford after winning the WWDC lottery. I knew I wanted to go to Prague, so I planned my itinerary accordingly. After finding a ridiculously cheap (25€) flight ticket from Rome to Prague, i figured I had to somehow get to Rome from Marrakesh where I was staying. Turns out the cheapest alternative was to stay two days in Madrid.


Arriving to Madrid, I didn't really know what to expect. I love Spanish food, culture and climate but Spain had always been associated to beach life for me. In Madrid, of course, there were no beaches to be found. A couple of days earlier, I got an email from Fransisco Sevillano who read my Fluent Pagination post after it was featured in iOS Dev Weekly. He had checked my route, noticed I was in Madrid for a few days and invited me for lunch! I was once again struck by how many incredibly nice people there are in this community.

After several delicious Spanish tortillas and a great conversation, Fransisco told me about an NSCoder presenter night happening later that night in Madrid. He couldn't go himself so I thanked for the lunch and went on my own. The topic for the presentation was ReactiveCocoa. What surprised me though, was that the entire presentation was in Spanish. After spending several weeks in Spain, my Spanish was good enough for me to understand the presentation. Asking questions was more difficult. One of the organizers ended up translating my questions from English to Spanish, while the presenter answered me back in Spanish. Weirdest Q & A session I've experienced, but we all succeeded to communicate with each other in the end.

The next day, I had a session at the huge and super modern FitUp gym, which I highly recommend! At this point, I hadn't been to a gym since all the way back in London a month before. Calisthenics may be great, but I missed lifting iron. After an obligatory bar crawl to check the pulse of the city, my last night was over and it was time to head for Rome. All in all, I left with a much greater appreciation of Madrid than I ever expected.

Roman culture and history has always fascinated me. I was hooked by everything from Rome: Total War and the Spartacus series to Monty Python's Life of Brian. Actually walking among the old ruins and inspecting Colosseum in its full glory was immense.

The AirBnB place I got was in Santa Marinella, a tiny coastal town just an hour away by train. My host was so alike me, it was like stumbling upon a lost twin brother! He was born in St. Petersburg, just like me, moved away when he was six, as I did, a programmer (check!) and had a big interest in fitness (yup).


In short I had a very relaxing, although not that exciting stay in Italy. At this time, I had also talked to my boss at Apegroup about UIKonf and how I wanted to go but couldn't afford the conference ticket. Lucky for me, they were awesome enough to sponsor me, even though I was on a leave! With these news, I instantly booked a hostel in Berlin and train tickets from Prague. UIKonf was going to happen and I was super excited!

A day trip to Guadalest valley

Today I put my imaginary tourist hat on and went on a day trip to the Guadalest valley, ranked no 1 of all the attractions in the Alicante area on Tripadvisor.

Of course I knew this was a tourist trap, but my dear AirBnB host had begun hinting that I should do something else than programming and going to the beach all day. And to be honest, it looked kind of nice.

To get to the valley I had to take the tram to the neighboring, tourist-flooded city Benidorm and then a public bus. This bus only went once a day so I needed to have precise timing in order to not miss in.

In my usual manner I calmly ate my breakfast for way too long and ended up running 2K, catching the tram thanks to a well timed red light with 5 seconds to spare. Perfect timing.

On the bus, I noticed how I was the only one younger than 60, except for one chinese girl who seemed to avoid any social contact no matter what. I didn't care much though, since I enjoy exploring things alone anyway.

Well at the valley, the tourist trap was even worse than I thought. The place was crawling with fat, elderly people, eating crap food for outrageuos prices. The views were sick though!

Looking out from the the established view point, I noticed a distant ruined tower on top of a rock. It looked like it wouldn't be a problem climbing it. Since there wasn't anything to do in the village anyway, I went for a little adventure.


After approaching the rock from a few different angles with no good path to be found I encountered a man with a donkey. Asking him about the way in my crackling Spanish, he showed me a hidden path between some rocks on the cliff-side.

Hidden path between the rocks

Hidden path between the rocks

The path was way steeper than I imagined.

The path was way steeper than I imagined.

I had to fight my way through thorn bushes and past snakes to get to the top, but standing on top of the wall with a view of the entire valley, knowing that envy tourists were probably wondering what crazy person I was from the other side, made the entire trip worth it.

View from top of the tower walls

View from top of the tower walls

All in all the roundtrip cost me about 12€ + 2:50€ for the most expensive popsicle ever. Well worth it, as long as you stay away from the crowd.

Travel update: One month in – aka I'm not dead yet

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.

Playa de San Juan, Aicante, 5 minutes walk from my current stay

Playa de San Juan, Aicante, 5 minutes walk from my current stay

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

Edinburgh Castle, as seen just below Castle Rock Hostel

Edinburgh Castle, as seen just below Castle Rock Hostel

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.

"Paint me like one of your french girls"

"Paint me like one of your french girls"

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

Anticipation is high for the beer pong tournament at Castle Rock

Anticipation is high for the beer pong tournament at Castle Rock

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.

Debate panel at the Product Tank meetup in Edinburgh, me on the right

Debate panel at the Product Tank meetup in Edinburgh, me on the right

All in all I really enjoyed Edinburgh. Everybody was super friendly, there was lots of tech people and the views were magnificent.

Casual programming from Arthur's seat volcano in Edinburgh

Casual programming from Arthur's seat volcano in Edinburgh


Kneeing Adolf in the nuts at Madame Tussauds, London

Kneeing Adolf in the nuts at Madame Tussauds, London

Street lunch in London

Street lunch in London

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.

A Swedish app maker, an American actress and a Brazilian DJ, out to make the Amsterdam streets dangerous

A Swedish app maker, an American actress and a Brazilian DJ, out to make the Amsterdam streets dangerous

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.

Peeps working at Appsterdam HQ

Peeps working at Appsterdam HQ

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€.

First live football match of my life, Mestalla stadium, Valencia

First live football match of my life, Mestalla stadium, Valencia

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!

Tense moments on the train to Alicante

Tense moments on the train to Alicante

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.

Tabarca, the smallest permanently inhabited island in Spain

Tabarca, the smallest permanently inhabited island in Spain

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.

Magnificent view from the Santa Barbara castle walls in Alicante

Magnificent view from the Santa Barbara castle walls in Alicante

UK Mobile Data for 2£ per GB

Quick tip for digital nomads heading to the UK:

If you want cheap mobile data, get a 3 (Three) Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband SIM. For a measly 2£ at the nearest WH Smith (there's a lot of them on airports), you get a starting allowance of 1GB data. As soon as that runs out, just buy another SIM and repeat!

I did this once a week during my three week stay in the UK and except for the London subway, the network ran flawlessly!

The SIM-card works as well on your smart phone as on a tablet or MiFi device. Also, since it's meant for mobile broadband, tethering is allowed unlike with many other pay as you go SIMs.


Subscribe for more traveling tips for digital nomads!

Of Things To Come

I have a confession to make.

Three weeks into my trip, I am starting to realize how naive I have been. In my wild fantasies before traveling was reality, I imagined all the near-infinite time I would have on my hand. Compared to doing 8 hours of work on the same project day in and day out, I was surely going to be ten times more productive in a new environment. Boy I was wrong.

It's probably just a matter of getting accustomed to being on the road, but the latest weeks have been devastating in terms of actually getting things done. I've been finding myself spending more time on finding the best & cheapest hostel, flight route, grocery store, gym, supplements store and so on than actually being productive with writing & coding.

With all that said, I'm slowly finding calm in midst of chaos. Saying no to going out and being able to think straight in a chatty room is still hard, but it's progressively getting easier.

Here's an update of what I'm actually working on and topics for upcoming posts

First of all, I've been working for a while on this lengthy blog post about pagination. This one I should have written already back in 2012 when I implemented the fluent pagination technique I'm proposing, in the ICA Handla app. The post will feature thoughts from a UX perspective and how that affects UI in apps, together with client and server considerations and some iOS sample code.

There will also be posts with travel tips for digital nomads and lifters, including how to get cheap mobile data, gym passes, nutritional supplements and places to work, among others.

The thing that still worries the hell out of me is my economic situation. I really need to do marketing for my currently only paid app Min Firma, but that's a topic for another post. First, I need to become productive.

I'm staying here in London until tuesday and then I'm gonna visit the Appsterdam peeps. Really looking forward to that even though I'm just staying for two days. Then it's off to Spain where I'll probably be traveling around for a month or so, trying to achieve that programmer dream of sitting with your laptop on the beach and watching the sunset with a drink in your hand. Those will be good times :)

CC Image courtesy of Librarian by epsos .de on Flickr   

CC Image courtesy of Librarian by epsos .de on Flickr