I drove and walked around a bit. The towns I know I ended up in at one point or another are: Boxborough, Stow, Bolton, Clinton, and Harvard.
Archives for 2013
I went to IETF 88 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. My friend Anna met me after the week of work and we drove a rental car out to the Rockies. Anna brought the tunes. I especially liked Canada is Really Big and The Last Saskatchewan Pirate.
I parked my car at work and took the T to the airport. Normally, weekend mornings have very light traffic. That morning though, the trains were packed because of some sort of parade. I guess I’m a bit unconnected to local sports. On the A319 from BOS to ORD, I saw a glory for my first time. In Vancouver, I got a front seat with a good view on the SkyTrain. Overall, it was an interesting travel day.
After checking in at the hotel, I walked around looking for dinner. I shortly found signs for a promising-looking place. Then I took a wrong turn into a place that had some really good sushi and Korean barbecue.
I wandered into a Japanese grocery store. It had a small section dedicated to maple syrup. For dinner, I found a really good Mongolian BBQ.
I got some pictures from near the top of my hotel:
Since I was in Vancouver, I felt that I had to try a JapaDog. I ate it by Vancouver Harbour and watched the float planes taking off and landing.
I met Anna at Pacific Central Station. We checked into a hostel, made some plans, ate sushi, and took a walk around. On Davie Street, we saw an interesting cross walk. A grocery store was selling a really large box of chocolates. English Bay Beach was pretty. We even got to walk on a dock in Vancouver Harbour.
At breakfast, I asked if my pancakes could be made with chocolate chips. The waitress said she had never heard of chocolate chip pancakes before, but she seemed excited by the idea and said she would ask the cook. The cook had never made them before, so s/he had to make a practice one first. I think that was just an excuse to try one.
After breakfast, we walked around Marine Peace Park. The park was beautiful and the air smelled really good.
Golden was one of my favorite places on the trip. The Island Restaurant had an excellent bison burger, and Anna and I shared a roasted duck salad. The chocolatissimo chocolate cake was quite tasty too. We stayed at the Dreamcatcher Hostel. The lounge was incredibly cozy, with a central fireplace, a black lab, a golden retriever (in Golden!), and a piano and other instruments.
The breakfast at Big Bend Cafe was outstanding. We stopped at two outdoors stores to get bear spray and ice traction things. They didn’t have what we were looking for, but they told us where we could get them in Lake Louise. Then we walked around town for a few minutes before leaving.
We got the bear spray and Yaktrax at Wilson’s like the people in Golden said we would, then we checked into the hostel. We drove up to the lake and walked around in the cool mountain air.
After returning the skis, we drove to Banff for some delicious burgers followed by hot springs. We did a little bit of swing dancing in the pool. It was snowing part of the time, but the air was too hot for the snow to reach us.
The person working at the hostel in Jasper recommended a sushi place called Oka. It was the best sushi I’ve ever had. We got the chef’s choice, and Oka made some very good choices. I especially liked the toro nigiri.
We checked out Maligne Canyon.
Then headed on to Medicine Lake.
We turned around at Medicine Lake and headed back down the Icefields Parkway. First we stopped at Athabasca Falls. Then we saw more bighorn sheep. Next, we walked around near Athabasca Glacier and did a photoshoot. The weather at the glacier was very nice. It was about -4°C and intermittently very windy.
We stopped at HI–Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel for the night. It was a great qualitative halfway point between a backpacking hut and a more normal hostel. It had outhouses, not indoor plumbing. The lighting was battery powered and the batteries were occasionally recharged by a generator. The parking lot was below the hill that our front wheel drive car couldn’t climb anyway. Most importantly, there was a sauna. After dinner, we went to the sauna. For the first sauna break, we stood by the snow-covered creek looking at the nearly-full moon. The next break was for rolling around in the snow. The break after that was for a brief snowball fight. After the snowball fight, two ice climbers from Calgary joined us in the sauna and we talked for a while.
It was nice to wake up and walk over snow on my way to the bathroom. Before leaving, I took some pictures of the hostel:
We back-tracked a bit on the Icefields Parkway to see some waterfalls.
Then we headed back towards Banff to see Johnston Canyon.
After Johnston Canyon, we drove back to Golden via Radium. On the way to Radium, we saw a whole herd of over a dozen bighorn sheep. Back at the Dreamcatcher Hostel, one of the other guests gave me a local beer from Revelstoke.
For breakfast (at the Big Bend Cafe of course), I had poached eggs (with lime hot sauce), bacon, ham, sausage, pan fries, a multigrain pancake, and a slice of whole wheat french toast. It was delicious.
We drove back to Vancouver via Kelowna. The drive was pretty, and it was interesting to see traffic lights and traffic again.
I met a couple from Bavaria at the hostel’s breakfast. They were in Vancouver to work for a bit before traveling around Canada, and we talked a bit about our travels. Anna met me a bit later at breakfast, then we parted ways.
I spent the rest of the morning hanging out in the hostel lounge. A Swiss man told me about the mountains in Switzerland. I learned that a lot of Australians go to Vancouver and the surrounding mountains to work for the winter because they like snow and the Canadian work visas are relatively easy for them to get.
For lunch, I decided to walk to Chinatown to find something spicy. About halfway there, I saw a Japanese noodle soup place that was advertising red ramen soup with spiciness anywhere between 1 and 10. I got the 7 and it was amazing.
I woke up rather early and walked to the SkyTrain station. On the platform, I met a construction worker on his way to work and we talked most of the way to airport. My flights were pretty uneventful. Then I went home and slept.
Almost a month ago, I took pictures of some cows… in a field.
I got to go to IETF 87 and the RPKI Deployment Strategies Workshop in Berlin for work. Then I took advantage of the great opportunity and used some vacation to see Scandinavia. It was a rather amazing trip overall.
2013-07-25 – 2013-07-26
I then headed over to Hauptbahnhof to get my EuRail pass activated and to buy some train seat reservations for the vacation portion of the trip. Berlin’s public transit is the best I’ve ever seen. Throughout the week, I rode the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Regionalbahn, and a bus. All of them were fast, on time, clean, and easy to navigate. Hauptbahnhof was huge, with lots of connections going all over the place, both in the Berlin area and to other parts of Europe. Stations felt safe at night.
Breakfast at the InterContinental was delicious. I had liver sausage, smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, a sprat, scrambled eggs, pancakes with nutella, waffles, fresh fruit, a pretzel, a few types of cheese, feta and leek salad, and fruit juice.
I got to Freie Universität Berlin early, so I looked at their collection of interesting old computers:
(just some work stuff this day)
I walked to Wittenbergplatz for dinner, then walked around looking for a music store. In the process, I ended up in the enormous department store KaDeWe. They had an amazing selection of Legos, Fischertechnik, and lots of other cool toys, but not the music I was looking for.
The social at the Deutsches Technikmuseum was great. The trains exhibit was beautiful from an engineering perspective, although some of the history was unsettling (but handled well by the museum). The replica of Zuse’s Z1 was both pretty and fun to talk about with the other IETFers.
(just some work stuff this day)
I had dinner with coworkers at Käfer on the roof of the Bundestag. There was a really good view from the dome of both the city and the parliament below. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel through the very pretty Tiergarten.
I went to a biergarten with a coworker. My König Ludwig beer, pretzel, and pizza with mozzarella, basil, and tomato were very tasty. I finally found a city that has pretzels on par with or better than Philadelphia.
I also had a chance to walk around and take pictures:
Vacation! I got on the train from Berlin to København. After a few minutes, we were going about 190 km/h and I didn’t even realize it until I read the sign. We passed forests and fields of corn, grass, wind turbines, and solar cells. The train took a ferry between Germany and Denmark. It was nice to get out and walk around on the ferry.
I took the train from København to Göteborg and from Göteborg to Mellerud. On the bridge between København and Malmö, I saw an offshore wind farm! I really don’t get aesthetic complaints about wind power. Wind turbines are pretty. On the first train, somebody was blasting a remix of Only Teardrops. I was amused. On arriving in Mellerud, I walked until I found a place to sleep:
I understood intellectually that the night is shorter closer to the poles in the summer, but I didn’t realize just how little sleep I’d get. I decided to sleep inside the remaining nights.
Mellerud is a nice small town surrounded by beautiful countryside. It’s near Vänern, the largest lake in the European Union. I have a few photos:
When I got back to town, I asked a man near the train station if he knew if Kil has hostels. He didn’t speak English very well. He offered to lead me somewhere, but I couldn’t understand where or why. After about a kilometer, we were in what appeared to be the town center, with a tourist information center. I thanked him, and the people at the tourist info center were very helpful.
I took the train to Kil and found their tourist info center to get directions to the nearest hostel. It was farther than I felt like walking after hiking and walking around all day, so I gave in and stayed at the Kils Hotell. The room was simple, but very nice. The person working there was very nice.
I watched some TV in the hotel. I really liked the supermarket ads. They had spoken words, written words, and pictures for various types of food, which came in handy throughout the rest of the week. There was also a show with some good music.
I took the train from Kil to Oslo. In Oslo, I found a small cluster of antiques and second-hand stores. They had some really interesting things, including a butter churn, old skis, some manual SLRs and lenses, and a lot of furniture.
In the hostel, I shared a room with three South Koreans on vacation around Europe and two Italians on their way to Svalbard. I may or may not be seriously considering visiting Seoul and Milan now.
Another train, this time Oslo to Finse. I had a good time talking with a retired Canadian couple and a young Norwegian. The hostel in Finse had a bed, so I decided to stay there.
The glacier was beautiful and the air was a pleasant 10 °C. I ate lunch outside watching the lake and glacier. Then I decided to take a walk around the lake, which turned into a hike much of the way up to the glacier. The mountains, rocks, ponds, and snow were some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen, and my pictures don’t do it justice:
I woke up in Finse to a beautiful cloudy day. I walked around the Rallarmuseet and saw the biggest snow blowers I’d ever seen.
I took the train from Finse to Myrdal, then the Flåm railway to Flåm. On the Flåm railway, there was a photo stop at a waterfall with a wonderful surprise that I won’t ruin.
I got lucky again and got the last bed in the hostel in Flåm, then I walked around. The mountains, valley, and fjord were just as stunning as Finse the day before, but in a different way. As before, my pictures don’t do it justice:
I woke up to another beautiful day in Flåm, then took the train back to Myrdal and on to Bergen.
Bergen is a wonderful city. I took a walk on a cobbled street and through a large park. The variety of colors of old houses was pretty. The park had public xylophones, glockenspiels, and a slack line. A few (presumably) locals asked me to play a glockenspiel for them, so I made something up. They applauded when I finished.
The open air fish market at the docks had stalls selling all sorts of delicious-looking fish, both for immediate consumption and for later preparation. I saw salmon, whale, monkfish, live giant crabs, live lobsters, shrimp, mussels, and many other things. I tried some free samples at various booths, then settled on a delicious fish curry for dinner.
I woke up early and flew home, meeting some interesting people in the process. The Oslo–Newark flight had a really good view of southern Greenland. I hope I can see those snowy fjords at ground level some day. It’s good to be back in the land of the free (gratis bathrooms and water fountains, that is) and contra dancing.