Category: Europe

Ahoj, 2016!

Thank you for the great time, 2015… let’s hope 2016 will be as wonderful 🙂

Now, a little bit of what happened at the end of 2015…

To explain the title, which means Hello, 2016!” in Czech, it’s because for the new year’s eve we decided to join a friend’s plan to stay at a holiday house a.k.a ferienhaus somewhere up in the mountains of Czech Republic: with 5x bedrooms and 2x bathrooms/toilets for 10 – max. 22 persons, without landlord. Judging from my past experiences of staying in a ferienhaus in HornĂ­ BlatnĂĄ, and by looking at the pictures (above), I imagined a holiday house in a small village surrounded by forest, with tranquil and romantic atmosphere. However… in reality…

Do you see the little house there surrounded by plattenbau instead? 😀 ^^;;

Anyway, it was a nice place although… with 22 people in a house *and only 2 bathrooms!* it was a bit too crowded for me :”>. We got to eat the very yummy and tasty Czech food though, and drink cheap but good pilsner *for bear*, because during our 2 nights there we always had dinner at a restaurant, so I won’t complain much ;).

Of A Very Shiny Crystal Ball Called Google (Part 2)

ZĂŒrichsee, from Arboretum, a small park at the very top of the lake

Exactly one day after I published this blog post here, a recruiter from Google contacted me, saying that there is an open position fitting my profile:

Analytical Linguist, NLU in Machine Intelligence (Thai and Indonesian)

Understanding natural language is at the core of Google’s technologies. The Natural Language Understanding (NLU) team in Google Research guides, builds, and innovates methodologies around semantic analysis and representation, syntactic parsing and realization, morphology and lexicon development. Our work directly impacts Conversational Search in Google Now, the Knowledge Graph, and Google Translate, as well as other Machine Intelligence research.

As an Analytical Linguist, you will collaborate with Researchers and Engineers in NLU/Machine Intelligence to achieve high quality data that improves our ability to understand and generate natural language systems. To this end, you will also be managing a team of junior linguists and vendors to derive linguistic databases as well as propose direction for approaches to language specific problems.

Target languages: Thai and Indonesian

My first reaction was… amazed. How come, just right after I posted a writing about my epic failure at the previous interview?? 😀 What amazed me even more was that this opportunity answered my question back then, quoted exactly as it is: “what else could be the reason to work at Google other than having something ‘shiny’ in your CV? :p”

Workation in Gran Canaria

A workation is a trip or vacation where you must perform some task for your regular work. Although you may be in a new or exotic locale, you may have to attend meetings, telecommute, or complete projects for your job. —

I think companies should really consider to do this once in a while *grin*, this is what it looks like… Well, in my case, as a PhD student I have the flexibility to do this kind of stuff. The bear is actually Dr. Bear now, but as a Postdoc who hasn’t started his teaching activity yet, he has the same flexibility. So yeah, we decided to give it a shot. And the destination for our first workation is… Gran Canaria, in Canary Islands!

Why there? Because… it’s November, autumn was gradually changing into winter in Italy, Trento/Bolzano was showering most of the time, and we want warm place, with sun! Our first option was Egypt, but I need to get a visa to go there, while Canary Islands are still in Schengen area (Spanish islands), hence no visa is needed, my residence permit is enough.

Linkin Park, "The Hunting Party" in Munich

My first time ever to go to a big concert. And… actually, my first time ever to get out of Munich train station  😀 *I passed by Munich a lot of times on my way to/from Dresden*.

The concert tickets were actually part of the bear’s graduation reward *from himself, the cat accompanying him was a bonus :p*, which was followed by a short trip to Canary Islands. As for myself, well, I needed a distraction from a failed interview ;).

Sailing in the Adriatic Sea


This time the cat and the bear are on a sailing adventure! Both of us had never done this before. We’re so lucky that one of our friends knows how to sail and that he proposed to go sailing for our summer holiday :). So, in the end, the crew consisted of 5 members: the cat, the bear, a Siamese cat *ehem, because she’s Thai ;)*, Capt. polar bear, and another polar bear :p. Here you go, the crew seen from the top of the mast by the cat and the bear…

We started traveling by car from Italy towards Croatia, to Murter to be exact. There, in the harbor, the boat had been waiting for us. The boat is a Bavaria Cruiser 40 S, named ‘Judita’, more details can be found here. It’s actually quite big, there are 3 bedrooms inside, besides a living room and a kitchenette. The living room inside was almost never used, because we always eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and after-dinner-drink outside near the cockpit *there are two benches and a fold-able table*, accompanied by summer breeze ^^.

The trip was going like this…

The Cat and The Bear in Iceland

HallĂł! Cat is back!

I’ve been trying to write about this trip since a month ago :D. It wasn’t summer yet back then in Iceland, but the lands were getting greener, although it was still snowing for a day or two. The weather was really unpredictable, like.. stormy rain in the morning, then sunny sunshine in the afternoon. Anyway, it was a very cool trip! Figuratively and literally.

Yep, that was our driving route. Our rental car told us that we drove for around 2,166 km in total. Well, ehem, actually the bear did almost all of the driving, the cat helped for only around 40 km *on non-asphalt road when the bear was too lazy to drive slowly*. Considering that I’m a total beginner, and without any driving license, I’m so proud that I could drive that long, with the maximum speed of 60 km/hour :D.

Iceland, the land of ice and fire, where the gap between Eurasian and North American plates is apparent. Glaciers, geysers, fjords, volcano craters, steamy mud pots, waterfalls and geothermal spas are the jewels of the country. Everything looks… huge and vast. It seems like a whole different world to me. Right after I landed in the Keflavik airport, on my way to the city (Reykjavik), it felt like… I’m on Mars! Or moon :D. Although most of the time we were driving through a barren land, but even the barren land looks amazing with all the lava fields and sandar. Driving through glaciers and fjords was so difficult, because… we wanted to stop every minute to admire the breathtaking view :D. To support my blabbering, here you go, some pictures from the road trip…

Ski Vacation II (without snow)

As in the previous year, February is the time for ski vacation or… as the bear said, Winterurlaub! The destination is exactly the same, HornĂ­ Blatnå in Czech Republic, and we stayed in the same green house called Pension Florian.

The house remained the same, except that… now there’s WiFi! 😀 I still can’t decide whether that is good or not. Last year I felt so happy and relaxed during the vacation because I wasn’t bothered by emails or (bad) news or friend’s updates in social media. Sometimes we need to get away from such things to fully enjoy the holiday. However, one thing that makes me grateful that the WiFi exists is that I wouldn’t miss the latest episodes from one K-drama I’m following :p.

the view from Pension Florian, too little snow for skiing

The other thing that is not the same as last year is… there’s no snow! 🙁 Well, there was some, but too little for skiing. So yeah, no skiing at all, but we did some hiking and trip to nearby towns, like Nejdek and Karlovy Vary, which are wonderful. Prague is not the only beautiful city in Czech Republic ;).

Ionian Islands: Kefalonia & Ithaca

the cat and the bear Filiatro beach, Ithaca, Greece

ΓΔÎčα ÏƒÎżÏ…!! When I say I had a vacation in Greece, I’m sure that you will imagine those ancient Greek ruins in Athens, the blue-and-white houses in Santorini, or… wonderful beaches. Well, we didn’t get to see the first two, but we indeed visited the best beaches I have ever seen so far :).

It all started when we browsed for cheap ticket anywhere from Milan, because we felt that we really needed a vacation :p. Then we found this unbelievably cheap ticket to Greece, Kefalonia island to be exact, for only €19.6.. return way! So… here we come, Greece!

Ski Vacation

HornĂ­ BlatnĂĄ

Berbeda dengan liburan musim dingin tahun-tahun sebelumnya, yang bertema city hopping, kali ini tema liburan saya.. ski vacation! ^^ Bisa disebut juga ski-winter school, karena selama seminggu penuh tiada hari tanpa skiing, lengkap dengan instruktur tentunya :p.

Bertempat di HornĂ­ BlatnĂĄ, sebuah kota kecil di Czech Republic, di distrik yang berbatasan dengan Jerman. Sungguh kecil, sampai bisa tertangkap kamera hanya dalam satu gambar (di atas). Mengapa Czech? Karena segalanya jauh lebih murah di sana ^^.