Category Archives: Europe

Ahoj, 2016!

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

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 Horn√≠ Blatn√°, 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? ūüėÄ ^^;;

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 ;).

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


Z√ľrichsee, 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?? ūüėÄ 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 ‚Äėshiny‚Äô in your CV? :p”

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Workation in Gran Canaria

this picture was taken from here

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. — www.wisegeek.com

I think companies should really consider to do this once in a while *grin*, this is what it looks like… Luckily, 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 a 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 the Schengen area (Spanish islands), hence no visa is needed, my residence permit¬†is sufficient.

The first thing that we need is a good place to stay for a week, with a fast and reliable internet connection (first priority), and a reasonable price (second priority). For location, we don’t really need the shortest access to a beach, because this is usually monopolized by expensive luxurious resorts. We were looking for such a place through¬†airbnb.com and tripadvisor.com, until we finally found a place that we wanted: Villa la Bella (Bungalow) in Maspalomas. Read more »

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 ¬†ūüėĬ†*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 ;).

As a preparation,¬†we’ve started¬†listening to “The Hunting Party” since months before. “Guilty All the Same”, “Until It’s Gone”, “Final Masquerade” and “A Line In the Sand” were among my favorites. We also trained on this maneuver of me sitting on the bear’s shoulder. Too bad in the end¬†we didn’t do it because he got a back pain from all the training :D.

The concert was awesome!! I was jumping, I was screaming, I was singing along, and… I was standing¬†on my tippy toes all the time *yeah, the curse of being a hobbit*! ūüėÄ But I didn’t care. People sweat a lot, people stepped on my feet, I didn’t care! I was so happy and excited!! It seemed that once in a while, this kind of relaxation is needed.

Some songs I didn’t know, because honestly, between “Meteora” and this newest album, Linkin Park was out of my music radar (except¬†some of their singles like “Waiting for the End” and “Burn It Down”).¬†To my surprise, they played “In the End” and “Crawling”!! It was like being thrown back to my high school time, which was¬†more than a decade¬†ago *dang, I feel old*! ūüėÄ I still remember all the lyrics, including the rap part.

Now, as a proof that I was really there, here you go… a recorded video! Not a high quality one, and at some point you will hear my voice singing along, I’m sorry :p.

Next live concert… Muse!

Sailing in the Adriatic Sea

Ahoy!

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…

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The Cat and The Bear in Iceland

Halló! 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…

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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,¬†Horn√≠ Blatn√°¬†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! ūüėÄ 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! ūüôĀ 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 Johanngeorgenstadt *which is already in Germany*, Nejdek and Karlovy Vary, which are wonderful! Prague is not the only beautiful city in Czech Republic ;). These towns are mining towns located in the Ore mountains, a mountain range that forms a natural border between Saxony (Germany) and Bohemia (Czech Republic). Read more »

Ionian Islands: Kefalonia & Ithaca

the cat and the bear

Filiatro beach, Ithaca, Greece

őďőĶőĻőĪ ŌÉőŅŌÖ!! 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 ‚ā¨19.6.. return way! So… here we come, Greece!

It was so cheap most probably because it was still off-season *at the end of April*. Not so cold anymore, but summer wasn’t there yet. The island seemed still ‘half asleep’, not so many restaurants were open. Sunbathing was very possible but swimming in the sea wasn’t so enjoyable. The good thing is.. there weren’t so many tourists, so it felt like the island was ours ;). We spent 3 nights there, went on Friday morning and came back on Monday.

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Ski Vacation

Horní Blatná

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 Horní Blatná, 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 ^^.

Kalau tahun lalu saya mencoba merasakan sensasi downhill skiing, kali ini saya mencoba cross-country skiing. Berbeda dengan downhill skiing, cross-country skiing biasanya dilakukan di rute yang cenderung rata, kadang berbukit sedikit supaya seru ;). Boots dan ski board nya jauh lebih ringan daripada yang biasa dipakai di downhill skiing *total sewa semua peralatan untuk 6 hari hanya ‚ā¨40*. Uhmm, kesannya jadi kayak hiking biasa ya ^^; Tapi percayalah, jauh lebih susah daripada yang terlihat.

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Bolzano Hiking Trip

Have I told you before, that Bolzano is surrounded by mountains? So it is like heaven for people who like to go hiking because there are a lot of walking and hiking path with beautiful view of the mountains. So here you go, my experiences of hiking at Bolzano, plus the captured view.

#1 Latemar, Labyrinth Path

My first hiking trip, ever! And I love it! At the end of October, we went from Karersee (Lago di Carezza), passed through Latemar, the Labyrinth path, then ended up at Karrerpass. 7.9 km in total, with the maximum height of 1,901 m.

The frozen Lago di Carezza. Beautiful isn’t it? ūüėČ I will definitely go there again on summer. We went there by bus, took less than one hour from the city center.

Latemar, one of the mountain in the Dolomites. That’s where we’re going!

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