Apr 012010

How can I call this blog “Life of a Traveling Programmer” if I’m not even traveling? Has it really been more than a year since the last time I’ve left the United States? Yes, it has. And it’s the longest I’ve been here continuously since…well, since I can remember.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all this time stuck at home has made me “unhappy,” but I will say that it hasn’t done wonders to make me the happiest guy around. I’m just not wired to be stuck in one place for this long…especially when that one place is here. But now, at loooong last, the time has come. Next stop: Europe!

In 2008 I visited Brazil, Panama, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Japan, Korea, China, and Hong Kong. The prior couple years included extensive travel throughout Japan and a few other countries in Asia and North America. But Europe, perhaps the most popular tourist destination in the world, has remained curiously absent from my itineraries since as far back as 2004.

It’s time for that little problem to be rectified.

As mentioned in the “comeback post” that marked an end to my year’s hiatus from blogging, I’d promised myself to embark on another international adventure before the year was out. Originally I’d been considering 3 possibilities: Tanzania (for a long-anticipated climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro), SouthEast Asia (to finish the trip I cut short by returning from Beijing last February), or Scandinavia (to visit Peder and explore the surrounding countries by bike). Because the scheduling seemed to work, I decided to go with Scandinavia this June and July – if I’m heading halfway up to the arctic circle, I’ll be damned if I do it any time but the middle of the summer πŸ™‚

So I put together a trip that would drain one of my mileage accounts and hit 4 or 5 European locations along the way, departing around two months from today. And then a fantastic opportunity materialized out of nowhere. I was chatting with one of my new contract employers – the owner of a big-time GPR equipment manufacturer in New Jersey for whom I’ve been developing some onboard controller software. I mentioned my plans to head over to Europe. He replied that they have a tradeshow coming up in Munich, and could use an extra pair of hands if I’m available. He said that if I came along, he’d be happy to set my return ticket for wherever and whenever I wanted.

How’s that for “making an offer I can’t refuse?”

The only catch was that I’d have to leave in just two weeks – so since finalizing the dates I’ve been spending most of my time running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to prepare for a quarter-year on the road. Peder and I just finished a 7-hour Skype conversation where we pieced together the Eastern European leg of an ambitious itinerary that covers quite an extensive piece of geography. It looks something like this:

  • 1.5 weeks in Munich working at the conference.
  • Train to Amsterdam for Queen’s Day, a massive free-for-all party, followed by a few days biking through the Dutch countryside photographing windmills and tulips.
  • Bus to Paris for a few days. As you’ll see from my travellog I’ve spent a fair bit of time in France, but have yet to visit its capital, one of the most famous cities on earth!
  • Fly to Budapest and move into a short-term apartment. By this time I will’ve been gone for nearly a month, so most likely I’ll hang out, get some work done, and take daytrips to a few nearby locations.
  • Somewhere in late May I’ll start a big loop through most of Eastern Europe: from Budapest, I’ll head down through Slovenia to Croatia and across to Serbia, where Peder will fly in from Norway to join up. After a weekend partying in Belgrade we’ll make our way East through Bucharest and Transylvania, Moldova, and end up in the Ukrainian resort town of Odessa on the Black Sea coast. From there we’ll continue North to Kiev, the capital, before returning west through Lviv on our way to Krakow, Poland. Finally we’ll catch a short flight back to Peder’s home in Oslo.
  • Once in Scandinavia we’ll have just a few days to relax at Peder’s place before starting the next leg of our trip: a cross-country bikeride from Oslo through most of Denmark to Roskilde, just outside of Copenhagen. There we’ll pitch our tents for a 5-day Woodstock-style music festival, one of the largest in Europe (drawing well over 100,000 visitors). We’ll return via bus through GΓΆteborg, Sweden, again unwinding for a bit in Oslo before spending the remaining days at his summer house in Lillesand, on the southern tip of Norway. I fly home on July 12th.

The total trip will be just under 90 days, the maximum I can stay on a Schengen visa and without bumping myself into a more expensive class of airline ticket. Of course, the above is just a framework and is being revised all the time – so I wouldn’t be surprised if the final trip looked quite a bit different once I finally got out on the road. What is fixed is that two weeks from today, I’ll be on a plane to Munich and won’t be returning until at least three months later.

At long last, back on the road – with a whole new part of the world to explore. I can’t wait πŸ˜€

  39 Responses to “Eastern Europe & Scandinavia!”

  1. Good for you! I have a new friend in Sweden so I might have to make it over there to see him and Peder myself one of these days. Have a great time, as I know you will! And don’t take candy from strangers!

  2. About time! You’ve been a shame to our trade. Glad to have you back on board :p

    Regarding Schengen, if you’re gonna misspell it that sincerly, you might as well call it shenanigan:


    Oh, and you forgot about the party cruise to Denmark, “DanskebΓ₯ten” πŸ˜€

  3. Tony: Join us! You know you want to πŸ˜€

    Peder: Haha shaddap…spelling error fixed πŸ˜›

  4. Sounds like an awesome trip. That’s cool you going to check out Ukraine. Learn some Russian phrases before you go there!

  5. I’d love to – and usually I do try to study a country’s language beforehand, but this trip is such short notice I don’t think I’ll be able to! I’m just hoping to have all the necessary reservations before I have to get on the plane! πŸ˜‰

  6. Just learn some phrases like “No” and “Where is the bathroom?”.

  7. Or far more important, “Where’s the best nightclub in town?” πŸ™‚

  8. Oh that won’t be a problem. Go to Maximym in Kiev.

  9. Thanx for the tip! I’ll add it to my list πŸ™‚

    Btw, you’ve had some awesome photos in Egypt – I dunno if u saw but I spent 3 weeks going through many of those destinations too, back in 2008 πŸ™‚

  10. At least learn the Cyrillic alphabet. It will take you less than 30 minutes, same as the amino acids :p

  11. THAT I’ll do…but that’s the perfect activity for those long cross-country bus rides. I can learn it on the way from Munich to Amsterdam πŸ™‚

  12. True. Understanding written Russian is actually not that hard, with a little imagination.

  13. Sounds like fun….but at the 90 day mark, you should head east and not west!

  14. Haha I know! After all, we’ve still got plenty of mountains that need climbing…and hookahs that need smoking πŸ™‚

  15. Free tickets, awesome! I love those, especially when it’s on the company dime. πŸ˜€
    July 12th is about mid-summer…are you forgetting Suma beach?! You’ll have a place to stay in Osaka, and a mamachari to get you to Nanba in less than 10 minutes. πŸ˜‰

  16. Forgetting Suma? What, are you nuts? I still dream about Suma like every other night, haha πŸ˜‰

    Man, that’s a pretty tempting offer!

  17. Haha! Reposting.

  18. Wooo, first time I write on your page…haha! Anyways, I believe you left or will be leaving today and I just read this….ya ya, I’m slow or just to damn busy arranging my engagement….but did want to stop by and wish you good luck! I hate to sound like your mother, but be safe and hopefully when you’re back, we can do the swimming pool scenery again…if not…you are more then welcome to visit me in the east coast. Peace and balance to a dear friend!

  19. Hey VV!

    Haha yep, I leave eeearllly tomorrow morning…and I’m STILL not packed! Agh! Thanks for the well-wishes, I’ll try to be safe….but…you know me, hehe πŸ˜‰

  20. You spelled “its” “its” when necessary, and not “it’s!” Nice punctuatin’, boyee πŸ™‚

  21. Haha, you’re pointing out my *correct* grammar? Does that mean you expected otherwise? πŸ˜‰

  22. bon voyage. i know you’ll have an extremely fun time. peder will take care of you. πŸ™‚

  23. Thanks πŸ™‚ We actually won’t be meeting up until halfway through my trip, but obviously I’m excited nonetheless! My flight leaves in 6.5 hours. I just finished packing πŸ˜‰

  24. sounds about right. the euro’s value just went down. that’s a good thing for travellers… no? yay greece!

  25. Yep! In the long-run it’s currently “just OK”, but considering the USD is a piece of crap currency now, that’s a hell of a lot better than it could be! πŸ˜‰


  26. but as peder says… they don’t use the euro in norway…

  27. Nor Eastern Europe…but they do in Munich, Amsterdam, & Paris, where I’ll be spending the first month

  28. did u ever book that flight?

  29. eastern europe should really get their act together. hopefully all that autodidactics in japanese will help you out in paris.

  30. From Paris to Budapest? Yep! But I got reamed on the price for waiting so long, haha πŸ˜›

  31. Pshh πŸ˜›

  32. why don’t u show as online?

  33. I never come online to chat services – they tend to be a black hole for time πŸ˜›

  34. he’s a covert undercover ninja agent.

  35. chatting from ur blog?

  36. oooh, an agent..who knew?

  37. hence the multiple languages, the travelling, the tuxedo, etc.

  38. u make some good arguments. i’ll have to keep an eye on him..

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