Traveling is Hard Work

Traveling of the tourism variety really is hard work, all that lugging suitcases and walking up tower staircases and transferring between underground stations.  But we extended this vacation to start a couple of weeks earlier so I could meet up with coworkers in Kiev and Szczecin.

I spent the rest of the day in Ljubljana doing lots of walking. I had a nice coffee, and elsewhere a greasy burek. Neither place would change my 50€ note, but their credit card machines both responded to my watch, which the first time they’d ever seen that. I went to the little Galerie Moderne instead of the massive National Gallery next door. Across from it I walked into a pretty Orthodox church. I walked back to the airbnb to get my bag out of it so that the next people could arrive, and took it to the train station which had lockers. (Another disadvantage of airbnb compared to a hotel.)  All the while, since the airport bus didn’t run late enough on Sundays, I was trying to get taxi companies to write back to me, making sure mine to the airport would actually be pre-arranged, after the experience with Ray’s earlier in the day.  I saw many picturesque things, including a wonderful portal in front of their parliament building featuring statues of naked Slovenians in all walks of life.  It was across from this strange pair of buildings that looked like other buildings had landed on top of them.  (One is a bank, the other is an energy organization.)

But the highlight of the walking around was deciding to kill a bit of time before dinner with a little walk in their little Tivoli park. I immediately discovered that there was an entire hill with a trail network just behind it, so I went into that as well. It’s much more extensive than is shown on either their or Google maps, but there was never an issue with getting lost. I got to Julija, the restaurant I wanted to go to, at the time I wanted to be there. But alas, it was fully booked. D’oh! I went to another restaurant nearby which had gotten so-so reviews. This meant that it was almost entirely empty. So empty they could easily accommodate an impromptu party of 13. The goulash was nice and spicy, but it was pretty second-rate overall, especially the canned beans in the salad.

My taxi driver was named Ottenheim, and was driving for income supplemental to his intended career of writing children’s books with his wife. I wished him the best of luck, and entered the airport, where my plane to Kiev, scheduled to leave around 11pm, actually took off around 12:30.

As with all my visits to Kiev except the first, I was greeted at the airport by a prearranged taxi. But this time it was about 4am. Poor Oleg, staying up that late. I slept late, and got into the office around 1pm. People there work late anyway, it wasn’t much out of the ordinary. They have to work late so they can be in meetings at 7pm which are at 9am for the people in California that they work with.

The week was very routine and businesslike, I got to work every day around 11 and left every day around 8. When I am in Kiev, I work harder than I do anywhere else. There are very few distractions, and I can just sit there and design or code or debug or whatever for hours on end. And it’s good to get to better know the other people that work on the same code, and to talk through issues with a few of them.

There are many restaurants near the hotel, and I ate at a Georgian one, a Turkish one, an Indian one, and one which serves only dried fish and craft beer. There seem to be more Georgian restaurants than ever — even the Turkish restaurant served khachapuri. I tried to go to a Crimean one (twice) but they close early and are very popular, and two attempts were thwarted. For breakfast, an Israeli chain “Aroma” had opened up, which had fresh OJ, so I went there three times. I like Greguar, the hotel I stay in, because there is a washing machine in my room. I can wash the clothes I was wearing as well as the ones I had worn. Kiev was quite cold — one morning it snowed — but all the indoor spaces are nicely toasty.

On the last day there was a party celebrating 10 years of cooperation between Avid and Global Logic. It was in downtown Kiev, the area we’d visited in 2009 as tourists. It was a bit loud and obnoxious — there was either a cover band playing or a reverby DJ speaking Ukrainian loudly the entire time. The food was sufficient but not inspired. But it was fun to talk to people, especially after they got a little drunk. On the 45-minute walk to the hotel, which passed by various Kiev attractions, I found a very cute little restaurant called The Life Of Wonderful People, and spent my remaining Ukrainian currency on a drink called a Penicillin. I want to go back there for breakfast next time.

I got up early, and Oleg took me back to the airport. My plane to Berlin left only half an hour late. It looked like I would be walking down a jetway to the plane attached to the gate, but no, we were routed onto a bus, and taken to another plane out on the tarmac.