Roundup of our Trip to Barcelona’s many parks, April 2014

I’ve carefully selected and uploaded 94 pictures from our Barcelona visit in April to Flickr. It was a really wonderful and much-needed vacation from the cold and grey pre-spring atmosphere of dread we were suffering from in Oslo at the time. Let me just say that Barcelona is beautiful and that it even rivals Rome as a favourite destination of ours. Here follows a recap of our days in this brilliant city, day by day..

Sunday: Got up at 3:30 a.m. or the equivalent in Oslo, to arrive in BCN at the middle of the day. By the time we got in to the city the heat was sweltering, so when we got our room at Hotel Chronos we caught up on some sleep and changed into more suitable clothes. Incidentally, this Sunday was also my birthday, so Lady C got the receptionist to cool down a bottle of champagne we’d brought with us. Then we headed out.

We walked through Gotico to Gloria, had a fantastically horrific and tasteless meal at one of the shabby places next to the cathedral, and made our woozy way down to Port Vell. Despite the terrible first meal, we were quickly charmed by the brilliant atmosphere, smiling people and impressive street performers. When we eventually moved on towards the fully erect Columbus monument in the distance, we also got to witness the spectacle of 4-5 urban police officers chasing down and eventually catching a pickpocket! Everyone applauded:)

We had some afternoon ice cream at Gracia, slept a little more, and later had dinner in a restaurant called 1932 in Gotico. This place served quite a few tourists at the time, but the service was good and the food even better!

Monday: This was our first of a few happy lazy days in this city of sun. I’d archived the brilliant BCN FAQ from the subreddit of /r/Barcelona on my phone, and everyone suggested we go see Parc del Laberint d’Horta. We bought a couple of baguettes at our local bakery and some ham, cheese and soft drinks at the hypermarket before hitting the subway. The park is beautiful, it is not a tourist trap and you get some peace and quiet in the heat. Eventually, having walked around the maze and the park itself, we found a nice spot to have lunch.

That evening we were supposed to eat at Catalana but since we were hungry the 50+ minute wait to be seated got the better of us. We ended up at Josephine somewhere in Eixample, nearer to our Hotel. I was not impressed, but suspect we were “hurried along” because we were foreigners. (We were dressed nicely though.)

Tuesday: This is the brilliant view from our Hotel room balcony:

Eixample

And I’m not being sarcastic. It was really fun to watch the local traffic flow, since it is so different than Norwegian traffic, and I observed enough of the common practices to be fairly confident I would totally suck in BCN traffic:) An important thing to notice in this picture, is that our balcony is on the side of the building, but facing a “diamond” in the intersection creating this social and light, open space. Instead of having each block make a rectangle with a narrow intersaction, as in most cities, the Art Nouveau thinking in Eixample shows how the small things can create living, breathing space which completely changes the experience of pedestrians, not to mention the social patterns, with more road-facing cafés made possible.

With the success of the Parc del Laberint fresh in our recollection, Lady C suggested we head off to another park to rekindle the tranquility of the day before, which we did. Here are some children playing on the parade walk leading up to the triumphal arch; finally arriving at the Parc de la Cituadella. There’s not much to say about it, other than it is beautiful. It had way more people innit than the one we visited the day before, innit? We found a woolly mammoth (sigg3 for scale) and stared intensely at the ducks.

We ended up outside the Zoo, and decided to check it out. Despite all the WWF information plaques the park sympathetically has put up, I found the animal enclosures too small for comfort. But it was nice to finally see the white rhino, dolphins, and a silverback gorilla up close. And this guy eating carrots:

Carrots!

Before we exited the Zoo we also got to see the lions having a quickie in front of a class of school children, which is always amusing. We took a lot of pictures and video of it, but that is reserved for our private collection… NOT!

We had the menu del dia in a small family-owned café near the Marina metro station. Later that evening, we took a cab to Palau de Musica and had dinner at Cafe de l’Academia. If I’m not mistaken, we were seated next to a couple of Americans (who can’t stop talking). We called it a night after beers at a vegetarian place on Place de Georg Orwell. Here’s some random advice. This is not as refreshing as you think it will be:

Damm's Lemon & Beer

Wednesday: The big day of Sagrada Familia — The Spaceship Cathedral. We bought tickets online the day before (always do this!) and skipped ahead of the queue stretched around the block in sweltering heat.

La Sagrada Familia

What can I say about this cathedral? The entrance is brilliantly detailed with many weird additions, but it still appears to be a church. However, upon entering the cathedral, we were struck by the feeling of having walked inside a 1990s alien space craft. The brilliance of Gaudí is unchallenged! But does this look more like being under the canopy of a forest than it does being inside the hull of a spaceship?

Pillars

I think that upon its completion, when you can have some 3000 people in the choir(s), it will actually function as a church. At the moment, though, it was more of a tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed, but I’ll take Aya Sophia in Istanbul any day over this, if I had to pick one. Which is a weird situation. Why would I have to pick one, when we have both?! Leave it, just leave it.

Having seen the cathedral, we were hungry and hungry for another park adventure! So we decided to bring along our baguettes, cheese and ham to Park Guell. That picture is a little misleading, because we never actually entered the part of the park which requires a fee. Just walking further up the hill gives you a nice vantage point to look down into it and outwards to the city. Having climbed up the hill for a while, we found a nice spot in the shade to have our picnic. The hill has a brilliant view of the city, and like so many times before the skyline of Barcelona made me think I was in some steampunk retro-future. Have a look at these giant mechas walking in the distance.. It’s incredible!

Another futuristic skyline

We stopped by the Casa Museu Gaudí and was inspired by his organic furniture, nice little villa and beautiful garden.

That evening we had tapas somewhere in Gotico followed by beer at Café Babel by the Roman Wall. We returned to these outside local places each evening, even just for a bear and to take in l’ambience.

Thursday: We gathered lunch supplies and took the metro and what’sitsname up to the castle of Montjuïc, where I caught another futurist view of this beautiful city. We took the what’sitsname with a couple of American tourist who I suspect had recently received fat-reduction and wore very big clothing. They were also annoyed that we joined them in this public transportation. But the reason I’m talking about it now, is only because I would be seeing them everywhere we went for the reminder of the day. Totally weird.

Anyway, we left the castle (tourist trap) to find our way to the beautiful Montjuïc Botanical Garden.. or Gardens, really, since the entire area was spread out over several hills and paths. We had lunch by the side of these beautiful water plants, and stayed put until I discovered a big rat with a look of lust in its eyes, peeping at us from beneath nearby the bushes. Speaking of bushes, here’s a rather futurist tree, come to think of it.

We headed to the Miro gallery, and came across these three rugrats up to something, on the way there:
Rugrats!

The gallery was AWESOME, and that’s all I’m going to say about it, because I’m getting really hungry thinking about all the delicious food we had.. Skipping ahead (you can always find more info in the photo gallery), we had coffee and ice cream at the Two Cats just below the Miro gallery, walked down to the National Museum, and stumbled upon the Van Rohe building — which should be very familiar to any fan of Grand Designs. And Lady C took this not-awesome photo of yours truly in Tourist Disguise:

Who's a Tourist?

Thank you, I’ve lost a lot of weight.. at least until we found this butcher shop. We had a HUGE dinner on Plate de Tapas (contrary to popular belief, price did reflect quantity) and a regular late night beer at Fly Can, which is also next to the Roman Wall.

Friday: Our day of departure went really quickly. We had breakfast at our local café, stopped by the butcher to buy some presents (cheese and ham), and the bakery for some sandwiches (the girls working there were so sweet), and narrowly caught our airport bus at Place de Catalunia. The 50 minute ride out of the city was filled by one American girl’s need to announce her present status quo to all the passengers at regular intervals (“yeah, totally, right?”), and when we finally found our check-in counter, some 200 people were already in line. Needless to say, we’re all for automatic, electronic check-ins!

All in all this trip was absolutely brilliant, and we both fell in love with this characteristic Mediterranean city. We are positive we’ll return one day and see some of the stuff we postponed for later visits, not to mention some of the parks we missed! Be sure to check out the photo gallery, and have a good one!

Happy Birthday To Me, Happy Birthday To Me…

Today I’m turning 30 years old! Three decades. 30% of a century. That is old!

This is an automated message, so don’t think I’m taking time off from our brilliant BARCELONA adventure to write this, I got modern technology up in this biatch, posting me memes, keepin’ it cool.

And in 10 years, I’ll be forty……..! So; Happy Birthday To Me! Have a beer.

Bollicks to this, we’re off to Barcelona!

Yes. We’re leaving snow-fogged rain for sunny BCN, brilliant architecture, art and Spanish cuisine!

You say Winter is coming? We say: Bring it on, let us just pack our bags first!

We dropped off the dog at C’s mum’s an hour ago, now we’re going to have a pizza, watch some TV, finish packing and get ready for our red-eyed flight tomorrow morning. Have a good one!

Absolutely No Joke this year!?

Today I usually have a planned or improvised April Fools joke on Sigg3.net, but not this year.

Friday I handed in the first 20% of my MA thesis and also accidentally discovered that we were scheduled for having our windows replaced today. They decided this was the time to do it because of some change in insulation regs next year, which could make it even more expensive.

All weekend was pretty much in preparation for the job. Yesterday I spent six-seven hours rolling out paper on the floor and putting everything in plastic.

Today, I got up at 5:30 a.m. which is around 4-5 hours earlier than usual, and the construction team entered at 7. Half an hour after that we put the dog in the car and drove him to C’s mother. Had a cup of coffee, and agreed that C would stay behind with Elvis trying to get some sleep. While I, on the other hand, was going to drive back home and keep an eye out for problems, documenting the steps and make coffee. Spending 1,5 year on a flat makes it your baby. I sometimes feel like I know more about the flat than I do about myself. So when someone from the outside world come to change it, it better be good.

I was quickly realizing that the company we’d hired weren’t amateurs looking for a quick buck and hiding behind foreclosure strategies. They were organized and well trained to do their particular parts, which rendered me being there a lot less necessary.
I went to a café in my neighborhood and bought a double latte, and brought it back to the garden. The flat looked like a bombed out ruin by now, huge holes where the windows would be. So the wind was blowing right through it, making it colder than just sitting outside. Also, my AP is so powerful I easily get Wifi in the garden.

After the coffee, I had some more photos to shoot, but then nothing to do. So I went for a walk, without the dog, looking like an unemployed construction worker aimlessly wandering around, at the park, along the roads, at the Botanical Garden of Oslo.. Lady C and Elvis joined me in the garden around noon, well rested, bringing lunch and good company, and the sun was finally starting to work as advertised. Since the nut across the hall refused to let anyone in, ours was the flat in focus today, thus they finished earlier, around 2pm. C left for work and Elvis was happy for all the attention.

Around 7 pm I finished taking out the dusty paper and plastic covers to the bins, vacuuming and cleaning all the rooms and finally putting my computer room back in order. Then I had to take the dog outside again, play with him some, play Left 4 Dead 2 some and a little no More Room in Hell, until it was now.

Now I am hungry and exhausted, stretching on the mini couch in the computer room with a snoring Boston Terrier squeezing me further to the edge. And I have no energy left for April Fools day shenanigans, hence the present message. I am not convinced that the windows needed changing, but I’m glad it’s partially completed. Now remains the finishing touches which, happily, Lady C is much better at than me. I hope you had a great day, however, and many fine jokes to chuckle at. Have a cheese burger! That is at least what I intend to do once C returns from work and order is restored in the galaxy.

Edit: Pics or it didn’t happen!
Changing the kitchen window
This is the kitchen window, having been almost taken out completely..

Back in a minute 1.2 released!

The first public release of my BASH game Back in a minute has finally been released on my coding blog: Back In a Minute First Public Release, Version 1.2!

Back in a minute running in gnome-terminal
Back in a minute a.k.a biamin

You can download a tarball or clone my git repository. Please enjoy!

It feels great to finally give something back to the Free and Open Source software community! The ~2200 lines of code reflects a need for optimization, but I am not planning to do any major overhauls on the current game. (It runs fine and is stable.)

If you ever wanted a random, Warhammer-like BASH terminal adventure game, you’re in for a treat! The world of Back in a minute has 4 playable races, 6 enemies, 8 items and 6 scenarios in 270 sections of the world map. And if you tire of the default map, you can create your own using the map template generator that is built in!

Have fun and a great weekend! It is time to make dinner and mix myself a drink:)

Introducing Back in a minute blog!

Last year, having finished my CD-to-FLAC automation script called FLACRIPPER, I jumped head first into my next project: Create a fun game that is completely written in BASH. I started out with these ideas:

  • It must be quick
  • …but also vast, if you want it to be
  • It must be a full world (have a navigational map)
  • It must have monsters you can fight
  • It must be random

This was the start of forest.sh which later became Back in a minute.

I started coding while reading a lot of political philosophy, simply because I needed a break from books. Creating something that’s in your head on paper is pretty much my everyday life, but there is usually little feedback except when you receive a grade on a paper. Which is pretty arbitrary and not very constructive.

Coding, on the other hand, provides instant feedback! In addition, it does train the same ontological skills that I need in philosophy, so it isn’t a complete waste of time. One big difference is that an article can have spelling mistakes without affecting the content, whereas code simply breaks down in a pile of error messages..

Having coded on and off for half a year, I understood that while being a favourite pastime I couldn’t force my readers (what readers?) to read about it, so I played with the idea of creating a separate blog for the project. When I came to the point of having a working game, I was pretty much planning a sequel. This prompted me to create a separate blog:

I present to you the official Back in a minute homepage!

Please note, there is currently no code in the repositories, because there are 2 bugs I want to iron out first so the game is 100% playable from day one. Last night I watched a Kickstarter update from Tim Schafer‘s development of Broken Age, of which Act 1 was released to backers just yesterday. Anyway, he said that as a game developer at the end of creating a game, there are a hundred things you’d like to do; but there are only 10 things you _can do_, and those are the things you _have to do_.

Without any comparison to the inspiring genius of Tim Schafer, who gave us Monkey Island and Grim Fandango among others, it gave me a push in the right direction. ‘Cause I’ve been struggling with a «social media» feature of my game, which posts a row from the highscore list on Twitter etc. But it has created more problems than it solves, and yesterday I realized that it has nothing to do with the game. So I’m re-doing it in a more basic manner, by simply creating a copy-pastable message in the terminal using echo the player can post him or herself.

That leaves 2 (known) bugs for me to fix, commenting the code a bit more verbosely, and making it more readable (casing). I began writing it in gedit, which is okay for smaller projects, but as soon as I got more than 1500 lines of code it became too slow. I am now using geany, and considering learning emacs instead. That’s what Jesus would do. Anyway, you can follow the development on Back in a minute blog, which was created so those who don’t care don’t have to be bothered! :D