Categories
English Gadgets Photography

Google Latitude as GPS tracker for your images

During my last holidays I usually used my Wintec G-Rays GPS tracker to record my track. That allowed me to later inject GPS data into my photos taken with a regular camera, thus giving me additional information such as city, region and country. I love having this stuff all automated and don’t want to have to care for it or manually adding it.

One stumbling block I came across was the GPS tracker’s battery. It has to be charged every night. Ok not that big a thing, but as that device is so small and easily slid into any pocket, I often forgot taking it out in the evening and charging it. Thus it didn’t work the other day. That made me look out for something else.

I researched many solutions that get attached directly to your camera, like the Solmeta Geotagger [amtap amazon:asin=B006JNAFDY]. Well, I don’t like those. They are bulky, need a separate battery, two and only on a Nikon can directly inject the GPS data into the photos inside the camera. Not my thing.

Then I came across [LatiPics](http://www.blazingfrog.com/bf/Latipics.html). It just uses the tracking data you generate be having Google Latitude running on your smartphone. I immediately loved the idea! I always carry my smartphone around and it surely gets charged every night and I also had Google Latitude already running on it. Long story short: It works like a charm!

As I’m using Adobe Lightroom for all my photo related stuff, that solution had one drawback: The additional step I had to take, to get that GPS data into Lightroom. As of Version 4 Lightroom features an integrated GPS mapping tool and can also ready GPS track data and tag photos with that. Nice! You could just export your GPS tracks from Google Latitude (it’s called “location history” there), import it into Lightroom and have Lightroom tag your photos with it. Perfect.

Well, far away from perfect. Google Latitude exports your data as KML (Keyhole Map Data) files; Lightroom only reads GPX files. You could easily convert between those two formats using [GPS Babel](http://www.gpsbabel.org/), but it seems like Google doesn’t write standard KML files (if found dozens of questions regarding that issue on the web), so GPS Babel only exports empty tracks from those Latitude track logs.

After researching quite a while on that issue, I finally stumbled upon a great free GPS track log conversion service: [GPS Visualizer](http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/). You can just upload you Latitude exported KML files there and get perfect GPX files back. Those GPX files work perfectly well in Lightroom and allow you to tag your photos and also display as a track on the integrated map. Nice!

Adobe has some nice information and also a video available on [how to use GPS track logs in Lightroom](http://help.adobe.com/en_US/lightroom/using/WS6029a80579ffffcd-6a3f1714134217cf621-8000.html).

Any even better solution would be a Lightroom plugin that connects directly with Latitude via it’s API to fetch the GPS data from there without any export/import stuff. May be some time I find the time to do that…

When using this solution please keep in mind, that Google Latitude uses combinations of Wifi, cell tower and GPS data to determine your position. This method is gentle on your phone’s battery, but also inaccurate. You won’t get the same data as from a designated GPS tracker. On the other hand, it’s that much more convenient. 🙂

Categories
Books Computer & Internet English

Beautiful Code – A Collection Of Essays On Programing

Disclaimer: I’m accredited at O’Reilly’s blogger review program. This is I get free ebooks to review and post comments about them on my blog and Amazon.

Beautiful Code
Leading Programmers Explain How They Think
By Andy Oram, Greg Wilson
Edited by Andy Oram, Greg Wilson

Beautiful Code – The title immediately caught my attention and made me dream. I’ve been coding from the age of twelve and beautiful code always inspired me. I always headed for producing the most beautiful piece of code for any task – not always getting there, though. So in the end Beautiful Code looked like the perfect book to me.

The book contains a selection of 33 essays written by programers coming from different industries and backgrounds. Each essay focuses on a single task or programing topic, eg. search, dictionaries or unit testing. Those tasks are usually described in good detail to understand the problem and solution the author found. For some tasks you also get a recap on the complete journey the author took to get from initial tries to final solution. The themes are widespread and there is no common topic – more specific than coding – glueing them together.

You get a broad view on coding and on how experienced programers solve common tasks. There is much to learn from this for the experienced programer who wants to improve. But don’t take this book like the usual coding advice. It’s more of a helicopter view how to think.

This book is hardly meant to be read from start to end to master a problem. It’s more of a deflection. A book you read during your off-hours, to get insight on how others think and work. To broaden your own mind. And – first and foremost – as entertainment.

This book is a nice to have and makes a great present for any geek/hacker/coder you know.

O’Reilly also offers a successor to this book: Making Software.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Categories
English Travel

Diving Spots in Thailand

Recently I asked on Twitter “Planning a trip to #Thailand in Jan/Feb 2012. Will be backpacking and learn diving. Any advice from fellow #travelers or #lp ? ;)”. I got some great [response](/travel/planning-a-trip-to-thailand-–-starting-on-twitter/)! As I am deep into the analytics business, I quickly started to analyze the data I could get from all the tweets and derive some insight from it.

First thing I wanted to know was where to go in Thailand for diving. And also where to go to take diving lessons and get certified. The following diagram shows mentions on where to _Learn Diving_ (blue) and where to _Go Diving_ (green).

It is obvious, that Ko Tao, together with nearby Ko Nang Yuan, is leader of the pack. Most answers somehow mentioned Ko Tao as the place to go for diving and Ko Nang Yuan as secret tip nearby for even better experience.

At these places the following diving schools where recommended:

___Koh Tao___

* Bans resort
* Big Blue Diving
* Crystal Dive
* Easy Divers
* Sairee Cottage Diving
* Sunshine Divers

Ko Nang Yuan is mentioned to have _free lodging_ when you get certified for diving here.

Those hot spots where followed by

* Ko Phi Phi (with a hint on cave diving)
* Similan Islands (Wicked Diving)
* Krabi
* Ko Samet
* Ko Samui
* Phuket (Calypso Divers)
* Khao Lak (Wicked Diving)
* Ko Libong

This is great insight and a good starting point for further trip planning. I’ll further analyze the data from Twitter and post the results here. Looks like it will be a great way to start with asking at Twitter for planning a trip.

Cheers again,
Alexander

Update: I found an interesting post on [Scuba Diving: Koh Ha](http://leisureanalytics.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/scuba-diving-koh-ha/). It recommends [GoDive Ko Lanta](http://www.godive-lanta.com/) as diving base.

Categories
English Travel

Planning a Trip to Thailand – starting on Twitter

Thailand is set as next holiday destination. As usual I bought some guidebooks and started reading some blogs to get an idea of where to go there and were not. Additionally I asked the Twitter crowd for some hints and tips. The response was overwhelming!

I started with this tweet

Planning a trip to #Thailand in Jan/Feb 2012. Will be backpacking and learn diving. Any advice from fellow #travelers or #lp ? 😉

Within minutes I got responses with hints and tips from all over the world. Those tweets keep coming as I write this article. I loved this quick and helpful response and wanted to share it with you.

This is what I got within the first 30 minutes (!):

@GerhardTravels Gerhards
@MerlinDE hi, how are you? I found some great hotels in Bangkok, check ’em out. Wish u a beautiful trip! http://bit.ly/gJyDBk

@DaninAustralia Dan Collins
@MerlinDE Koh Tao to learn diving – it’s AWESOME there

@BehrokhBebe Behrokh Bakhshi
@MerlinDE backpacking in Thailand can be fun

@LeisureLogic Elia Pfaff
@MerlinDE Absolutely! Jan/Feb won’t be long enough. This place is incredible. Check out our blog for ideas: http://bit.ly/i9yAUd

@Aquarius_Lee Winnie.Lee
@MerlinDE Koh Tao is really a good place for diving learning!

@monfereblogspot Monfere.blogspot.com
@MerlinDE come to Malaysia as well!

@kat719 Kathleen Espiritu
@MerlinDE To save some time, do your PADI classes here then do your dives abroad! That’s what I did before I left to backpack.

@contrabland Andy Watson-Smith
@MerlinDE Check out Big Blue Diving in Koh Tao, did our SSI basic and advanced courses there last Feb, loved it!

@findingjemo เเจ่ม Baldisimo
@MerlinDE Of course BKK is a must, but you should go to Chiang Mai too & if you can, the North Eastern part of TH! #lp I love that country!

@maximefouquette maximefouquette
@MerlinDE full moon party!!!!!

@beverlycornell Beverly Cornell
@MerlinDE have you checked out @MangoLanguages? Great way to learn some Thai

@JakeCripe Jake Cripe
@MerlinDE Check out Koh Samet. Beautiful water, sandy beaches. Seems like a great place for some diving.

@phcabecudis Philippe
@MerlinDE mate, go to similan islands to dive, koh tao and maybe phi phi – bida nok n some wrecks as well! Enjoy it!!!

@4cantos_mundo QuatroCantosdoMundo
@MerlinDE Para ajudar mais ainda no seu planejamento, vá ao próximo Encontro dos Viajantes. http://tinyurl.com/46lmqh4

@veldwijk Robert Veldwijk
@MerlinDE For the #diving: go to Koh Tao and have fun! #lp #thailand

@AllesInAllem Alice Allum
@MerlinDE charter a plane to Samui island! Sounds expensive, but it will be cheap. And so much fun!

@codefrenzy Annie Luxton
@MerlinDE Don’t bother pre-booking any tours unless you REALLY need to – much better prices and deals bought from the streets in Thailand!

@wheelertweets James Wheeler
@MerlinDE @lonelyplanet Learn diving (take a good class, get your C card, & make some dives) beFORE u go # Thailand #travelers #lp

@Faye_Lu Faye Lu
RT @MerlinDE Planning a trip to #Thailand in Jan/Feb 2012. Will be backpacking and learn diving. Any advice // charcoal tablets 🙂 lots!!!

@JeroendeBruin JeroendeBruin
@MerlinDE doing the same thing next week check #kotao for cheap padi and http://bit.ly/aVQk9U

@calgaryfitness Terri Champagne
@MerlinDE Did diving cert at Sunshine Divers in Koh Tao in ’04. Just got back from Koh Libong where we dove with Jolly Roger. Both great!

@Connectinghelen Superhelen
@MerlinDE Go canopywalking in Chiang mai! Love this city anyway. DONT go to Ko Samui (it’s like Benidorm on an island). Have a great trip!

@ikarinayu Ika Rinayu Ramadhani
@lonelyplanet @MerlinDE u should go to phuket and pattaya, go to Grand Palace in Bangkok, seeing around at Siam 🙂

@Faye_Lu Faye Lu
@MerlinDE @lonelyplanet I know it’s very touristy but the grand palace is a must see .. Just breath taking #Thailand

@Silje_i_Nam Silje
@MerlinDE Go to Khao Lak and dive with Wicked Diving in Similan! #wicked #similan

@MalibaLodge Maliba Lodge
@MerlinDE #Thailand is amazing for diving. try Krabi, Phi Phi island or @crystaldive on Koh Toa. Really special place, loved it there!

Thank you all so much! I’l keep adding the coming tweets to this post. I’ll also keep you posted on my trip details as my planning advances. Looking forward to start of 2012!

Cheers,
Alexander

Update: I got many more replies during the night. Here they are:

@bebek_dekil devi angelina
@MerlinDE hi…thailand is best place that u must go…i go dec until jan 2010-2011…phuket is very beautifull place and so the beach…^^

@filipinadiver Paula Peralejo
@MerlinDE stay in Khao San (backpacker district). Dont miss Ayyuthaya. But learn diving in the Philippines 🙂 check Cebupacificair.com for

@filipinadiver Paula Peralejo
@MerlinDE cheap airfares from Thailand to Manila, Philippines 🙂 thailand: eat their streetfood, watch sunset from wat arun 🙂

@tmasreynolds Thomas Reynolds
@MerlinDE for #Bangkok… Khao San Road is cliche. Do Chinatown, enjoy fresh street food, try outdoor markets, take the train out of #BKK

@Connectinghelen Superhelen
@MerlinDE (www.treetopasia.com for booking and impression)

@h4yls Hayley Wilson
@MerlinDE ko phi phi is magical but very touristy now!still worth a visit. I never got to go but sukohtai looks incredible with rich history

@eugene78kim Eugene Kim
@MerlinDE I did the same trip in 2002 and 2004. I highly recommend Koh Tao for diving lessons – plan for a long stay!

@scb13 sean brooks
@MerlinDE stay away from pattaya….

@Sir1Ric Richard Aspden
@MerlinDE i dived of krabbi, really amazing place and my gf at the time did a practice dive there with really friendly instructors.

@HighRiskImages epic
@MerlinDE: Cooked food from street vendors is fine. Raw food and fruit, not so much. Also, avoid ‘deals’ with resident farang. Have fun.

@ThisBlueBird Lauren Wayman
@MerlinDE Early AM is best for most sights in BK, escape PM heat & enjoy the view from Wat Saket. Wear sunscreen. #lp #traveler #Thailand

@KostaSasha KosetaTino Tuala
@MerlinDE make sure you visit Koh Samet!! A must if you wanna get away from all the Craze!! Great for diving too

@rebeccawalls01 Rebecca Walls
@MerlinDE yes I am very jealous! u have to go 2the full moon party on Koh Phangan

@rebrab43 Chris Barber
@MerlinDE Take the train during the DAY from Bangkok heading south. Amazing scenes/views of countryside. Bans resort & Koh Tao for diving!!!

@AnjaniLadki Saadia S. Shamsie
@MerlinDE if u have time visit elephant nature park in chiang mai

@felixker Felix Ker
@MerlinDE Get over to Chiangmai for a peaceful city holiday. Nice food and people. #lp

@iSantit Santi Trisuwan
RT: @MerlinDE: Planning a trip to #Thailand. backpacking and learn diving. || Welcome in advance. Any question, i may try to reply you.

@mclaughlins Sarah McLaughlin
@MerlinDE cheap diving in koh tao but the divers will tell you phi phi is the place to learn

@mclaughlins Sarah McLaughlin
@MerlinDE never buy anything anyone tries to sell you on impulse & you’ll be fine!

@Fluffy_Li Sara
@MerlinDE Just go with the flow.. Gar nichts buchen in Thailand, Ko Phangan sind absoluter hammer!

@Sihillier Simon Hillier
@MerlinDE both Ko Tao and Pho Phi offer great diving, marginally cheaper on Ko Tao, loved thailand, great food and cheap accommodation.

@MaryBMarks Mary Marks
@MerlinDE check out a great little book called Thailand Chic featuring some amazing (& some affordable) boutique hotels and spas.

[amtap book:isbn=9814155039]

@emiellucifuge emiel de lange
@MerlinDE Diving is fun! dont take unnecessary risks

@dina_angels Dina Maretta
Backpacker paradise! Don’t forget visit PhuketRT @lonelyplanet: RT @MerlinDE: Planning a trip to #Thailand in Jan/Feb 2012. Will be backpacking and learn diving. Any advice from fellow #travelers or #lp ? 😉

@Ayam27 Maja Mlynarcikova
@MerlinDE If you plan to go up north (Chiang Mai and further north) take warm clothes, the nights are quite cold. Enjoy the street food!

@veen_NT veena T.
RT @MerlinDE: Planning a trip to #Thailand in Jan/Feb 2012. Will be backpacking &learn diving. Any advice ? 😉 #lp

@hatedandslated BJG
@MerlinDE Obviously, Koh Tao is the place to go. The Crystal Resort is very friendly and a good price.

@StalingradX ตะวันชาย ชุมสาย ฯ
@veen_NT @MerlinDE yES, Go to Krabi, use as base. Closer to nature than Phuket. Beautiful islands/ pristine seas.

@InfoWithMe Relocation Thailand
@MerlinDE Similan is one of the best location for diving.

@InfoWithMe Relocation Thailand
@MerlinDE I went to Chiang Khan last month. It’s a nice place for backpacking. Nice people and unique culture.

@Canadianmtstick Glen
@MerlinDE pak lots of condoms

@philster82 Phil Barton
@MerlinDE don’t bother going to pattaya it’s a complete hole..

@RobertLozano_ Robert Lozano
@MerlinDE ko Tao is probably the best place for learnig and Similan Islands are the best spot for diving in Thailand. No doubt. #lp

@Danny_Whitnall Danny Whitnall
@MerlinDE what would you like to know ???

@naioto2010 Nai Oto
@MerlinDE Welcome to Thailand!!

@phoebepowell Phoebe Powell
@MerlinDE dive Koh Tao! I got my Open Water with Siam Scuba Dive Centre in December 09, and it was amazing. #lp

@Smartiefartie Dren
@MerlinDE Koh Tao is the best place to learn diving. Proper mix of dive schools, methods, sites and ethos. Enjoy!

@BeerCanChicken Keith Wilkins
@MerlinDE make sure you go to Ko Phi Phi

@frosty_sugar Sugar Del Rosario
@MerlinDE drop by the Philippines 🙂

@intomundo Bert Kootstra
@MerlinDE go diving on a little island Koh NangYuan. It’s the best! Very laid back and not very expensive. Http://www.NangYuan.com

@ByDLeft Matt D
@MerlinDE check out Sukhothai for sure. Great ruins. Bring a good camera!

@wendy2703 wendy wijmenga
@MerlinDE Hi, Thailand is great! You ask for advice but can you be specific? How long do you want to stay? What do you want to see?

@thaifoodtours Thailand Food Tours
@MerlinDE If u happen to like thai food & interested in our 3-hr food tour, check us out www.bangkokfoodtours.com Have fun in Thailand! 🙂

@fsarawat Fariha Sarawat
@rowenanews @MerlinDE what do u want to know about #thailand?

@fsarawat Fariha Sarawat
RT @MerlinDE: @rowenanews Need insight on best places to learn scuba diving// koh tao. Google companies in Samui. Came highly recommended

@fsarawat Fariha Sarawat
RT @MerlinDE:@rowenanews how to best get to know country and people.// don’t believe the guide books, step out of tourist central, avoid sexpats

@ireneyeoh1983 Irene Yeoh
@MerlinDE Recommend Phi Phi island and Krabi

@FrazerGoodwin Frazer Goodwin
@MerlinDE 1 Avoid Pataya, 2 if you go to Phuket, go to the south – plenty of dive opps in Kata & less “girly bars” – Calypso divers R good

@miss_darko K Hebden
@MerlinDE #Thailand Yes, stay away from Koh San Road. 15yrs ago it was a really nice place to chill. Now its just a sh*thole

@Claritood Clara Kollm
@MerlinDE Diving off of Koh Tao at a little island called Koh Nang Yuan is great, and if you get certified there your lodging is free ENJOY

@Claritood Clara Kollm
@MerlinDE Also, go hike the 7-tiered waterfall at Kanchanaburi – it is a great day trip from Bangkok and there are wild monkeys

@lagatavoladora Rosario Carril
@MerlinDE You MUST go to Phi Phi Island. And try to visit Maya Bay at the sunset 🙂

@pan_masuska elena barkova
@MerlinDE koh tao is the best for diving! and koh pangan is just next to it to party

@DavidBurdeny David Burdeny
@MerlinDE pack light. ATM’s are everywhere so don’t bring lots of cash. Bangkok is a great city – a week can’t do it justice.

@AllieMacLeay Allison MacLeay
@MerlinDE Koh Tao! Cheapest/Best diving (so I hear) and it’s an amazing place to be! I think we stayed at Big Blue…

@tgesink Tobias Gesink
@MerlinDE check the beaches of Ko Tao for diving! Recomment Easy divers, professional staff and good equipment!

@god4sake Nika Deu
@MerlinDE Similan Islands are great for diving – but not if you have to learn diving first. Go to a resort.

@Jonny3012 jb@traveladnetwork
@MerlinDE koh pee pee has awesome diving including a cave dive taking you under the island into an cavern where you can walk about

@wendy2703 wendy wijmenga
@MerlinDE I think first BKK for a few nights, then take the nighttrain to Chiang Mai and do a trekking, then fly to an island with #airasia

@wendy2703 wendy wijmenga
@MerlinDE Koh Samui or Phuket, you can dive there. From BKK you can arrange trips to Kanchanaburi, also nice.Koh Chang is also a nice island

@wendy2703 wendy wijmenga
@MerlinDE On #khaosanroad you can find a lot of travel agency’s.Nice hostel there is #d&dinn or #greenhouse. Thailand is very easy to travel

@h4yls Hayley Wilson
@MerlinDE thanks for the follow;)

@madnurselauren Lauren Brunton
@MerlinDE koh Tao sairee cottage diving very good I’m on my way back to Thailand now u will love it

@EmmaBusuNilsson Emma Nilsson
@MerlinDE @lonelyplanet Go to Phi Phi Island!

@sawilz Sawilz
Can me and a friend join u? RT @lonelyplanet: RT @MerlinDE: Planning a trip to #Thailand in Jan/Feb 2012. Will be backpacking and learn diving. Any advice from fellow #travelers or #lp ? 😉

@namtanpimpat Namtan Jangrew
@MerlinDE @lonelyplanet Samui! ‘n dive in Koh Tao. On Andaman side, Krabi ‘n Phi Phi island then dive at Bida or Hindang is the best #diving

@nudinoi E Lin
@MerlinDE which part of Thailand do you plan on going and where do you intend to learn diving?

Categories
Eat & Drink English Travel

Fifteen

Two years ago, I never even heard his name. Nowadays, after a nice introduction by my girlfriend Andrea, I cook by his books and watch his TV shows regularly: Jamie Oliver. One of his series (Jamie’s Kitchen) was about him grabbing fifteen underprivileged kids, giving them a complete chef education whilst building up the restaurant they would be working in. That met into the Cheeky Chops Charity and the Fifteen Restaurant we wanted to have lunch at.

As the tube strike was still on, we had to get there by bus. I wish I had had this nice, free Metro PDA application, that knows all public transport connections I many major cities around the world, then – that would have made it all a lot easier. However, after browsing the available maps and timetables we finally got to Old Street Station. “Right up the road and then right at Westland Place.”, where the directions I got from the reservations agent on the phone. Well, Old Street Station is at some big T-crossing, so we were not quite sure which street to walk down. We started to ask passers-by. I thought everyone would know this famous restaurant – big mistake! It took us half an hour to find someone who could give us decent directions and to finally reach the restaurant.

The restaurant itself was worth a closer look: The ground floor is taken up by the “Fifteen Trattoria” – a relaxed place to meet and eat without all the usual hassle you have in those “famous” restaurants. You can get breakfast from 8.30am to 11.00am or have lunch from 12 to 3pm. It’s also “affordable” with pasta starting at £7 and main courses starting at £14. Yep – in London one Pound is worth the same one Euro is elsewhere.

Fifteen InteriorDownstairs is the actual “Fifteen Restaurant” – a very stylish place in some retro-space-mix design. A very cool pink airbrush painting decorates the main wall right to the open kitchen. Also all the sofas are made of pink leather, whereas the tables are dark wooden and the chairs are those magic white s-shaped Philippe Stark 70s plastic ones. It definitely has it’s very own style – like it or not.

We had some very good lunch starting with some fresh made bread with very good olive oil. After that we had some very good fish served, accompanied by some red wine. On the finishing line a great vanilla and grappa panna cotta was served as a majestic finish. All-in-all the food was from very-good to high-end and the services was extraordinary – that’s very well worth another visit!

Categories
English Travel

London on Tube Strike

Stansted is as far away from London as Lübeck is from Hamburg. It’s a shame that it’s called London-Stansted as you might think it’s just another airport near London. Instead you have to take a bus or the Stansted Express to London. That’ll add another £24 for an open return ticket (valid for one month to London and back to Stansted, can also be bought during the flight for £22) or £13.90 for a cheap day return ticket (valid only one day) for the Stansted Express to your fare. The guy selling me the tickets was nice enough to sell me the open return ticket instead of the cheap day return ticket, thus doubling the price on my credit-card bill. So watch out what they’re doing when you buy your tickets.

London Liverpool StationWe arrived at Liverpool Street Station at 12 o’clock. I reserved a table for lunch at the Fifteen for 2 o’clock. The Fifteen is located near Old Street Station, just two stations away from Liverpool Street Station, so we had plenty of time and decided to head right south to the River Thames and the London Tower. Just then, we heard the bad news: No tube today. The whole tube staff was on strike the one day we where in London. Thanks a lot guys!

Tower Bridge
Nevertheless we headed south by feet and had a very nice walk through the city to the London Tower and the Tower Bridge. I really like the bridge’s architecture and it’s impressive bascule mechanism. If you ever spend some time in London, you should take the guided tour and view it.

Have lunch at the Fifteen…

Categories
English Travel

Going to London

We started our tour early in the morning on wednesday going to Lübeck Blankensee Airport (LBC). Wow! What an airport! I’ve never seen such a small airport in the middle of nowhere.

Airport Lübeck Blankensee (LBC)

We arrived there at about seven o’clock as RyanAir asks you to check-in two hours ahead of schedule. Well, at Lübeck you don’t really have to – the main hall with the check-in desks was literally deserted.

After a futile hour of waiting we could finaly check-in and pass the passenger controls to get into the fully RyanAir branded departure tent. This really is a big tent, one of those you’re used to from fun fairs or street markets. Filled with some aluminium camping chairs and tables and a small coffee-bar on one side it resembles some kind of a holiday atmosphere. There are also several exits labeld with RyanAir’s destinations from Lübeck. The Stansted exit is on the other end af the tent seperated by customs and passport check where suddenly a large queue arose – one hour before the scheduled take off. I’ll never understand people queing up in such situations instead of waiting a couple a minutes for a less crowded moment to pass such a bottle neck. It was easy calculations:About an hour of time until take off, a maximum of 130 passengers to go through customs. We relaxed and had a coffee. After that, passport check was vacant again.

Next up was the ugly part of flying RyanAir: The call to arms! When the attendant showed up at the tent’s Stansted exit everyone ran to that exit to get on the plane fast and to get some good seat. Well, the seats are all the same I think – so…

Flight time was from 09.20 to 09.45. Different timezones make up for very fast flights!

Head on to famous London…

[amtap amazon:asin=1864500085]

Categories
English Travel

Summer Tour 2004

This year’s summer tour was of to Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucia, Spain. Where we were from July, 1st until July 7th.

White Villages Andalucia SpainMy friend Claudio had invited us to his lovely home in the city centre of Jerez. So we had a great place to stay and the best local guide you could imagine!

Actual flight plans and prices led us to taking a rather unusual route from Hamburg to Jerez and back using RyanAir:

  • Starting on June, 30th from Lübeck (LBC – 60km northeast of Hamburg) to Stansted (STY – 60km north of London)
  • Doing some sightseeing in London and having lunch at Jamie Oliver’s famous restaurant Fifteen.
  • On July, 1st taking the next plane from Stansted (STY) to Jerez de la Frontera (XRY).
  • Going back from Jerez to Lübeck via Stansted.

The whole adventure was cheaper than taking a direct flight from Hamburg to Jerez, but beware that RyanAir has some backdraws you have to arrange with:

  • There are no seat reservations. The first 65 people who checked in are the first to run into the plane and grab themselves a nice place, all others follow thereafter taking what’s left. So if you want to sit together with two or more people, better check in early and be fast to rush into the plane – it’s like it was back in school when you tried to get the best places inside that bus that took the whole class to wherever…
  • There is no connection guarantee and your luggage isn’t transfered to your connecting flights! That is really nasty! You’ll have to plan at least three hours between two RyanAir flights for possible delays, getting out of the plane, running down endless halls (that’s a Stansted special), taking back your luggage, getting out into the hall, checking-in again (usually with large ques in front of the desks) and getting yourself searched for weapons and stuff again. And don’t forget your long way back from the shopping-area to the gates (in Stansted that’s an estimated 12 minutes!).

On the other hand I must say, it all worked perfectly well. A direct flight (HAM-XRY) was about €650 per person, that RyanAir juggle including a double-room at Stansted cost about €400 for both of us – with a bit more of a hassle.

To be continued…