Oct 29, 2017 Life, Technology, Travelling:

Madrid + Vilnius

I’ve been collecting interesting places to my must go places list from late 20th century, and it has gradually shrunk over the years. Not every year, but like six cities in a decade. This month I multiplied the pace by visiting in two places, first a week in Madrid, Spain, and then two days in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The Madrid trip was our family’s autumn holiday. The schools closed for a week this year – the length varies from year to year, next year the length is probably three days – and we got an excellent deal from Norwegian to fly to Madrid. This combined with a centrally located, spacious, and inexpensive AirBnB flat made the week very lucrative financially. And it was not bad in other fronts, either.

Numerous Finnish families had selected the same flights, Friday from Helsinki to Madrid and then the following Friday from Madrid to Stockholm and finally to Helsinki. Seldom I’ve seen so good prices for holiday seasons.

The flights were peaceful, too, mostly due to the fact that our sons purchased Nintendo Switch console a month ago. It is an ultimate silencer – the games are true Nintendo quality and they entertain several hours without raising anger levels, unlike most other console games.

The kids continued to play the Switch for a limited period of time also in the Madrid flat, but we limited the amount to 30 minutes per day. Otherwise we might been stuck inside the flat for the whole week.

The week was low on action, as both I and Sanna have had very busy weeks in work, and there was no point having the same stress on a holiday. So, mostly we had only event per day, such as visiting a park or museum.

We toured the major museums – Reina Sofia, Prado, and Thyssen Bornemisza – and visited two parks. Then I and the boys watched Real Madrid playing against Tottenham Hotspurs in Champions League – besides being a good match, it was a thrilling experience to hear around 80 000 people roaring, singing, and yelling during the game.

I also met a few open source people both privately and in a Drupal meetup.

All in all, very good holiday in a truly nice city.

The trip to Vilnius was a bit different. I was selected to spoke in DrupalCamp Baltics that was organised for the first time ever in Vilnius – earlier locations are Riga, Latvia, and Tallinn, Estonia. I’ve been part of the organisation committee for Tallinn camps, and as the next year’s camp will be in Tallinn, it was good to be there to see how things are organised in Lithuania.

The camp was an excellent experience, a lot of good sessions, and very good discussions with people from all Baltic states. My own sessions were about how open source creates meaning to people’s lives, and how Drupal companies should focus more on growth.

As I’ve never been in Vilnius before, I took a later flight on Saturday and strolled around the city for a few hours before it started to rain. The old city is huge and nicely layers different eras. It was surprisingly worn, especially when compared to Tallinn or Riga old towns that are almost spotless nowadays. Sort of felt like being sent 10-15 years back in time.

There were way more cafes and churches than in the two other Baltic capitals. Maybe the climate is less harsh or people are more outgoing in Lithuania. Religiousness seems to grow in Baltics when you travel from north to south.

The Vilnius airport was one of the smallest ones that I’ve seen for a nation’s capital. Only fourteen gates in very compact area, a few shops and caf├ęs, and that’s it. Walking it from end to end took like five minutes. Without Finnair’s successful Asian strategy, Helsinki airport could be of same size – but now it felt really humongous, and it is constantly being expanded.

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1.  — Nov 20 2017