A foreigner in The Netherlands (2) – Biking: Den Haag, Hoek Van Holland, Delft

The Netherlands is a very particular place where to live, in the good and in the bad; one of the amazing possibility is that having a bike make you able to go wherever you want. There are biking paths basically everywhere, even along the highways.

In this post I would like to talk about a very nice excursion of circa 50/60 Km I did last month: Den Haag, Hoek van Holland, Delft, because I think is an amazing trip to do in a sunny day during the weekend.

The journey starts in Den Haag (A/H), more precisely in Scheveningen, and continue following the coast in direction South-East; until the land ends you reach Hoek van Holland (B), a beach city situated at the end of the canal connecting the North sea to Rotterdam’s harbour (considered one of the biggest in the world). In fact it looks like a river but looking the shapes of the shores around it looks artificial.

The way to H. van Holland is composed by different shorts paths and pass toward different landscapes: forest, grass, dune, with few climbs and declines that makes it a bit wilder (do not expect the same ‘definition’ you might have experienced in other countries, but is really beautiful). Quite a lot of people ride on that path with any kind of bikes, from traditional oma-fiets to racing ones, anyway the road is quite big and there is room for everybody.

While arrived in Hoek van Holland, the sun was shining in the sky (a beautiful blue sky), and was the official beginning of the summer/beach season. All bars were opened, in disco-mode since 2 o’clock in the afternoon, tons and tons of people already there in the morning, as much walking from the city, coming to the beach. Was really crowded. There was an open market and was almost impossible to walk through there.

In Holland that’s normal. Whenever the sun show up, people will show up outside as well. Streets, bars, everywhere you can enjoy it will be crowded. Other populations, living in countries with the same weather, wouldn’t do the same. It’s quite impressive.

The trip continues in direction South, following the canal of Rotterdam’s harbour, toward an industrial area,  impressive to see windmils, warehouses and crumbling old buildings, sometimes a huge boat was passing through the canal. The path was surrounded by concrete and cement, not really beautiful and honestly neither good smelling, probably quite polluted compared with the rest of the country.

While traveling in direction South you might find different path possibilities, two of them were to bike until Maasluis or turn before in direction North-East. While the wind was blowing from North-East, and the expectation were quite tiring, the decision was to short the return and turn in direction of De Leer before Maasluis, and then proceed on the way to Delft.

De Leer is a normal dutch city, in my opinion doesn’t have anything particular, just a church that was not really straight anymore (a dutch torre di Pisa).

         

After De Leer there is a biking path, passing in the countryside, between greenhouses, fields, bridges on canals. The area is quite wild (for what can be considered wild in The Netherlands ;)) and peaceful, I wish all the biking path would have been done like that one.

Once arrived in Delft, direction Rijswik and then Den Haag. Google maps said even more than 55 Km, and after that you might notice that your bottom would have a shape complementary to the seat.

Anyway amazing trip!

Meetup 2010

Meetup 2010 – Interlaken, Switzerland. Probably, one of the best Meetup (or at least the same level of the 2008′s one). Location was a bit far away this time, we went to Interlaken, Switzerland and was chosen because of the exciting activity planned on Sunday: canyoing!

But canyoing wasn’t the only news in this Meetup.

We had a full day of talks and speeches about various interesting topics: profiling, mobile, agile and so on, two “Free beer” evenings, a BBQ on a boat on Saturday night. Simply amazing!

The talks sessions seemed quick, interesting and not heavy. We had also lightning speeches about funny stories happened with customers (unfortunately I cannot mention anything :P but, trust me, it was really funny!). I came home with some new ideas and new starting point for new though.

During the evening there was a free beer for every participant to Hooters, and we’ve got double hangovers. My suggestion, that came Friday when was too late was: “Next year we shouldn’t have ‘free beer’ it on Friday”.

Saturday evening we had a beautiful BBQ on a boat, we also risked to miss it because we went initially to the wrong lake (grasse risate) but we fixed the mistake by catching a train in time and go to the correct location! :) The weather was pretty good, we had a very nice view of the lake and the mountains; the sunset was amazing: a bit yellow, orange and surrounded by blue.

Sunday was the “exciting activity day”: canyoing. We walked down a torrent surrounded by high rocks and sometimes entered in small canyons. We jump in the water, climb rocks, got wet in the freezing mountain water. Simply fantastic!

Next year… canyoing level 2? or parachuting? Who knows?

Here you can find all my photos.

Gr8Conf – Copenaghen

Gr8Conf is a conference headed in Copenaghen about gr8 technologies: groovy, grails, griffon, gradle and so on. The conference is organized by Javagruppen, the Danish Java User Group.

Nothing particular to say about the conference, everything was prepared very well and the overall quality was high. Behind the scene a lot of VIP and Stars in the Groovy panorama.

I was there because interested to this technologies but in particular because the Keynote presented a success story on Groovy and the enterprise, basically Philippe Delebarre and Raffaele Cigni gave a talk about wat was done at the European Patent Office.
Summarizing, after two failing tentatives: the first using an existing proprietary product and the second with opensource ESB, the project found in Groovy a very good candidate for the success; in addition, the keys were: strong separation between businnes and development, adopting of agile methodologies (SCRUM and XP), contributed for the success.

The conference at the end went very well, it was nice to meet a lot of people interested in this cool technologies and we had also the opportunity to have 4 hours of hacking in order to contribute to one of this projects.

At the end I went home with some new ideas and new starting point, where I can start working on :) see you next year

Groovy & Grails eXchange 2009

The Groovy & Grails eXchange, organized by skillsmatter, was the first international conferences about software development I’ve attended in my career. Before I was more concentrated mostly on Linux and the Fedoraproject (FOSDEM, Linux TAG for instance).

The conference was headed in London from December 9th to 10th. The first day was focuses on Groovy and the second on Grails. I went there with Raffaele and Davide, friends and colleague of mine (we work together in Holland). As the conferences last Wednesday and Thursday, we decided to get Friday off and stay in London during the week end to visit the city (I already been there almost one year ago but London is always lovely).

At the conference there were about 150 people, mostly developers (heavy twitter users), in particular freelancers and really small companies from all over the world.

I really found all the speech really interesting. Guillaume Laforge spoke about the features of Groovy 1.7 and above (we even had a brief introduction about what are they considering to include in the 1.8 release) and Graeme Rocher introduced Grails 1.2.0 and the new plug-in development approach.

Based on my work in Holland, I really appreciated the ‘Groovy code kata’  talk from Dierk Koening and the DSL speech from Verkat Subramaniam. I had a really interesting chat with him about DSLs, in particular about what we should consider more important to balance the DSL we designed and are using in our project (I swear, I’ll post about it). I found Verkat really good to make examples in order to help you to understand better complexed concepts (DSL by examples might be a suggestion for next book ;-)).

You can find some photos about the conference itself here and here.

I’m really satisfied by this conference, I met a lot of people and exchange contact with them to keep in touch and, at the end I won Grails in Action book. :-) I also met also three guys from the NLGUG (Netherland Groovy User Group): Erik, Alex and Sebastien. They were really interested to my work with groovy and they invited me to give a speech, next year, to the Groovy User Group. I already accepted because it’s cool to meet new people on topics I like and I’ll get the opportunity to get more integrated into the local groups.

I met also Alberto Brandolini (ZioBrando for most of the people), who is a trainer for skillsmatter and a expert software architect in Italy. Before, he saw only a name and a photo but fortunately I had the opportunity to spoke with him to exchange some ideas and suggestion.

After the conferences we enjoy London for three days. I can say that I love London, and it’s strange because London is chaotic and I’m not use to it, but it has a fashion and a people integration level that is difficult(may be impossible) to find in any other cities (maybe in New York, but I’ve never been there, yet).

Maybe after my project in Holland will be finished, I’ll move there for a while, who knows. But we’ll see.

From London I can say that English people are really crazy, or they drink like sponges. I really would like to know how many drink they drink: I saw people with t-shirt in the middle of the night with around 0° or below, is it possible to survive? I would like to know how can they drink English beers: for me are too warm and they have a strange bitter after-taste.

Anyway London is fantastic and beautiful.  Period.

I took some photos, you can find here.

Rotterdam: modern art within a city

Rotterdam is nice, but looks like a non-Dutch city. Seems more like a German city. Big, large, modern.

It was completely rebuilt after the second world war. For people used to Dutch cities, like Utrecht or Amsterdam, Rotterdam might be ugly: big and sometimes empty streets, skyscrapers, seems oversized… and living there might be difficult…

But at the end I believe Rotterdam is like modern art: cube house, skyscrapers, towers…

I saw Rotterdam in a sunny Sunday and I can say that probably is not a people city like, for example, Delft or Utrecht but is nice and photographically speaking give you a lot of inspiration.

The harbour is amazing! The weather was perfect…during the sunset the harbour creates a gorgeous combination of shadows and shapes.


This set is an experiment of  RAW development using Bibble, you can find it here. i have a laptop with a screen not really luminous, sometimes I might use too much saturation and contrasts…