Tilapia, Cliff House

If I can describe my last week in a nutshell I would say it was a very challenging time of life. The greatest thing in the company I work for is a flexibility you can handle your tasks with. I am always excited to learn new things. My focus in GoodData is to solve as many tasks as possible during my working time. It is a big fun and quite addictive sometimes, especially from personal development perspective. I come from a small town in the Czech Republic originally and since my childhood I have been dreaming about some things like growing up, drinking a cappuccino or just to become an effective person.

You can achieve these goals in many ways. You can just start drinking a cappuccino or working for an American company where you can try to reach the goals set with a higher expectation for everything. The important thing is keeping your focus on learning new things. Of course, it takes time, but you should learn during the evenings or weekends and it definitively helps you to accelerate your learning curve. Sometimes you have to learn something you have minimal experience with and you should deliver a prototype in next few days. Therefore I decided to spend whole weekend in the office and come through important parts of the an existing solution. In my previous article I described how I met Tomas Svarovsky there what was very inspiring for me and I expected to meet him on Sunday as well.

However, I have experienced something different. Tomas didn’t come, but I met Kyle Pistor there, a sales engineer in Good Data. What a wonderful surprise that was to see him in the office on Sunday. I had been wondering about his tasks and the particular effort he decided to make for it. However, in next few seconds I saw his parents also and Kyle told me he just forgot some stuff for his laptop. :) The time I spent during that weekend on the task was worth enough, I could understand the current solution more deeply and prepare for the real implementation of particular prototype.

The real implementation started on Monday. That day started very nicely. At work there was a company breakfast. While I was eating, I heard some voice behind me. I recognized it was Bernadette. I turned around and asked what she said. Nothing, I was just singing, she replied. There was also interesting to listen to conversation between Jagjit and Tom. Jagjit is a very funny guy, I like him. With Tom they were talking about customer experience and when Jagjit used phrase “it was a rhetorical question”, there was an association in my brain which reminded me some scenes from Mr. Woodcock movie with Billy Bob Thorton in the main role.

Things went really great, I started to implemented that prototype based on the weekend experience. Aaron Myhre prepared a session with the customer with a mountain flag. I was wondering what mountain would mean, is that a meeting room I asked? Aaron was laughing and told me about the Mountain timezone, which is actually one hour ahead of the San Francisco one. However, Petr Olmer came to visit me during Monday afternoon and one of the prototype solution we prepared didn’t help so much actually, he said. There was some additional things we hadn’t included and the reason was some unexpected results. I was quite sad news for me, not because of some criticisms, but we actually loose some potential good chance how to improve one of our project. However, that is the life and I am actually appreciated for both positive and negative feedback. The negative one is usually better in many ways.

During Tuesday I wanted to cope with that prototype. Aaron helped me a lot. He invented quite interesting solution for some special calculation. I was going to develop it, there was a lot of communication with the customer. Before lunch Pepa Vitek hit me with his kick scooter what is always a great sign. I was working all day on that demo, evening hours included. There was a cleaner. She informed me the floor in the restrooms was wet and I had to be very careful. Actually she was probably very scared I could injured myself there because when I returned back from that restroom, she seemed very happy about that. Even Aaron went for a dinner with her girlfriend, they returned back during the evening to help me with that task. I was very appreciated, because the important presentation was set on Wednesday and when I was fixing some issues I broke some parts in the projects. Fortunately I fixed it and before we left the office area, I told him a story how Jiri Tobolka switched into command line when he started to work in GoodData. Jirka is coming on Monday, by the way, would be really great to have him here.

When I woke up on Wednesday I was a little bit scared because I found some blood on my nails. I had no simple explanation for that, I just simply hoped I didn’t kill Juraj during the sleepwalking for instance. :) Fortunately I saw him in the office afterwards. We also had that presentation with Aaron. I must say it is always a big pleasure to work him. A very nice presentation from his side, his strong analytical thinking helped us to move this project forward and received an important feedback. Sometimes these meetings are such as a big show, but I really enjoy and it is a great inspiration for me to learn something new from people like Aaron or Tomas Svarovsky, who has lots of suggestions based on his strong experience with platform. My idea is to improve some parts in my ETL and architecture and ask Tomas for feedback. I think it would be beneficial for both sides.

In our office there is a big fun. Some people play american football there, usually before they have to solve some difficult tasks. I think it is a great way how to relax. No matter not everyone understand rules, the important thing is they are very careful and usually hit themselves, not any hardware in the office. :) We also wonder quite often about the ingredients in food. What should be bark flavor in chocolate we discussed with Petr Cvegros and Winston Christie-blick. We didn’t know exactly, but with Winston we started barking like dogs. I also realized that Juraj seems like Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory series. He confirmed me that this opinion shares more about 20 people. He showed me a scene where Sheldon was ridiculously drank and I really thought it was Juraj. We also had a great time in a Filipino restaurant. We went there in quite a big group and Romeo told us some interesting information about Boracay Island. I ordered Tilapia, a surprising very good fish. During that lunch I had also a very good discussion with Hubert Palan about some American cities. He described me how he was scared about some potential earthquakes in San Francisco at the beginning and how he already feel better about that.

Aaron had to work remotely because he needed to be directly with a client. He told me about Google Hangout tool. I think it is a very cool one. We had several sessions. Pepa Vitek enriched one of them when he waved on camera during our conversation with Aaron. Somebody also put an orange on my desk. This orange originally belonged to Jim, but he forgot it when he left and now it is going to be a great decoration. Hopefully oranges keep fresh long time. I have also seen a Google shuttle bus to Mountain View. It is really interesting how close everything is. I bought some Irish beer and took whole pack from supermarket to our place during the evening.

There was a plan to go to Cliff House on Friday. Such a great idea even that place is considered as an expensive one. There was a reservation and went there with Jagjit and significant part of our Czech group in GoodData. Jagjit drove a car and we went there little bit earlier before reservation time. We walked around the house. That place had a special atmosphere during that evening and I decided I should go there during a weekend. We ordered some great food and had a big fun. I am really glad I could be here. Pavel Kolesnikov’s food was mostly in a special bowl. Jagjit tended to teach me some negative sentences, but without any progress. The prices were a little bit higher, but on the other hand we had a really nice evening.

This blog is getting more a more popular. Somebody reminds this fact during some meeting sometimes and I have been told I should try to prepared some video. Quite interesting idea, isn’t it? But I think I keep this blog in written form. :) I have spent two days in Portland. I wanted originally write just a paragraph about it, but I have experienced many interesting things, especially on my way back (I have seen Oakland unexpectedly for the first time and nobody neither killed me, raped me nor mugged me) and I really think this trip desire its own article which is going to be published here very soon.

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BBQ, Chinese New Year Parade, some snippets of last week

Even I posted my last arcticle just few days ago, there are still lots of things all around me and it is time for a short summary.

It was really late when I updated my blog with my previous article. I was a little bit afraid of being tired next working day, but everything was all right. The regular cleaning services made my bed very comfortable and I could sleep very well.

In the morning I met few people in the office. I had a quick conversation with Romeo. I told him about posting my recent photos which he approved. He was surprised by speed how quickly I published it and did a quick checking. He also informed us about Cliff’s article cited in Forbes what is really a great publicity from my point of view and really congratulate on.

Coincidentally Cliff went to the kitchen and when he had been coming back to his office, he stopped at my desk for a while and gave me a feedback for my last article. He thought I posted too much photos of Romeo (two), just one is enough, otherwise he should think a lot about himself, he said. From my perspective everything was all right and I hope Romeo should carry the burden of his popularity. Actually, he reminds me Arnold Schwarzenegger sometimes. His “Radek, come with me, we need your help” sounds me like “come with me if you want to live” from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

A very special moment was a BBQ lunch on Thursday. Some people were probably very excited and everyone could recognized their ‘can’t wait approach’ with a small queue close to the kitchen, formed probably half an hour before serving. When the lunch was ready, that queue was extended rapidly. in that queue there was also Matt Curtis. When we saw each other, we were always laughing. He probably read my previous article. :) The lunch seemed very delicious and I started to look for a great place where I could eat my portion.

I saw Ross Lugos and I sat close to him. We had a quick conversation about progress in some projects. Cliff also joined us and I liked the diversity of our conversation. We started to talk about BBQ and continued with a topics about the chicken and hens breeding, one of Cliff’s hobbies. Actually it remembered me my childhood and some experience from New Zealand where I was a part of organic farms for a while. The conversation was very relaxed, it is great to talk about non-technical things sometimes.

On Friday everything went very quickly. I juggled with three difficult tasks in parallel way. That was great because I could keep my concentration on all of them quite effectively. My luck changes for the better every day. In the morning Aaron Myhre invited me on a call with the customer to get some requirements. Even I joined two minutes later due to some other urgent work, the customer call was such a pleasant surprise. I heard about Aaron only nice things, but I have to say the personal experience was better than I expected. He moderated that call very professionally and constructively and I was very happy I could experience it.

Even I was busy and finished some important tasks before lunch. I needed to send another postcard, therefore I found an Asian restaurant close to our office to be right back. When I came back, just people from support were eating their food. Holly, Cindy, Ray and Juraj asked me about the origin of the content of my food box. I really enjoyed our conversation about South East Asia. Cindy spent couple months in Singapore and Ray was in Vietnam to visit our support people there. I asked him about Cambodia. Never been, but he would love to go there, he replied. Me neither, but I think it is a great place for holiday to relax and have a cappuccino there.

Ray described how people in Vietnam take a nap after lunch. It also remembered me my childhood, but it seems this activity is spread among all nursery schools around the world, because Holly, Cindy, Ray and Juraj experienced the same when they were children. Sometimes it also would be useful to take a nap after lunch here in San Francisco or Prague, but we can’t have everything.

I finished many things during Friday, but there were some technical issues on one of our instances and due to urgency to prepare a functional prototype by Monday, I decided to work whole weekend . Fortunately I have had a great time in our office. That is nothing new for me, so I woke up very early today and went to the office after I took a shower and a quick breakfast. I signed at reception and went directly to my desk. I ran some tasks and was analysing one of our solution I received. I had also a great conversation with my girlfriend. The work here during the weekend has lots of advantages. You can borrow Pavel Kolesnikov’s kick scooter to make a trip from your desk to the toilet shorter and you should not asking him for a permission. You are also not alone. I expected I could meet Tomas Svarovsky and I was right. He works really hard, weekends included.

When I went to sign off late afternoon I hard serious troubles to find my name on the list. There were more than 50 other people working on Saturday in our building. It confirmed me the work on weekends is very common in the USA. Fortunately I had no worries with the lunch. Even I broke the tongues I ate some pieces from Thursday BBQ we keep in our fridge.

I had also a great conversation with a clark at reception. Not only he knew Tomas, but he had also a great experience with Czech guys because he shared an apartment with some people from my country. He told me his name, but I can call him Victor, he added. The conversation went really great and I wish to meet him again. On my way home I wanted to take some photos in the downtown. Unfortunately the center was closed for a Chinese New Year parade. On the other hand it was worth to stop for a while and enjoy the atmosphere there.

Otherwise things going very well and I still very enjoy the atmosphere here. No matter there were occassional gun shooting in Oakland once-twice a week (last one on a bus). For the next week I have great plans how to spend my time. Hopefully the weather will be great and no snow in Portland. :)

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Happy hour, meet Matt Curtis, Angry Prawns

The most significant thing I found here is the time comes very quickly. It has been almost one month since I arrived and still this is the most thrilling experience for me.

On Monday we had the Presidents day, a public holiday here. Sounded like the Queen’s birthday (in the UK and countries of commonwealth) for me and I had a discussion with Tom Cooney about this event. The fact is this day is not as significant public holiday as the Thanksgiving day for instance, but on the other hand you should enjoy a day off. Tom said there were more days where people celebrated birthdays of some important presidents like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, but the presidents day is just a merge of all these days together.

I had also a day off. I wanted to enjoy as much as possible, I also wanted just load some testing data from Friday to a test environment. I did it and was ready to have a great day, but as I found later on, I accidentally populate the production project with this testing data. I am always little bit nervous when I work with important clients and the changes I do should affect them significantly, but this situation happened. Actually for the first time, but happened. I was investigating quick impact (fortunately testing data were correct) and I hoped the next load should fix everything. It didn’t.

Everything seemed all right, but there were some unexpected things. When somebody make a mistake, there are probably two ways how to cope with. To do nothing and believe in a miracle, or try to solve it in a constructive way. Even it was little bit unpleasant, I definitely decided to spread the information what I did probably to all people in the company and also proposed some solutions. Unfortunately there were some technical issues, but on the other hand the communication through all relevant departments was very good. I described everything to Ross who understood the situation very well and was very happy we were strongly focused to solve this issue as quickly as possible.

Due to technical issues it took longer than I expected, we also had to wake up some people in Prague and Brno, but the fix was done and the customer seemed very happy about that. L2 support and OPS did a great job to fix it even they had Monday evening in the Czech Republic. I was very appreciated about that. Thank you.

Wednesday was also very busy day, but in a different way. When I came to work, I was was involved in some meetings with customers, even I didn’t expected to be there. But it was great. I think from my point of view to understand the customer properly is one of the most important thing, and it is sometimes a big fun. On that call there was also Filip Stastny. Almost everyone here recognizes me as a replacement for him. I always describe myself as Filip, but more skinny. We had a separated call afterwards and because there were two Czechs and one American, Filip proposed to speak Czech. It was just a joke, he added. Tom was very happy he had not to learn Czech language in next few minutes.

When I returned from these calls I found another Czech people in San Francisco offices. Martin Matula and Jan Kurik. Both of them are very skilled architects. Hope they enjoy San Francisco very well. Juraj on the other hand acclimatized very quickly. He helped me a lot with the Monday incident and also he is able to enjoy food almost all the time. Ross was very happy we handled the incident very well. The greatest thing here is you should sometimes work under really big pressure, but when the results are great, everyone is extremely happy.

For lunch we had our favorites crêpes. We went there with Petr Cvengros, but we met also Pepa Vitek and Aaron Myhre coincidentally. The waitresses have already known us very well. Aaron was considering to sit next to me due to my positive approach, Pepa on the other hand was wondering about writing a blog about the same situations what I experience, but from his point of view. The most interesting topic during our lunch was a discussion with Jagjit and his plans to go with me to the Cliff house. I was wondering why he wants me to take to Cliff’s house, but he told me about place called http://www.cliffhouse.com/. I definitively want to go there.

For the evening there was prepared a Happy Hour sponsored by one of our department. I had some tasks what I had to finish, so I went there little bit late. I had some problems to find that place, but Juraj was waiting on me in the front of the entrance. I showed my ID and went downstair to find some people from GoodData. I found Romeo and Cliff. We had a short conversations about some projects and drank some beer.

I also met Matt Curtis there, our new sales engineer from Boston. When I saw him for the first time, I thought it is Neil Strauss, probably one of the most famous pickuper in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Strauss). I am not interested in this area, but couple years ago I had a chance to read one of his book and I must say it was written very well. I showed picture of Neil Strauss to some people and everyone thought it is a picture of Matt. So, welcome to GoodData, Matt. :)

The atmosphere was very good, I took some pictures of my colleagues. Romeo approved me I can publish on my blog and there were couple of interesting discussions. With Matt Curtis we discussed about Boston, New York and some other topics. They was also Holly who confirmed her surname Szkoropad really means “almost falling” in some roman languages. She was on lunch with her father and was asking about that. There was also Cindy Au from support and Hector Hung. Cindy told me I am an extremelly positive guy and some people think it is a great attitude. Hector seems to be extremely calm person, but he is very nice. He told me he fells sometimes very bad when people in our team have to implement projects during our days off (sometimes), but he also definitively wants to meet all of us if possible. He was on a trip in Asia.

After I happy hour we moved to a different place where our Czech group found a great place to sit. Holly and Ray joined us. I talked to Ray, we remembered some situations from past. We were comparing some cultural difference between the USA and the Czech Republic. We discussed about some recent visits and their reactions. When somebody from the USA visits the Czech Republic, especially Brno, he (or her) should expect very hospitable people there. The restaurant where we ate was really good, I ordered some Angry Prawns. A little bit spiced, but a very good choice.

On our way home we met a homeless, but he was one of the homeless I wanted to meet. He offered us some newspapers. I remember the conversation I had with the Brazilian woman a week ago about these guys and I decided to buy some for $1 and support him a little bit. On our way back we had talked to Pavel Kolesnikov before he took a bus. He gave me some inspiration how to handle quite difficult problem more easily and it was really helpful.

There are also some really challenging tasks ahead, but I feel very confident with my technical background and I believe I can handle quite easily even it is something completely new for me. :)

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How I met Jakub Nesetril, Musée Mécanique, living in a dream

Last week was very thrilling and I experienced many amazing situations. From some perspectives it was one of the most important week in my life and maybe there is no surprise I really enjoyed it. With David and Jose (and Dilip for a while, but it counts) we had a very nice trip around San Francisco and Napa Valley area. We discussed about our experience and I promised him to write an article about it. When I met Jose on Monday, he looked exceptionally happy. He dropped a comment below that article and together with his wife he enjoyed reading my stories. I also received very nice feedback from Dilip. Thank you guys.

Monday was surprising in one thing. I started to see some people from Czech engineering in San Francisco offices. The first one was Ondrej Cernos, a very skilled technical guy who arrived in town to attend a Cassandra training. He should implement very important task and he needed to know some best practices for Cassandra. I wish him all the best because the description of that task seems to me as a very big challenge. This training was suggested by our colleague Pavel Kolesnikov, who returned back to San Francisco from a short business trip in Prague.

In the afternoon I had been developing a project when Courtney came to me and asked me for a help. There was a customer visit and they asked some advanced topics and according to her description I was an ideal person to answer these questions. I really like these tough situations when you are not ready (haven’t done any preparation before) and must do the best to keep customer happy. After they asked me some questions I demonstrated my abilities and implemented them what they want and I was really impressed by my skills and how quickly I am able to create a suitable, non-trivial solution.

On my way home I bought some other postcards and had a nice talk to a elderly woman, originally from Brazil, but she grew up in San Francisco. Her accent was very strange, I think she had a speech defect. However, despite her speech problem we had quite interesting conversation about my English learning curve and homeless in San Francisco. She was curious about my experience and from where my accent comes from. I told her about New Zealand and about learning everything on the fly. The rest of our conversation was focused on homeless problematic. I am quite well awarded of some facts about it and there was no surprise in this conversation.

However, the best thing came when I returned back home. Few weeks ago I found on Facebook a profile of the person who inspired a lots in the past. I come from a region oriented on coal mining and where is very difficult to keep your mind open due to various reasons. I had experienced some great success before, but since I have read Cayman’s blog, it helped me to concentrate on key ideas much better. I liked his approach and started doing things by myself as I really wanted to.

It worked of course and I am sure there are much bigger success ahead if I keep my current execution of all my actions, but if I had never found his blog, I would probably be still somewhere in Ostrava. Cayman stop blogging and I hoped we should have a chance to talk to each other once again. Couple weeks ago I found his profile on FB through another amazing person and on that Monday he sent me some very nice reaction on my feedback. I was crying for joy and I had a lot of enthusiasm to wrote some very nice things on all my postcards. From my point of view Monday was really cool day.

Next day there was a planned quick training for one of our product. I expected to answer some questions in half a hours, but actually I did it a little bit faster. During lunch break I sent all my postcards to the Czech Republic, Germany and New Zealand. The greatest thing in the post office was the process which was super simple. I wanted to specified all countries (There were about 10 postcards and I sorted them in particular order), but the clark just wanted to know if I was going to send them overseas. He sold me particular amount of stamps and I put all of them on. I hope they don’t loose any postcard on the way.

Tuesday was also the first day when I had a chance to talk to our company lawyer David Howard. I wanted to ask him some questions and I found him in the kitchen. We were talking about Filip’s experience. Actually he didn’t mention his name, but according to his body language description I was sure he was talking about Filip. Another good thing is the name Radek is quite unique in the company and it is quite easy to remember me. It is also quite advantage when I buy some lunch. I have some favorite places and our orders are usually to go. There is a one place where you should tell your name for better order identification. I have been there few times, but the good thing is they remember my name without any hesitation and talking from my side.

There was a scheduled feedback from Jiri Stovicek via Skype planned on Wednesday. I woke up earlier and waiting for Jirka. I received one of the best feedback I have ever heard and I would like to thank him and all Managed Services team for this, because it is my pleasure to work with them. They are really true “A-players” and one of the greatest people I have ever met.

When I started to work for GoodData, it was a contract-based role. However, nothing would happen if Daniel Hastik, my boss in Datahost, had never met Jakub Nesetril, a recent UX Lead in GoodData and nowadays an owner of very promising startup Apiary.io. What a great coincident I met Jakub in GoodData office together with two other guys from Gooddata from the Czech Republic – Stanislav Opichal and Adam Kloubocnik. Jakub was considering to move here to Sillicon Valley area, Standa and Adam arrived to attempt a training about a Javascript framework. Tomas Svarovsky had a great idea to eat out in a restaurant. We chose really fancy one, but unfortunately I don’t remember the name. However, it was really delicious.

Jakub described his experience. He spent almost three years in New Zealand, so we talked about some places here. His technical background is really strong and he was participated on various projects. He was talking about investors for Apiary.io, the difference between American and Europeans ones, is about some people who were surprised when they found that there is not the only one Cambridge in Massachusetts. I liked the topic when he described that some investors are focused on Silicon Valley and they occasionally invest on the East, but only to Boston or New York. Big surprise was when they talked about China and they outsourcing activities in the Czech Republic for some products of Apple computer. I recently visited a game developer conference where Lukas Codr described his experience from China. The interesting part was when he talked about salaries. Were higher (for qualified jobs) than in the region I come from and many people in Moravia would be happy about that. When we left the restaurant Jakub was going to drive to Palo Alto. We talked about Silicon Valley a lot. It really seems the balance between big success and big fail should be very tight and I wish Jakub all the best in his activities.

On my way to work on Thursday I met Aaron Heise, one of my colleague here in San Francisco. I bough a breakfast and were wondering about doing jaywalking to have a shorter walk to our office. But the presence of some cops suggested us using the longer way. There was another restaurant event in the evening with our Czech group. Hubert Palan also joined us and we tried some Californian sushi. I also experienced some common American bars that evening. It was Valentine’s day and we expected all bars would be fully booked. I returned back very late, but I really enjoyed that evening.

Friday was also exceptional in many ways. In the morning I had a call with the significant customer and I also received a challenging task from Sales engineering. Cliff wanted me to help with this and I hoped my experience would be good enough for this. However, after a discussion with Petr Olmer I was sure I can do that and when David Pascale from Sales Engineer had a time, I sat next to him and described him whole concept and how he could do that. We prepared what was necessary and I hoped this would help.

I also had a great talk to Roman in the kitchen. I had been preparing my one coffee I drink a day when he came to the kitchen. He asked me couple questions and what tasks I have been involved on. He seemed very happy when he left the kitchen.

Friday was also the last day for David Plachetka who are going back to the Czech Republic. Ray and Holly prepared a great ‘say goodbye’ event in a restaurant near to our office. Ray Light was very generous and even he couldn’t join us on Friday (it was originally planned on Thursday, but due to Valentine’s day moved on Friday), he allocated $100 dollars for having a great evening. I order some bottles of cider and had a great talk to our support people as well as my colleagues from the Czech Republic. We were wondering about Holly’s surname origin and the right pronunciation. Her father was a Ukrainian and the pronunciation of Szkoropad is [skoropad] if I understood correctly. I was talking about my associations with this surname with “almost falling” if I translate it literally to English. With Holly we were laughing about it.

Holly is great. Together with Ray they do a first level support and work very hard. I always hear them to talk to customer directly and sometimes it is not that easy. Holly graduated in San Jose State University in journalism what was great to hear, because 5 years ago I was really involved in this area where my biggest success was an external cooperation with Czech Radio. There are lots of newspapers in the United States of America. Unfortunately many of them were hit by crisis and during that period Holly started to be more focused on IT area.

We discussed a lot about our support guys in the Czech Republic. Some of them are little bit afraid to speak with customer in English. I understand this problem. I was always very nervous when I could talk to customer in a different langue. Therefore I am extremely happy to have a strong New Zealand experience where I had to cope with everything from scratch. To be an outsider and to not be afraid of making lots of mistakes is probably one of the best approach to have a great success.

Our american colleagues left the bar quite soon and with our Czech group we moved to an Indian restaurant where we had a great dinner. Our last step was a visit in another bar where we drank some local beer. They had also a Pilsner branch. I finally know the difference between Munin and Muni after a discussion with Ondrej Cernos. :) When we left that place I was walking with David back to our apartment. It was the last night here in San Francisco for him and we talked about various things very deeply. In last few days we had technical issues with the toilet. It was probably stuck, but we had no ideal tool for fixing it. I did some necessary work and watch some videos on youtube for having a better idea about an ideal and quick fixing forever. I was very good to know some technical details and some important difference between plungers for instance.

In the morning I woke up and went to supermarket to buy some necessary things. I was successful and it seems our toilet is fixed. The flushing speed is incredibly fast and my skills extended. If I have some troubles in IT area, I should either drive a forklift or fixing toilets. David packed all his stuff, took a photo with a plush rabbit for his girlfriend and before he left he was worried about shipping some cell phones devices for our colleagues in the Czech Republic. Customs clarks in our country sometimes ask lots of questions and I hope he passed without problem. He is a very nice person and I wish him safe journey.

I washed some sheets and pillow cases for Juraj, the next person on the rotation and went to another expedition to the city. I was walking around quay and I was very excited to try to eat a crab. I found a great place where I ordered a crab sandwich. I was eating and listening other orders. Somebody ordered crab Charles. It sounded very fancy to me, next time I have to try this as well. I found a great museum around – Musée Mécanique. There were famous technical interactive arcade things. Each device consume $0.25 and you should use each of them. I liked pinball tables. From my point of view pinball was one of the best games ever. I chose the table with Indiana Jones and really enjoyed playing.

There were lot of various devices. I spent there more than 2 hours and I am sure I will return back there. On my way back home I bought an American and Czech flags for three dollars each. I bought also some beer to celebrate Juraj arrival. He landed quite late and Ray was waiting for him at the airport. Unfortunately Ray forgot his cellphone at home, but they found each other quite easily. They went to have a dinner and in next two hours Juraj finally came. He smoke his last cigarette and I gave him keys and explained some important things. Was very great he arrived without any problem.

When we woke up in the morning, I promised Juraj to go for a walk to show him everything important. We ate out and walked over the important streets. Juraj prefers the less luggage the better and took just few things from home. I showed him a special place called Ross – dress for less. We went inside and saw such a price paradise inside. Everything was very cheap. Juraj bought some shoes, clothes, sunglasses and I finally found an ideal wallet for me. When we found a checkout I remember I forgot my credit card in my jacket at home. Fortunately I had enough money and I could take everything I needed.

Another goal was to find a Slovakia flag. We went to the same place as I was yesterday. Unfortunately there was no Slovakia flag at all. The shop assisted proposed to buy a Lithuanian or a Croatian one, but Juraj didn’t agree with this idea. We decided we should set up a new tradition. I bought Czech and the US flags and keep them at the company apartment. If somebody new arrive, he can just simply add a flag of his country and there should be also a Portuguese, Ukrainian or Russian flag for instance in a near future.

We also visited that Musée Mécanique together. Juraj was also impressed. After a short walking inside we found special exit where we saw very nice submarine from World War II. We took some pictures and also visited a beautiful gallery of Rodney Lough, Jr. I really like his motto – http://pinterest.com/rodneyloughjr/. The more I am here, the more I enjoy this city. It seems my luck changes for the better every day and sometimes I strongly believe I have been living in a dream.

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Painted ladies, Twin Peaks, Napa Valley, Sonoma

Sunday was ridiculously spectacular. That is what I can say about last day in a nutshell. My original idea was to a Vertigo trip and visit some remarkable places, but as sometimes happened, my plans were changed.

Few days ago my colleague and flatmate David proposed me to join him and Jose – our technical assistent who can help you with your hardware things and some tasks related to operations area. They wanted to go to Napa Valley and David asked me if I want to come with them. I heard about some Californian vineyards, but never about Napa Valley, so I agreed. I also wanted to meet Jose more, because when I arrived he helped me to solve some initial tasks. David and Jose also proposed 10am as a time when we should start our trip. That was all right for me, because I usually wake up very early.

Before he arrived, I packed my camera, took some notes and my credit card. I had about $40 in cash, but I hoped they would accepted credit cards everywhere. David was also well prepared, he went shopping and visited farm market where he bought some fruit like Mandarin orange. He gave me a piece to taste and without the doubts it was exceptionally good.

Jose arrived on time and the first small surprise was the car he took was exceptionally big. It must consumes lots of petrol, I said, especially in San Francisco and its steep streets. He lives close to San Francisco international airport and I asked him how much he likes SF roads. Not much he replied, but I enjoyed the way how he coped with these steep streets all around.

Our first stop was a famous place called Painted ladies. While he was driving I enjoyed the streets and the atmosphere all around, especially some places were exceptionally good. There were built many Victorian houses between 1849 and 1915 in San Francisco. I think there are so typical for this city, even many of them were destroyed during the big earthquake in 1906. Jose took us to Alamo Square where you can find a row of these houses painted to very nice colors. What a wonderful surprise was when I recognized these houses from some postcards I have seen before. Jose told us some information about that place and how popular is among amateur and professional photographers. Lots of them try to make some spectacular shots of city.

We did the same and I also enjoyed the whole atmosphere. There was a girl from Hong Kong who took some pictures of me. When I finished taking of photos I asked Jose what an interesting shapy building is in front of us. He thinks it is the same shape as the inside of a washing machine. The building was The Cathedral Event Center and the construction was really impressive. I had already admired it from car.

Twin Peaks was our next step. When I hear Twin Peaks I remember a film and TV series by David Lynch. I hoped I there was not going to be anything mysterious. Twin Peaks are two very big hills in San Francisco with a spectacular views. When we were driving there Jose described us some city history and expensive places in San Francisco. Some of them looked very good, but the prices were really insane. There was also a historical street, well known thanks to a famous hippies movement. The streets were also exceptionally steeps and narrows. Jose described that car for bigger trips, with his wife they have another one for standard trips. After a while we were up to Twin Peaks lookout. I expected an amazing experience, but the superb spectaculars views exceeded my phantasy.

The first part of our trip was done and it was time to go to Napa Valley area. Jose took us through the Bay Bridge and described us his experience with another big earthquake in 1989. He is originally from the Philippines, his parents moved to the USA when he was 1 year old. In 1989 as an university student he was on the trip to school and when he was crossing the Bay Bridge the big earthquake struck the city. The damage was significant, the Bay Bridge – the most important connection between Bay Area and Oakland was damaged. In the same year there also was an important baseball match between Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. The earthquake changed plans to many people and it was really hard to travel between Bay Area and Oakland because of damaged bridge.

On our trip to Napa Valley we had series of great conversations. Jose demonstrated deeper knowledge of history of the city. We saw a road to the campus of Berkeley University and some refinery. Jose didn’t recommend us to live there. I agreed, but he probably never was in Ostrava and some of its spectacular neighborhoods. We also saw a special train which should take passenger along vineyards. We stopped at the first place where we should try some vines. The place looked interesting, there was a woman from Brazil who pour some vines for us. I always tried just a little bit, but alcohol here (beer, wine) is much stronger than in the Czech Republic. Believe or not, I was a little bit drunk after some tries.

The taste was also different than I expected, but I enjoyed it. From the list of vines there was a one which I preferred the most. Until I tried a port one. The taste was absolutely delicious. I decided to buy a whole bottle for me and my girlfriend for the celebration of her arrival in next few weeks. No matter the price was around $100 per bottle, I am sure she will like it. Jose was very nice to us and he paid tasting fees. I took some photos outside and we went to the second place.

We were exceptionally lucky because we found a parking place quite easily. There was a really beautiful large house with spectacular interiors where you should try some vine and a small building where you should go shopping, especially something to eat. Because of lunch time we bought some sandwiches. Since New Zealand I have a hand sanitizer with me almost all the time. We found it very useful at that moment because we could go directly to taste new vines. I tried maybe 5-6 various ones. On the one hand I was more drank than before, but on the other one I found port vines very tastable. I had to buy another bottle for me and Helca. Jose was a member of that vineyards so we didn’t need to pay tasting fees. His knowledge about vine was exceptional. He also bought more vines than I have seen.

Another stop was a place in Sonoma. The reason was Dilip from GoodData was there. It was good to see him there. We met his fiancée and his other friends. We tried some more vine, but I order a smaller amount. I took some photos and talked to Dilip and his friends. he asked me how I like San Francisco. He remembered Josef Pithart who didn’t like it so much. When the time came we left the place and were returning back to San Francisco. Jose decided to cross Golden Gate Bridge so we chose a little bit different way. David proposed Jose to drive up to the hill close to the bridge to observe San Francisco from above. It was amazing.

We crossed Golden Gate Bridge afterwards and continued to our apartment. Jose chose Lombard street and we cross that famous eight hairpin turn street with car. We were really appreciated and I must invite Jose on lunch. I thought Jose is very shy guy, but he is very nice, helpful and very cool man. His knowledge of vine is really exceptional. Thank you very much for this experience.

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Super Bowl, a dog in the office, astonishingly cool San Francisco

Last week was very exceptional in many ways. After a deeper expedition of Bay Area and breath taking walks thought quite steep streets I was quite tired. Even Saturday evening city was very alive. There was no surprise that almost everyone had been preparing himself (or helself) to watch Super Bowl – the final match in American Football, probably the most popular sport in the USA. San Francisco was especially involved because their team – 49ers took part in the final and wanted to beat Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans where the match was played.

I am not a big sport fan and especially about American football I know nothing, but I enjoyed how people were deeply involved. The final was scheduled on Sunday, the 3rd and day before, when I was walking within North Beach area of San Francisco I listened couple conversations among people who very proudly discussed about that big event. I also met a bigger group of 49ers supporters in low rider cars what is another great thing in the USA.

Due to long walks on Saturday I had sore legs and I decided to walk in downtown and around the Bay Bridge. I hoped I could see Lombard street – twisty little street recommended by my friend Ashley from Canada which is very close to the place I stay, but when I walked through Chinatown I had to change my plan. I wanted to take some photos there, however, streets in Chinatown were ridiculously crowded. The Chinese New Year is here – a very important event here, because in San Francisco there is really big Asian community. When I was walking there I had seen Chinese New Year Parade. Streets around Chinatown were closed and people enjoyed attraction there. It was very nice, but I decided to walk outside that big group and keep exploring the downtown.

My further steps went to Sutter Street where is also GoodData headquarters. I wanted to walk around and look at beauties over there. The architecture all around is extraordinary. We had a discussion about this with my colleagues. There is a church for instance, probably quite new one, but we think the ancient Greeks could have problems to build it, especially with the strong marijuana smell in the air on some streets. After a while I was close to San Francisco harbor and was enjoying the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco Bay Area with Oakland. I was a little bit tired, so there was no question in my mind whether walk the bridge or not, I just enjoyed watching.

On my way back I wanted walk along all Piers and water. I found a place where you should buy a ticket for Alcatraz. I haven’t bought it yet, but I read some stories about prisoners when I was there. My another plan was to go shopping and wash my clothes. I went close to the place where I stay and bought some ingredients. I cooked risotto and I hoped I find proper Arborio rice. There were plenty of people everywhere because the final Super Bowl was almost on. When I bought all ingredients I returned back to my apartment. There was a small problem with laundry. We need to use special dollars in coins (they don’t have $1 in a coin as in New Zealand for instance) and I have mostly notes.

Fortunately there is a place close to my apartment where I could change a $5 dollar note to particular amount of quarter dollars coins. It is like to win in a lottery to grab all money from that box, but it was good feeling to know I would be able to start our washing machines. The mechanism is the same as in New Zealand. There is also a dryer. I don’t like using these dryers for particular clothes, but at the moment I don’t have much chances to use an alternate way, therefore I don’t care so much. My backpack was almost empty, because I want to buy some stuff here anyway.

The kitchen in our apartment is well equipped and the final risotto was amazing. Even I bought the cheapest selected white wine, the final result was great. David wanted to watch Super Bowl and I decided to join to find why this sport is so popular in the USA. I like when the popular American singers sing the US National Anthem at the beginning and the great atmosphere. The match was scheduled on late afternoon PST time, but probably people in whole America were excited whole day because there was something on TV since early morning probably.

I thought it would be great if team of San Francisco had won. I was prepared to cross streets and take some photos of potential peaceful riots. Unfortunately their opponent Baltimore was much better. I didn’t understand the rules, but for me it was a funny event. Especially when the power outage happened what I think could be a little embarrassing for the organizers on the other hand. San Francisco improved their game, every point was loudly celebrated with people in bars all around, but they lost the match. The whole city was really quiet afterwards.

The following work week was also extraordinary. There was a company breakfast in our office. I had a quick conversation with Holly, our support engineer who looks after our customers really nicely. She asked me what I did during weekend and if I did anything sexy. I described my trip around Bay Area what I probably never forget. Some people proposed we should go together to eat out. I agreed because eating in a restaurant is very rare thing. Mostly we buy some food and bring it to our office where we have a special space for eating. Jagjit chose wisely the place. An italian restaurant Cafe Tiramisu (http://www.cafetiramisu.com/) with lots of specialities. I ordered Pici, a hand rolled fat spaghetti with cioppino sauce. It remembers me home where I prepared some fresh spaghetti with my girlfriend.

We took some photos and were really satisfied the lunch. I asked Andrew Lee about permission to place some of that photos. He agreed. When we returned I continued with implementation of my tasks. Since I have been here I strongly believe I am able to cope with everything. I really enjoy it because I am able to handle three times more things than in Prague. Time to time I have been helping support due to my strong knowledge of most of our implementation. I also had a call with a customer and solve some problems very effectively. It is great to be here.

I have also experienced my first rain here. There was really a special atmosphere here in the city. The only problem was an absence of any coat hanger in our office, so people have to put jackets everywhere. Quite interesting is a possibility to have a dog in the office. One of our colleague’s dog is small as a chihuahua and clever probably as an dolphin. His name is Rex and he can sit on a chair and walks through the office. I love that dog. We always play silly games.

San Francisco is also a great place for its potential filming locations. A lot of movies were filmed here. I remember Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock. My plan is to visit most of the Vertigo location. Unfortunately some of them don’t exist any more due to various reason. Great thing is there is still the oldest building – Mission San Francisco de Asis where some scenes for Vertigo were also filmed. Btw. Francis of Asissi was an important person for San Francisco. When you look at original name in Spanish langue you can find San Francisco de Asís. I also remember The Rock movie with Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage, Sweet November with Keanu Reeves and Charlie Theron. One of my colleague mentioned me The Princess Diares, but I am sure there are much more films created in San Francisco.

Other things are interesting too. Couple days ago I was walking to the office when I met a guy. He was a little bit weird. He seemed as an bodyguard who just left lunatic asylum. He was training defense techniques just by himself. I was also surprised when I had a conversation with our bodyguard. I was waiting when the automatic door will be opened. Do you need any help, he asked? Now I know I must push the door little bit and it would be fine.

The amazing event was also when we visited some bars in San Francisco with our Czech group. We were wondering about drinking in our office, but the final decision to go out was better. Places we found were amazing. I also met Petr, a really nice guy and very skilled developer who works for Google. We ordered some food and I wanted to to try some beer. My first order was Hoegaarden. What a surprise when the waitress brought a small glasses for it. I drank it and made a clear decision to try as much beer as possible and decide which of them is the best. We had a great evening, discussing about weather and how San Francisco is an extraordinary place. I just didn’t know how strong these beers and after 5 or 6 glasses I was a little bit drunk. However, our great evening continued and the whole atmosphere was cool. The only one problem was I forgot my camera.

When I am writing this article I have finished quite great walks. I have seen Coit Tower with its amazing views, Lombard Street and city during the night. There were some dudes who let some fireworks explode in many places, especially in Chinatown/downtown. It seemed little bit dangerous, but they probably celebrated the Chinese New Year and I hoped they knew what they did. I bought some beautiful postcards which I want to send to. The longer I am here the more I like this place. Since I have been here I really believe I can make all my dreams come true. I have great people around me and I like the positive atmosphere which help me to cope with difficult situations in my life. I am really glad I can be here therefore San Francisco is an astonishingly cool place.

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First days in San Francisco

A few days ago I arrived in San Francisco and accommodated in a beautiful apartment in the center of the city. David, my great flatmate, gave me keys and gave me some initial necessary instructions.

The reason why I am here is a business trip for the company I work for. When I arrived I was very tired and as you should expect not far from I opened the door from the apartment I went to bed. My goal was to sleep as much as possible. Unfortunately I woke up quite early, probably due to jet lag. There was only one thing I could do – to go on balcony and observe Alcatraz Island where is situated the famous Alcatraz prison and which is directly visible from the place I stay. I also log in Skype and platform and checked all my projects if they finished properly. There is a time gap between San Francisco and Prague. The difference is about 8 9 hours so I expected all projects had to be done in their daily synchronization.

I also had a nice call with my team lead – Jirka. We talked about my first impressions and about some projects, he gave me some good advice. He was impressed with my talk about Alcatraz. I turned my laptop webcam on and we should observe this beautiful piece of San Francisco together. I wanted to go to work, but I had to wait to David who was my guide for the first day until he wake up. When we were ready we left the apartment and went directly to the office. As a right tourist I took my camera with me. David wasn’t excited enough with my idea to take as many photos as possible during our walk, so I packed my camera back to my backpack. Unfortunately there were some great photo opportunities like two rapping Afro-americans directly just in the downtown of the city. They recorded their rhymes to they cell phones and it was really good so I must hope I will meet them again during my walks. :)

Before we came to the office David showed me some restaurants and places. We also saw a farmer market really close to the office. We went to the office and I was going to introduce myself. I recognized one of my colleague Jagjit very quickly. He was really nice and showed me the whole office. He was surprised I was able to recognized almost everyone. I was really happy to also see my recent Czech colleagues who moved to San Francisco for a longer time. As a Silicon Valley tradition there is a full equipped kitchen with lots of food and drink. Everyone should help himself. After discussion with Cliff I am also sure I will be able to help with many important tasks. I am glad and appreciate to have this opportunity.

On thursdays we have company lunches at the office. We had crêpes that day and it was really good. The service in our office is amazing and I hope I won’t be spoiled before I leave. There was a great presentation about some of our frameworks. It looked really great and I am very excited to have a final version and use it. Unfortunately first day I was struck by jet lag and I was ridiculously tired. I showed one of my automated solution to some of my colleagues and they were impressed. I got a chance to present it before whole team. I was really happy about this chance.

We have a special department with ‘jedi’ engineers. They prepare proof of concepts for potential customers and they have a very special hobby to fight with their lightsabers. It is quite interesting to watch their duels. Time to time they must cope with some special requirements from potential clients and sometimes we help them to finish some really challenging tasks.

When David and I finished we went home together. He showed me laundry and we went shopping. I reduced some limits on my card to make sure there won’t be any potential fraud. I bough some things and when I wanted to pay I found I set these limits to very lows values. Fortunately David helped me and I hope it will be all right next time. When we finished our shopping I went directly to bed and slept very well. Next morning I felt great even I woke up really early.

I decided to walk to the office by myself. I though I used the same way as before, but when I was just in the middle of Chinatown I knew I got lost. But it was great opportunity to see some new things in the city. I was walking through Chinatown and admired their decorations. I also saw San Francisco Bay Bridge, which is really similar to Golden Gate Bridge. I was walking till I found Powell Street. One of my colleague’s name is Stephen Powell and I recognized I was close to the way which David showed me day before because we crossed that street. After while I was on the right path and went to the office quite early.

I met Roman Stanek there and we had a talk. It was great to have an opportunity to ask him some questions. After a while I went to scheduled meeting where I could present my solution. I was happy I wasn’t nervous. There were also some people from partner company from Canada. According to further feedback I am sure it was a successful presentation. During the day I worked on some challenging tasks and it was great because I learned many new things which should be useful in future. With our Czech group we went to buy some lunch and ate at our office.

I had also a great discussion with our consultants. Mike and Courtney. I shared with Mike my ideas about projects I should help with and he seemed excited. There was also another guy – Ravi. He recognized my European origin. I counted up to three on my fingers and he recognized I did it the same way as we could see in Inglourious Basterds movie. Third best performance. He loves that movie so I recommended him to watch Django Unchained.

The most interesting thing happened in the evening. Roman had a special visit. A group from a Czech startup community arrived in San Francisco and visited GoodData. They had a presentation and discussion with Roman. There was also some beer and with my colleagues we tried to drink some. The drink scaled so quickly and we were laughing a lot to various situations. We had a great discussion and it was so great so I went home really late, at 10pm. I fell asleep very quickly. I would like to notice when I crossed the streets I saw San Francisco has a great night life. There is a super bawl final on Sunday evening. I expect empty streets, but if they win there should be some peaceful riots.

I have been writing this article on my first day off. My plan was to walk through the city, especially to see Golden Gate Bridge. I woke up quite early and went to complete my goals. It was really great, San Francisco is very beautiful place. There was a lot of fog all round and the atmosphere was really special. I went directly to the bridge and it was a spectacular construction. I decided to cross the bridge and wander all round. As I said many times, it was really nice. On my way back I saw some parks and monuments. Unfortunately I was quite tired due to long walk. San Francisco has quite steep streets so it was difficult sometimes to get from point A to B. I was happy when I was back to our apartment. For tomorrow my plan is to explore downtown and some other parts as Chinatown.

The great thing is the longer I am here the more I like it. It is exactly as I expected if not better. There is a lot of energy in this city and here my confidence to do a high quality job increased significantly. I believe in myself much more and I am ready to prove it very quickly.

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San Francisco Bay Aray – arrival

It is quite a long time I wrote an article on this blog. Even I had a finished one from New Zealand I haven’t posted it yet. The reason was simple – since I left that beautiful country I haven’t found enough enthusiasms to continue with updating new articles.

Fortunately, my energy is back. :) Since I returned from Zealand I have been working on my technical skills to open some new possibilities for visiting a new country. For many years I have been dreaming about the USA, especially about New York City. The hardest part is to get a work permit and I can imagine how the process could be frustrating based on experience of my good friends. I believe the best way is to demonstrate exceptional skills, but how to demonstrate anything when you are not skilled enough?

In my case there was no much fun at the beginning based on this experience. On the one hand I found some great jobs in Prague, but there were a lot of question in my mind whether it is the right decision to go there or not. Not far from then my friend presented me an opportunity. It was an external cooperation with a company called GoodData. Not in Prague, it was in Ostrava, but the potential was great – a big chance how to learn something new and get significant skills and have a chance to make my crazy dreams come true.

There was an interview with my further boss Martin and happened one interesting thing – I simply failed. For me, a failure is a natural process how to learn something new, but at that moment I wished to make a better impression. However, despite the results of interview I got a chance. Unfortunately I had no guarantees and my contract could be ended any time. I strongly believed this kind of opportunities are very rare and so I agreed.

I always believed a remote cooperation is a good way how to solve problems. You are in an environment you know very well and you should be concentrated on tasks you want to solve. I have to say for me the remote cooperation of this range was very challenging. I probably created more problems than I solved. It was really difficult and many times I was really close to give up. Just one thing helped me to keep my mind open. When I looked back I was surprised how big progress I had made. However, it took me about six months to decide the best thing would be to come back to Prague and work for GoodData directly. The first months there were also very difficult, but I believed when I am really good at what I do, I will be able to turn anything I want to reality.

I have worked quite a lot, wanted to cope with anything I could. I think I was quite successful. No matter I made a lot of mistakes, I was hungry to learn and wanted to get as much experience as possible, good and bad. I believed in success and I was right.

In November 2012 we started to talk about possibility to go to San Francisco for three months from end of January. It was a great idea from my point of view and I started to preparing everything I needed. The lack of time made me little bit nervous, I had to get a new passport, pay taxes and so on. I finished everything on time and on 30th of January, 2013 I really landed in the United States of America. The flight was good. We had a short delay from Prague to London due to bad weather, but the trip from London to San Francisco as well as immigration controls were absolutely all right (I don’t count crying children) and my new adventure should begin. I had just problem with my old cell phone because I didn’t have a signal. I had to solve that situation immediately because without functional cell phone I wasn’t able to get my roommate know I was there. I bought a new one and everything was all right.

I have a small jet lag and I think it is time to finish this article. I just want to say I am really glad I have this opportunity and I should thanks many people who helped me to get here, especially people from my team – Managed Services who gave me this chance, Hana Kozuchova who helped me to get all documents for visa and my lovely parents and extraordinary girlfriend Helca who support me in most things I do. I am really appreciated for all your support and I am really proud of you.

By the way, London has also a great atmosphere from above. Thank you also to great employees of British Airways I met (a very nice person from Lebanon) who helped me to orient at Heathrow Airport very quickly (I used a shuttle bus twice to get from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 and underground line to move from one building to another one). I have also experienced the first moments in San Francisco. The first impression is very good. Skyscrapers during the night are amazing. My first photos are just from the airports. I hope I will write another article with photos from the city very quickly.

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Just another road trip: Tauranga, Gisborne, Taupo, Tongario Crossing

In our motel we woke up quite early, but according to the plan we left motel at 11 o’clock. On the one hand the checkout time is usually at 10 am, but on the other one people here are very nice and all the time they allowed us to leave later. The first part of the trip was Hot Water Beach. Unfortunately the weather was not good. Although we arrived quite early, we could not expect the best experience. We parked our car and walked past the ocean. There was a small stream and it was very hard to cross it. We were wondering about the best way how to jump over. Martin was successful, I am not still confident enough with jumping over rivers and streams. I fell down again. I found a quite cool piece of rock and I stood on it, but it was pretty crazy. I observed the wild Pacific Ocean coming closer to me. I had a lot of water in my boots. My socks were absolutely useless for wearing in future.

I put boots off. I kept socks on my feet because my plan was to throw away them when we return back to car park. We were walking on the beach. The first part was all right, but there was almost impossible to get to the main part of the beach, so we tried to find an alternative way. The path was more difficult, but we could make it at all and we decided to return back to our car park. There were toilets so I cleaned my feet and boots and returned back to car. We decided to go to Tauranga. I had Tomo’s cell phone number and I texted her because I wanted to see her again.

We reached Tauranga quite soon and at the first moment we parked close to Farmers. We were walking a little bit, found some interesting places, Martin was going to ask in another fitness centre, but he decided not to go there. Tomo texted me she was going to finish at her work at 6 pm. We found an internet café and connected for 30 minutes. When we were coming back to our car, we decided to move our car to another car park and go back to connect on the Internet. Unfortunately, the weather changed rapidly and started raining heavily. When we parked again, I was quite hungry. Before we connect on the Internet, we wanted to find a restaurant, but a lot of places were closed. We found a Turkish restaurant like a good place to try kebab. We ordered some meals and enjoyed our lunch. After we went to that Internet café and were there maybe 1 and half hour till 6pm.

When the time came, we left that building and were going to wait for Tomo. I was not sure whether she read my message or not, because she had not replied me back, but I decided to wait. We went drinking some coffee and when we were there Tomo called me. She finished a little bit later and proposed we could meet together in Tauranga. We were in Starbucks café and I suggested that would be ideal place to meet and after that she described me her plan. We had maybe 1 hour before we met, we returned back to our car, we watched a part of a movie and when Tomo called me back we returned back to the Starbucks entrance. There were Avon and Tomo and it was nice to see them again.

We found a great place to eat and really enjoyed our meals and the company. I wanted to invite them for a dinner, but Tomo told me, she would like invite me, because her laptop is still working and she would like to keep her word. Together with Avon they proposed we can stay at his house for the night. After dinner we went there, took some petrol and parked next to Avon’s house. I talked to Tomo and Avon about some recent experience and I really enjoyed their company. When Avon and Tomo went to bed, we took a shower and also fell asleep because it was quite late.

In next morning we had breakfast and talked to Tomo again. She was preparing a lunch for Avon. She proposed she can be our guide in Mount Manganui what is the name of the place where we were, pretty close to Tauranga. We agreed and when Tomo returned, she took her car and during driving she described everything. We stopped close to a small island when we walked. I was interested in, because there were a lot of surfers over there. I observed them and took some photos. The island was really cool, at the end there was a big cliff and you can observe how wild water tried to smash it. When we returned back from that island I saw a Maori surfer with traditional tattoo. I was wondering about taking a photo, but he was quite busy and I did not want to be really impolite. Another plan was to find a place with a great coffee. The ideal one was the Coffee Club. I ordered traditional iced chocolate and Tomo tried the same one. Martin ordered some breakfast.

In the iced chocolate there were some cool decorations and it was really delicious. We called Susie we met in Mount Cook. She was somewhere on the South Island and as usual she never wants to speak English with me, so when I talked to her, Tomo and Martin could hear my Czech. Tomo told me about her birthday and when we finished our iced chocolate, we returned back to Avon’s house. We met there their flat mate and said good bye him and Tomo. Like a gift Tomo brought some feijoas. I never ate this fruit before, but it was really cool.

From Mount Manganui we traveled on the East Cape. We wanted to see the Easternmost Lighthouse in New Zealand and also in the world. The trip was quite long. On our left side there was Bay of Plenty. We had some stops in a few small towns, but we continued through Whakatane, Opotiki, Omaio, Hicks Bay to Te Ararora. I was driving significant part of the trip. The weather was pretty bad and those roads were quite narrow and not frequent. We had a quick break, but not enough time, so we kept driving. Martin a little bit complained about driving speed. I was driving maybe 60-70km/h and according to the weather and quality of the road it looked accurate. Martin wanted to change and continue with driving. That was all right, but when he asked me do you know you can drive here 100km/h, I was a little bit scared. Martin was a really good driver, he had various significant experience, but sometimes I thought I was on a German autobahn and because I prefer more relaxed driving style, sometimes I was really a little bit worried.

We arrived in Te Araora quite late, no much petrol left, but we were happy we were there. We slept on a beach. There was a tsunami warning, but we hoped one night would be all right. We were really excited because it was going to be Friday, 13th. The weather during the night was quite bad, but when we woke up, everything seemed all right… till we wanted to start the engine. Something was wrong and we could not start. The reason would be the weather, but for sure I suggested Martin we could check the oil. The result was quite bad and I think it was probably a good idea did that, because without oil we could have some really serious troubles. We were walking to the town centre to buy some oil. The problem was we were in a small town and there was almost nothing. We found also a petrol station, but Martin decided to take some petrol in next town. It sounded like a good idea, but I was still wondering about some reserve. We bought and used some oil and tried to start the engine. After 15 minutes we succeeded. I was really happy. If your car is gone in or really close to a city, there is no problem to change the way of the transport, but in the middle of nowhere the situation is quite difficult. There was a way to the lighthouse, but close, so when our engine was running, we left Te Araora and tried to keep driving to next town.

That place was called Tikitiki and it was for the first time in New Zealand I thought we could be run out of petrol. Unfortunately when we reached that town we found we have to go to Ruatoria because there was no petrol station in Tikitiki. Despite the situation we were quite lucky guys, because another 20 minutes of driving was without any problem and when we arrived in Ruatoria, it was very cool. We took some petrol and like a bonus I met a lot of maori guys with their specific tattoos. One of them wanted me to do something with his cell phone (I did not understand him). I refused and returned back to car. Our next destination was Gisborne and we were driving there.

The way to Gisborne was really cool at all. I have to say that Bay of Plenty is really worth to visit, because you can see a lot of beautiful things. When we arrived in Gisborne, it looked really fancy. A lot of palms, nice narrow streets, maybe like some parts of California in the USA how I had known from some movies. Our plans were to take some petrol, buy some food and continue to Taupo around the coastline. We visited Pack `n` save again and after that I took the steering wheel and tried to reach Taupo. The distance was quite long, but I enjoyed that. I found some interesting things on NZ roads what were really useful. When I was close to Napier, I was quite tired, so Martin took driving and we could continue to Taupo where we arrived in the evening.

We accommodated in the first motel we found. It was quite nice. The best thing there was the Internet. Just $5 and we could connect how long we wanted. Inspired by Anna Kell and Tomoko Mochizuki, we were in Taupo because of Tongario Crossing, one of the best tracks in New Zealand, according to some guides. The same night we arrived we just relaxed. We were really tired, so we fell asleep during watching TV. In next morning we decided to extend our stay, because we expected that Tongario Crossing would be psychically difficult and take a shower would be useful. Martin recommended me to use toilets before, but after my living in mountains I knew what was necessary.

Martin brought some snacks and we left Taupo quite soon. The National Park was maybe 1 hour driving and I was really excited. We could observe whole Lake Taupo and it was really huge. Alan from Lake Tekapo told me that Lake Taupo is maybe as large as Singapore. When we reached the car park in National Park the weather was quite bad, but the first part of Tongario Crossing was under the trees (we started from the northern side) so it was all right. In some points the track was quite steep. I needed some breaks. After a while we could observe some mountains and a volcano. There had to be Mount Tongario aka Mount Doom from The lord of the Rings as well as Mordor all around. Unfortunately the visibility was quite low and I was quite tired and I not sure if I can get the first hut. However, we made that and we had a really great relax. We drank some water and red bulls and ate some snacks. It was really good and the second part was much better than before.

The sceneries were awesome. Unfortunately the weather was getting worse. There were some beautiful lakes, but the wind was ridiculously strong and dangerous. In spite of the weather conditions we kept walking. It was amazing and I wanted to continue as long as possible, but when we reached another lake, we had some really serious troubles. I tried to take some photos, but I could not. I was all right, but my fingers were completely frozen and the wind was stronger and stronger. We decided to return. The walk back was also really dangerous. The visibility still very low, but with Martin we took like a part of the experience. We reached the hut again and had a really good relaxation again. We were really strong guys and when we returned back to car park we walked more than 20 km through very rough terrain because of the weather. I heard that normally it is very straightforward track, but on the other hand I was prouder of me than usual. :) Even though I could not walk much after that, we returned back to Taupo and relaxed for the rest of the day.

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Just another road trip: Cape Reigna, Whangarei, Piha, Coromandel

When we woke up in Auckland we packed all our things and left that city. Our next plan was to go to Helensville. To find a way was quite easy. Among bigger places there is necessary to know just a number of the road and you can make it.

In Helensville we drank some coffee. Martin wanted to chill out a little bit and it was another chance to drive a car. We explored a small peninsula. There was a very nice beach called Shelly Beach with a very nice bridge on the water where some birds were relaxing. Martin wanted them to warm up and started running. All of them were away immediately. The beach was very nice. There were some fishermen and a special restaurant. You can catch something in the sea and they prepare everything in that restaurant. We did some walking around and kept driving around that peninsula. We wanted to go to South Head part, but unfortunately we turned to a wrong direction and we got lost. Some Japanese guys arrived and asked about the direction, but we could not help. On the other hand that place was cool for relaxation. We ate some food, watched Scary Movie 4 and returned back to Helensville.

I was really tired and I was happy we could change our positions in cars and Martin could keep driving. We were driving up directly to Cape Reigna. However, it was far, far away and we wanted to drive around the coastline. Close to Dargaville there was Baylys Beach. You can derive it was a beach from name. It was getting dark and we decided to stay over there. There were some people, but we did not hesitate and parked exactly on sand. We prepared our dinner and tried to fall asleep. Because of the weather was not the best, we were wondering about tide, in particular about high tide. We stood on sand where the surface was quite rough and we expected the tide would be in that part. Even though we were quite tired, we move our car further from the water.

In the morning I took some photos and did a quick walk on the beach. I met some people with their dogs who went for a walk. However, our biggest motivation was still Cape Reigna, a place with (as far as I know) northernmost lighthouse in New Zealand, so we left Baylys Beach early and kept driving. We had some stops on the way, had a great view from Pakia Hill and visited a great café over there for instance. The trip was quite long, but sceneries amazing. On some places the ground was red and nothing, but beautiful trees and hills were all around. Sometimes I though the time was stopped. We had a quick break about 10 minutes from Cape Reigna. We ate some food and kept driving to that place. There was a big car park, modern toilets and some walking tracks. We wanted to see the lighthouse and a place where Tasman Sea meets Pacific Ocean. The experience was really cool; a lot of spectacular waves on the sea persuaded us that visiting those parts of New Zealand was worth.

We decided to camp in that car park. That place was calm a little bit cold, but we slept well. Our next place was Whangarei. The distance between Cape Reigna and Whangarei was quite big, so we had some stops during our driving. We wanted to go to 90 Mile Beach, but there was a problem close to the entrance and it was quite difficult to get there. We decided to continue to Whangarei. However, when we were in Bay of Islands, the place called Russell was very interesting for us. I read in my guidebook there began the Anglo-Saxon settlement. We used a special ferry and enjoyed our afternoon from a small lookout. We met some locals and people from Australia who wished us all the best. The scenic view was really nice.

I was driving on the rest of the way to Whangarei. We used a different road and we avoided the ferry. The road was pretty narrow, but finally after couple hours we were in Whangrei. We found a very nice motel over there. Pretty cool management included, there were very nice to us. We drank some beer and watched a DVD. We completely relaxed and were thinking about next plans. Whangarei Falls sounded promising. When we woke up, we checked-out again and visited the Town basin in the city centre. There were some restaurants. We tried one of them and ordered some drink and food. The manager seemed quite unfriendly, but iced chocolate was really good. After that we visited Whangarei Falls. We were really close to the waterfall, but we were wondering how to get closer. We succeeded and took some beautiful pictures.

From Whangarei we wanted to go back to Auckland. The trip was alright and I was really excited. When I was in Auckland I wanted to cross the Harbour Bridge what was no possible without a car or a bus. When we were close to that bridge, it was like a paradise. There was possible to observe whole downtown and for me the atmosphere was really cool. We decided to go sleeping on Piha Beach. It is a quite famous place, the sand is black and The Piano by Jane Campion was filmed over there. Despite the fact I was really excited to visit Piha, it was still afternoon and we decided to enjoy another Auckland time. We parked in our favourite parking place close to Public Library. After that we did some walks and Martin decided to try another fitness place. Unfortunately it was quite late and not much time left for training. We took our car and drove to downtown. For me it was the first driving experience in Auckland and later the first parking experience in a small place. We parked in Countdown. Martin went to his fitness place and I went shopping. After that I connected on the Internet for a while and when Martin finished I returned back.

It was getting dark and time to find the Piha Beach. We checked our maps and guides and Martin believed me I could drive. In Auckland a van driver showed me something. I was confused, but after a while we recognized he tried to inform us we did not turn our headlights on. The trip to Piha Beach was quite long, but we had a lot of fun. In general, every time we got lost we had a lot of fun. Fortunately we found that place and I was really happy. Outside the road there was a really nice place for the rest and we slept there and as usual we completely relaxed.

In next morning we did some walks on the beach. It was amazing. For me Piha Beach is a place full of mystery. The big dominant is the Lion Rock. You can find some surfers around, but Piha is also known as a quite dangerous place. I really enjoyed the walking over there, I tried to jump over a small stream, but I was not completely successful. Small parts of my feet sank into water. However, it was not time to regret, it was time to continue to Coromandel.

We tried to return back to Auckland. When we were on motorway close to the city centre, we used wrong exits from there, unfortunately. After a small loop experience we returned back to downtown. As usual we parked on our favourite place and connect on the Internet for a while. For me 1 hour was enough, Martin had some urgent things and needed another hour. I decided to do some walks. When I left that Internet place I was walking close to my first backpacker I stayed and I met one of my mates, Dean. He was changing the hostel. What do you do I asked. The same shit like before he replied, but definitively it was very nice to see him again.

From Auckland we kept driving to Coromandel Peninsula. During the evening we arrived in a small town called Thames. Nothing special, but we could take some petrol and had a quick snack. We thought we are close to Coromandel town, but we were wrong and the distance was still quite big, therefore outside Thames we found a small private road. Each end of the road leaded to a house where somebody turned the light on. Probably not many people are around and when somebody arrives it is like a special occasion. Because it was really late, we decided to stay on the side of that road. As usual we drank some beer and watched a movie. The night was all right, I could observe the nature I saw in a brilliant video. It was pretty much the same experience.

In the morning we kept driving. We were driving around the peninsula. We stopped for a while behind Thames, had a quick breakfast and continued to Coromandel Town. That place was really small, but very nice as well as whole Coromandel Peninsula. Outside the town we stopped on a place for taking some photos. We met a Maori guy who called himself like Lion. He proposed us we could stay at his place. However, we wanted to continue. I was relaxing and had a little bit worries, because the roads were quite bad. A lot of steep places included. Martin prepared some adrenalin when we had a small accident over there. It was not horrible, just we were outside the road for a while, but I hit a little bit my head and I was quite worried about Martin whether he is all right or not. He apologized me, but it was all right and there was almost no damage on the car, just when you opened the driver’s door you could hear a very strange sound. I was really happy we were all right, because some parts of that road looked much more dangerous and fall down over there would be really interesting.

When we returned back to Coromandel Town, I continued with driving to the place Whitianga. We decided to stay there, because quite close was a really famous place called Hot Water Beach. Martin booked a really luxury motel over there. It was probably the most luxury place I had ever stayed. We wanted to completely relax again. We bought some ingredients and prepared lunch. Martin was satisfied and we watched a movie I ever wanted to watch – The Last King of Scotland. We did some walks on the beach, there were some surfers, but the weather was getting worse, so we returned back. We watched some movies and talked to each other about various things. He felt a little bit guilty because of accident, but I was not angry about him, because similar things sometimes happened. Like a satisfaction I learned from him some cool things like how to open a bottle of beer without a bottle opener. I had known techniques before, but that one was probably the coolest one – opening with another bottle of beer. The big advantage is, if you don’t have a bottle opener, there is no necessary to buy it; you can just buy one or two more bottles of beer instead of. We fell asleep without troubles and had beautiful dreams about our next stops – Hot Water Beach and Bay of Plenty.

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