Italy, France 2014 trip

I just got back from first road trip with my girlfriend. I am full of experiences and ton of photos in my camera waiting to be sorted.

We had following places on our list which we wanted to see:

Italy

  • Lago di Garda
  • Verona
  • Milan
  • Genova
  • Noli
  • Bergamo
  • Torino – we skipped it afterall
  • Serio Falls (Valbondione)

France (Provence)

  • Menton
  • Monte Carlo – just passing through
  • Nice
  • Cannes
  • Marseille
  • Camarque (Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer)
  • Avignon
  • Les Gorges du Verdon

Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/lmIws

Day1, August 23 – arrival

We left Prague in about 10AM. Managed to get through traffic jams in Munich, Germany and Brenner, Austria – this was worst jam I ever experienced. This 50km section took us about 3hours! Funny thing, when we were returning to CZE it took us about 15mins… We arrived to Bolzano in the evening and after few trials we found a hotel. First hotel (hotel Ariston) was full but the guy was really helpful – even when he was mixing English, German and Italian we understood each other just fine :) He gave us a map and marked some other hotels we can try. Thanks!

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I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains!

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View from Raffl hotel in Bolzano. We left the city few minutes after these shots were taken

Aug 24 – Lago di Garda

On our way to the lake we got our left car wheel punctured by nail in city Rovereto. Little background – there was a guy on scooter at the traffic light, waving hands on us and speaking in Italian. We understood he is signaling something is wrong with the car. Then we discovered he was right. We took the bags out of the trunk only to discover we have spare wheel but no tools to actually change it :( I immediately went to nearby car with some people from Germany (one of them spoke English) and explained the situation. The guy helped us change the wheel – thanks man!

We found nice standpoint from which you can see the north part of the lake. We parked at nearby snack bar and needed to use bathroom. To our surprise they had turkish toilets :) Little unexpected in this part of Europe. We parked in one of parking lots in between hotels and went to check out the beach. Windsurfing is common here. One boy was trying to get on the board but failed pretty often and got wet every moment we were there. Other older (and more experienced) guy was just passing him smiling. There was small plaza in front of church with photo exhibition.

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Our five star hotel with view on the lake

We stayed at the Azzurro camp, just 30 meters from the lake. Funny thing – one the right side from our tent was a couple from Czech Republic. Small world :)

The water was kinda cold, as you would expect. We jumped into it anyway. We also saw a boat drink delivery service – the captain was signaling with the horn that he is getting closer. One kid was late and arrived just when the boat was leaving – the guy threw few candies in the water and the kid jumped for them immediately :)

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Hey buddy

Aug 25 – Verona

After situation in Rovereto we found that the trunk lock got stucked by piece of plastic from the bag, so we cannot open the trunk! Oh boy… About 2kilometers before Verona we stopped at repair shop. At first they were not able to understand, I don’t blame them – car with broken wheel which needs fixing but first you need to fix the trunk to actually get it – that is not happening every day :D They cut the plastic piece in the locker and patched the tire. Pheww. I really hope this is last issue and we will not experience anything worse. C’mon, second day and already having enough adrenaline :)

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Basilica di San Zeno

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Castelvecchio

 

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Einaudi poster – big fan of his work!

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Arco della Costa, whale rib – it has been hanging there for 1000 years. The legend is that it will fall only when someone walks under it who has never told a lie.

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Palazzo Giusti

Camp: BellaItalia

Aug 26 – Milano

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Castello Sforzesco, Parco Sempione, Arco della Pace

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Skilled guy making animal figures from carrots. Very nice

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Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Aug 27 – Genova, Noli beach

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Arco della Vittoria, Scalinata delle Tre Caravelle

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Porto Antico, Galeone Neptune

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Acquario di Genova

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Piazza De Ferrari

 

Hotel: Bel Soggiorno

Noli beach (WIP)

Arrivederci!

Aug 28 – Menton & Nice, France

Bonjour!

Menton (WIP)

Nice (WIP)

Aug 29 – Cannes

Big yachts, big ships and hot weather…what else you expected?

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Norwegian Epic Cruise Ship

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View from Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Espérance

Aug 30 – Marseille

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Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde

Aug 31 – Camarque (Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer)

Welcome to different world – place full of bulls, white horses, hot weather, sandy beaches and flamingos in the wild!

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Great flamingos

Camp: Saint-Étienne-du-Grès

Sep 1 – Avignon

Strong wind was blowing for the whole day, I was barely able to hold my camera steady.

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Pont Saint-Bénézet

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Palais des Papes

Sep 2 – Gorges du Verdon

Welcome to most beautiful canyon in Europe! And also the place with most dangerous roads, but they are not mentioning that :)

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Lake of Sainte-Croix

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Sep 3 – Serio Falls (Valbondione), Italy

Sep 4 – Bergamo, last stop

Statistics

  • Days: 13
  • Total kilometers: 3600km
  • Total money spent: about 1100 € (total for 2 people)
  • Photos taken: 1476 (DSLR only)
  • Hotels: 3
  • Camps: 9
  • Punctured car wheels: 1
  • Broken trunks: 1

P.S.: We got a nail in the front wheel in Rovereto city. We got the message :)

I will add some photos and more detail in coming days.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 – where is the offline link?

Most of the time nowadays when you are downloading updates from Microsoft it will come in the bootstrap format – small exe which will download all necessary files from remote site. But that can take a long time. I prefer downloading full offline installer instead. For Visual Studio they come in .iso format. I see Microsoft is hiding those links more and more :)

Here it is:

Go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=43721. There is Install Instructions section, with link to iso “If you have a download manager that can handle a large file, you can download the ISO image directly.”

Cheers!

Small rant about Firefox 26 and Download manager

So we got new Firefox 26 with brand new and ‘improved’ download manager. If you are like me you were changing browser.download.useToolkitUI setting in about:config in previous versions. Well, that doesn’t work anymore, as the devs physically removed piece of code for good old manager. I was quite happy with that oldschool look because there was nothing but downloads, now you have also left space occupied with bookmarks links etc. <irony>Thanks!</irony>

Oh my. Why every company today thinks that changing stuff which JUST works is going to improve something?

Intel 520 120GB SSD review

Just installed brand new Intel SSD drive to my laptop. I am going to share 1day experience.

The beginning

The package is just SSD with no cables, screws, nothing. Just SSD. And Intel “Speed demon” sticker. But that’s it.

Installation

I created bootable Windows 7 on usb flash drive using Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool. Installed SSD and was surprised that Windows installer is failing with “No device drivers were found”. You can find various causes for this problem on net. My was that I plugged usb stick with Win 7 installation to USB 3.0 port instead of USB 2.0. Yeah, it doesn’t work when running from USB 3.0. Problem solved.

Note: You don’t need to change SATA mode in BIOS to IDE, it can be AHCI.

Benchmarks

Note: My laptop has only SATA II, so don’t be surprised that results are not as good as advertised by Intel.

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HD Tune, 32kb block size

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1MB block size

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8 MB block size

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Tweaks & tips

Windows 7: disable prefetch, superfetch, disk defragmenter, windows search. Also Change location of TEMP files folder to another drive. Or better use RamDisk.

Install Intel SSD Toolbox.

Intensive writing of lots of small files to drive will significantly reduce lifetime of SSD. So for example it means Firefox cache should be moved to RAM or other HDD. For Firefox consider moving profile to another drive.

Verdict

Windows 7: Boot is greatly improved, it is about 12seconds from cold boot to usable desktop. Nice.

Applications: Startup is improved a lot, but depends on application. For some you will not notice any difference. For example IE9 starts instantly, IntelliJ IDEA is slightly faster than on regular drive (but not instant), Firefox startup improved a lot (under 2sec).

So overall big satisfaction with this particular SSD.