A month of travelling

July 20, 2015

Plane

This past month has been a whirlwind of visiting amazing places. I’ve almost spent more time out of my home than in it, and more time out of the country than ever before. A really easy way for me to quantify the travelling is through my Google Location History, which shows where my phone has travelled.

World Map

However, there’s a huge problem with this map - because I left my old Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 on at home, Google thinks I’ve managed to travel back and forth between locations all day, every day - instantly. I may dig through the KML data and remove errant data, but it doesn’t look easy. This error doesn’t matter for the image above, but it does look ridiculous when looking at specific trips below.

I was thrown into my first plane experience with an 11 hour flight to Los Angeles for Silicon Beach Fest 2015. I was lucky enough to be going along with Chris and Andy on behalf of Base along with a 20-person UK delegation from Silicon Beach UK. It was a daunting and humbling experience visiting the States.

The flight alone was more than enough. You always know the world is a huge place, but you can’t really appreciate it till you’re glued to the window of a 777 as you fly 38,000 feet above the earth and see the sheer scale of the world below. The mid-west United States is a massive, endless, empty place, full of valleys, mountains, rivers and lakes - and not much else. It is easy to appreciate the scale of the US when faced with this.

Greenland

Somewhere in the mid-west

City of Angels

LA Map

Now we see how Google is confused about how I’m managing to travel across the world instantly.

All I could see in Los Angeles was Heat, Drive and Memento. LA was a reflection of all the films I’ve ever seen. I’ve now seen Nakatomi Plaza with my own eyes, too. Every street and sunset reminded me of Grand Theft Auto V.

Everyone was very welcoming and kind, and a lot more chilled out than I expected. I guess that’s what living by the beach does to you - it’s very much the same here in Bournemouth.

Here’s my favourite photo I was lucky enough to get from the plane. You can see a whole bunch more on Flickr.

Downtown LA

People were proud to live there and were welcoming to outsiders - as a city of made entirely of outsiders, this isn’t a surprise. Everywhere you look the horizon is blocked by the omnipresent mountains, suggesting there isn’t anything beyond those hills worth going to.

We met with the team behind Hollywood Hackday and Hack for LA, which was educational to learn of the difference in scale for events in the US. Chris and I often ventured off the beaten track, finding locals breakfast bars. Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice was a highlight - nearly a mile of lovely, unique shops. The Santa Monica Pier is every bit as huge as I imagined. Cycling along Venice Beach was also great.

Venice Beach

Two things struck me in the US - the first is how bad money is handled there (with how tax works and card payments not requiring a pin). The second is how much we enjoyed using Uber - every trip was an experience. But those are blog posts for another time.

The conference itself was a great opportunity to meet likeminded people building great products. The LA Tech Scene isn’t so different from the one over here, just bigger. A lot was learned and absorbed about how the area transformed into what it is today in the shadow of Silicon Valley.

It was a great experience (thanks Base!) - and I can’t wait to go to Los Angeles again some day.

Ireland

Ireland Map

This past week I visited Ireland for a holiday. It started off as a birthday present for the girlfriend as I spontaneously bought tickets to see Damien Rice in Ireland. I didn’t realise it was to see him in Galway, on the opposite side of the country to Dublin - but this turned out to be a great mistake.

We started with 2 nights in Dublin, cramming as much in to the day as possible, including Kilmainham Gaol, which I recommend highly. The Gaol is a centrepiece for Ireland’s revolutionary history, with seemingly every important individual passing through those gates. St Patrick’s Cathedral is also wonderful, with a large commemorative area for the Irish war dead in WW1, a war largely forgotten about in Irish history.

St Patricks

Then it was a simple 2 hour train journey west to Galway and we were amongst the Galway International Arts Festival, which was full of comedy, art, and a city bustling with things to see and do. Damien Rice was brilliant and I’m now a convert to his genius.

Damien Rice

Galway was beautiful, with a rich history and a modern culture. The Irish were incredibly welcoming, friendly, and open. The weather wasn’t great - perpetual rain.

One trip in particular to the tiny Aran Islands was one of the most rocky ferry rides I’ve ever been on, turning my stomach inside out amidst gale force winds for 45 minutes. I managed to film a tiny bit of the least rocky part of it.

Once I got there in once piece, Inis Oirr was a beautiful, desolate place.

Travelling to Ireland was incredibly easy - I knocked Bournemouth Airport for being a little shoddy, but being able to step off the plane and be home in 15 minutes was great. The flights themselves were cheap and quick - the flight on the way back was barely 45 minutes! I’d recommend it, it’s so easy a trip to Dublin could be done in a weekend.

More blogs

This isn’t all I’ve written about my trip to Los Angeles - I also wrote two items on the Base blog:

It’s very difficult to sum up a month of travelling in a post like this, so there’s a lot more to share of these two trips. I’ll be happy to chat about my experiences if you bump into me. The travelling bug has firmly bitten and I look forward to exploring more of the world.