Archive for the 'Free time' category

Hiking the Uvac special nature reserve

published on July 27, 2016.

In 2014 my wife Senka and I went on a camping vacation in Greece, on the Lefkas island. It was the first time camping for her, while I did some camping the year before. We quickly realised that we both enjoy camping very much and agreed to go on as many camping trips as possible.

The following year we went on a 12 day long camping and hiking vacation in Italy. The weather had different plans for us, so we only managed to do two hikes there — one in Seiser Alm and one in Cinque Terre.

This year for our honeymoon we went to Norway where we managed to do an amazing 4 hikes for the 8 days we were there. The view from Preikestolen is mind-boggling.

This past weekend the two of us went on a camping and hiking weekend getaway at the Uvac special nature reserve. Apparently this was our 10th hike so I thought it would only be fitting to remember it with a blog post. I might write about our other experiences in the future.

We chose Uvac as we agreed to see more of our country, the entire region is just gorgeous, the nature is barely touched by humans and the reserve is the home to the endangered Griffon Vulture.

Choosing the trail

There are only a handful of resources online about the camping and hiking possibilities around here (this is mostly true for all of Serbia, not just the Uvac region). We found a couple of hiking trails that we liked and a detailed inspection of one of the trails on Open Street Map and Google Maps revealed there’s a camping site by the trail, on the banks of the Sjenica lake. I got in contact with the reserve’s custodians who got me in touch with the ranger who is responsible for that area. They were all very helpful over the phone and answered all my questions in a couple of minutes.

The trail is the Uvac meanders and Molitva (Prayer) peak trail.

Driving from Novi Sad

The drive from Novi Sad to the camp took us some 7 hours, with one stop. The route was Novi Sad — Šabac — Valjevo — Kosjerić — Požega — Užice — Zlatibor — Nova Varoš — Sjenica — camp. We left the city in the rush hour and the traffic was pretty heavy until Šabac which is some 70kms away. The road from there was surprisingly good, with only maybe two patches of the asphalt being really bad for a total of cca. 30km. A slow, but not a tiring drive all things considered. The nature along the way makes up for it.

Arriving at the camp

The path to the camp is not clearly marked on the road. There is a junction at which we had to go off of the main road and there’s maybe a kilometer or so of gravel road to get to the camp. I was hoping to arrive there while there was still some daylight left, but we ended up arriving just as the Sun set. We were welcomed by the campers and I’m not even sure there was an “official” person from the camp or from the reserve there. They helped us pick a spot for our tent and invited us for a barbecue dinner after we were all set up. A bottle of rakija was also going around.

The camp is not like the camps we stayed at before. It has no showers or toilette facilities. There’s one fountain with spring water and one of those wooden field toilets. There are no visible tent spots, it’s more of a who settles where kind of a camp. A bit chaotic, but it does have it’s charm. In the mornings the camp site and the surounding area was covered in a mist, really pretty sight while the Sun comes up over the hills.

All in all for the two nights we were there, it was good enough. We only paid the 100 dinars (less than 1 euro) entry fee to the park and that’s it. The actual camping was free, so we can’t complain about a single thing.

The hike

Saturday morning we got up a bit after 7am, had coffee and tea, some breakfast and prepared for the hike.

Senka made sandwiches and I packed the water, compass, maps and the likes for our hike. As usual we took way too much food, but the 9 liter of water was just enough. We drank more than 7 liters for the 7 hours we were out on the trail. The Sun was relentless that day.

The trail is nicely marked, it is both clearly visible and has the trail markings at regular distances. It was a bit overgown here and there, but nothing serious. It passes through, I think, two wooded parts at the beginning of the trail and after that it’s pretty much Sun all the way to the top and back. Pack sunscreen if you go in clear weather.

What we liked a lot was the fact that it wasn’t crowded. Every 30 minutes or so we would come across a group of hikers, have a short chat with them and then move along. We could enjoy the nature and the views on our own, but we still didn’t feel completely alone. Just the perfect sweet spot of “traffic” on the trail.

Apart from the hot Sun, there weren’t really any other problems with the hike. One mountain guide we came across told us that doing the hike in short pants wasn’t really smart because apparently there are snakes on the trail. Stupid from us not looking that up beforehand and preparing accordingly.

At the top of the trail there is a viewpoint from which we could appreciate the view and look at the huge scavenger birds flying around looking for food.

On our way back to the camp, we went down to the river and had a nice swim. There is one short path down from the trail to the river bank, but it is seriously overgrown and barely visible so be extra careful if you decide to do the same.

Other activities in the area

Apart from hiking, it also possible to go on a boat cruise down the river and back, with optional stops at a couple of caves to go spelunking as well as fishing. For these you’ll have to make prior arrangements with one of the guides or park rangers.

You can also try and buy some Sjenica cheese, which is sold by a household near at the top of the trail. People say it’s really delicious, but we haven’t tried it ourselves.

Happy hiking!

Learning English

published on March 29, 2013.

Most of my knowledge of the English language is self-taught. I had English classes in elementary school, but that was more or less singing "London bridge is falling down" and reciting a list of irregular verbs. I also had a semester of English in college, but that again consisted of reciting a list of irregular verbs (true, this time the list was longer) and reading and translating engineering texts. Good for learning how to read a technical manual, but not so much when it comes to having a conversation with other people. Other than that, it's all from computers, music, films, books.

My mom has an old dictionary that I used to read when I was a kid. I remember spending hours upon hours flipping through the pages, learning words, trying to figure out how to pronounce them. Guess I was a nerd already when I was only seven years old.

In the past few months Swizec was quite persistent with his nagging of how terrible my English is, especially when it comes down to the grammar, so I decided to do something about it.

I started taking private English classes.

I had my first hour and a half long lesson yesterday evening. I enjoyed it very much, had a lot of fun and already learned a thing or two (at least I think I did). I am taking the classes from an English teacher who also happens to be my friend. But, don't let the friendship fool you! She's not afraid off bashing me when I make a mistake: "Hold on Robert! That sentence doesn't make any sense!" (or something along those lines). And I think it is actually a good thing that we know each other from before as it is much easier to just start a random discussion and not just go through the textbook examples. All in all, very enjoyable classes and I know I will learn a lot from them.

And to show that I am really serious about this, I started another blog dedicated to writing called Magic of Writing. And yes, I am aware that that sounds something like a five year old would come up with, but then again writing is magical. There's not much there yet, but I already have a few ideas in my head that will hopefully find their way onto paper.

A monkey with a banana

published on January 08, 2013.

From time to time I browse through the local board shop’s website, especially the “Longboard” section, because, well, I have recently developed this passion for longboarding. Few weeks back, just sometimes before Christmas, I was doing the same. Just casually browsing around, nothing that would catch my interest. And then, there it was, at the bottom of the page. A banana board. “Oh my, a real beauty”, I thought to myself. The price was also in the affordable range. But, a problem was that I really couldn’t, justify to buy it.

Whenever I find something to buy for myself, I really give it a lot of thought and wait for a while, just to see if I really need it. Doing my best to avoid buying stuff in the heat of the moment, which prevents me from having lots of regretable purchases. And it works quite well, can’t think of anything that I regret ever buying. It’s also a very good tactic for saving money.

And after giving it a lot of thought, going to the board shop a couple of times to check it out (sadly, I haven’t seen it, as they didn’t have it in the Novi Sad store, they’d have to order it from their central shop in Belgrade), and giving it some more thought, I finally broke down last week and ordered the board. The fact that they introduced an additional 20% discount around new year’s, also helped with this decision.

Luckily, the ordering time was just two days, so when I placed the order on Thursday, I was to pick it up on Saturday. Marvelous, getting a new board in the middle of a weekend. Even the weather forecast was looking good, not so cold, and dry, even if it’s beginning of January.

Fast-forward to Saturday noon-ish and me being told that the board is actually in Novi Sad, but in the distribution center, and they won’t be delivering it to the shop, as the delivery center doesn’t work on that specific Saturday, but only on Tuesday. Something about having a second Christmas in Serbia and people not working during those days (the orthodox church uses the Julian calendar).


Tuesday, finally!

And today, just after getting back to the office from the lunch break, the dude from the shop called me, letting me know that the board is in, and that I can come in pick it up after work. “Fuck it!", I said, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”

Once I saw the board, I knew I did a right thing ordering it. It’s just fuckin’ gorgeous! I tried it a little in the shop, paid for it, and hurried out to the streets to give it a test ride back to the office.

It’s fun riding it, extremely fun. It’s much smaller, and feels much different than my longboard. The wheels are smaller, but softer than on the longboard. I was expecting the banana board to be slower, but two-three pushes and it rides like the wind. Oh, and it’s light as a feather!

On slower speeds it's not really good for making turns, but when going a bit faster the turning is easier. I'm an idiot. I need to loosen up the trucks. The little "buttons" on the top of the board, which are there to provide a good grip whilst riding, are doing their job insanely well. I was pleasantly surprised how good the grip is.

Maybe even a bit too good. While I was riding the board home from the office, the “buttons”, or maybe the bolts from the front truck, under my front foot were bit too hard, and gave an uneasy feel during the ride. Like when you have a tiny rock in your shoe and the damn thing doesn’t won’t to get out. But I’ll try out different stances before giving the final verdict on this.

Apart from this little thing, it really is a fun little board, and I’m happy that I got it. I’ll be mostly using it for quick rounds around the city, and goofing around at the local skate park. Sticking with the longboard for longer rides, cruises, though.

2012 - 'twas a fine year!

published on January 01, 2013.

2012 was a real fine year, filled with travel, friends, work, longboards, books. A couple of beers found their way in my belly, too. The best part is that I honestly can’t remember that a single bad thing happened this year. Most likely because it didn’t. Pure awesomeness.

Can’t really remember what I did from January till March, besides working. Odd. I should probably blog more often (HA!) on the things that happen. Oh well.

April was the month that kicked off the travels for this year. I spent a weekend in Budapest, doing nothing just roaming around the city. I stayed in a 5 star hotel in downtown. Never stayed in a fancy place like that before, and I wanted to try it out. Definitely not my thing, and did get the strange looks from the employees there as I stubmled in in a leather jacket and a military backpack on my back. I probably looked like a hobo. But I had fun and that’s what counts.

May was the month of PHPDay and travelling to Verona with Vranac. I just realised I didn’t blog about it. Well, fuck. We met there some crazy awesome developer dudes from Croatia *waves hi to Luka , Miro and Ivan *. Got to meet Jouzas and Stefan, and be mentored by Patrick, Derick and Rasmus on creating PHP extensions. I even got to get a “You are correct” from Rasmus for a sentence I managed to mutter out. I was giggling like a girl for days after that.

On our way back to Novi Sad, we stopped in Ljubljana to grab lunch with Masa and Swizec. First time meeting them in person, lovely people.

June was a month of work and celebrating one year of Hex!

July was the month of Exit festival in Novi Sad, where I played a host for Swizec, hopefully a good one, as he was staying over at my place. Couple days after the festival, we popped in his car, bought some gas, and of we were to Ljubljana. I stayed there for a couple of days, completely touristy visit, with me roaming around this gorgeous town with a proper paper map in my hands. Bought my first longboard there and found myself in love with a non-geek hobby for the first time in my life. I’d never thought I’ll say this, but sports are fun! Longboarding, at least.

August was spent with me longboarding around Novi Sad. Work and beers were also characteristic for that month.

September started with me going to a mountainboarding event, as a spectator only. I ended up going down this hill. And falling. Twice. I also made a total of over a hundred kilometers longboarding.

In October Jouzas was in Novi Sad for a couple of days. Vranac and I did our best to make his stay enjoyable. Hope we succeeded at that. I ended up shaving my head, whilst having a severe hangover, and making a mohawk. Fun times!

November was the month of Webcamp Zagreb
and us travelling to, obviously, Zagreb. And again, I didn’t blog
about it. Miro will kill me next time he sees me. The conference was a
total success, very well done, even though it was planned and organized
in under two months! Eagerly awaiting next year’s event.

After Zagreb I hopped over to Ljubljana (by now you must have realised
I’m sorta-kinda in love with that town), where I stayed for a week and
worked from the local hackerspace Hekovnik. The rainy weather sucked a
bit, and I was hoping I’d get to longboard more, but the one session on
Trzin with Swizec was quite enjoyable. I even managed to do my first
mini Coleman slide. Hooray!

December was nothing special, just your regular, hard working (or hardly working?) month.

A couple of things I’m not satisfied from the past year is that I didn’t contribute to OSS much and didn’t really learn new things. I also read lot less books than I thought I did - merely some ten-ish books. I’ll just blame “A Dance With Dragons” for that as it took me two or three months to finish it.

As for 2013, there’s no reason really for it to be any less awesomer than 2012. Need to fix and fine tune a couple of things about me, get rid of some bad habits, continue fixing some mistakes from the past and try to be even better to my fellow humans.

Happy New Year and Happy Hackin’!

Tags: about, hex, life, random, longboard, travel.
Categories: Blablabla, Free time.

Let's learn Astronomy!

published on September 29, 2012.

I've graduated from Subotica Tech back in 2009., and earned a BsC in electrical engineering, or some such. Even though I had the opportunity to continue my academic studies, I decided that I had enough of schools for a while, and that I should start working. Turns out, that was a pretty smart move from my side, as I ended up working for two years with an awesome team, and later on started my own company, which is now over a year old! Yey!

But, recently I started thinking about going back to school again. Not for a new diploma, or to be able to get a better job, but for the knowledge itself. My brain craves Science. Mathematics. Formulae. My mind needs a new challenge. Sure, I could learn a new programming language, I hear Haskell would give me quite a challenge, but at this point, that just wouldn't be... It.

Introduction to Astronomy

A few weeks back Vranac sent me a link to Coursera's Course Catalog. I browsed through it, made a note about a couple of interesting ones, and left it at that. Until yesterday, when Andries brought up the subject of gaining new knowledge. For some odd reason, that made me do a step forward.

Thus, I singed up for the Introduction to Astronomy course. Why Astronomy? Because it should have a fair share of math and physics which will, hopefully, prove more than enough for my science hunger. Plus, learning things about planets and stars and galaxies cannot be anything else but fun! Maybe I even learn to recognize a constellation or two in the night skies.

I don't really know what to expect from the course itself, but it should be a good starting point as any. The description says it's a difficult course, lasts for 9 weeks, and has three hours of video lectures per week with additional homework and quizes. Guess it'll be interesting, we'll see.

Happy learnin'!

P.S.: I forgot to mention that these courses on Coursera are on-line, and free!

Robert Basic

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