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Website Update 2006

On 24 April 2006 from Reuver, Netherlands | comments closed

The last widely published update of claessen.ca dates back to June 2002, almost 4 years ago! In the meantime I have also created “oz.claessen.ca: Guido’s Down Under Experiences” for my trip to Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia. This site consisted basically of a blog (pMachine) and photo gallery (Gallery). This is the way to go, as static websites are just too inconvenient to update. But it also caused my website to become split in my ordinary website (static & photo gallery) and my Down Under website (blog & photo gallery). This became even worse when I started to test Gallery2 (the ultimate photo gallery script), and uploaded new photos there.

So here we go now, a brand new website, based on the following scripts:

These version numbers are the current state of web technology. It will be interesting to see how things develop from now on. In my opinion open source technologies have really matured, resulting in less frequent releases with more new features that have been tested more thoroughly. Gallery for sure has come a long way since I discovered it in 2001.

VariousUkraine 2: L’viv

On 19 April 2006 from L’viv, Ukraine | comments closed

The initial plan of my 1-week trip to Ukraine consisted of Kiev with a daytrip to Chernobyl, and L’viv with a daytrip into the mountains. The first was too popular during the time I was there, the second too unpopular. It was basically too early in the season to go into the mountains, as everything would be too muddy. So I had over 2,5 days to spend in L’viv, which left me enough time to wander aimlessly around the city, and enjoy the nice weather from a park bench. L’viv is a much smaller city than Kiev, but it is loved by Ukrainians for its charm. The comparison with Krakow is pushing it though.

Having enough time to spend, I visited pretty much all interesting places: Rynok Square, Castle Hill, Lychakivsky Cemetery, Museum of Folk Architecture & Life, and of course the obligatory church and cathedral. In terms of nightlife, L’viv is definitely not the place to go (unlike Kiev). It does make for some nice daytime exploring for a day and a half. And having a 30 USD/night room in the beautiful George Hotel in the middle of the city is a luxury not enjoyed for that price in Kiev.

VariousUkraine 1: Kiev

On 16 April 2006 from Kiev, Ukraine | comments closed

Early 2006 I found myself with the luxury problem of having over 15.000 Miles & More frequent flyer miles, the majority of which were expiring 30 April 2006. Not wanting them to go sour, I figured they would be most valuable on the most expensive regular flights. Since Lufthansa does not fly to Reykjavik (Iceland), and both Moscow and Saint Petersburg require expensive and time consuming visa procedures, that only left Ukraine in my opinion. The president of this former Soviet-state has a Dutch wive, and therefore Dutchmen do not require a visa anymore.

That is how I ended up boarding a small plane with mainly business travellers going from Düsseldorf to Kiev. There I managed to find my way with public transport to a small hostel, and needed all my Russian skills to get the right train ticket to L’viv. (Un)fortunately I already found out before the trip that it was not possible to book a daytrip to Chernobyl. Yes, there are daytrips to the radioactive wasteland surrounding the exploded nuclear reactor. It is deemed safe enough for a day, as long as you stay on the roads of the deserted towns and countryside, where the radiation has washed away. Wandering around in the bush is not recommended. However, since the meltdown happened on 26 April 1986, all the daytrips were sold out to journalists wanting to write the story of “Chernobyl, 20 years later”.

Not having my daytrip to Chernobyl left me over 3 full days to explore Kiev, which is more than enough. I went to all the highlights of the city: the large monastery complex of Pecherska Lavra, the tanks and other military equipment of the Great Patriotic War Museum, St Michael’s Monastery, St Sophia’s Cathedral, various city parks, the huge arch of the Friendship of Nations Monument, and Independance Square. The last is the center of the city where the orange revolution took place. It is also the place where I met up with some students and alumni of ESTIEM local group Kiev. That is the good thing about being an member of an European student organisation: knowing people in most major European cities. I went to have a drink with them one evening, and explored Kiev one afternoon together with Lena.

Overall Kiev was a lot more modern than I expected. The Lada’s so commonly seen in Moscow and Saint Petersburg were a rarity (it may also have to do with the fact that the last time I was in Russia was in 2003). Nevertheless, those two cities are the ones that come closest to my impression of Kiev. The metro system is very efficient and very deep (the fast escalators of one metro station needed 5 minutes to bring me up), just like Saint Petersburg. In one thing Kiev seems to beat the Russian cities though: the percentage of women wearing stiletto heels, I have never seen so many as in Kiev.