hingo's picture

I try to limit the amount of hair-cut blog posts, but since The Data Charmer is writing travel blogs too... Here are some observations from Moscow:

* At the airport, there is a well dressed very official looking (he has a big badge too) Taxi driver offering you a trip to city center. He speaks fluent English. You pay by credit card at a proper desk. Then the driver takes you to the taxi where you meet the real driver... he doesn't speak any English. But your "pick up guy" explains to him where you want to go, and indeed, you arrive there safely. The pick up guy then returns to the airport to lure more English speaking travellers to his slick and professional looking taxi service. I'd say it is a very efficient arrangement!

* In Finland you never need to tip. Of course you are allowed if you want to but it is not unpolite if you don't. While I kind of like the friendly gesture incorporated in tipping, I generally hate the practice. When I'm on vacations, I don't want to do percentage calculations. When I just arrived and have only large bills, it just doesn't work right. Just in general a culture where you must tip is like a big hidden tax. I rather pay the Finnish government taxes and be done with it.

* This was my first time ever that I got an upgrade in my hotel room due to overbooking. Considering how much I travel in my work, I admit being surprised it didn't happen sooner. But it wasn't a presidential or bridal suite. A pretty normal room I would say, of course I don't know if the standard rooms are even smaller. But there was free Evian and chocolate (but I'm allergic to nuts), and in the corridoor there was a lounge with free apples (but I'm allergic to apples). So the main perk was that the room had a fax machine included! (I drank the water though, thanks Sheraton.)

* Had a nice lunch with some Sun customers. Normal Russian food, no champagne or caviar. Enjoyed the main course, millet with a meaty sauce/stew thing. Simple but very tasty, and quite Russian.

* In the morning I had to give up and take a taxi, but for the afternoon meeting I found the place by walking. Studying 2 years of advanced university mathematics finally paid off, since Kyrillic letters are relatively easy to figure out if you know the greek alphabet :-)

* Russians I met seem to be hard core programmers, all of them consider diving right into NDB API.

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