Category Archives: Trips and outings

Uber blunder in Essex

Bit the bullet and ordered my first Uber ride in November 2014 when I was in London. It went very well but it was for a very short trip.

The second one was in April 2015 and it was from stansted airport to a nearby b&b about 15 minutes away. I loved the fact that you know beforehand who will be picking you up, what the reg number of the car is and where the car is on a map. The driver then called me to pinpoint the pick-up location. So far so good.

Then it all went a bit pear-shape. The driver obviously wasn’t local but that shouldn’t have been a problem as all they have to do is follow their sat-nav on their phone. The driver was supposed to get off the A120 but failed to notice this and continued the journey eastwards towards Braintree. The problem is that there were no exits for quite a while so we actually ended up near Braintree. As the driver was trying to manoeuvre the roundabouts to get back on the westbound A120 he missed yet another exit but this blunder was easier to correct.

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Finally ended up at the b&b after a MUCH longer journey. I was already thinking how many stars I will be giving the driver. However then I felt sorry for him and he did say that he will sort it out that I only pay the fee as if the journey was correct. However when I later checked I was charged for the sightseeing version of the trip. Very few stars ended up being given.

The reply I received from Uber support was comforting and I received the refund before I woke up the following morning.

I took a look into the trip and it does seem like your driver took a less than ideal route. I’ve adjusted the fare down to better reflect the typical cost of this trip if a more efficient route was taken. This should reflect on your account within a few business days.

I’ve also shared this with our driver operations team so they can follow up with Caner about his city knowledge and remind him of the standards that riders expect from Uber partners. We only want the best for our riders and that includes a driver with a good grasp of the city so you can be assured that this will be addressed as soon as possible.

Not sure, I might still give them a go next time. I guess its just down to poor driver training.

2014-09-24 11.02.16

Luggage FUBAR riding a motorcycle

Had a great trip to the Algarve recently and rented a Honda Shadow motorcycle for a week. On one of the last few days of my stay there I planned a trip to the south-western tip of Portugal – Cabo de São Vicente and Sagres. However all did not go well from my start in Albufeira. As I knew I was going to be on the road for at least an hour, perhaps 1.5hours I decided to strap my rucksack to the back of the bike and I used bungees to secure it. As my rucksack as well as other rucksacks have lots of dangling bits I decided to use a waterproof cover to wrap around it and make it more streamlined.

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This is what my Samsung looked like afterwards

I checked several times during the trip that the luggage was secured. However then I didn’t for a while as I was confident everything was fine. Just as I crossed the Portimao bridge I checked again and with my horror only found my bungees where the rest of my rucksack was. I few chosen words were well placed at this point and I was horrified to think what all I had inside: my Samsung Galaxy S3 smart-phone, my Nokia C2, Canon EOS 450D, my spare glasses, contact lens case, wallet, passport, a small pump-spray and an insect lotion. Needless to say there was a few things in it that would a) break and b) get stolen and would be VERY missed. I was able to turn around at the next exit and was surprised to find my bag in the middle of the opposite lane just coming out of one of the Lagoa roundabouts, 7.5 km up from where I realized my luggage was missing. I the Portuguese police are reading this I promise I didn’t break any land speed records.

Well, the damage was sort of suspected. While I was quickly going through the sorry content of my rucksack a guy pulled up claiming he was (at least) one of the drivers who failed to avoid this unexpected obstacle in the middle of the road. He was driving a Mercedes so I know my bag was driven over at least once.

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This was the state of the Nokia phone. The LCD was out but the phone sort-off still worked.

Basically the insect lotion exploded and smeared itself equally over the inside of the main compartment. The chemicals in the lotion was apparently not very nice as it somehow discoloured the fabric of the rucksack. Of course the smart-phone was FUBAR. The screen as seen here and not turning on.

I was quite surprised about the Nokia. The screen was cracked and basically unusable but the phone still worked. The problem is that nowadays I call people by selecting them from a list in my phone-book so I don’t know any numbers by heart. My surprise cam when I saw my spare glasses. The plastic case they were in was COMPLETELY shattered – it was in lots and lots of tiny bits but the glasses them self were fine. A little smudged – nothing a quick clean didn’t fix. The frame was not bent and the lenses were intact. The only thing that was off was that one of the little plastic pads that sit against your nose had fallen off. I just popped it right back on. I am wearing them right now as I am writing this. Well done Silhouette for the frames and Essilor for the lenses :-)

 

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Winter warmth by croud sourcing

One thing to note to anyone attempting to hike up the Snežnik mountain is that the place is quite remote. If you set off from Ljubljana the road takes you past Postojna and towards Croatia and you then have to drive on a gravel road for quite some time to get to the Sviščaki village. From there the route takes you through a beautiful bear country forest.

About half an hour or so from the summit I walked onto this clearing where there was a lot of chopped wood. The strange thing is it almost looked like it was put there deliberately and to try to get hikers to each take one piece of wood up the Snežnik hut. To my surprise that was exactly what the logs were there for as described by this somewhat poetically inspired sign:

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Če star si, slabe sape,
počasi štej naprej korake.
Če pa mlad si, poln moči,
daj na ramo si par drvi.

As the sign was touting me to pick up a log if I was feeling young I decided that I will pick up two, of course. Nothing will interfere with my ego at this point and also … no one was watching … and I also couldn’t brag to anyone … except to you right now on this blog. Hell yeah, it is my blood blog anyway 😉

When I arrived at the hut I was a little disappointed at how few other hikers have bothered to do the same log carrying as I did – you can clearly see on the photo just how few of the fresh-looking logs were taken up to the hut.

2013-09-03 15.56.49.resized I took the trip back going north east and that is even more of a trek than getting to the mountain. Miles and miles of tracks through the deep forests of southern Slovenia.

The top of the mountain

Krim

If Krim is covered with clouds in the evening then there will be bad weather tomorrow. If its not then the weather will be fair.

Well, that what we were told and that is the knowledge we stuck by.

Krim is a 1,107m tall mountain on the southern outskirts of the Ljubljana moors. In all the years I have lived in Slovenia I have never actually been up it. I have been close, but never actually climbed it. Mostly it was because the Yugoslav army and after 1991 the Slovenian arm held a radio-relay station on top of it and access to the area was restricted. From the mid seventies to 1991 the top of the mountain was completely off limits to civilians. When I went up there in August 2013 there was not visible military personnel and not restrictions at all. There a few communication antennae up there and some of them have the military ‘keep out’ signs. But what makes the walk up this mountain even more of an adventure is the frequency in which you are very likely to encounter Ursus arctos – also known as the brown bear.