Lima to Amsterdam

 

I left the hotel a little late, but the airport was literally across the road, so it was no big deal. Having a business class ticket meant I checked in immediately (+1) and even had time to hit the lounge (+2). High class swanky time, and without needing to be signed in for once. :)

Boarding the flight was pretty straight forward. Once again, the business class ticket gives priority boarding (+3), without me having to tag along with Debra.

The KLM flight from Lima, Peru to Amsterdam, Netherlands was about 12 hours and 30 minutes, but it was a great flight. Upgrading to business class was a great move. I find it really hard to sleep in an upright position, so being able to lie flat is awesome (+4). I was in a seat with nobody either side of me, so I felt really isolated, which made sleeping even easier. These long flights are so much better if you can get some sleep!

Aside from sleeping, I watched:

  • Wild Card : Not too bad. I like quite a few of the films Jason Statham has been in. Even the bad ones. :)
  • Seventh Son : Typically fantasy stuff. Witches, dragons and slayers etc. Quite good, but Jeff Bridges voice annoyed me.
  • The Big Lebowski : Seeing Jeff Bridges in the previous film made me want to re-watch this film, where his voice does not annoy me. :)
  • The Amityville Horror : Slept through a lot of it. I’ve seen it before. It’s an OK remake I guess.
  • The Green Lantern : OK. I know it is a pretty poor film, but I just scanned through to find clips that looked cool. :)

The staff were really pleasant and helpful. All in all a very good experience and well worth the money in my opinion.

On arriving in Amsterdam, I headed over to the lounge to see if I could get in. I’m not sure how other lounges work, but KLM allow you in on arrival as well as departure (+5), which is awesome, because I’m stuck here for about 6 hours in total. If I had spent 14 hours in Lima airport and 12.5 hours in economy, I would be feeling totally psycho by now. As it is, I’m feeling pretty good. Hopefully, by the time I get home I will be tired enough to sleep and I can wake up and go to work as normal tomorrow…

So for me, that was +5 for the flight upgrade. Thanks KLM! I could get addicted to this, and very poor. :)

I’ll write a wrap-up post when I get home… :)

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I’ve also got some quick montage videos of the conferences to edit when I get home, provided the footage I’ve got works OK…

Cusco to Lima

 

It was a 3:30 start, which after broken sleep and the events of the day before had me a little worried. We got a taxi to the airport in Cusco, which is the coldest airport I have ever experienced. After checking in, we headed to the departure gate, which was also freezing. The departure gate was interesting. The lady brought her own laptop, microphone and speaker to make the announcements. :)

We got on to the coldest plane I’ve ever been on. I don’t remember seeing people on a plane in coats and woolly hats before. :) After a quick flight we got to Lima airport, where I said goodbye to Debra, who is flying back to Northern Ireland, via Miami and London.

Having a 14 hour layover in Lima, I decided to check in to a hotel at the airport and sleep for a while. I also upgraded my flight home to a business class flight. The combination of the Machu Picchu trip, airport hotel and business class flight home have added up to quite a lot of money, but if I get home in a reasonable state, it will be worth it. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Machu Picchu

 

At about 04:00 we were queuing for the bus ride to the base of Machu Picchu. I started to feel a bit ill again. A little after 05:00 we were on the bus driving up to the base of Machu Picchu. It took about 30 mins to get there, most of which I spent trying not to puke.

I was very dissapointed with the entrance to Machu Picchu. It felt like the entrance to a theme park. There was even Machu Picchu WiFi. We were there to witness wonder and spectacle, but seemed to be getting Disneyland. After being on the verge all morning, I puked and felt much better.

When we eventually got through the turnstyles, we started to walk up the hill. The stairs are quite steep, but nothing I would be worried about if it weren’t for the altitude. It makes it feel like hard work, so you have to take it slow. I used the turns to my advantage and mostly hid the fact I was repeatedly throwing up. After a few minutes we got to area that overlooks the former residential area of Machu Picchu. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Machu Picchu, chances are you’ve seen the one taken from this spot. A few levels up and we were at the guardhouse, which gives an even better view. I puked there too. :) For me, this was all I wanted to do as far as Machu Picchu was concerned. I wanted to stand there and see this for myself. Everything else was a bonus. People visit several times and spend days there. This was really all I wanted. :)

After that we walked down towards the residential area. At that point, I really felt like I was done for. I told Debra to carry on and I walked down to the entrance to look for medical attention. I finally got to see the medic, and puke in her bin a few times. She injected me with a concoction of anti-nausea and electrolytes and left me to sleep for a while. By the time Debra returned I was feeling much better. Interestingly, it was nothing to do with the altitude. My blood O2 was fine. It was pretty similar to what happened to me in India. I’m starting to think it’s nausea caused by a type of migrane, induced by lack of sleep.

Anyway, after my rather brief visit to Machu Picchu, we were heading down the mountain in the bus. We got some food and chilled out before boarding the train to take us back to Cusco and the rest of our luggage.

The train journey back took about 3.5 hours. Lot’s of great sights, only marred by some intensely annoying children, who were complaining about being bored. Why do adults drag children along to this stuff? They don’t enjoy it and ruin it for everyone else!

Back at Cusco, it was a quick taxi ride to the hotel, where I puked and went to bed. We were hoping to have a brief look at Cusco, but it gets dark so early in Peru, there really wasn’t time.

I would like to say I got a good night’s sleep, but the hotel we stayed at was so noisey. I woke several times in the night because of fireworks, music and general noise in the town, which made the 03:30 start the next day even harder to cope with.

Now I know this all sounds really negative and bad, but it was worth it. Machu Picchu is one of those places I always hoped to see before I died. The fact it nearly killed me in the process is besides the point. :) I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t been so beaten up by two weeks of travelling and presenting it would have been a breeze. Part of me thinks it would be nice to go back and see again, but part of me thinks I’ve done all I wanted to do. It is a very expensive experience, but worth it in my opinion.

I wasn’t really in a fit state to take photos, but fortunately Debra was and she let me have a copy of them, which you can see here. I especially like the ones of me looking like dreadful. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Update 1: I think it is great how much work they are doing to preserve the Machu Picchu site, but the amount of rebuilding is a bit of a concern. At the moment, about 30% of the site has been rebuilt and the work is continuing. If too much is done, it ceases to be an ancient site and becomes a modern site in the style of an ancient one. They need to tread very carefully, or risk taking the final step and completing the transition to Disneyland!

Update 2: At no point did I see Pikachu! Apparently, Machu Picchu and Pikachu are not the same thing. Who’da thunk it?

Lima to Cusco to Machu Picchu

 

With the tour over, Debra and I had arranged to spend a couple of days visiting Machu Picchu, before heading home.

We woke up early on Friday to get a flight from Lima to Cusco. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, got to our gate and saw a list of delayed and cancelled flights to Cusco. The weather was too bad in Cusco for flights to take off and land. Luckily, after a while the weather apparently cleared in Cusco, allowing us to take a flight which arrived about 1 hour late.

We had arranged to drop our luggage off at a hotel in Cusco a day early, then continue on to Machu Picchu. The taxi ride to the hotel was interesting. Cusco has some very narrow streets that are barely wide enough for get a car through. It was quite hairy at times. We eventually got there, dropped our bags off and continued in the taxi to Ollantaytambo, which took about 90 mins. This allowed us to briefly see some of the sacred valley up close. During the drive I had a funny turn, which I put down to the high altitude. Debra said I looked green. By the time we got to Ollantaytambo and got some food I was feeling better.

While we were waiting for the train, I noticed the arrivals/departures screen on the wall had a session of TOAD running, doing some queries. By the time we had cameras ready, it was gone and the announcements screen was back. Debra went on the hunt and found a lady in an office that confirmed they (PeruRail) were using Oracle. :) We got on the Vistadome train, which has lots of extra windows, including in the roof, which is essential if you want a good view of the mountains around you. The train has a rather narrow gauge, which is a little disconcerting at first. The train takes you to Aguas Calientes, now known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, which is the best place to stay if you plan an early visit to Machu Picchu.

Just a quick word of warning, I did not like Machu Picchu Pueblo at all. It is a great setting in the mountains with the river running through, but it is one giant tourist centre, full to the brim with restaurants, markets and tourist shops. Many of the write-ups about Machu Picchu talk about it being ruined by tourists. This town proves the point! We bought our bus tickets for the next day, grabbed some food and headed to bed for an early start.

Cheers

Tim…

Update: Here is a quick montage of the journey to Machu Picchu.

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : PEOUG, Peru – Day 1

 

A quick taxi ride got us to the conference hotel really quickly, so we were nice and early for the PEOUG event.

After the introductions by Miguel Palacios, it was time for the first sessions of the event. Of the English speakers, first up were Debra Lilley and Dana Singleterry. Debra had some problems with her laptop, so she did her presentation using mine and all went well. Dana did his session over the net, so I sent a few Tweets to let him know how things looked and sounded from our end. I figured a bit of feedback would help reassure him there weren’t any technical issues.

My first session of the day came next. I had a good sized audience and some of the people were brave enough to ask questions at the end. :) I had some in English and some in Spanish using the translation service to help me. :)

Debra fixed her laptop by the time her next session started, but her clicker died, so she borrowed mine. Dana’s second session was at the same time as Debra’s, so I flitted between the two, sending a few feedback Tweets to Dana about his session again.

After that session, Ronald, Debra, Pelinio, Enrique and myself ducked out to get some lunch in a place down the street.

After lunch, both Ronald and I each had back-to-back sessions. I did my Cloud Database and Analytic Functions talks. I feel like they went well. I hope the crowd did too. :)

There was one more set to talks, all from Spanish speakers, including a very full web session by Edelweiss from Uruguay. After that we got together for the closing session and some prize draws. I didn’t understand what was being said, but everyone seemed really happy and in good spirits, so I think the whole day was well received. Certainly all the feedback we got was very positive!

Big thanks to MiguelEnrique and everyone at PEOUG for inviting us and making us feel welcome. Thanks to the attendees for coming to the sessions and making us feel special by asking for photos. :) Also, big thanks to the ACE Program for making this possible for us!

So that marks the end of this years OTN Tour of Latin America for me. Sorry to the countries in the northern leg. I hope I will be able to visit your folks soon!

Debra and I are going to visit Pikachu Machu Picchu over the next couple of days, then it’s back home to normal life for a while. :)

I’ll write a summary post to close off this little adventure when I get home. Once again, thank you all!

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : PEOUG, Peru – Day -1

 

After the CLOUG event, Francisco drove us to the airport, where Kerry, Ronald, Debra and I parked ourselves in the lounge for a while. Lots of eating then ensued! Kerry was flying back home, but the rest of us were on our way to Lima, Peru, for the PEOUG event. :)

The flight across to Lima was pretty straight forward, taking about 4 hours, if you include the time sitting and waiting to take off. I think the flight time was about 3 hours and 30 mins. We arrived at the airport at about 02:00 and we were all pretty beat up. It was an effort to even speak, which if you know me is a rather extreme state. :)

I had a complete brain fade and forgot we were being picked up by Enrique Orbegozo, but fortunately he caught us before we disappeared onto the shuttle, so it ended OK. I’m so sorry Enrique! :)

We arrived at the hotel at about 03:00. I can’t speak for the others, but I was feeling like the living dead. I got to my room and I don’t remember anything else until the morning! :)

Debra has Hilton Honors status, so I got signed into the lounge for the day, which meant free food. :) We had a lazy day. Apart from a 10 minute walk down to the coast and back, it was a hotel day, trying to recharge the batteries. Some food, sitting in the pool and sitting in the lounge with our laptops, trying to catch up with the world.

This morning we are off to the PEOUG event. The last event of the southern leg of the OTN Tour of Latin America 2015. I’ve got three presentations to do, plus some backups in case speakers don’t show. :)

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : CLOUG, Chile – Day 1

 

The morning was a little confusing. I got up and went to breakfast, but there was no Debra. Once I had finished I got the front desk to call her and found out her clock was an hour behind. Chile has changed its timezone to match Brazil, but some Apple devices don’t seem to realise this, even if they are set to auto-update. One of those devices being Debra’s phone. When we asked at the hotel, they said it’s been a problem for a number of people. :(

Francisco drove us to the venue and we moved straight into the auditorium. After an introduction by Francisco, it was time for the first session. It was a three track event, so I’m just going to talk about the sessions I was in. :)

  • Kerry had a different version of the agenda, which had him on at a later time, so he hadn’t arrived by the time his session was due to start. I was originally down as the second session, so we switched and I went first with my “Pluggable Databases : What they will break and why you should use them anyway!”. Being in a auditorium is always hard unless it is full, as people spread out and you feel like you are presenting to empty chairs. :)
  • Next up was Kerry Osborne, with his “In-Memory In Action” session. I had to duck out of this early to get to across to my next session, which was on the other side of the building.
  • My next session was “It’s raining data! Oracle Databases in the Cloud”. This was in a much smaller room, so it felt really full and much more personal. As a result, the audience interaction felt a lot better. I spent quite a bit of time talking to people after the session, which is my favourite bit of this conference thing.
  • I got over to see the tail end of Ronald Bradford‘s session on “Testing and verifying your MySQL backup strategy”. I’ve got a couple of things I need to check in my own MySQL backups now. :)
  • Next up was Kyle Hailey speaking about “SQL Performance Tuning”. Kyle has a very visual approach, which works for me!
  • After lunch it was back to me for “Oracle Database Consolidation : It’s not all about Oracle database 12c!”
  • Next up was Kyle Hailey with “Database performance tuning”, which focussed on using ASH to identify problems and was once again, very visual.
  • The final person up was Debra, with “Do Oracle Cloud Applications Add Up?”. The answer is yes, they do add up, to 42!

After the final session, we hung around for a prize giving and a quick photo opportunity, then had to say our goodbyes and go straight off to the airport to get our flight to Lima.

Thanks to Francisco and the folks at CLOUG for inviting me, as well as all the attendees that came to my sessions and spoke to me during the day. I love speaking directly to people about the technology, so when people come to ask questions I’m in my element. :) Big thanks to OTN and the ACE Program for helping to make this happen for me.

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : CLOUG, Chile – Day -1

 

We were due to leave the hotel in Sau Paulo at 04:45 today, so I was planning to get up at around 04:00. Instead, I woke up at 03:00 and couldn’t sleep. I think I was a little nervous about missing the flight.

The journey to the airport didn’t present any major dramas at that time. There was a little mixup with the size of the taxi, so we had to travel in two cars, but that was fine. Debra and I travelled with David Peake, who was leaving us at the airport to fly to Brasilia for an APEX conference. Francisco and his son were in a separate care.

We had just enough time to get a coffee before getting on the 4 hour flight to Santiago, Chile. I was tired and in a terrible mood. A number of things happened on the flight that really pissed me off, so I shall be writing a letter of complaint to TAM Airlines!

During the flight I watched Avengers : Age of Ultron, which I thought was pretty good. Although I liked it, I’m not sure where this franchise can go. It does feel a little samey! Likewise with Fast & Furious 7, which I also watched and liked. Both franchises feel like they’ve run their course to me…

We landed in Santiago, Chile to find TAM had lost one of Francisco‘s bags. Then the hire car company AVIS/Budget screwed up, so were were in the airport for a while. At this point I switched from tired and angry to just tired and “Whatever!”

When we got to the hotel, Debra and I dumped our stuff and went on the 2 hour bus tour of Santiago. It started cold and damp, but ended very cold and very wet. Being tired and cold made it a bit of a trial, but it was good to do something, rather than just go to bed and sleep the day away. You can see some terrible photos, including various bits of bus, here. :)

So it’s been another incredibly long day, after very little sleep. Time for bed before the CLOUG event tomorrow. We fly straight out after the conference, so this will end up being a very brief stay in Chile.

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : GUOB, Brazil – Day 1

 

I woke up pretty early again, spent a bit of time working, then headed down to meet the wife at breakfast. I was gabbing away, when she mentioned it was time to register. I had a mad dash to get back to the room, shower and head down to the GUOB event. Thankfully, I am stopping in the conference hotel.

This was a three track event, so I tried to get to sessions that I hadn’t seen at other events.

  • The event opened up with Pablo Ciccarello discussing OTN and the ACE program.
  • My first session for the day was “Pluggable Databases : What they will break and why you should use them anyway!” talk. I was introduced by Alex Zaballa, Brazil’s latest Oracle ACE Director. Well done mate! I was incredibly nervous for this talk. I think it was because of the rushing around before the session. Once I got going I calmed down a lot. I think the session went well. People were a bit shy about questions during the session, but people came up to me after the session to say hello and ask questions without being in front of the audience. The questions you get are the best bit of doing these conferences. In answering questions, you learn a lot yourself.
  • After speaking to a few people I headed (a little late) into Kerry Osborne‘s session on “Controlling Execution Plans (without touching the code)” Part 1. The room was too full for me to get into this session in Argentina.
  • After lunch I headed on to see Dana Singleterry speaking about “Development Platform in the Cloud – Why, What and When”.
  • Next up it was me with my “It’s raining data! Oracle Databases in the Cloud” session. I really like doing this talk. It’s not a heavy technical session, but I like to think it brings a bit of sanity to the Database on the Cloud discussion.
  • After me came Alex Gorbachev speaking about “Benchmarking Oracle I/O Performance with ORION”.
  • After a short break, it was on to Kerry Osborne‘s session on “Controlling Execution Plans (without touching the code)” Part 2.
  • Next up was Alex Gorbachev speaking about “Big Data and Hadoop for Oracle Database Professionals”.

The last session was in Portuguese, so I ducked out and spoke to a few of the attendees instead.

After saying our goodbyes to some of the folks, we headed out to a Brazilian barbecue. Obviously, it was a meat-fest, but it was a good place to eat as a vegetarian too. Unfortunately, I drank one and a half drinks that were designed to injure humans. :)

It was a long, but fun day. Big thanks to the organisers and attendees at the GUOB event. I hope to see you again! Thanks also to the ACE Program for getting me here!

I’ve got a ridiculously early start for Chile tomorrow! :) Goodbye Sau Paulo!

Cheers

Tim…