Belgrade, Serbia: PL/SQL Masterclass – Day 1

I’ve just completed day 1 of the PL/SQL Masterclass for Oracle University in Belgrade. So far so good…

Last night Ljiljana took me on an evening tour of the city. I got to see a little of New Belgrade, which is very modern with wide streets, big buildings and some shopping malls, as well as some of Old Belgrade, which has narrower streets, regular shops and mostly smaller buildings . There are few big blocks there with a “communist feel” to them (her words not mine). What was quite freaky is some of the military/government builds that were bombed during the NATO bombings in the late 90’s are still not repaired. The amount of building that has happened in the last few years leads me to believe these may be left that way for a reason… I’m not big on commenting about politics, but it is very interesting hearing stories about that time from regular folks who were living here at the time. Always two sides to every story etc.

Unfortunately the timing of my visit is such that I can only really see the city by night, so I’ve not taken any photos yet. I think I’m going to Google some and pretend I saw it all by daylight. 🙂

After the tour and some shopping we went out to a small traditional Serbian restaurant near Ljiljana’s parents house. Serbians are very big meat eaters, but they also have some really cool veggie dishes. I had lots of stuff I can’t spell or pronounce. Lots of cheese and a dish made out of butter beans, peppers and onions that was awesome. I’m hoping to get the recipe from Ljiljana’s mom so I can try and make it at home. It’s quite similar to the food I’ve had in Bulgaria, which suits me just fine. 🙂

I didn’t sleep too well last night. I think I was still a little stressed out about the luggage situation. I did manage to buy some clothes and stuff yesterday so today wasn’t too bad, but you still feel a little off center. I got back to the hotel tonight and my luggage has arrived. Now I’ve got no excuse for looking scruffy tomorrow… Doh!

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. 🙂



Advert: PL/SQL Masterclasses in Bulgaria and Serbia…

In November I’m scheduled to do 2 PL/SQL masterclasses in Europe:

  • Bulgaria (Nov 22-23)
  • Serbia (Nov 25-26)

As was shown by my recent class in Hong Kong, sometimes the number of people wanting to do the course is fine, but they don’t register in time so the class gets cancelled. Luckily in the case of the Hong Kong class I was able to reschedule it in time, but it could easily not have happened.

It is only 3 weeks until these courses start, so Oracle University will have to confirm/cancel them soon. If you are interested in either of the classes, contact your local Oracle Education office to register your interest. If you leave it until 1 week before the class is scheduled to start, you may find it has already been cancelled and I’ll be home watching day-time TV. 🙂



Singapore Update

Call me paranoid, but when I started filling in a customs declaration that mentions the death penalty for drug traffickers, I suddenly got worried about the cold cures and vitamin C pills in my bag.

When I walked out of the airport in Singapore I couldn’t believe how humid it was. Dubai is hot, and Washington was very humid this year, but Singapore was something else.

I got to the hotel pretty late and I was teaching the next day, so I went straight to bed. The Oracle University office was about 1 km from the hotel so I walked to it. By the time I got there I felt like I needed a shower. Even at 08:00 in the morning it felt like hard work. After a couple of hundred yards I could feel myself panting like a dog.

The class was pretty small, with nine paying attendees and one Oracle University instructor who came along for the ride. Big classes can be exciting, but small classes feel more informal, so either way it’s pretty cool. We went out as a group at lunch time on both days, so there was plenty of time for gossiping, as well as the teaching stuff.

Singapore is full of restaurants. It feels like every building has a food court in it, and most of the places are busy. Speaking to a couple of people on the course, it seems many of the people never cook. Eating out is so cheap that unless you are cooking for about 6 people, it’s cheaper to eat out that cook at home. Sounds good to me. 🙂

On the first evening I went for a walk around the bay area. It was dark by the time I got out, so all the photos are night shots. I’m not great with a camera at the best of times, but add in darkness and you know it’s going to go wrong. I took a lot of shots, but I’ve deleted most of them because they were just too blurry. The “altitude” shots, where you can see my reflection in the glass, were taken from the Singapore Flyer. My photos don’t do it justice.

The skyline would make you believe the place is like a scene out of Blade Runner, but when you are walking around the central business district it actually feels quite open. There is a lot of space between the buildings, so it never feels claustrophobic. Another nice thing is the streets are very clean. No litter, no chewing gum stuck everywhere and no dog crap on the pavements. If only the residents of Birmingham could act like this.

The bay area is obviously where all the money is. There is a crazy casino built to look like a boat is sitting on three towers. Next to that there is an absolutely giant shopping mall, half of which is still under construction. They were prepping for a Christian Dior show when I was walking round. The other side of the bay seems to be where the young and rich go out to pose in the evening. Lots of very expensive cars and people trying hard to be noticed. I’m surprised I wasn’t escorted away by the authorities. 🙂

On the second day of the course we had a couple of delays, so I ended up running over by an hour. No big surprise there. 🙂

I was going to go to the Night Safari on the second evening, but I foolishly turned on my laptop when I got back to the hotel and the next thing I knew it was 22:00, so I went to bed.

This morning it was a 06:00 start to get to the airport. I waited for a few minutes for a taxi and started to break a sweat standing still. Even at silly o’clock in the morning it was boiling.

The journey from Singapore to Sydney was pretty standard seven hour flight, so nothing major to report, but a few little incidents will be added to a general travel rant (about passengers) I am in the process of writing. 🙂