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Rails Conf Europe 2007 - Day 1

Posted by arungupta on September 17, 2007 at 4:45 PM PDT

Arrived in Berlin 2 days ago for
Rails Conf Europe
. Sun Microsystems
is a diamond sponsor and you can meet me at the "Rails
powered by jMaki and
GlassFish" booth in the

Exhibit Hall
. You can read about overall Sun's presence


I realized in the morning that my Full Conference pass did not account for
any of the tutorials. And all of them were completely sold out with approx 750
attendees flooding all the rooms. So there was no chance to even sneak in :( I
decided to spend the time taking the city tour and visiting other places. Here are some tips for travelers to Europe (Berlin in particular):

  • Before you start on the trip, it's a good idea to inform your Credit
    Card company and ATM provider about your upcoming trip. This will ensure
    that they do not unnecessarily block your card suspecting a fraudulent
  • The taxi driver was very excited knowing that we came from
    California. The reason for his excitement was Arnold Schwarzenegger -
    that a former European national became "Mr Masculine", then a movie
    super star and now the Governor of California :) I'll probably carry a
    cutting of Arnold from a local newspaper in my next visit.
  • So far in my 2-days experience, European shopkeepers prefer (read
    "accept only") cash as opposed to the US where credit card is accepted
    everywhere, even in Kinko's for a one-pager :) So make sure to carry
    sufficient cash with you. Nobody has agreed to accept the credit card so
    far (Taxi Driver, City Tour, Grocery and even good restaurants).
  • Some ATM machines in the US can accommodate a pin number greater
    than 4 digit numbers. ATM machines in Europe cannot handle that and
    my banker specifically confirmed that with me. It's recommended to
    reduce your pin number to 4 digits.
  • How to convert $$ to Euros ? There are multiple ways but the best
    bet is to use the ATM machine at the airport. They provide a good
    conversion rate, most reliable and easily accessible. Check with your
    ATM card provider if they charge any fees for the international usage.
    For example, Wells Fargo charges $5 flat fee for international usage of
    their ATM card. Bank of America is a good alternative as it does not
    charge any transaction fees if you use any Deutsche Bank machine (which
    is prevalent) and of course BoA by itself is a much bigger network.
  • Bathrooms/Restrooms are called as "Water Closet", typically marked
    with "WC", and that was a new learning for me right at the airport.
  • The Berlin City runs "Berlin City Tour" hop-on-hop-off buses
    starting at 10:30am at an interval of 30 minutes and the last leaving at
    4pm. In an approx 2 hour tour (without any hop off) they cover 11
    touristy spots in the city. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed the
    ride as the first thing in Berlin. The guide particularly made it
    interesting by sharing stories around the spots.
  • The communication with locals is bit of an issue. Most of the people in public dealing
    can understand English somewhat but the likelihood of asking somebody on
    the roadside for directions and not able to communicate is very high. Be
    prepared to ask more than once and it'll work.
  • Everybody in this city (Berlin) seems to smoke - quite a few actively and
    rest of them passively. Public smoking is quite prevalent and that was
    quite a change from back home.
  • I did not find any water fountains in public places, not even
    outside the bathrooms. So carry your own water bottle.

And here is Berlin in pictures

Thanks to Joyent for hosting the beer
bust. That's all for today! See you tomorrow at the booth :)

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