On 18th November I got a PM through maemo.org. I’ve been a fairly active noise on the forum (fairly typical for me) but made it clear that I’m a newbie, and I have very little real knowledge. So you can imagine my amazement when I got a pm inviting me to the Maemo event in Barcelona. Even more amazing, Nokia were offering to sponsor me. I was astonished. I shook for several hours, while clearing my diary (I had a service to conduct!) and booking a couple of days annual leave.
Then on 25th November, my n900 finally arrived. You can see my unboxing pics on t.m.o here: http://talk.maemo.org/showpost.php?p=39
So, with my new, retail model n900 safely packed I started organising my trip. Nokia’s nominated travel agent wanted to book me on a KLM flight involving a several hour long stop-over in Amsterdam. I have never been to Amsterdam... but the airport wasn’t very appealing. Besides which easyjet offered a direct flight for half the price. Booked it myself, sorted parking, and arranged kennelling for the dog.
And on Thursday 3rd December, I got up at 3:30 am to head off to Bristol airport. Yes, I’m a long way from the nearest international airport: in the summer there are some flights from Exeter, but not in November. I got lost trying to find my bargain car-parking place – n900 came to my rescue as I got the phone number from their website while I was lost. I might never have got to Barcelona without the device!
On arriving in Barcelona, I asked at the info desk about getting to the hotel, and got a bad piece of advice: take the blue bus into town. Now, the hotel was nowhere near the town, so I went a long way out of my way. Though in the end it worked to the good. The nice young lady at Tourist Info in the town centre directed me to the underground (metro) with good instructions about lines, changing and getting where I needed to be. She also recommended a 10 trip ticket, which ended up saving me a small fortune. I had not expected to be travelling again – little did I know!
So I got to the hotel. The receptionist didn’t know whether or not I was expected to share a room (I wasn’t as it turned out) but the room was good. I made myself at home, and then checked my watch. It was only 3:30... and I knew my way into town. So leaving my luggage this time, I hoped back onto the metro and went to see Barcelona.
I wandered a bit, and found the Cathedral. They were charging people, and I refuse to pay to visit God. If you ask for a donation, I will be generous. But religious buildings that charge offend me somehow. I suspect God can’t get in without paying, either.
In front of the cathedral was a Christmas market: literally – it was selling Christmas. 95% of the stalls were selling Christmas decorations. There is a tradition that people build up their own nativity scene as we would collect a dolls house - so you choose the size and design of stable, then select your figures in costume and accessories. Whole stalls were devoted to tiny, tiny baskets, plates, earthenware jugs. You could add a water pump or a little fire (for boiling water!) It was lovely. Less lovely is the tradition that you must include a Catalan peasant demonstrating his connection to the earth by doing what bears do in the woods! Apparently in 2005 the council tried to leave him out of the Official Barcelona Nativity scene – only to be met with uproar.
I realised that it was now nearly 6pm, and I hadn’t eaten since a half a bacon bap in Bristol airport at 9am, so I went to find something to eat. And I discovered that Barcelona is something of a Mecca for good quality ice cream. I located an ice cream shop and treated myself, then hopped back on the metro to the hotel. I was expecting to get a text from one of the group when they arrived to join them for going out. I waited. Then I got bored and decided to go in search of bottled water (It was about £2.50 for a half litre from the mini-bar). In the lobby were a group of blokes who looked... linuxish. I was about to approach them and ask if they were Maemo when they took off out the front door. So I followed them. After a minute or two it occurred to me that I was following a group of men I didn’t know through Barcelona in the dark. And maybe this wasn’t the best idea... so I gave up and cut into a shopping mall instead. Got bottled water and crisps and headed back. The people I was meeting arrived very late, by which time I was in my nightie, so I passed on the outing and got a bit of sleep. Turned out to be just as well!
Friday morning I turned up at breakfast. There were people already wearing their blue Maemo-Barcelona t-shirts, so I joined them. Whether they wanted me or not. The group turned out to include the people facilitating the documents events I was there for: Mary and Titta. They were fun, and welcoming. Like everyone else I met over the weekend, they were incredibly helpful and just good people.
At 9am we gathered at citilabs. The centre was excellent.
The main room was full of tables with laptops. You could just sit down, log in and go. If you had your own device, there was wifi with a nokia password. By 9:30 the room was buzzing with happy people engrossed in conversation about Maemo.
We were gently encouraged into the main hall where Quim delivered the welcome, and José Luis Martínez, VP, Marketing @ Nokia gave the keynote speech. Both were in Spanish, with translation. We learned a bit about the planning for Maemo and the next step.
After that, the first ‘stream’ began. There was an introduction on each day before specific workshops. Fridays talk was on Concepting. I went – and amazingly, I understood it. Though I was a little worried about the presumed target audience for Maemo!
I got interviewed: Titta and Mary were interviewing people for a data collection about current Maemo documents. And providing chocolate as an incentive. A most successful incentive!
Lunch was provided on Friday, so we didn’t need to leave the place at all. After lunch, I pottered about mostly. The workshops were over my head. I chatted to people. Then somehow, spontaneously a group started discussing the documents with Quim. Assorted people gathered, and the conversation spread. Quim shared his vision and what Nokia needs by way of direction on what docs to provide. His focus was on the developer docs for Maemo6. Some of it went over my head, but I did take on board that Maemo is blessed with a lot of Qt guys. I’d already noticed, but it was good to hear it’s in the official planning. I got instructed not to make my sig “Maemo: the platform with Qt guys” yet. I’ll bide my time. ;)
On Friday evening we headed into town: a huge crowd of us. Barcelona town centre was busy and bright: Christmas lights everywhere with snowflake effects in buildings and on trees, and people playing with little LED toys. Full of light and sound.
On arrival, it began to dawn on us that we’d never find a restaurant that could seat all of us, so we broke into smaller groups. I wound up with a group in a rather good restaurant in.. well Somewhere in Barcelona. It was smoky (Barcelona is not a smoke free zone indoors) but the food... and wine... was lovely. Even more enjoyable was the conversation. We covered everything from general gossip to philosophy and theology, and of course lots and lots of Maemo. And when we’d eaten we ventured out into the street... and went in search of ice cream. One of our number was an ice cream addict (and no, for once it wasn’t me, though I am too!) Ice Cream in Barcelona is delicious.
We headed back for home at about 12:30... only to realise that the train had stopped running. Which was when my previous experience with the metro came in handy. Before returning to the hotel, we raided the local MacD for bottled water. Wow! Talk about high life! I fell into bed at about 1:15 pm. And slept soundly.
Tomorrow I’ll blog about the actual documents fest!