On the road again http://blog.vasile.ch Adventures of a map addict in Elveţia Wed, 03 Sep 2014 05:09:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Vlad Ştefan http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/04/vlad-stefan/ Tue, 17 Apr 2012 19:00:00 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1479 Say hello to Vlad Ştefan, our newest family member. He was born on March, 17 at 04:45 after a looong awaited delivery :) He is doing fine, mother too and yeah, we are on the road again, the journey we started now is an amazing experience with up and down emotions that are cleaned immediately when the little one give us a smile. I am not too good in describing these emotions in my mother tongue, in English would have been even harder but thanks to Stephan Heuel here is a blogpost that matches my current status :).

More photos on my Flickr archive.

Simcity updates, March http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/03/simcity-updates-march/ http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/03/simcity-updates-march/#comments Mon, 12 Mar 2012 18:50:37 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1462 The highlight of the this release is Lausanne public transport simulator. The motivation behind this project was the beautiful Google Maps oblique imagery that is available for the Lake Léman area; imagery that amplifies the “simcity” effect of the mashup.


  • The timetables used for Lausanne simulation is fetched from the SBB website and match the date of Monday, 12/03/2012. The vector data comes again from … manually digitization of the t-l.ch network. For maximum effect I tried to portray the reality as much as possible:
    • stations have both directions represented + different types: for example Lausanne Garre has both bus stations on the map + a different station for the metro stop.
    • crossroads respect the one-way directions: for example Crissier, ch. du Bré station.
  • For the SBB simulation I applied the same principle: Zürich HB has 4 stops: platforms 1+2, 3-18, 21-24, 51-54 and the tracks poly-lines are revised. Live demo: check the departure of IC 835 from Zürich HB.
  • GeoJSON is used now as “de facto” format to represent the simulation network, check the updated project documentation on Github to learn more. Encoded polylines are still supported but I advice using them in a further step when we want to minimize the payload.
  • Following last post, a view_mode parameter is introduced and for now can be used with one value: iframe. Click or even better tap this link on your mobile to follw IC 835 in a panel-less window.
  • Stay up-to-date

    If you want to stay in touch with these updates, best will be to subscribe to the project’s RSS feed, watch Twitter or just contact me for feedback and suggestions.

    Thanks for your interest in this project !


    http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/03/simcity-updates-march/feed/ 7
    Up and down Aargau http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/03/up-and-down-aargau/ Sat, 10 Mar 2012 20:48:42 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1437 The neighbor canton of Aargau has some nice and well conserved cities; in February and March we visited three of these: Bremgarten, Laufenburg and Boniswil(Halwyl Castle).

    Bremgarten is quickly reachable from Zürich within only 40′ (with one change in Dietikon)
    We visited it just before the carnival:

    Flying scarecrows took over the city:

    River Reuss + old buildings = perfect harmony :).

    In Laufenburg I used to go 3 years ago to visit … a dentist. Here we are again but this time as tourists :).

    The Rhein divide the german and the swiss part of Laufenburg.

    Boniswil itself is not too spectacular but the Hallwyl castle, placed within 30′ of a nice walk made us to visit it. Unfortunately the public visits inside the castle will start only in April :(.

    But no worries, we continued along Hallwil Lake and discovered other landmarks :).

    January and February photostory http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/02/january-and-february-photostories/ Tue, 28 Feb 2012 17:56:04 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1385 Heavy snowfall came to Switzerland (and the rest of EU). Here are two photos from the place we live:

    Our (usually green) garden covered with snow:

    We managed to do some winter-walks too. Here is Braunwald (Glarus):

    … and Grüsch / Danusa (Graubünden):

    More formal meetings of the romanians ex-pats took place in Zürich. Here is the IT scene (but not only) talking about tips and tricks in getting an (IT) job in Switzerland:

    Assembling IKEA furniture is always fun. First I discovered some ingenious usage of the cardboard:

    Then I time-lapsed myself in building shelves:



    Simcity updates, January http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/01/simcity-updates-january/ http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/01/simcity-updates-january/#comments Sun, 22 Jan 2012 18:11:00 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1383 There are not too many updates this month except the fact that I focused on code refactoring, readability and URL scheme polishing for the webtuesday.ch presentation that I held on January 10th. The slides are available on Slideshare for download; thanks everyone who attended !


    • As i said before, did some serious code refactoring, if you have troubles in merging, I am happy to help.
    • Several query string parameters can be used to customize the simulation:
      • hms: used to set the simulation time in hh:mm:ss format (i.e. the simulation position for 17:45:13.)
      • x, y: longitude and latitude – used to set the simulation start location to a custom location (i.e. Lausanne)
      • vehicle_name: used to automatically track a vehicle when we know its name. Example: the position of IC 835 at 17:45. Will let your imagine how easy is to integrate (via an IFRAME ?) this “boring” table view from SBB.
      • Bunch of experimental parameters(action, station_ids, arrs, deps, vehicle_name, vehicle_type) – used for adding a custom vehicle having the timetables declared via querystring. Example: a TGV running with 330 km/h between Zürich and Basel; it needs only 16 minutes :).
    • Stations panel: integration between stations and vehicles. Clicking on a vehicle brings a panel showing the stations that the vehicle stopped (grey-ish) and the upcoming stations. Clicking on any station loads the station panel containing the next 10 vehicles transiting that station. Clicking on any vehicle starts following the vehicle and so on. Personally I did a lot of clicking but you know that I am a train buff already :).

    Stay up-to-date

    If you want to stay in touch with these updates, best will be to subscribe to this project’s RSS feed.
    Use Twitter or this space to get in touch with me and suggest further updates.

    Thanks for your interest in this project !


    http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/01/simcity-updates-january/feed/ 2
    Bye bye 2011 http://blog.vasile.ch/2012/01/bye-bye-2011/ Fri, 06 Jan 2012 17:40:58 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1375 We spent the week between Christmas and New Years together with my sister in-law and friends from Romania. During these eight days we celebrated 3 birthdays (mine, Monica’s and Raul’s) + New Years Eve + Saint Vasile and between keeping our stomachs busy we managed to do some travelling and visited some of our favorite places like Müren and Bergün.

    Müren is one of Oana’s favorite places in Switzerland, we did the classic walk from Winteregg to Mürren.

    Me and Oana.

    My birthday present was a sledge ride from Preda to Bergün, one of my favorite places :)


    You can understand why :)

    That’s all folks, Happy New Year 2012 !

    Entire Flickr photoset:

    Ending the hiking season http://blog.vasile.ch/2011/12/ending-the-hiking-season/ Mon, 26 Dec 2011 16:40:58 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1371 Before the snow settled seriously in the mountains we managed to do two more hikes at the end of this lovely indian summer that covered Switzerland. First one was in Graubünden, we went through Zügenschlucht canyon (near Davos) and the other one was a classical Rigi autumn walk with great view towards Lake Luzern and surrounding mountains.

    Zügenschlucht canyon

    We departed from RhB stations Davos Monstein towards Davos Wiesen. Bärentritt point is impressive !


    Track along old train tracks from Rigi Scheidegg(1660m) toRigi First(1480m)

    Vienna and Paris http://blog.vasile.ch/2011/12/vienna-and-paris/ Fri, 23 Dec 2011 19:14:16 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1322 First days of November and December caught us on the road outside of Switzerland; in November we went to Vienna and we celebrated Oana’s birthday there and in the beginning of December we spent an extended weekend in Paris. During both escapades we enjoyed part of the cities that we knew more or less already but also we took full advantage of the gastronomic offer that local cuisine offered us.

    Vienna Cafes

    Compared with 2005 when we just “smelled” Vienna, this time we spent more time discovering its famous coffee houses. First stop was in Cafe Florianihof, a charming place visited mostly by locals.

    Next on the list was the famous Café Sacher, where we enjoyed (what else ?) their speciality: Sachertorte.

    Crowded as the previous one, Cafe Demel was another destination with local delicatessen.

    We ate the famous Viennese Schnitzel in Figlmüller restaurant, a bit too crowded place for my taste and I hate the fact that people could smoke inside. Apparently Vienna is of the last standing cities without a smoke-ban policy.

    The best gastronomic experience was in Kaffehaus Heiner, located in walking distance from Stephansplatz.


    The Imperial Butterfly House was a warm but also nice place to see :)

    Hundertwasserhaus reminds me a bit of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona.

    During our strolls in Vienna’s parks, we enjoyed autumn at its best.

    Last but not least I saw one of the greatest illusions coming from a street artist.

    Flickr photoset:


    The city of lights is always nice despite the bad weather :)

    Third time in Paris and we stopped again at Léon de Bruxelles for fresh mussels.

    My first encounter with a tarte tatin: Love at first sight !

    And of course we didn’t miss delicious pancakes. This time in La Crêperie Bretonne, Montparnasse.

    Flickr photoset:

    Simcity updates, December 18 http://blog.vasile.ch/2011/12/simcity-updates-december-18/ http://blog.vasile.ch/2011/12/simcity-updates-december-18/#comments Sun, 18 Dec 2011 21:48:49 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1333 The highlight of this release is a feature that is very popular on version 1 of swisstrains.ch: follow vehicle which allows you to “travel” together with a selected vehicle on the map. You can activate it in the same way, just click on the moving marker(vehicle) then in the vehicle panel click the ‘Follow’ button. The feature is available also in the romanian version despite the fact that Google Maps Satellite material has good quality only in some areas of Romania.

    Other changes

    • Vehicle route: you can highlight the route that is followed by the vehicle when clicking on ‘Draw route’ button in the vehicle panel. Useful if you are interested which corners of the country are connected but also good for me in debugging if vehicles are following the right routes.
    • Newly fresh 2012 timetables are available: last week I managed to get and integrate the latest timetables from SBB and CFR websites. BTW, I just noticed that Romania changed trains classification to use European standar ones, like IC, IR, Regio, etc.

    Behind the scenes of this project

    I will give a talk about swisstrains.ch on January 10th in Zürich at first meetup of Webtuesday.ch in 2012. If you are interested about what it took me to create the initial project, the technology stack used and the lessons learned, then make sure you attend the meeting ! More details about location are here.

    Stay up-to-date

    If you want to stay in touch with these updates, best will be to subscribe to this project’s RSS feed.
    Use Twitter, G+ or this space to get in touch with me and suggest further updates.

    Thanks for your interest in this project !


    http://blog.vasile.ch/2011/12/simcity-updates-december-18/feed/ 6
    September and October: walks round-up http://blog.vasile.ch/2011/11/september-and-october-walks-round-up/ Wed, 16 Nov 2011 19:55:46 +0000 http://blog.vasile.ch/?p=1235 These two months were stable from a meteorological point of view, few raindrops fell over Switzerland, some snow came also. This post covers 6 visited places: Pizol area in Eastern Switzerland, Maderanertal and Golznersee in Central Switzerland, Fräkmüntegg and Eigenthal near Pilatus(Luzern), Swiss open-air museum Ballenberg, Vaduz in Liechtenstein plus a fantastic weekend in Chamonix (France).

    1. 5-Seen-Wanderung

    Very very busy trail, a word of advice, if you plan to go there do it during the week or try to avoid the good weather :D. The landscape reminded me of Retezat Mountains.

    The hike profile varied from up and down, total descent was ~1000m.

    Rest of the photos:

    2. Chamonix

    We’ve been closer than never to Mont-Blanc and, as a bonus, the weather was perfect !

    Get yourself a daily pass for all cablecars/mountain trains to get an idea of the surroundings. If the weather is good then a must is to take the Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola over Mer du Glace.

    More photos from Aiguille du Midi day:

    If you want to taste amazing food then try Panier des 4 Saisons.

    Relaxing moments in front of the tourist office.

    More photos from Chamonix and surroundings:

    BTW, if you travel by public transport you can’t leave the luggages in the railway station nor at the tourist office, make sure you arrange with the hotel you stay.

    3. Maderanertal

    This lovely (and secluded) valley is accessible from Gotthardbahn, close to Flüelen (south of Lake Luzern).

    From Chärstelen riverbed we followed literally some stairs…

    … and reached the beautiful Golznersee.

    The area has a big potential for follow-ups but … next time. More photos from Maderanertal:

    4. Ballenberg

    We’ve been in Switzerland for more than 4 years and that was firs time when we visited this open-air museum.

    Be warned, if you have goals (like me) to see each house then you need more than one day :). We managed to cover the eastern half of museum area and also to catch live action.

    Late in the evening we met friends in Brienz and enjoyed the sunset over Brienzersee.

    Ballenberg, see you next spring! More photos:

    5. Fräkmüntegg – Eigenthal

    This time we didn’t climb Pilatus but we wanted to be just above the sea of clouds.

    The forrest was beautiful just like in a picture frame :).

    Our hike ended just above the clouds, in Eigenthal. More photos:

    6. Vaduz

    Well, again a première for us: the first visit in Liechtenstein; we “hiked” to Vaduz Castle, actually a permanent residence.

    More photos:

    Thanks for reading !