Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vila Real again!

Last saturday I went back to Vila Real for 4 days (Carnival), a small town not very far from Porto (Portugal), that I talked about in the previous post. The trip went smooth because I already knew my way around. This is a summary of the trip for any other interested visitor to Vila Real:

I travelled Santander ->Madrid -> Porto with Ryanair (surprisingly the timetable was just perfect to do the transfer at Madrid). Then in Porto's Airport I took the metro (line E purple) to Bolhão (the ticket you have to buy is the z4 - 1,95 Eur). From Bolhão I walked a little bit until Rodonorte bus station where i catched the bus to Vila Real (7,50 Eur).

That night Maria prepared a delicious Polish Beetroot soup that recalled me of my trip to the Bieszczady. Instead of Pierogi she used an alternative pasta with meet inside.

Vila Real is surrounded by mountains (with a lot of Windmills on the top!) so we decided to go for a hiking trip. We didn't reach the top because we didn't bring enough water but we could see that the mountain was quite dirty and there was rubbish everywhere. There was also an awful smell due to the mountain motorbikes.

On monday we had lunch in the commercial centre Dolce Vita. There are several fast food restaurants there and we went to one that served very nice traditional soups! At night we had a carnival dinner with erasmus students in Vila Real. The dinner had two typical dishes (Bacalao and pork) but it wasn't very good quality. I was a bit pissed off that they put alcoholic drinks for everybody (sangria and beer) so I had to ask for a bottle of water (yeah, the only one :D). To compensate, the next day we went to a nice restaurant where we had a delicious dish made of pork (porco) and wonderful potatoes that Maria enjoyed a lot. For dinner, Maria cooked a very tasty dish made of beans, rice and chicken (I don't know if it has a name or if it is typical of Poland).

Of course, we also tasted some nice portuguese cakes and pastry. For example, there were some round and small cakes with pudding inside and burnt on the top that were very typical. As for coffee Maria usually asked for a Galao. A Galao is made with espresso coffee. A little bit of it is put in tall glass mug or tall glass and then hot milk is added.

The last day we chilled out in Vila Real squares and I made a drawing of Maria and her flatmates (Iva and Maruska from Czech republic and Magda and Paulina from Poland).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Vila Real - Portugal

After the FRESCOR meeting, I took a plane from Madrid to Porto and then I catched a Rodonorte bus to Vila Real where Maria is starting her erasmus grant, a big change of weather and environment compared to Warsaw (Poland) :D. The Rodonorte "station" is quite difficult to find in Porto mainly because it's not even a station!

Maria took me to some place near a cementery from where you could see very nice views of the mountains and rivers surrounding Vila Real.

We posed a little bit for the camera as you can see :D. Then we went to have lunch Francesinha, a very typical dish that consists of a sandwich with beef inside and a spicy tomato sauce. After that we went to the commercial centre called Dolce Vita and finally at night we cooked a Spanish omelet for dinner! :D

My first impression about Vila Real was that of a nice small city in the middle of the mountains where one could get relaxed. I think that it is very suited for studying thanks to its quiteness.

Creacomic II - 2009

Last year I participated in a comic contest promoted by Caja Mediterranea called Creacomic. I was lucky enough to win an accesit with my comic about a nuclear plant after the second world war. The accesit consisted of 500 Euros plus a trip to the Barcelona comics convention in order to attend the awards ceremony. My friend Alberto Muriel also got an accesit, so we were all happy hehe. You can read the eight pages of the comic here: PAGE 1 PAGE 2 PAGE 3 PAGE 4 PAGE 5 PAGE 6 PAGE 7 PAGE 8

As the awards are really good and I had a good experience I have decided to participate in this year's edition as well. In this edition the contest also request the participants to upload their comics to a website. I think that it's a great idea because we can read the proposals of all the candidates. It seems that this year there are 143 comics so I expect a lot of competence hehe. In my user's profile you can read my comic for this edition. Alberto Muriel, Vanesa Baños, Yvon Wong and Hugo Tobio are also participating in the contest so I wish them the best, and hopefully we will all get an award!! :D

Madrid - my last FRESCOR meeting!

From Brussels I took a plane to Madrid where I was going to have my last meeting in the project I am working for: FRESCOR.

Although I had to work hard to finish several presentations for the meeting I also had time to hang around Madrid with Maria.

My hotel was in Chamartín, just on top of the main train station. A walk away from there I could see some amazing skyscrapers.

Maria trying to copy the scene of Ghost in the Shell (which was also copied in another beautiful movie, Lost in Translation).

Some advertisments in the buildings are already famous because they appear in films and television.

On the left, the metro station of Ventas... and on the right, TOYOTA, whose headquarters are in Nagoya! :)

Ventas is famous for its bullring. Although I don't really like bullfighting I guess it is something you must see when you go to Spain. By the way all these pics were taken by Maria, she is a wonderful photographer! :)

FOSDEM 2009 - Brussels - Belgium

A few days after the Angoulême Comics convention I was already travelling to a new point of Europe. This time I went to Brussels to give a talk (MaRTE-OS - Practical View) in the FOSDEM free and open source developer's european meeting together with my work partner Miguel Tellería.

My talk took place in the Ada Developer's Room and it offered a practical view on MaRTE OS, a real-time kernel that has been developed in the University of Cantabria, where I am working. It was organized very successfully by Ada Belgium and I would like to say thank you to them for their great efforts. Miguel and I also talked a little bit about FRESCOR, the project that we are currently finishing. Actually our trip was sponsored by the project so I also have to thank my boss :).

We had a nice dinner in front of the Grand Place. Some of the speakers were there. The speakers were all very smart and they knew what they were talking about. My appreciation was that the talks in the Ada developer's room were more proffessionals and serious than in other rooms. By the way, if you are interested here are the slides of my presentation:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Angoulême 2009 Comics convention

Two days after the 24 hours Comic event, I was already in Angoulême (France) with some friends visiting the famous Angoulême comic convention.

We were almost the same people as last year, with the exception of Zalduna who couldn't come and Hugo Tobio and Daniel Castelló, who decided to join us this year.

The road to Angoulême is sometimes boring because it consists of very straight highways so sometimes we tried to entertain ourselves playing with other cars hehe.

As if that was not enough we decided to have a puncture so we could repair it by changing the wheel :D.

Our French was not fluent but Tobio proved that being an artist can be quite convenient to communicate your needs at certain times!

Angoulême is a nice city situated on a hill. One of the most eye-catching things are their wall paintings where the visitor can often see his comic heroes.

In angoulême we joined another group of artists from the forum ArtBox. It was very interesting to meet other artists, exchange thoughts and drawing techniques, get advices and so on. I also took the opportunity to buy some drawing materials for my comics (there were a couple of shops that were like the paradise for the comic artist).

We had lunch in different places, there is a good variety of restaurants. The pic above was taken in a pasta restaurant with a low shutter speed. I told them to stay still but it seems that only Vanesa and me could ressemble a robot hehe.

When I arrived at Santander at night I was quite tired but still had time for a night picture ;).

About the festival the most interesting things for me were that I could see in person Daniel Clowes and Carlos Giménez, a book of sketches by Juillard that I read in Angoulême library, the Wacom Cintiq device, a very nice lunch organized by Junta de Galicia, and one stand that was selling originals from good artists (I was there for a long time watching carefully how the pages had been painted!)

24 hours Comic

Some weeks ago I took part in the "24-hour Comics Day" event of the Angoulême Comics convention 2009. It was kind of a marathon consisting of creating a comic of 24 pages (including front and back covers) in 24 hours!! Yeah, It was really crazy and very tiring!! But I'm proud to say that I made it :). During the 24 hours you could see some of the artists drawing through their websites. Even very late at night! At the beginning of the event, the organization said the rules for the comic so nobody could have it already prepared. This year the rules were that the comic should have no text and that it should happen in a museum.

You can check my comic and other participant's comics in the participants list. Among them there were my friends Alberto Muriel and Yvon Wong. Both made a great comic but Yvon gave up very early!

There were no awards, just the honour and satisfaction of having completed such a tiring task.