YAPC::EU 2015 Granada - hiking to Pico del Veleta in Sierra Nevada

After skipping two years, finally I managed to come to YAPC::EU again. This time in Granada.

TL;DR; It was great. Thank you!


I had my flight through Madrid where I had a 5-hour layover. At one of the information counters at the airport I asked for directions in Madrid and bought a one-day ticket for 8.50 EUR that was good for every public transportation in Madrid and going back and forth between the airport and the city center. I took the underground from the airport to Nuevos Minsterios, where I changed to a train to Sol. It was about 30 minutes.

There I walked around for 2 hours seeing lots of nice buildings and places including the Royal Palace , Plaza del Callao, and the statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza on Plaza de España.

I could have spent a lot more hours there, but I had to go back to the airport to catch my flight to Granada.


After I've arrived to Granada I could take the bus that has a stop on Av. de la Constutition near Plaza del Triumfo. From there I could walk to Hotel Granada Center on Av. de Fuente Nueva where I had the reservation. (The bus was only 3 EUR.)

Once I checked in I left to meet Salve J. Nilsen at "Bar Babel World Fusión" in Calle Elvira 41. That's actually the Arab area now with lots of Shawarma shops. A number of other people have joined us there. JJ Merelo, the main organizer of the conference, James E Keenan, and Max Maischein (Corion) if I receall correctly.

Salve has been in town for quite a while as he is renting a room there and working remotely. Taking Norwegian salary and paying Granada prices. Very clever. It was really nice to see these people after several years of break.

Despite my intentions I've started to tell Jim what I think about the state of Perl. That later lead to an e-mail in which I've mentioned some of the issues Perl has that makes it a much harder "sell" than some other languages. It boils down to some ways the language could be simplified without breaking backward compatibility and probably without a lot of work. It would also involve adding a lot of modules to the standard distribution of Perl. I talked about this later on the panel as well.

The next day, listening to the advice of JJ Merelo I started to walk towards Cuesta de los Chinos but instead of that I ended up on a hill with a few antennas, north of "Camino de la Ermita", north of Albayzín.

It was a tiring walk up-hill, but I had great view back onto the the city.

From there I walked down and ended up next to Alhambra. I have not planned to go in, I have not even bought scheduled ticket on-line, which ended up as a lucky non-choice. I only had to wait about 30 minutes to buy a ticket on the spot while people who came to pick up their pre-ordered ticket waited 15 minutes. Not a big cost for not planning. Especially as our queue was in the shade and they had to stand in the sun.

Anyway, after that I spent 7 hours in Alhambra. It was nice but very tiring.

After the visit I met Salve again. This time with Tux and his wife. And then some more people.

What is Tapas?

On the very first day I started to learn about Tapas, but it took me a few days to understand the larger picture. Yet I might still miss many aspects of it.

Anyway, what I understood is that a Tapa (Tapas is the plural of Tapa) is just a small snack. The specialty which is mostly true for Granada is that every time you order a drink (e.g. a beer or a coke) that cost around 2-2.30 Euro, or even just a tea that costs you 1 Euro, you also get a free Tapa. So for every drink you get some food as well.

In some places every person can pick any Tapa from a big choice.

In other places you are restricted to 2 types of tapas for every table for each round of drinks. Basically they try to optimize their kitchen so they don't want to serve 10 different tapas to 10 different people at a table.

Yet in other places you cannot choose. They have standardized Tapas. Every person gets the same tapas, and every round of drinks you get a different (but unified) tapas. This is the ultimate optimization of the kitchen. They can also provide you with better and better tapas as you drink the rounds, basically giving you an award for drinking a lot.

It is extremely cheap.

Later several people have explained the origin of the Tapas: Arond 200 years ago people, especially travelers, used to go to bars and drank a lot of alcohol getting drunk quickly. In order to reduce the drunkness, a new law was created that every bar must put a tapa (a cover) on the glass their serve and this cover must be some meal. That way the person also eats something before drinking which makes it harder to get drunk.

I guess I could have checked Tapas in Wikipedia as well which gives a different explanation.

Training days

Before the conference started I ran a 2-days long training course on Front-end web development using JQuery, Handlebars, Bootstrap, AngularJS and using Dancer and MongoDB on the server.

I think it went quite well. I hope I'll be able to repeat this course at other events as well.

YAPC::EU talks and people

Some of the people and some of the talks.

Actually before the conference I spent a lot of time preparing for my course which meant I did not have slides for my talk. Which meant a lot of the time I spent preparing my slides instead of going to talks. Nevertheless I managed to go to a few talks and talk to a few people.

After hearing his talk I talked to Gugod (aka. Kang-min Liu aka. 劉康民). I think I've already met him earlier, but we hardly talked back then. Now we had some opportunity to talk about things other than Perl Programming. In his talk he described thing he learned from the search engine of Booking.com and talked about an e-mail indexing and searching system he wrote and p5iq, a code indexing and searching system. This is great.

I talked a bit to SONGMU (aka. Masayuki Matsuki) the author of Riji. Both personally and his talk on 50 CPAN modules in 2 years, he thanked me writing the article on blogging with Riji. The original

I heard the talk of Daisuke Maki (Lestrrat) on the organization of YAPC::Asia. It freed quite some enery. I had some plans on joining YEF and changing YAPC::EU to become a much bigger event involving other, complementary technologies, and I was also thinking about starting something like FOSDEM in Israel. I probably won't do anything with YAPC. It seems that too much politics is involved and many of the core people seem to want it to be a "Perl only event".

Lestrrat also gave an excellent lightning talk on International Community Relations. It was surprising and great. Besides the laugh, that too gave me goose bumps and I strengthened the idea that I should look at the modules written by the Japanese and write articles about them.

Data is Evil and Must Be Deleted was a funny talk as well.

Modern PERL by Dave Cross. I admit it was funny, but I am really not sure it is a good idea to laugh at this. It feels as if we are laughing at the very people we should attract to the community.... On the other hand, the talk with the same title given by Abe Timmerman was just plain funny.

I liked the talk Swagger integration with Mojolicious by Jan Henning Thorsen (batman), well I like batman, and I also had a chance to talk to him about Mojolicious and how I feel uncomfortable with the Mojo community and how Mojo is perceived as "changes too often". He told me it has changed and nowadays Mojo is quite stable.

Panel Discussion: Growing the Perl community

I think this needs a lot more discussion, but then again, probably one exchange in QA part has the full explanation. (I am probably wording things incorrectly here, so don't assume I am quoting anyone here. Not even myself.)

  • Q from the audience: Why do we keep talking about this? People outside the Perl community will think we are desperate.
  • Ovid from the panel: Don't worry, they don't hear anything we are talking about in the Perl community. And that's the problem.
  • Gabor from the panel: As long as there are no hundreds of Perl developers actually working on solutions and doing PR, this question will come up at every Perl event and we will keep "discussing".

In the end I don't think the panel had any impact. Actually maybe one. One guy later told me he will start upvoting the Perl Reddit posts and he might also write a Twitter-bot "favorite" and re-tweet Perl-related posts.


All the keynotes

I especially like Larry Wall: Get ready to Party and Xavier Noria: Homage to Perl.


At the hackathon, after the conference, I helped Francisco Maseda Muiño release his first two modules to CPAN. He already had most of the code in place, but there were a few things that could be done. We have configured Travis-CI and updated the Makefile.PL to check for Operating System and required minimal kernel version.

During the Hackathon I've also met Ferenc Erki a Hungarian living in Berlin, who works on Rex. We talked about some coding competition where people need to write (IIRC) Poker bots that play against each other. Souned cool. A while ago I wrote an article about using (R)?ex, but this conversation made my head spin again, coming up with ideas on how to get it into more hands. (In the end the ideas are not brilliant. They just involve a lot of work.)

Pico del Veleta in Sierra Nevada

I planned to stay an extra day in Granada after the Hackathon so I can explore a bit, but then I found out that I actually had almost two days as my flight left only in the evening hours on Monday. So I asked around a bit about hiking.

I've heard that Pico del Veleta in Sierra Nevada which is third highest mountain of the Iberian peninsula is near by. It is almost 3,400. I wanted to go up there to take a peek. In the end I reach the peak, but could not see anything.

At one point my plan was to this route from Prado Llano to Veleta:

but unfortunately that did not work out.

Michael Kröll sent over the map for the area where he biked previously. I thought about biking, but my preference is hiking. I found out that there are buses to Sierra Nevada, but in the end, I went with Liz and Wendy who had a car and thought it might be interesting to go up to the mountain which is only 45 minutes from central Granada.

We drove up to Prado Llano which is basically a ski-resort. Even within the ski-resort we could dive up a bit, but we reached Kiosko Bar Hoya De La Mora which is at 2,500 m elevation we could not go further. Funny, I thought the mountain will be empty, but it was full of people hiking and biking up and down. The up to that point was spectacular. We had a tea there for 1 EUR (how can things be that cheap?).

Anyway Liz cannot walk a lot and they had to leave anyway as they were expected by Christina. They could take me back to Granada, but I wanted to do some hiking. So I went in to the refuge called Albergue Universitario de Sierra Nevada. I was told the last and only bus to Granada leaves at 5 from outside of the building. So I could stay till then. Walk around a bit and take the bus. Then I also found out that there is a minibus going up the hill reaching about 3100 m elevation and then it comes down. I figured I could take the one leaving at 14:00 going up, from there it is a 1 hour hike to the peak and 1 hour back. Then I could take the one coming down and miss my bus by only 15 minutes ...

That wasn't a good plan so I asked if there is any other way going back to Granada a bit later. They said no problem. "Marian" will take me down. So when I come back I should just ask for Marian. Everyone knows her.

That sounded like a good plan but I had more than an hour till then. So I went back to Liz and Wendy. We had a pizza (with pineapple. my favorite.) and then they decided that Wendy and myself will go for a little hike while Liz hacks Perl 6 in the car. So that was it. It was fun. We walked up maybe 100 m. We had great view around the mountains.

Then a few minutes before 2, when I was supposed to take the bus, Liz asked me if I'll be waling up in my T-shirt. It was a bit chili already at 2500 and we expected it to be colder up in the mountain. Especially as we saw it was clouded. So they gave me an additional T-shirt. I thought I could wrap it around myself, or use as a tent :)

Anyway, back in the building the lady who sold me the bus tickets also asked me if I only have a T-shirt. Then she gave me a coat. A really warm coat that fit my size.

I was blown away by their kindness. And trust. Not that I could run away from the mountain :)

Liz, Wendy and myself parted and my bus left on time with me being the only passenger. On the way up we passed quite a few people walking downhill. After 15-20 min we got to a point where I was dropped off and two elder people got on the bus on their way down. They gave me directions though the path was clear. Actually it was still a road.

It was quite cold up there and raining. And I could hardly see anything. Nevertheless, after about an hour walking and passing by a biker on her way down and a few other people walking down I reached the peak. The only thing I saw was that a few more steps and I fall down a few hundred meters.

I also passed the upper end of a ski-lift. So it was not totally deserted.

This was my route:

On my way down I passed by a guy who ran up to the peak. I did not ask him, but I think he ran from where I took the bus, so it is about 10 km run uphill and 10 km downhill in 3-5C weather. Oh and he was in shorts and T-shirt. Crazy.

Then I got lost. I almost fell at the end of the mountain.

Once I got back on the path I passed another guy who was on his way up. On a bike. He stopped and asked for directions to the peak and then told me he is from the Czech republic, but currently he is doing some personal record. He left the same day in the morning from the sea and planned to reach the peak. I am not sure where did he leave from, but it seems one of the closest places on the see is El Varadero. Which means he biked about 100 km in length and 3400 m in elevation. And it was only 4:30 pm when we met.

Very Impressive.

I guess this was his route:

Once I got back I returned the coat. (Just in case you were wondering.) Then waited. I actually had to wait till 8 pm for Marian to drive back to Granada. I did not mind. I was resting and I had my mobile phone to chat, exchange e-mails and even to play Go.

And I could hardly move anyway.

I was supposed to be back at the hotel and go to have dinner with some of the remaining Perl hackers, but I one point I got quite hungry so I thought I'll drink a tea and ask for a plate of food. So that's what I did. The was 1 Euro and the plate of food, which was almost a full meal, was. Well, you guessed. It was included as it was the tapa. That was crazily cheap. So I gave the girl at the bar 3 Euro. Back at home a single tea would cost more and she worked really hard anyway serving all the people basically alone.

When we left there were two ladies in the car. One of them spoke English rather well. It turned out the young lady who works at the bar is basically the owner. Her father owns the place. (Or maybe rents it, I am not sure.) Basically they run the place. The two ladies were sisters. One of them was the mother of that young lady. The other one, who was called Marian, was the aunt. It also turned out that young lady studies in London so she is not strange to higher prices.

Anyway, these people were really nice. On the way down we figured out that they actually live near-by the restaurant where I was supposed to meet the other Perl-people so they took me there.

In any case I loved this place and I might go back there for a couple of days. Stay at Albergue Universitario de Sierra Nevada where the people were so nice. (BTW they told me a bed in a shared room costs there 30 Euro per night including breakfast and dinner. So not only is it located in a beautiful place, it is also very affordable.)

Here is a link to Hoya de la Mora – Veleta if you are interested in hiking in the area.

Other sources for YAPC::EU

Blogs and videos



Thanks Again

Let me repeat that I'd like to thank all the organizers of YAPC::EU, and especially to JJ Merelo, his hospitality.