Sunday, April 29, 2007

Finland (I)

Last Easter holidays I went to Finland to visit my friends Seppo and Cynthia. It was only 4 days and 5 nights but it was pretty intense and we could do many many things.

First, I arrived on Thursday night in Helsinki after working all day at ESTEC and went for a rock concert in some underground pub. That was a quite nice kick off for the trip! Next day we were sightseeing in Helsinki and we managed to visit the hottest tourist spots in the city, ahh, and Seppo's lab in Helsinki University of Technology.

Next day we moved to Oulu, very very close to the Artic Polar Circle, and that started being cold... I really enjoyed being there for 3 days. We went walking on the frozen sea, swimming in a frozen river, sliding downhill using a sledge, cross-country skiing, snowboarding on a frozen lake with a snowbike as propulsion... Ahh, and we also visited an ice castle called LumiLunna where everything was made of ice and went to Sweden half an hour. I only missed auroras on the sky... Sauna at night was other of the nice points of finnish way of life ;-)

Some nice shots now:

A lounge in LumiLunna used as a restaurant. Notice that the walls and even the table and stolls are made of ice!

This is the frozen see with an island on the right. If there is something cool in Finland that is landscapes!

More photos in the future ;-)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Takeshita Street

We are on holidays! In the Netherlands, 1st May is not a national holiday, but 30th April it is. Therefore, I have 3 days to have fun and rest... ;-)

Today I was thinking about Takeshita Street (竹下通り Takeshita-dori) in my work and I want to write a bit about it. Most probably you have never heard of this street in Tokyo. This street is located in Harajuku, next to Shibuya (one of the several city centres in Tokyo). Actually, it is in front of one of the most famous imperial parks, Meiji Jingu.

This street is famous for being the place where you can find the craziest clothes in Japan. It is something like Camden Town in London but in the Japanese way. All the crazy people going to Harajuku's bridge buy their clothes there. This people will be the topic for a future entry in this blog... Well, let's stick to this street. Maybe a nice picture of the main entrance can help you understand what we are talking about.

This street is always really crowded with tourists and all sorts of geeks. There you can look for a lolita's dress, pokemon's customes, gothic and 70's punk outfits... It is quite interesting sometimes and it is worth it going there to have a look if you are around in Tokyo.

To wrap this up, a photograph of a typical lolita (ロリータ) custome (I cannot call this a dress...)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Spanish and Japanese Castles

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about my home town Almansa. Well, if we can be proud about something in my town, it is because of the nice castle we've got. For me, a normal castle looks much like a fortress than like a palace. Stone-coloured high walls designed for war. Look at this nice picture, this is Almansa's castle.

However, in Japan, I was surprised how different castle architecture can be with respect to which I consider normal. Japanese castles look so Japanese!!

The first Japanese castle I ever saw was Osaka Castle. This castle has been quite important in Japanese history. In the next picture you can see how it looks like:

Next day, I moved to Kyoto, where my hotel was, and I had the opportunity to visit another castle, which looked pretty much the same:

The last Japanese castle I visited during my first stay in Japan was Himeji Castle, south of Osaka and Kobe and in the middle of the way from Osaka to Hiroshima. This castle is one of the oldest castle in Japan after many wars and fires destroyed all the older ones... Actually, it is the one I liked most! It was the first place declared World Heritage in Japan by UNESCO. It was also Toyotomi Hideyoshi's castle for a while. This guy is quite important in Japanese history and I can talk more about him if you are interested. I will post a nice shot here, but a more professional photo can be found here:

Summing up, it is amazing how different Japanese and Spanish castles look like. I like Japanese ones, as they look more like a palace, though they were also conceived for war. However, Almansa castle will always be my favourite one!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reyes Magos

Well, today I don't have much to tell you... then, I will continue with my trips in the last months. After Xmas and New Year in Japan, I went to Almansa, my home town in Spain, to be with my family and friends on the night of 5th January, which is a special celebration in Spain called Noche de Reyes.

I will tell you a bit of the background of this celebration as many may not know. It is traditionally a religious celebration in which the main characters are the 3 Wise Men who gave presents to Jesuschrist... As I don't care about religion ;-), let's go to the point: it is a night when children get presents (like Xmas night in Saxon cultures) and young people go out all night.

The night starts with a parade in which the 3 wise men and shepards give sweets and small presents to kids. This is called Cabalgata de Reyes. Have a look at the picture:

After that, you go back home, have a nice dinner and go party. If you wanna get some presents, you have to leave your shoes next to a window, a balcony or similar. If you have been a good guy the previous year, you get some presents like this:

For breakfast, we usually take a cake called Roscon de Reyes which has a full story associated with it. As a rough approach, if you are lucky, you can get a nice cardboard crown for one day ;-) Finally, you go to your grandparents' to check if you got some extra presents there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Some badges

Today I was thinking I would like to put together all the cool badges I have had so far, this is, Alcatel Space's, JAXA's and ESA's. I have been looking into quite old pictures and I have found some photos of them! Therefore, I have decided to put them here, to try to blur the feeling some people have of me never having been working at those places ;-)

I have also noticed that I have been progressively changing over time... Is it aging??
So, there we go...

Alcatel Alenia Space (AAS/Toulouse): This was my first experience abroad and was quite enriching both personally and professionally. It was from Feb 2005 to Aug 2005. Here I was working on multipactor effect on filters and my work led to a patent pending.

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA/ Tsukuba Space Center): Here is when I was around in Japan last summer, this is, from May 2006 to Aug 2006. It was a quite short but intense experience... I was working around 16 hours a day to finish my project and travelling every weekend, sometimes as far as Kyoto or Osaka. I think this badge was really cool with all the Japanese characters around and the small astronaut. My work dealt with helical antennas for telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C).

And finally,

European Space Agency (ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands): This is where I have been the last 6 or 7 months and where I will be until at least October 2008. Quite a long time!! My work is about EM modelling of Schottky diodes and design of mixers working at frequencies as high as 400 GHz. Later I will do other stuff about (sub-)millimeter waves. They are not for telecom but for Earth Observation and Science...

Eso es todo amigos!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tulip fields

Today, after having "tortilla de patatas" for lunch, I and my housemates decided to go to the countryside to see the tulip fields. We took our bikes and made for the area near Lisse, which is famous for a park full of tulips called Koekenhoef (or something like that, kukenjof para los espanyoles).

There were tulips of many colours and they were arranged in groups according to it. Actually, it was quite nice. What was really priceless in my opinion was the smell... It was so nice... I really enjoyed riding my bike under the sun with such a nice fragance around... (Abstenerse de hacer comentarios de esto, que os conozco ;-)

In our way back home, the funniest thing happened... Have a look in the photo below... Can somebody explain to me why there were yamas out in the Dutch fields?

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Patxanga is a familiar word in Spanish to refer to a friendly match or game of any kind played just for fun. Well, it is also the name of my football team in ESTEC's football league ;-)

Yesterday, we had an appointment with history as we were playing the quarter finals of the league after a quite long regular season. We had managed to avoid the toughest teams by ending up in a meritorious sixth position. Our rival was Harbour Lights, a bunch of crazy Scottish who are famous for their not-so-fair play... Last time, some of us ended up with bruises all over...

Well, we played a good match and could overcome a 1-3 against to set a 4-3 until the last minute... In that moment, history reminded us we were Spanish playing football in quarter finals and tragedy eventually unleashed. The rest of the story is quite typical: the other team scored when there were only 40 seconds left or so, and they beated us in the penalties...

Anyway, we had fun and we can still play for the 5th position. Now a nice shot showing who we are.

Friday, April 20, 2007

WC en Amsterdam

Para que este blog no parezca un sitio de viajes o algo asi, ahi va una curiosidad con la que me he encontrado varias veces en Amsterdam.

La primera vez que lo vi fue a principios de Febrero cuando el meu germanet se vino a hacerme una visita y encontramos "la cosa" en medio de la calle en el canal Amstel (canal principal en el centro de Amsterdam)... Tras comentarlo con gentes del lugar y otros foraneos, el hecho es que esta serie de WCs se encuentran por toda la ciudad y los ponen en particular en fiestas para que meen los borrachos, jeje...

Pongo una foto para que sepais de que estamos hablando:

A primera vista parece horrible... el hecho de mear por un agujero donde han meado cientos o miles de personas a juzgar por el olor parece ya una aberracion. Sin embargo, asi evitan que la gente mee en las esquinas en una ciudad donde para usar un WC de verdad tienes que pagar minimo 50 centimos (centros comerciales, Mc Donalds previa consumicion...) y donde la mayoria de la gente prefiere gastarselo en "otras cosas"

Sin comentarios ;-)

Navidades en Tokyo

Pues estas navidades fui a Tokyo, for a change...

Fui del 24 de Diciembre al 1 de Enero y la verdad es que estuvo bien volver a este pais que tanto me gusta. Fueron unos dias bastante activos en la ciudad: fui con Naoko chan a Disneyland Tokyo, Odaiba, Shinjuku, Ueno, Akihabara, Roppongi, Shibuya... Vamos practicamente todo Tokyo... y ademas, fuimos a Kamakura, una de las ciudades historicas de Japon (capital del Shogunate de Kamakura, un par de siglos entorno al XII o XIII, no me acuerdo... jeje) y la peninsula de Izu un par de dias... a comer sushi y descansar. La foto de aqui abajo es un buda muy famoso en Kamakura.

Ademas pude visitar JAXA otra vez y la University of Tokyo y el Tokyo Institute of Technology ( Y me ofrecieron un doctorado en Antenas en Titech! Ya veremos cuando acabe mis dos anyos en la ESA...

Y por ultimo muchas cenas y noches en izakayas por todo Tokyo ;-) liandola con amigos

El tiempo vuela...

Puede sonar a topico pero es que el tiempo vuela... Hace ya algunos meses que cree este blog y por pereza y no demasiado interes, no lo he actualizado... jeje...

Bueno, ha llegado el momento de empezar a escribir cosas en el para que la gente sepa que es de mi vida y mis pensamientos.

Para intentar recopilar un poco lo que ha pasado estos meses, voy a crear diversas entradas aqui en mi blog... mas que nada como excusa para poner algunas fotos chulas y esas cosas...
Ademas prometo actualizarlo con frecuencia... a ver si es posible todos los dias o every 2 days...

Como breve repaso a mi vida en estos meses:
- Sigo en Leiden trabajando en la Agencia Espacial Europea en cosas que no os puedo contar ;-)
- Visite Japon en Navidad por segunda vez para visitar a mi novia, Naoko, en Tokyo
- Me fui de mision de la ESA a Paris a una fundicion de Arseniuro de Galio a un curso y reuniones de mi proyecto
- Aguante el gelido invierno holandes como un campeon... jejeje...
- Fui a Valencia en Fallas y a Almansa para el cumple de mi hermano
- y ahora que el tiempo empezaba a ser bueno, decidi irme a Finlandia a visitar a mi amigo Seppo

Ahora pongo unas cuantas fotos y os comento...

De momento una foto del verano pasado en la cima del monte Fuji, Japon.