Posts from Blogging On The Road

Eating As A Contact Sport

We drove early this morning from Barcelona to San Sebastian. To be more accurate, the Gotham Gal drove and I sat in the passenger seat amazed at the vastness of the landscape where for large parts of the drive there was 20 to 30 kilometers between towns. It was desolate and a bit depressing for someone used to seeing a new person every ten feet in NYC.

We got to San Sebastian in time for lunch. After checking into our hotel, we walked to the beach where there were boat races going on, and then walked into the old part of town in search of lunch.

It being Sunday afternoon, the streets were mobbed.
street crowd

We found a few tapas bars that looked good and pushed our way in, and I do mean push. Eating in these bars on a sunday afternoon is a full contact sport. I was thinking I could have used some shoulder pads.

Here’s a selfie I took in one of the bars we pushed our way into.

selfie in bar

In each bar, we got a beer to split and one or two tapas.

While it was work, and we had to push and shove a few times, the payoff was well worth it.

pulpo

We got this Pulpo A La Planxta Con Membrillo in the first bar we went to.

gambas

And we got this grilled shrimp bruschetta (although they call it something slightly different here) in the second one we went to.

We are going back to the bars tomorrow night for more contact sport. I have to say it’s a lot of fun.

Video Of The Week: The Progression Of Joan Miro

We visited the Joan Miro Foundation in Barcelona today. He was an amazing artist. We spent over an hour gazing at his work and then watching a short film about him.

It made me want to know more about him and his work. So I went on YouTube and found this

We visited the Picasso Museum this afternoon so we got quite a dose of Spanish painters of the 20th Century today. It was very enjoyable.

Documenting A Trip

I’ve always liked the idea of documenting a trip, leaving breadcrumbs for others to follow, or at least consider as they are planning a similar trip. The Gotham Gal and I do it very differently but we both do it.

She writes a blog post, chock full of photos, and a few links, every day recounting the prior day’s activities. Here’s her post on the day we recently spent on Lake Como. She has written hundreds of blog posts like that (according to her archive page, she has written 357 travel posts). If you are planning a trip to South Africa, you can go to her blog, search on South Africa, Cape Town, or some other keyword and get a bunch of posts like that which you might want to read while planning your trip. You can do that sort of thing for many places in the world that she has visited, with our without me and our kids.

I like to checkin to places on Swarm, save them on Foursquare, leave tips and photos, and then add them to lists on Foursquare. I’m building one now for the trip we are taking. I’ve built lists like this for Tokyo, Paris, and many other places.

Joanne’s approach is more like a travel magazine or the travel section of a newspaper. It’s great but you have to consume it in bulk quantities. What I like about my approach is it is microchunked down to the smallest atomic unit, the place, with value added metadata (tips and photos), and then built up into lists of various sorts. It feels more like a database that I am building than a magazine.

But both of these approaches work and deliver a lot of value to travelers who might want to follow in our footsteps. And we follow others in their footsteps so what goes around comes around. We use travel magazines, travel sections of newspapers, blogs, and Foursquare to plan our trips. Last week I read online a Food and Wine article on the Piedmont wine region, and it in, I read about a restaurant called Piazza Duomo, checked it out on Foursquare, and we booked a lunch there the next day. It was a fantastic lunch, now documented in a Gotham Gal blog post and a Foursquare tip.

World Order

I’m sitting at the breakfast table while Gotham Gal does the NY Times Crossword puzzle and we are looking at this

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That’s Lake Como.

I’m reading “the paper” on my phone and sipping coffee and enjoying the scenery.

This op-ed by Henry Kissinger in yesterday’s WSJ caught my attention.

It certainly seems true that the world order of the past 70 years is fading fast and that we are facing a search for a new world order.

Kissinger has some suggestions in his op-ed and his new book which the op-ed is an advertisement for.

I think my partner Albert’s thoughts on the changes facing society are also quite relevant to this discussion.

It is a bit strange to be reading about and thinking about all the strife and dislocation in the world in such an idyllic setting but that’s what I am doing this morning.

Fuel Efficiency

Well the photoblogging experiment yesterday was mostly a failure. I posted images I took on my phone via my phone and they came out too large and loaded too slowly. The whole point of the experiment was to see if I could post quickly and easily from my phone and avoid the laptop entirely. I was seeking efficiency and did not find it.

But one place where we have found efficiency on our trip is our car. We got this Peugeot convertible for our trip.

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It is a stick shift and takes diesel gas. The tank was almost empty when we got it so we filled the tank at the start of our trip. That cost 85 euros (roughly $110) but we’ve driven almost 500 kilometers so far and we still have over half a tank left. So we are getting roughly 900-1000 kilometers on a tank of gas which is 500-600 miles.

I’ve never owned a diesel car and finding diesel in the US isn’t easy and with the move towards electric, I suppose diesel will never be a thing in the US.

But I’m impressed with the fuel efficiency you get with diesel. It’s kind of amazing that you can drive almost 600 miles on a single tank of gas.

Photoblogging

Several people suggested I do some photoblogging on my vacation. So here’s my first attempt. If it goes well there will be more.

We woke up to this

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And then did this

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Then this

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That took all of twenty seconds on my phone. Very efficient. Now back to vacation.

It’s A Wrap

The Gotham Gal ends 2013 looking into the future and thinking about how her porfolio companies will grow next year. I am similarly minded as we wrap 2013. I am excited about 2014, and in particular the big opportunities that await many of our portfolio companies. 

I/we have a view about what is coming and I tried to lay that out at LeWeb earlier this month. We continue to look for investments in companies that fit into that view of the world.

But for me, it is the development of the companies we have already invested in that is always the most interesting work. And there are a bunch of them that are poised to have very big years in 2014 so that is what I woke up thinking about today and what I am most excited about professionally.

I am also very happy to have finally wound down Flatiron Partners, our previous venture capital firm, in 2013. My partners and I continue to hold interests in a few of our remaining portfolio companies but the business of Flatiron Partners has been wound down, 17 years after we started it, and that is a great relief to me personally. 

Like the Gotham Gal, I am also thinking about our impending empty nest status. This is something the two of us have been thinking about and to some extent planning for since 2007. Raising our family has been front and center for us for almost 25 years now and that phase is coming to an end in 2014. This means we can travel more, work more and less at the same time, and be more opportunistic about our lifestyle. I am looking forward to that.

We are spending New Years in Mexico then flying back to NYC tomorrow to start 2014. I am refreshed, relaxed, and ready for 2014.

On The Beach

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone. We spent yesterday in transit and I did not have time to write a post wishing everyone season's greetings. We did our Christmas a day early on Christmas Eve (borrowing a bit from a Wilson family tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve) and then caught an early flight to Mexico where we are on the beach until New Year's. 

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I will be taking it easy, reading a lot, and likely writing a bit too. It is the time of year to kick back and relax and I am doing just that.

Back In Ljubljana

Back in 2008, we invested in a small team out of SeedCamp called Zemanta. They were located in Ljubljana Slovenia but I met them in London. The following summer I visited the company in its hometown along with the Gotham Gal and our son Josh. I blogged about that trip here at AVC.

In the ensuing years, the founders moved back and forth between the US and Slovenia, encountered significant visa issues, and eventually built a strong business team in NYC and SF and Seattle. So the board meetings have been held in the US for the most part over the years with a few in London as well.

The founders decided that it was time to have a board meeting in Slovenia again and I made the trip yesterday (with some delays as noted in yesterday's blog post). Last night, as we walked through the lovely center of town along the river I was reminded of that trip we made four years ago and the wonderful time we had here.

We have a few portfolio companies that were started outside of the US and where the dev and product teams are still located in the home territory but the business team has moved to the US. This is a time tested model and has certain advantages. But it is easy to focus on the business team in the US and forget about the folks back home who are actually building the stuff.

I am excited to spend a morning with the "home team" and get to see the new offices. I've learned a lot working on the Zemanta investment, most notably that entrepreneurship is alive and well in many places around the world. It's great getting out and seeing that in action.

The Joys Of Business Travel

I took the overnight flight from JFK to CDG Paris. We arrived an hour late and even though we rushed through the maze of terminals that is CDG, we got to the gate a minute or two before the departure time and were told we could not get on the plane to Ljubljana. To make matters worse there is only one direct flight from CDG to Ljubljana each day and that was the flight we were on. It was painful to watch it fold up the stairs and back away without us on it.

So now we are in the gate awaiting a flight to Frankfurt where will will attempt to race across the airport and catch a connecting flight to Ljubljana from that airport.

Anyone who does a significant amount of business travel has had this sort of thing happen to them multiple times. I used to let it stress me out. Now I am pretty zen about it.

If we miss our connecting flight in Frankfurt I may be in need of restaurant recommendations in Frankfurt.