Have I landed on a highway?

    Yesterday’s landing, deboarding, and departure from the Madeira airport were all pretty much the same as the many other airports I’ve been to in my life. But things were about to change in a surprising way.

    Today, while driving a rental car, the expressway I was on went below what at first seemed to be a huge highway, supported by an uncountable number of columns. The sight was already impressive, but when I reached the other side and looked in the rearview mirror, I was astonished by what I had just noticed. I had driven below the airport runway.

    But that’s not all.

    The underpass had many public spaces, such as sports courts, a skate park, a spacious parking lot, restaurants and even a boatyard. Yes, boatyard. Of course, I had to come back at the end of the day to check it all out.

    My photos are incapable of accurately depicting the size of the space. It is impressive. According to Wikipedia, there are 180 columns. And in one of Tom Scott’s videos, I learned that they are 50 meters tall, which is another crazy number when we remember that planes are landing and departing from the “roof” above.

    His video also explains the reason for the airport’s location. In his words, Madeira is one huge mountain just sticking out of the Atlantic Ocean. And I can confirm that after spending the day going through dozens of the over 150 tunes on the island. It’s hard to imagine something like this, but you can’t drive for more than a few minutes before you come across a new tunnel.

    In other words, this was the only place flat enough to build the first runway, which, by the way, was shorter. When the island began to attract more tourists and the planes became larger, it was extended with a platform over the columns, since a landfill was not feasible.

    I had a lot of fun geeking out below the airport, and thinking about humankind’s ingenuity, which never fails to impress me. However, this is an amazing island with remarkable sights that humans will never be able to build. Some of them have already blown me away, but there’s still so much to discover.

    Have a lovely week, Vlad.

    A thoughtful gift for my father.

    Before smartphones, my father would always have a pen and notepad like this one in his shirt’s front pocket. Not only that, but he would use them to explain anything I asked him about, drawing and writing every single detail while talking to me.

    He always said, “You should write it down if you don’t want to forget it." I guess it worked. It seems there’s no other explanation; I got into taking notes because of him.

    Have you had the chance to listen to my conversation with Jon on the Triple T Productivity podcast? I am currently on the trip I mentioned, and today I came across this small notepad that I immediately bought for his birthday tomorrow. It’s not exactly like the ones he used to have, but I believe it will bring him good memories.

    Evernote and other technologies I used when I was in Morocco

    When we entered the boarding area, my wife realized that she had forgotten her phone. In other words, gone were all the messages the travel agency had sent her. Thankfully, Evernote saved our trip to Morocco. At that point, we were unable to go back home and return in time, so I opened my Travel notebook on Evernote to assess the situation. But before I go any further, let me provide you with some context.

    Usually, I am the one who organizes our trips, but this time it was different. My wife was doing it. On my side, as I have already shown in past videos, I was saving on Evernote all that she was sending me. Also, I am not a WhatsApp user.

    Back to the airport

    I had our boarding passes and all instructions in offline notes, but here’s my question. Why would a travel agency send all the information to its clients using WhatsApp instead of email? Also, why would the clients trust WhatsApp with all that information? And I’m not even talking about privacy. I’m talking about access.

    Without a phone, which can be lost, broken, or stolen, there is no way to access the messages. However, on a public computer, one can open and even print information using the web client of an email provider or notes saved on Evernote, Google Keep, or others.

    I’m convinced that this addiction to WhatsApp has already gone too far and caused many people serious problems. A few days ago, I even saw an article suggesting that people use the note-to-self feature to take notes.

    NO! Please do not do this.

    If you are not interested in dealing with all that Evernote or similar Apps have to offer, use Google Keep. It’s simple, and you’ll be able to access your notes even without your phone.

    Okay, that’s that.

    But, since we are here, I would like to share with you the other technologies that made our trip a success, even though we did not buy a local SIM-Card.

    Google Maps

    You have to do this before loosing Internet connection. Go to settings, select the ‘Offline Maps’ option, choose an area and download it. From now on, even if you do not have Internet access, that map will be available. But there is a caveat: there are no turn-by-turn directions.

    The GPS will still work, and you’ll see the blue dot moving on the map. If you are walking as we were, it is pretty easy to follow a route towards your destination. Nevertheless, I’m not certain how efficient this would be for driving.

    Google Translate

    Just like Google Maps, we can download dictionaries on Google Translate. Before the trip, open the App on your phone, select one or more languages and tap the icon with an arrow pointing down.

    For this trip, I downloaded the Arabic and French dictionaries, which were quite helpful.

    Canon App

    I love the way Google Photos plots all pictures on a map, and there is also a practical use. I often forget a restaurant or another place location, and finding the address is as simple as opening the photo and selecting ‘Open in Google Maps’.

    For this trip, a brought my Canon, that doesn’t have a GPS. To fix this, I installed the Canon Camera Connect App, which connects to my phone via Bluetooth and uses its GPS to obtain the location of the pictures I was taking.

    Garmin Instinct 2

    This one was just for fun. I used my Garmin Instinct 2 to track all our walks, and at the end of each day, I saved the map in Evernote with some statistics, and a picture of the watch showing how much battery was left.

    Each day, we walked more than 10 km, and I’m now even more impressed with the battery of this watch. You can learn more about my decision to buy it by clicking here.

    Although I wasn’t expecting to need this, I added the hotel’s location to my watch, so I could navigate back there. Google Maps worked great, and we ended up memorizing our way back, but I had to try it. One day I did use the watch to go back to the hotel. It worked like a charm, and the geek in me loved it.

    It’s better to be disconnected

    My wife and I love to travel, but since the end of the lockdown, we’ve been only traveling within the EU. With the single currency, no border checks, and free roaming, things are too easy. There is no need to prepare thoroughly.

    It’s great that we can just pack and go, but ultimately, you feel like you never really visited another country.

    Morocco was, however, a different story. I went back to being prepared-for-anything mode, read a lot about it and watched some documentaries. Furthermore, without a local SIM-Card, we were disconnected from home most of the time, and we felt really immersed in an entirely different culture.

    It is time to go to Cuba

    The fact that President Obama is focusing on reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba is a significant development, but it also means that there is a good chance that things will begin to change there at a rapid pace. That’s why we decided it was time to visit Cuba and see the country as it is now.

    Touching the Panama Canal


    Goodbye, Boston

    I initially planned to work from home, but it didn’t take long for me to start experimenting with different coffee shops. After a few weeks, I picked this place next to my father’s office and began coming here regularly. I wrote many of my podcast scripts, blog posts, and chapters of my books at this Starbucks.

    This is the third time I have lived in Boston. It is now time to leave. Again.

    We are leaving soon, and it’s been hard to say goodbye. Part of my family lives here, and the city itself holds a special place in my heart.

    Thank you, Boston!

    Baby Steps

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