Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The FOSDEM trip 2024

 As there was some interest and questions about my trip to Brussels and FOSDEM on Mastodon, I thought I should write down some notes and observations from the trip. This will not really be about FOSDEM itself as there's numerous other reports from the conference itself.


I had some questions about how and where to buy tickets for a train journey like this.

For the first connection with the commuter train to Stockholm C, I just used my regular 30 day pass for the Stockholm and Uppsala regional local traffic as it already had validity covering the entire trip.

For the rest of the trip I made two separate reservations. One for a round-trip journey from Stockholm C to Hamburg Hbf in a shared couchette (six bed compartment) on the EuroNight service booked via Leaving in the evening Feb 1 (Thursday) at 17:34, return trip from Hamburg on Feb 5 (Monday) at 22:03. I then separetly booked tickets on ICE from Hamburg Hbf to Brussel Nord via

For the second part I choose the option with seat reservation, but bound to specific trains. Specifically departing from Hamburg at 10:45 on Feb 2. This gave me almost 5 hours margin, which is perhaps a bit on the safing side, and adds to the total journey time. On the other hand it gives some extra time to have some breakfast and walk around a bit (though it's a bit early in the morning).

Return trip from Brussels to Hamburg was scheduled to arrive at 17:18, giving plenty of time (almost five hours) to get some dinner and visit some sights. Here it's more crucial to set aside time for any hickups, as missing the night train service would be pretty awkward…

Another option would have been to get the InterRail pass. But bare in mind that night trains still require buying reservation. And reseving seats on German ICE might still be a good idea to ensure getting a fixed seat (would be especially beneficial if you intend to work on the train).

The journey

A side note: As my camera has started acting up, taking several attempts to start up after being off for a while (probably the lens mechanism getting worn after taking around 21000 pictures), I haven't taken as much pictures as usual…

I left home after lunch on the Thursday, first going for the commuter train.

Trains at Uppsala C

Arriving at Stockholm C (techinically Stockholm City, the underground station connected to the metro system) I left suitcase in a baggage locker at the station. Now the plan was to take the tram out to Djurgården (this is also where the Vasa and ABBA musuems in Stockholm are located) to have some fika and enjoy the weather as it was one of those sunny days. But since the next tram then was a bus replacement, I decided to instead take a walk.

View over Sergels torg in Stockholm

Finally some fika at the cafe Lilla Hasselbacken

The headed back towards the central station, picket up my suitcase and went to the restaurant Belgobaren to have dinner and a couple of beers. Also a good way to warm up for a bit of Belgian spirit ūüėé

The nice bar at Belgobaren. This place is also the hotel restaurant for Freys Hotel

Half an hour or so before the night train was about to leave I headed back to the station.

The departure board

At track 10, next train is ours…

These are old German sleeper cars

Arriving in Hamburg the morning after around halv an hour or so behind schedule

Had a bit of breakfast at one of the cafe places in the station.

Coffee and a sandwich

Taking a morning walk and visiting the exhibition at the city hall (which was thankfully opening at this early time of day).

Hamburh Rathaus (city hall)

Arriving back at the station awaiting the departure of the next train towards Köln (Cologne).

Shortly before the train was supposed to depart it was announced as being cancelled…

Asked some staff from Deutche Bahn at the platform and got a suggestion to instead take a train to D√ľsseldorf and then on to Li√®ge, and from there to Brussel Nord.

At D√ľsseldorf Hbf

Arriving in D√ľsseldorf and boarding the train towards Li√®ge (destination Paris Nord), it turns out this was a Eurostar. And they did not accept my ticket even though I think that's what the staff had told me (unless I misunderstood the German). So I had to pay for a new ticket onboard.

Later filed a claim for a refund for this. And as I had not registered an account beforehand at with my e-mail address, this had to be done via a printed form and old-school mail… So this is something to keep in mind, registering your booking beforehand could be a good idea.

Eventually arrived in Brussels an hour and some delayed.

The actual FOSDEM

Not so much from the acual FOSDEM in this post, but OK a few pictures from ULB…

The journey back home

Started off the morning on Monday Feb 5 by walking around a bit in central Brussels, saying hi to Maneken Pis, and buying some beer and chocolate.

The next thing that happend was a bit eventful though…

Headed back towards the northern station (Bruxelles Nord), as this was what I had booked seat for (probably wouldn't have been a problem getting on the train at the central station, but). Taking the tram from De Brouckère towards the northern station. I had about an hour to spare here. These lines (3 and 4) runs in a tunnel. This is what could be called a pre-metro). After the stop at Rogier (one stop from where I was about to get off) there was a sudden stop, and a power-outage! (ouch!).

After maybe half an hour we had to evacuate walking through the tunnel back to Rogier. Then walked to station. Still in quite good time for the train (but I was getting quite nervous for a while).

Later on the ICE towards Köln was some 20 min delayed. This train was supposed to continue on to Franfurt am Main, but turned back to Brussels in Köln. Fortunatly (for me) this didn't affect me, as I was getting off anyway.

At Köln Hbf


Got a little less time than planned to get some snack at Köln Hbf.


 Arriving in Hamburg, after leaving the suitcase in a baggage locker, I took the S-Bahn to Landungsbr√ľcke to visit the submarine museum.

The old Soviet submarine. Now as the U-434 submarine museum.

And after that a nice dinner at Blockbräu.

Blockbräu restaurant

And then a qick a look at the old tunnel under the river Elbe, where you take elevators down. There is still construction going on and one of the tunnel lines is closed. Seems to only be opened for pedestrian and bike traffic. This was also the case when I visited last year.

The old tunnel

Elevators taking cars. There's also smaller „regular” elevators. But I guess those are much newer…

Back at the station awaiting the train.

The night train to Stockholm

And the morning after looking out from the last car of the train on the long straight around Mjölby

And then a bit later, after lunch arriving home after a nice weekend in Brussels attending FOSDEM, listening to interesting FOSS talks and hanging a bit with GNOME folks.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024



It's only a couple of days left until that weekend of the week of the turn of month between January and February, and that means it's time again for FOSDEM, gathering FOSS entusiasts in Brussels, Belgium. And I will be there as well!

There has been some nice improvements in Maps since the end-of-year post before New Years as well.

James Westman has continued improving vector rendering support in libshumate and also implemented the ability to click on symbols, so you can finally click on labels and icons on the map instead of using the „What's here?” context menu item, doing a reverse geocoding. That always felt a bit like a „work around”. This seems like one of those cases of „a video says more than a thousand images”.

This is available when enabling the experimental vector map layer.

Another thing I have been working on is improving the experience of the favorites menu. Now instead of showing an insensitive, greye-out button in the headerbar when there are no places marked as favorites now the menu is always accessible, but instead shows an „empty state” when there are no places marked as favorites.

When there are places marked as favorites, there is now a close button next to the item allowing to remove it from favorites (rather than having to select the place and animate there to unmark the star icon in the popover showing).

When removing a favorite from menu a „toast” is displayed offering to undo this action (similar to when e.g. deleting files in Files).

Jakub Steiner has redesigned the map pin icon.

Compared to the old Tango-style icon that, while being a nice icon that has served us well looked a bit out-of-place in relation to the new UI style with a more 3D look.

Another new feature was thought up when looking for a cafe in a shopping mall in Riga during GUADEC last year is showing information about the floor location of places. There two established tags in OSM for this: level which represents the number of floors relative to the ground floor (or the lowest ground floor for buildings built in a souterrain fascion). In this case we now show this information in a spelled-out form for ground level or above, or below ground level (with provision for using localized plural forms).

The other tag is
level:ref referring a literal floor designation as „written in the elevator“. This could be fully spelled-out named floors, or numbers with suffixes and so on. When this is available we'll refer to that one as this would directly correspond to actual writing on-site.

Lastly James has added support for showing descriptions in the info bubble when clicking on points in a GeoJSON shape files when present. It also now shows the name of the shape file in the info bubble (this shape file was from an old GUADEC in Strasbourg).

Maybe I forgot something, but I think those where the highlights of new stuff so far in 2024.

Maybe see you in Brussels in a couple of days!