Cusco - 5 minute Guide

As well as being a great city in it’s own right, Cusco is the gateway to Machu Picchu.

Getting there:

I used Peruhop, which was easy and convenient. It also has an airport - the cheap airline is called Viva Air, which I haven’t used, but is supposed to be very strict (you have to have a printed copy of your boarding card, costing $15 if you don’t etc.)

Where to stay:

I stayed in El Labrador, which was pretty central and clean ($30 for a private). Friends stayed in Selinas and were happy, especially the nightly BBQ!

What to do:

  • I did the 2 day, 1 night tour to Machu Picchu with Inka time tours. This includes:

    • A 6 hour bus to Hidroelectrica - 10k from Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu

    • You then walk to Aguas Calientes (town below Machu Picchu). Accommodation in Aguas Calientes is included, but you may not be told until you get there (people are calling your name in the main square who know where you’re staying….)

    • Get up early the next day to either walk or get the bus to Machu Picchu.

    • A guided tour of Machu Picchu. My guide was poor, so don’t rely on the guide and look up things yourself.

    • You then walk back to Hidroelectrica for 2/3 pm (2pm if you want food, the buses leave at 3. Leave MP around 11).

    • Bring snacks

    • Get your passport stamped up there near the main entrance.

    • Bring a change of clothes for the top, it can get cold after walking up.

    • The walk to/from Hidroelectrica isn’t that well signposted. Follow the crowd!

    • You can also get the train to Aguas Calientes, but it’s not cheap.

  • Now you’re back in Cusco, get a massage! I used relaxing time massage and andina spa - they also cut your hair!

  • Visit the Rainbow mountain with Rainbow Mountain Travel

What to Eat

  • Cappuccino café for coffee

  • Choco museo for a class on chocolate making.

    • Try Cacao shell tea and hot chocolate from the museo

  • Go to San Pedro market for local food

  • Go to Jacks café for western food, great portions

Finally, some photos!

Bolivia - 5 minute Guide

I recently visited Bolivia, a country I knew absolutely nothing about and had no expectations of. Despite the cold, I loved it, especially the Death Road cycling tour and the Salar De Uyuni Tour.

Some tips for getting there around and things to see:

  • Arriving via bus? Use Bolivia Hop for getting around the north (La Paz and above) of the country. They’re not going to the south yet, but are running in Peru and Ecuador if you’re going there. They handle the border crossings as well which is great. Just go where they point you!

  • Panasur is a good (and safe, from what I’ve read) bus company for going to La Paz from Uyuni. I used Tickets Bolivia to book my tickets. It worked flawlessly.

  • La Paz is definitely worth staying in for a few days, but the altitude is tough! Some things to do in the biggest city of Bolivia include":

    • Higher Ground & Café Del Mundo for Coffee/Food

    • Wist’upiku for cinnamon (canela) ice cream.

    • Cycle the Death Road with Ride On Bolivia

    • Ride the cable cars for the views of the City - get up to El Alto for the best ones!

    • Wrap up in June/July, it's cold!

    • Go to San Pedro Square to listen to Crazy Dave (1pm) and get the Red Cap Tour (2pm).

  • Copacabana on Lake Titicaca is a great place to see the Lake up close:

    • I stayed right on the lake at the Hotel Estelar. Others stayed on the Isla Del Sol. I heard mixed reviews, so up to you.

    • Visit the (Cork-owned) Eagle and Condor Cafe for an amazing Irish breakfast!

Finally, some photos from the trip

Hints and Tips on moving to Ireland

Over the years, I've been lucky enough to meet many people who have moved to Ireland, whether passing through or staying for a while or friends and work colleagues. 

One thing I noticed was that there didn't seem to be one website or resource that I could point them to to get as information on visas, job sites, accomodation and everything else you might need to get started. So I've created this blog post to help with that.

If it gets enough interest, I might even turn it into a standalone project and include other countries.

There's no guarantee that anything/everything I've put up here is 100% correct, especially on the visa/registration parts, but it will hopefully get you all the information you need. Use at your own risk, but if something's wrong, let me know and I'll correct it.

I'll keep it updated as much as possible, it will be a live document! And feel free to email/suggest improvements and changes.

Before you go:

So you're thinking about coming/decided to move to Ireland. Great! Here's some initial links and information on what you need to do before you arrive.

Overview guide on moving: Citizens Information

Side Note: Citizens Information is a great site generally for information on moving to Ireland and legal requirements/visa and so on.


Visas and Entry:

EU:

Ireland is in the EU, so it's generally less complicated for EU citizens to move here. 

Link for more information: Citizens Information

Non-EU:

If you're not from the EU/EEA, then it's a little more effort - you may need a Visa and have extra requirements/documentation.

More details are here: Citizens Information

Additionally, if you're not from the EU/EEA and want to stay in Ireland longer than 90 days, you may need to register with immigration once you get here.

Details on that are here: Registering in Ireland

Schengen:

I've witnessed unfortunate travellers getting stopped at the gate when travelling to Ireland because of confusion over Ireland and Schengen Area travel. It's worth reading about it before you travel here!

More details: Citizens Information

Job Sites:

If you're coming here to work, here are a couple of sites that can help with your job search, if you don't already have one.

Accommodation

There are a couple of sites that are widely used in Ireland for finding a place to rent or buy.

Daft - probably the biggest one.
Myhome

Note: There have been some rental scams recently - this article has some great tips at the bottom of the page that you should use.

Support services for foreigners:

General Information on support services are here: Citizens Information


When you're here:

Entering Ireland:

General information (EU and Non-EU): Citizens Information

Non EU Residents - Registering in Ireland

As mentioned earlier, you may have to register in Ireland to stay here beyond 90 days.

There are different offices you can attend to do this, depending on where you are living. Where you live determines where you register.

If you're in Dublin: Registration Office

If you're outside Dublin: List of other offices

Many friends have said that it can be hard at times to get an appointment to register, so here is a great app for figuring out when appointments are available: GNIB Notifications App (iPhone)

Registering for Tax, Health, other public services

To register with the Irish Government for Revenue (Tax) and other services, you need what's called a PPS number.

You will need to apply for your PPS Number with the Department of Social Protection. Here is details on how to apply, including what documentation you need : How to Apply for a PPS number

A list of centres where you can complete the PPS registration process is here: PPS Registration Centres

Healthcare

Citizens Information has good information to help figure out your healthcare entitlements here.

Driving and Licences

You may need/want to exchange your driving licence for an Irish one once you're here. That's done through the NDLS, and here is their guide on how to do it: NDLS - Holders of Foreign Licences

Gocar is a great service for short term renting of cars if you need one for getting around the city/country.


Bank Accounts, Gas, Electricity, Internet

There are a many options for your choice of bank, electricity or internet provider. Rather than rank them myself, here's a good comparison site for all of them: Bonkers

To open a bank account, you'll probably need proof of address first, using a utility bill - some banks don't accept a mobile phone bill as a utility bill by the way, so it may need to wait until you've set up your utilities first before getting a bank account.

Phone

There are several mobile phone companies who can be compared using this link: Switcher

Personally, I've found Vodafone the best, if a little more expensive - they're the most reliable network I've ever used here.

For making international calls/calling home, there doesn't seem to be a comparison site, but here is a blog post with some information that may be of use.

Anything else I should add? Let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

Apple SIM and roaming

It's not widely known that Apple has a built in SIM card (separate to the hardware SIM card we all know and called the Apple SIM). A small number of providers in the UK and US use it for iPhone, where it negates the need (for those carriers that use it) for a hardware SIM card.

As a result, most of the time it's not of any use. But if Apple got the software right, and the right deals signed, it could be huge for roaming. 

Imagine you are travelling to Asia for a few weeks. Instead of searching for WIFI or needing to buy a local SIM (switching it in and out with your existing SIM every few hours to check messages), you could sign up on the device using the Apple SIM (airport wifi could recognise it's an iPhone and give internet access for that, or you could sign up before travelling). Your phone now has two SIMs, and you can call off the local SIM card, but still share data with your existing SIM like a WIFI connection. Phones like this already exist and (sort-of) work, so it's not like it can't be done technically.

Getting the carriers to agree to this will be the hard part, but it is one way for Apple to get closer to a developing a mobile network -  they could even take a percentage of the cost of the signup and charge through iTunes! They already have the contacts to do this and if it worked, it would be seamless!

 

Apple, the FBI, and Privacy

A very important letter, signed by Tim Cook himself, regarding the recent court order instructing Apple to circumvent built-in security features in iOS to help unlock a phone used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino case.

This case could become a landmark case in digital privacy. The outcome of this case won't just affect access to the contents of this specific phone, but access to all phones, regardless of manufacturer (or country).

As someone who works in technology and understands what's at stake here, I fully support Apple and hope that they are not compelled to undertake this work.

iPhone Upgrade Programs

Apple are about to launch an iPhone subscription program, offering a new iPhone every 12 months as part of an installment plan. There is a great write-up and analysis here. A particularly interesting comment about the potential end of physical sim cards is in the last paragraph, with Apple already developing their own 'soft-sim' technology for phones.  

However, smart watches are just as compelling a reason for the removal of physical sim cards, where space is even more of a premium and they are currently dependent on phones for network access. Removing this dependency requires their own network access, and soft-sims are an obvious choice here, if the carriers allow it!

Tracking your Work

As promised, the first in a series of posts related to tracking. I'm going to start with what I use for tracking my work.

I work across lots of projects, and it's simply impossible to keep track of them all in my head. So I've made a decision to not even try. I write down, label and store what I need to do, so it's out of my head and allows me to focus on the work itself. It's quite liberating once you decide to do this!

But it means that I need a system to track all my tasks and appointments. I rely on software, and use four apps to help me.

  • Calendar - Fantastical
  • Evernote
  • Omnifocus
  • Rescuetime

I'll go over each in detail now:

Calendar

Self-explantory, but the one thing I make a point of putting in any events as soon as I know about them. If I don't, I'll forget completely. I sync my calendar across phone and computer so I can do this. I use Fantastical, which has wonderful plain-English text-entry: Type "Meet Dave Sunday at 5 in my local coffee shop" and it will understand your sentence, putting everything in the right place.

Evernote

Evernote takes interesting articles, minutes of meetings or any other piece of content I want to store for later use. It has browser plugins so that you can send content from a website straight to it without having to open the app. 

I put everything into an 'inbox' folder, which I then tag and sort for later use.

Omnifocus

Omnifocus is for my day-to-day tasks related to projects I'm working on. Like my meetings, if I don't write down exactly what I've to do, I'll forget. So I have an inbox where upcoming tasks go, which I then sort by project. I also give each task a 'context', as Omnifocus puts it. I have three contexts, related to urgency - 'this week', 'next week', and 'later'. I then review these each week, adding new tasks and moving existing tasks as necessary.

Rescuetime

Rescuetime is an app that tracks how you work. Once installed, it monitors what apps you have open and are using (Word, Excel etc.) as well as how long you are using them. It's a great way of getting an overview of what and how you work day-to-day, at least on a computer. If you spend lots of time in meetings (or away from a computer), it might not be that useful for you, apart from confirming that you do indeed spend lots of time in meetings. But if you're interested in seeing how you actually work instead of how you think you work, there's no better application.

So that's a brief overview of how I attempt to keep track of my work. It's evolved over time, and I'm sure will continue to. If you feel you want to change something relating to work, the key is to measure it before, change something about it, then measure again. Hopefully some of the above will give you ideas!

 

The Quantified Self

I'm a big fan of the Quantified Self (I don't agree with everything in that Wikipedia article but it's a decent overview. I also run the Dublin meetup group, if you're interested). My personal form of the Quantified Self is identifying something I want to examine or change in my life (when/how I work, habits, fitness etc.), make a (small) change, measure and repeat. It's an iterative process but I've found it works for me.

While each step is important in it's own right, measurement before and after is particularly important as it's the easiest way to detect a change! Not everything can be quantified easily but there are many things that you can measure quickly to see what's working and what's not.

Technology (both hardware and software) can help with this measurement, and I've found a number of tools over the years that have helped me in a variety of areas of my own life. I'd like to share them here over a number of posts in the hope that they'll be useful for you too.

So stay tuned as I will release them one by one starting very soon!