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  • 04 Nov 2017
    One of the fascinating ways to explore a country is by driving. The freedom of the open road gives you more possibilities to get to know the country. Right? Not in Serbia! Here is a real rant on driving in Serbia. 1) There are no traffic signs. If you are lucky to find one of them it will take you in the wrong direction or it will have been erected so crookedly you can't work it out. GPS is the way to go. If you find a traffic sign it’s probably going to be in the Cyrillic alphabet and only occasionally in the Roman. Good luck with trying to spell the word out at more than 20 miles an hour. You may see helpful English signs like, Producer of Local Produce. 2) The Serbs are very friendly people – they never let you pay for a drink, are happy to take you around and show you the best part of the country but they turn into Monsters once they are behind the wheel. One place where there is gender equality in Serbia is behind the wheel, in a car the women are bad as men. Nuns included. One overtook us at speed and at great danger to herself and other drivers. It was in the area dubbed “Hilandar of Serbia” as there are 10 monasteries spread over beautiful hills, river and lakes. You would think it’s the perfect place to unwind and find your inner self- not to get killed by a reckless nun!  Her frustration started when we gave way to the car on the other side of a bridge, the nun didn’t beep, but we could hear the engine revving. She didn’t overtake right away because the nice couple passing gave us a nod and a smile which probably enraged her. Maybe she is not used to people being polite. The nun continued to follow us so close I was under impression she wanted to open our boot through her window. The sharp bends and fast traffic didn’t stop her and she overtook on a blind bend and then quickly turned off the main road without indicating and hurtled up to a monastery... 3) During our driving experience in Serbia we never saw the police, although we saw two police cars – one parked in the front of kafana ( national bistro) in Nova Varos. We saw a lot of ambulances struggling to make their way on the overcrowded roads with no one making space for them to pass. They only time we encountered the police was when we crossed the border into Bosnia and the only reason we saw them is because we had been warned back in Belgrade. “Watch your speed limit when you enter Bosnia as there are two policemen, one fat and one short, jumping out of the bushes and issuing fines.” Its seems the whole country is aware of them, the two policemen in Bosnia who still haven't realised that their hiding place is blown!  4) Be aware of the likelihood of being cut up on the roads by really dangerous drivers. I have only one word for them “F***** idiots” or in short FI to be used here. They are hormonal junkies who are betting on you stopping and letting them overtake you, otherwise you will have blood on your hands! The reality is that you have to hit the brakes, and let flow some colourful English language. With some addition of Serbian too. 5) There are motorways but not everywhere. Our visit to the Western Serbia was mainly on roads which would be classified as country lanes in the UK but wider and with fewer potholes. 6) There are speed limits displayed but they are there only to be broken! If you don’t break them you face a barrage of the noisiest car horns, squashed driver faces, swearing, shouting. Be ready. I've never been a fan of Top Gear but after my driving trip in Serbia I feel like I took a part in it! 7) Cars with automatic transmission are still a rarity in Serbia. Driving one on this trip was a life saver! I don’t know if I would have been able to drivea manual car and encounter all the traffic issues we had. Automatic cars are a bit more expensive but they are good value for money on Serbia roads. 8) We saw lorries where they were not supposed to be – on narrow mountains lanes. We saw a testosterone-fueled father with wife and two kids strapped in the back seats, overtaking on a blind bend. We saw tractors holding up traffic for miles. We saw new roads, just built recently, so narrow the local people have to leap out of the way every time a car passes. We drove on a winding road where there was no pulling over spaces, and when we eventually stopped at the first “kafana” the waiter kindly explained that the money for a wider road and resting places finished up in someone's pocket! 9) If you are still thinking of hiring a car and driving around Serbia you will have to be 110% in driving mode and take breaks every hour if you can find somewhere. You need a good passenger to help you navigate not just on the roads but drivers too!  Learn a few swear words in Serbian. They are very useful - and unexpected by those who inspire them. Considering such bad driving and manners we didn't see any accidents. We saw near accidents and we were part of one when on a flat wide empty road. Only quick thinking saved us. 10) While getting lost we would stop to ask for directions. The window would go down, and very helpful males (yes, all our directions were given by males, do not know why, probably they are the ones wondering roads like us) would explain us in great details how to get where we wanted. The information was so very detailed and long that sometimes we wanted just to drive off. When we did eventually we had to ventilate the car from the fumes of alcohol we were given along with the information. Despite all this, Serbia is a beautiful country to visit with unspoiled nature, lovely people, great food and a fascinating history!
    214 Posted by bossgate
  • 04 Nov 2017
    Two soluble co-codamols taken against medical advice on an empty stomach didn’t help to stop the constant and horrendous noise of happy water streaming under our idyllic apartment somewhere in Portugal. Exhausted with spending the previous day reading a map which made the Mappa Mundi look like the latest cartography achievement of the 21st century, and with listening to a posh voice on the GPS that we constantly debated whether was Joanna Lumley's or not and which navigated us into deepest Portuguese countryside. We made endless failed attempts to talk to natives who didn’t speak any English, French, German, Serbian or Russian, religiously showing them our useless map only to be directed the wrong way. We spent six hours driving up and down green hills stopping occasionally to take amazing photos of spring in its infancy, continuing east of a bridge which wasn’t on the map, then south of the field with lots of cows, north of a lake but we didn’t go west knowing full well we would end up back in Porto. The narrow roads were without any traffic signs except Romantico Ruto which we lost hours ago. We were on Horribilis Ruto and we didn’t need any signs for it! The villages we passed were not on the map and the ones engraved on the map were not on our route. The GPS was stubbornly showing we were on road 225. Then we decided to take a different approach – forget about “getting to know the country” and get to the main road. Any main road which luckily was the one we wanted. The relief of not spending a night in the car was replaced by utter bewilderment at spending two nights without internet at the creatively converted water mill in the middle of nowhere. Without speaking and secretly holding each other responsible for such a blunder we went straight to bed.  Luckily, I had a book on standby which was hidden deep in the luggage between the dirty washing and a rudimentary first aid kit. I read all about the author and fell asleep. My usual 1am, 3am, 5am waking ups followed by quick glances at the news, checking of emails or number of likes on the last FB entry were replaced by frustration and loud cursing of the cottage's lack of internet. The hissing noise of my overheated computer sounded like lullaby compared to the constant water rumbling under my bed. “Where is all this water rushing to at 5 am?” “Stop! Go to sleep. You are addicted!” “No I am not. I just want a peace and quiet” “But this is peace and quiet!” Yeah, right.
    197 Posted by bossgate
  • 23 Oct 2017
    Our Houzz family in Berlin has grown exponentially in the last year, and the office has grown with it. The original space was already a great reflection of the Houzz culture, with imaginative themed conference rooms and lots of room for both individual and collaborative work. The expansion added new meeting rooms and working space while making sure employees feel like they “come home to the office,” as one Houzzer recently put it.Let’s take a tour of the office, starting with the café.A wall of windows in the kitchen and eating area offers a bright and airy atmosphere for meeting people across all teams, whether over breakfast, catered Friday lunches, birthday celebrations or late-afternoon pick-me-up snacks.What looks like a bright green refrigerator door in the kitchen actually leads to a hidden meeting room, with furniture sourced from a local Berlin bar. The pizza boards on the wall are a nod to our Italian team and Italy’s extensive culinary heritage.Each meeting room has a theme, such as the Deutsche Eiche (German Oak) Room. The astroturf floor, wooden table, and forest-view wallpaper create the sense that your meeting is taking place in the middle of the Black Forest or a magical wood from a Brothers Grimm tale.Next, we have the Games Room, where Houzzers have been known to play a round or two of ping pong during breaks.The Beach Room boasts a surfboard table, a deck-style floor, a bench and even beach towels.The open-plan office beyond is set up perfectly for collaborating, with wide desks set up in groups.In the middle is a couch area for those who think best when they’re a little more relaxed.The Whiskey Room just beyond the desk-area is a throwback to a traditional English study.Houzzers often show off their talents on the working drum set, guitar and keyboard after hours in the Music Room, which also doubles as a spacious meeting area during the workday.A row of polaroids of our team hard at work and play leads to a quiet office area and more creatively themed meeting rooms.The Chinese Room boasts prints of vintage Chinese posters and a wardrobe that echoes traditional lacquered cabinets.Next to it is the Gym Room. Its leather seats and punching bag, faux-brick wall paper and prints encourage Houzzers to be true contenders.The GDR Room is devoted to ostalgie — nostalgia for the vintage style of East Germany — from a classic couch to East German medals, a record player, and of course the requisite orange wallpaper. It is full of vintage finds from flea markets and vintage shops.The office opens out to a balcony with plants, a welcoming bench and an acapulco chair to let Houzzers enjoy a Palm Springs vibe as they look out onto Berlin’s famous TV tower.We hope you enjoyed your tour through our Houzz Berlin home!All images credited to Kate Jordan.
    194 Posted by bossgate
  • 23 Oct 2017
    As a research engineer, Yunsong helps augment search and personalized recommendation experiences for the Houzz community. Outside of work, Yunsong enjoys spending time with his family, and looks forward to sharing his love of the outdoors with his young son.Why did you decide to become a research engineer?I’ve always been driven by the desire to find and solve difficult challenges, a common trait among research engineers. I studied computer science in school, which led to a PhD in artificial intelligence, and a series of papers and patents on intelligent systems. I’m thrilled to bring intelligent techniques to life.What brought you to Houzz?A number of my friends were working at Houzz, two of whom I’ve known since we attended the University of Science and Technology of China together. The team was looking for someone with my unique search experience, and I was intrigued by the positive environment that I’d heard about from my friends.How would you describe what you do at Houzz?My role is focused on search quality. I see myself as a translator helping Houzz to better understand what the customer really wants. Whether a user is looking for a home pro in a specific location or using a lesser known synonym to describe a product they want to purchase for their home, my work integrates the Houzz search platform deep into the home remodeling domain and helps to provide users with the best possible results.What are some of the challenges to improving search?People generally search with something already in their mind. The inherent challenge for search is to understand the query semantic and the real user intention behind what they typed. The search algorithm must recognize a variety of words, their relations, and what they mean under a specific context. For example, a chair can be contextually described as a seat, stool or bench. The color “red” can describe cabinet color, backsplash color or floor color. Technology must be a bridge between customer understanding and company terminology and resolve ambiguities in each specific situation. That’s why it’s so important to develop a robust catalogue of concepts to give each query meaning.Do you interact with other teams at Houzz?Yes, my research informs the development of the Houzz infrastructure, so I work closely with that team to build a comprehensive catalogue of query terminology that bridges user intent and remodeling domain concepts. We work together to make our machine learning systems more intelligent. I also work closely with the international and industry solutions teams.What surprised you about working for Houzz?What surprised and delighted me about working for Houzz is that the leadership empowers you to improve products right away. Within my first two weeks, I had already led my first production deployment. They let me hit the ground running!
    193 Posted by bossgate
73 views Jan 23, 2018
The Taj Mahal by Moonlight 2018

Visit Taj Mahal by moonlight, ReadyClickAndGo

Visit Taj Mahal by Moonlight ReadyClickAndGo

Check if Taj Mahal changes the colour under the full moon nights. Below is a list of the full moon dates for 2018. For more inforation about how to get tickets please check our previews entries. 

1st January 2018

31st January 2018

1ST March 2018

30th March 2018

29th April 2018

28th May 2018

27th Jun 2018

27th Jul 2018

25th August 2018

24th September 2018

24th October 2018

22nd November 2018

22nd December 2018

REMINDER: Each evening, 400 people in 8 groups of 50 are allowed to the first platform which is about 350 metres away from the main building, for 30 minutes between 8.30pm and 12.30am, but you must get there half an hour before the time on your ticket for security checks and x-rays. You can bring binoculars and cameras but not video cameras, handbags, tripods, tobacco, matches, food or mobile phones.