Learning As I Go

I see I’ve forgotten to do hotel reviews, updates, and other things I learned on my recent trip. Mea Culpa! I blame my economics class.

Patro/Matro-nymics as a Dating Tool

Probably the most fun thing I learned on this recent trip is that Icelanders have dating down to a science. I am not kidding.

In Iceland, the child traditionally takes the father’s first name plus the word ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ (dottir) as their surname. This came up recently about the girl named Blaer, and you can read all about that and link off all you want here, but it got me thinking: you could totally tell if a girl has Daddy Issues if she choses her mother’s name for her surname, and/or if a boy has Mommy Issues likewise. It’s like a window into their childhood and you don’t even have to “wink” at them on Match.com.

Also, one of the best people I’ve got on my London job has the surname Thorisson. We did ask if his dad was named Thor, and it’s pretty close — the name means “worshipper of Thor”, and hey, who isn’t?

It is Possible to Over-Assume as to What Wi-Fi Means

This being my fourth trip to Rome (wow, that sounds really pretentious, trust me when I say as much as I love my Rome team and the fabulous food it’s not as glamorous as it sounds) I was told emphatically that I would not be staying at “that sad little hotel next door”. No, this time I got myself a fancy hotel in the old city, the Valadier, and it was very lovely. They serve a nice espresso. They have wi-fi in the room!

That crashed every. fifteen. minutes. I am not exaggerating. And since my midterm exam was available only for 24 hours, of which 8 I hoped to be sleeping, 4 I had to reserve for dinner (European dinners are breathtaking both in quality and stamina), 9 for work, I really needed my wi-fi to work in my room. A panicked conversation with the front desk man assured me that HIS reception on HIS phone was great, therefore don’t worry.

Thanks to the immense resourcefulness of a lovely gal in the Rome office, I had a quiet conference room and busted out my midterm in 90 minutes right before we left for dinner. Not ideal, but, as the company is/was paying for the class I assume they’ll understand. And yes, I got an “A”.

The Best Laid Plans Will Go Awry. Just Plan For It. 

My flight into Rome was late. My flight into London was late. My flight out of London was really, really late. Jet lag hit harder than any other trip I’ve been on. I broke one of the coffee machines. I lost a meeting room. I totally meant to spend time with someone and didn’t realize I hadn’t until I was almost to Seattle. My plan to have extra room in my bag was thwarted by the fact that it’s winter and all of my clothes were heavy sweaters. Pret changed their menu.

This last trip was a constant reminder that whatever you’re counting on, make sure you’re not counting on it. Or something.

The Best Things Happen When You Take Chances

I went for a run on the Friday, my only morning in London where I’d actually be staying in London that night. Following a map saved to my phone (which got no reception, so it wasn’t a moving map but a pic), I ran about 2.5km up a road and around a park, and then trotted back… or so I thought.

I was about a mile in before I realized *nothing* looked familiar. Not a blessed thing. No buildings, no shops, etc. As most of Islington looks charmingly alike this did not engender much confidence, so I walked into the nearest gas station and asked directions to the Angel Building in Islington. No dice. Walked across the street to a shop, same question, same result.

Hm.

Now, I had no service on my phone, so I couldn’t call up Google Maps. I did not think to bring anything with me but my hotel key, so I had no cash or card to grab a cab back to the hotel. I had run a mile in the *wrong* direction, but which *wrong* was debatable. And so…

I ran back from whence I came, back to the park, and then leveraged every tube station map and bus station map I could find around that park to figure out where I had to go. And got back to my room eventually, ridiculously pleased I didn’t have to give up and get a cab with the promise of “and then wait outside the hotel whilst I go get my wallet”.

Other successful chances included: trying a new place to eat (Meat People. It’s very yum), using my static Starbucks iPhone app to purchase a latte while I had no connectivity (totally forgot Sbux has wi-fi even in London!), and, for the first time in more than 3 years, checking my bag on an international flight. Contents arrived safely both ways.

I therefore declare this trip a success not only for the original needs met, but for the additional learning items. My next trip will be much more local but no less adventurous — please send me your ideas for Portland and the Oregon Coast, with a 10-year-old. 🙂

Here We Go Again…

Greetings from South Satellite at SeaTac! Yes, I’m actually writing BEFORE I get on the plane, which has no WiFi. More awesome is my pre-planning on this, so I am the smug owner of both the most recent issue of Discovery and the most recent issue of the Economist. That plus hopefully some decent sleep will aid in the 9 hour flight to Heathrow, and the 2 hours down to Rome.

The verdict on the back/neck was essentially I’ve got degeneration in a joint and in a disc — so, um, I’m old. And apparently we fight age with muscle relaxants (which suck, because if I take one, I have to plan on not doing anything for 12 hours), anti-inflammatories (which suck less but the digestive tract does not like), and lots of Physical Therapy (which sucks because it means the nice PT dude pokes all the owie spots and makes them more owie).

I know I promised more on the Legal Fun, but since it turns out getting a Summer Schedule in place ran a tab of about $850, I think it’s safe to say I’m still in it, and won’t be out of it for a while, so maybe those blog posts can come in October or November. Hey, just in time to scare people for Halloween!

At the rate time is flying, though, that’s not long. The major milestones of the summer are flying by, Kevin and Margaret got married, STP has come and gone, our Leadership Summit has passed (short: YAY US! And… there’s a lot more to do); there’s this trip and then the next trip (fun trip!) and then camp and back to school and PTA and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

Net-net (and I say that because it makes the Editor cringe, and that looks almost like a smile on his face, so it’s nearly the same thing) this has brought me to the Big Decision to… Not get chickens. I just added on a running routine (to replace the cycling one), a knitting class, I still have a quilt, and I keep having to remember that in about a month I’ll be back in school, too. I think chickens may drive me nuts, as fun as they sound. In a way this feels like giving up, or maybe it’s just streamlining. The male person is not secretly relieved.

So. If you’re in Seattle and you’ve got chickens, I’d like to come help out once in a while, and buy some eggs off of you. The same way I like to occasionally go to the dog park to pet the pups but do not foresee another puppy for some time (Bulimikitty, I’m looking at you).

With that I sign off… as the long metal tube of the jetway beckons to the OTHER long metal tube that will take me to Olympic-land, and then to the land of caprese and carbonara. I can’t complain, try as I might :).

Lufthansa FTW

[from the flight two days ago…]

I’m sitting here in what *should* be the most awkward seat in flightdom: in this A330 the first row of economy-class seats past the bulkhead, left to right, is a line of 2, a line of 4, and then a line of 3. I’m in seat two of the four (so, middle-ish) and this wouldn’t be “awkward” but for the fact that, in the bulkhead row ahead of us, there are only 3 seats.

So there are only 3 video screens.

For 4 people.

I’m still not sure how it works completely but about an hour into the flight I managed to figure out I do not control the videoscreen to the front-left of me, but the front-right of me. This leaves it as an exercise for the class as to whether the person on my starboard side is screenless or owns the far-right screen, and the person on THEIR right thereby gets none?

Ergo, awkward.

And yet it totally has not been.

In a supreme display of German efficiency, although the plane boarded late we departed on time and are tracking ahead of schedule. Dinner (which was good!) was preceeded by drinks, had drinks, and complimentary after-dinner drinks (Bailey’s on ice, yo!), the wine came with an actual cork. In Economy.

I admit the leg room is wanting but I’m 5’10” and all my height is below the waist so it’s a bit unfair to judge.

As Lufthansa is German-based, the first language everything is in on this plane (think: signage, instructions, videos, etc.) is German. I have learned that Nouns in German are capitalized. So if I were to write in English like one would write in German, I would capitalize Nouns. It’s a bit jarring to read.

I am also getting one more stamp in my passport this trip of a country I haven’t previously been to: Germany. (Hence the Lufthansa flight). I’m stopping in Frankfurt on the way to Rome. As this is likely my last international trip before I must get my passport replaced, this is a nice lagniappe.

In my time with Expedia I have flown to Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Geneva, Paris, Lyon, Rome, and London. I drove to Vancouver for one meeting. And yet the bulk of my travel has been in the last two years – there was a stretch of a couple of years where the annual Vegas event was “it” for my work-based travel.

In all that time you think I’d have the foolproof formula to combat jetlag – but I don’t. It’s 4:20pm my time, shortly after 1am the place I’m going, and I know that I will not sleep enough on the flight to make up the delta. I have a day in Rome to purportedly get over this, and I can’t quite figure if I will do that or go sightseeing or lock myself in my hotel room and catch up on work.

But at least the flight in was sweet.

Rome in a Day (and a half)

This post is unfairly titled, because most of my time was spent in a (rather nice) office building. The perks of said office building include the Best! Espresso! Machine! Ever! And the fact that everyone is bilingual – at least – and kind.  I’m here to meet my team, and other teams that I/they work with; hopefully next time I can stay longer than two nights.

Outside of the office building is Rome, Italy.

Several things I suspected and now know:

  1. Roman food is good. Like really, really good. I had gnocchi twice one day. Pasta. Cheese. Saltimbocca. Chicoria. Baba. So glad I lost a pound before I left…
  2. House wine is good. For 4 Euro you get half a liter of something drinkable and amongst two of us we couldn’t finish it, because you ALSO get a big huge bottle of sparkling water.
  3. Bidets do exist here and they are a wacky piece of swank.
  4. My phone doesn’t work here without adding on international services, which the procurement area of my work completely failed to do, and so I ITCH without the ability to get email or make calls on my phone.
  5. The gym at my hotel is serviceable but not stellar. Having had gnocchi twice, though, I used the hell out of it.
  6. It’s completely safe to walk alone, at night, by myself, on the side of the road (Sunday night = everything dead in Rome (at least where I’m at, on the ‘way north end), so I had to walk a couple of miles to get dinner).
  7. Everybody likes the new government, and no one thinks it will last, because it’s too “reasonable”.

Things I did not suspect and now know:

  1. Coffee is WAY stronger than the strongest stuff Starbucks puts out. Two teeny coffees and I was literally zinging around.
  2. Italians have AMAZING depth perception. I will never again fear sitting in the male person’s Awesomely Huge Truck, because I have seen an Italian park 0.2cms away from the nearest car, back and front.
  3. There are no traffic rules here, particularly for pedestrians. Crossing the street means you make eye contact with oncoming traffic, and once you do, you walk into the street.
  4. Dinner is at 9 because no one leaves the office until 7 and no one gets in before 9. Commutes range from ½ to 2 hours to/from home, and people go to bed at midnight.
  5. Italian women can run, in stiletto-heeled boots, down an icy, cobblestone street, after the bus, and not kill themselves.
  6. There is a high percentage of home ownership here, which drives home prices UP as real estate is more often handed down than sold. An 80sqm apartment with no parking (call it 725 square feet) in the area I’m in goes for about half of a million Euro at lowest. Hence the commutes. People have to move out to own a home.
  7. I am a total princess and cannot handle staying in a hotel where the internet is dodgy at best. They handed me an Ethernet cable. It works some of the time. This plus my brick-of-a-phone makes me sad.

This trip I didn’t get much time to go out and about but I did manage to eat everything in sight and meet with people I needed (and wanted) to see. Later today I head via 3-hour flight to London, where I will have a completely new hotel and social experience. I am definitely coming back to Rome!