Back from Europe

What on earth made me think that travelling TWENTY TWO THOUSAND MILES for a three-day trip would be a good idea? @-)

My company was too cheap to pay for a full business class fare this time, so I opted for Virgin Atlantic’s “Premium Economy” service — which I can highly recommend. Unfortunately this meant having to fly out from Sydney, rather than Melbourne, adding an extra one hour domestic flight at each end of the journey.

I flew via Hong Kong but unfortunately didn’t get to see anything other than the airport which was clean, modern and efficient. I had 90 minutes to kill before the second leg, so I had a coffee and made use of the complimentary wireless access to catch up on email and make a few calls.

After another 10 hour flight I arrived at London Heathrow which seemed dirty, run-down and, from what I could see, staffed entirely by Poles. It took over an hour to get through passport control, thanks to the jobsworths operating the new security scanners — my small bag of toiletries, which was OK at the previous three airports, was suddenly a potential terror risk in London. They also forced me to squeeze my laptop into my other small carry-on bag, despite allowing other people to have “one item of hand luggage” the size of a house. =((

So I ended up with only 20 minutes to buy newspapers & crisps for Sara, and sink a swift pint of Marston’s Pedigree (it was 6:20am, they looked at me as if I was a Glasweigian tramp when I asked for it!) before boarding my short Lufthansa flight to Munich. After a white-knuckle taxi ride from the airport (they have no speed limits at all on the autobahn, so the driver pushed his old Merc past 220km/h!) I arrived at my hotel at about 10:30am — exactly 36 hours after setting off from Melbourne! (:|

Munich itself is a beautiful place, with lots of interesting old buildings and modern architecture. Although I was tired out, I thought it would be best to try to stay awake all day to reduce the jet lag. So I pottered around town, had an early dinner and a few beers before turning in for the night. BING! I was wide awake three hours later, completely unable to get back to sleep. Jet lag sucks. |-)

I met up with other delegates from different subsidiaries on Monday, had a tour of the company headquarters and datacentre, as well as meeting face-to-face with some people who I regularly speak to by e-mail. In the evening I met up with a bloke from the London office for a curry and a few Weissbiers. :”>

On Tuesday evening I went out with a group of staff from the C-IT department in Munich. They were good hosts, taking time to show us the sights and explaining some of the historic buildings. They took us to the Schrannenhalle (a bit like the old Beer Keller in Manchester) for traditional Bavarian-style food, drink and entertainment. Superb stuff. On the way back to the hotel it snowed, which was a real novelty for me! :d

After several more meetings on Wednesday, I started my trip back to Australia. This time I decided to take a couple of sleeping tablets at the start of each long flight. That really worked for me, knocking me out as soon as I’d had dinner and a drink. I managed to sleep for 6 hours on the first leg and 10 on the second, arriving in Sydney on Friday morning feeling relatively fresh. :-< Today we've just chilled out in the garden (after unsuccessfully trying to find Andy & Johanne at Lysterfield Lake Park). It's a lovely 27 degrees today, the trip back to Europe really made me re-appreciate the weather down here. BBQ tonight! Tomorrow Sara and I plan to have a relaxing picnic in Jell’s Park (with English Sunday papers and magazines!) — anyone care to join us?

Edit: A special thank-you to John & Jack who came out to rescue Sara when the burglar alarm went off while I was away, and to Marian for checking that Sara was OK afterwards.