From tapas to schnitzel

This week it’s Germany for a quick overnight. Düsseldorf and Essen and home again.

After Spanish week last week where time operated on a different spectrum, meetings started and finished when they liked and I still don’t understand Barcelona, it was nice to see an orderly queue and depart almost on time. We, as a nation, are certainly more Northern than Southern European.

Arriving in Essen, we discovered a men’s club/bar/restaurant and ordered a dinner surprise.

The menu was in German and the waitress didn’t speak much English, we spoke no German and so a large schnitzel covered in curry sauce with slices of sausage, fries and a salad arrived. It was massive!

I didn’t make it through the schnitzel as it was the size of my shoe but the sausage wasn’t bad which came as a huge surprise as I’m very wary of miscellaneous meat. If I’d been hungover, it would have been an epic cure!

And so to bed where my stomach may regret the meal but so far so good in Germany.

I wonder what’s for breakfast!

Delayed in Barcelona

After another few meetings it was mission accomplished and we set off to the airport.

We thought we’d arrived too early but it seemed we needed every minute to get through the line of shame, Other Passports where everyone else with third world passports appeared to be queuing to get through passport control.

Eventually we made it through (our Italian colleague having had a three course meal on the other side during the wait) to discover an inevitable delay. Travel these days is not fun or glamorous and involves a lot of hanging around complaining.

Eventually (an hour or so later) we were allowed to board, to return to the Island of Discontent where apparently today everyone was on strike and tomorrow everyone else is.

As I boarded the plane, the icing on the cake, I was told my seat had changed. I don’t like sitting past row 15 for speedy exit reasons and so row 33 really wasn’t going to cut it after three days of meetings, late nights and delays. Apparently the plane wasn’t full so the weight was being redistributed.

I decided that my 125lbs wasn’t going to make a huge difference to the balance of the aircraft and so I rebelled and sat in my original seat and hoped we didn’t fly tilted on one side. I kept my head down in case anyone asked.

And so that’s Spain done. Easier than last time but still exhausting. Lessons can be learned about how Spanish time is not the same as English time (add two or three hours) and will we ever find a nice hotel in Barcelona?! I was only in my room for six hours though so perhaps not essential.

Next week it’s Germany followed by a day trip to Rugby as the 2023 Dog and Pony European Tour continues.

Coruna to Barcelona

A 10pm departure became a 10:30pm departure which meant getting to bed did not happen until very late. And so it was around 1:30am local time before I sank into bed and turned off the light.

With a 9am departure, another full day of meetings ahead and an evening flight back to London, I’m going to need all the energy I can muster.

Day three of the Dog and Pony show is about to begin…

Spain day two

Eight meetings later and we were waiting to go from A Coruna, the hardest place in Spain to get to, to Barcelona.

So far I haven’t missed a meal and even managed to do yoga this morning so things are much improved from previous trips!

I’m not a fan of late flights and tonight we have a 10pm departure. Not late by Spanish standards but certainly past my bedtime by the time we arrive.

Spain again

This week, the Dog and Pony show goes to Spain.

I was given the option (if that’s what it was) of a 3:45am pickup to get a 7:30am flight from Gatwick. I was sure it would only take an hour but with the thought of a terrible few hours of sleep getting up somewhere between 3:30 and 4am, I decided to stay overnight at Glamorous Gatwick.

I booked into the Bloc Hotel, located right next to departures in the South Terminal, this seemed genius. The hotel consists of sleep pods rather than rooms and so, arriving at 8pm after a very easy journey, I felt quite smug as I watched Crufts and went to bed.

It wasn’t the best sleep despite being an excellent plan as the bathroom fan was running all night but at least I didn’t get up until 5:45am so a much improved itinerary.

And so with that, I was off to Spain for three days of back-to-back meetings!

The European Tour

I am back on the European tour for the next few weeks.

This week was Brussels and Antwerp where snow was falling and Eurostar was cancelled!

It had all started very well and I declared my new favourite way to travel was Business class to Brussels on Eurostar. So relaxed, so easy, all served with a nice meal in a quiet carriage sitting in a solo seat. Lovely.

It all went a bit downhill from there. An average hotel where I had a mini suite (good) which smelled a bit of sewage (bad). The bedroom was ok (laminate floor), the bathroom had no heating (why? freezing!).

The food was quite horrible and border-line dangerous with half heated meals still frozen in the middle. An average rating but better than a youth hostel!

And so to work. Meetings all went well (the reason for travelling) and we were off to Antwerp when a sudden ping changed the mood.

French rail workers were on strike and this was causing disruptions to travel throughout the region.

Eurostar was no longer my favourite mode of transport as our return train was cancelled and there were no trains for the next two days. Would we be stuck in Antwerp in the snow for the weekend? Not if I had anything to do with it.

I spent the next few hours emailing various people and after a bit of corporate panic as we have to book through a corporate travel agency and get corporate approvals before booking, we had flights home. Had anyone heard of LuxAir? No, but that didn’t matter.

A good day was then spent researching in Antwerp where I motivated the team with an objective, an itinerary and a deadline (whip crack) and we hit every independent boutique possible.

With that mission accomplished, we set off to the tiny airport in Antwerp, hopped over to London City in an hour and was home by 9pm. Job done.

And so after three nights at home, I’m on the Gatwick Express as we’re heading to Spain for the next exciting instalment!