Friday, February 10, 2006

Not what I would call a European Vacation!!

Last week was my European trip. I would not call this a vacation, but it turned out to be GREAT. It has taken me the whole week to recover (including 4 days in Monrovia - it is nice to be home).

We started off the trip with a flight to Milan via Frankfurt. We left on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Milan at 2pm Monday. This was just in time to get to the hotel (45 minutes), take a quick shower, take about a 45 minute nap, and head into the offices in the Domo area (30 minutes) so that I could meet with two reporters for local technical periodicals. Not sure what they got out of the meeting - guess we will see when they write their articles. Then it was out to dinner with the folks there in Italy along with the rest of the group that was doing the European roadshow. We got back to the hotel at about 11:00pm.

Up the next morning for breakfast at 7:30 and to the Sun offices for our first day of the roadshow. This was the smallest group. There were about 30 customers. We did our presentations and met with customers during the breaks and at lunch. Then it was off to the airport for our flight to Amsterdam. We arrived in Amsterdam at about 11:00pm and after a nearly hour long cab ride we arrived at our hotel in Amersfoort. After a short call home - got to bed at about 1:00am.

Next morning up again at the same time and off to the offices. The day went similarly with the exception of more people (more like 65) and a much more interactive audience (better English speakers). There were three reporters there. I managed to spend time with each of them together and separately. Then back to the airport and off to Paris. We arrived in Paris at about 9:30 and drove to the hotel. It was a very cool drive as we headed down Champs Elysees straight toward the Arc de Triomphe. This was the most sightseeing we did the whole trip:) We got to the roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe and headed off to our hotel. We got there about 10:00, met downstairs for a drink at 10:30 and headed up to our rooms at about 11:30.

Next morning the same thing, only this time I had a customer meeting at 8:00am. Then it was the regular presentations and finally off to a customer site - Carefoure, the equivalent of the Walmart of Europe. Great meetings with the customers. Things went well enough that we almost missed our train to Brussles. The drive was just over an hour from the customer meeting. There was soooo much traffic that we finally got out of the car and ran down the streets to the train station. We ran to the train, got on the closest car (they didn't want us to since it was not our car), and two minutes later the doors closed and we were off. We had to huck our bags through the whole train to our car in the front. We arrived in Brussels at about:00, headed down for a drink and got to bed at around 11:30.

Next day the same, but with a bigger crowd (about 80 - forgot to mention that this was also the case in Paris). We did the same, fitting in three customer meetings and then off to the airport again. This time it was back to Frankfurt where I stayed over night and took a plane out the next morning.

So that was it - pretty busy. Great customer interactions. Tired but pumped up. No chance to get a workout in (except in Frankfurt on the way home - very nice gym). My body can't handle this on a weekly basis, but I would do it again in a minute - next year. In the meantime, we will be doing a US roadshow and then one in Japan / Asia. Not sure which I will do. And I will need to take a trip to India likely in April.

Good news is that with all of these miles, we have just booked a vacation to Europe ...