I know crazy.. but it feels like it’s been a LONG time since I last traveled, and when I look at my progress toward Gold status on United for 2019… Indeed the year is over and I haven’t traveled anywhere yet. So the trip that came up to Dusseldorf took on a new importance, beyond just team building and connecting with the teammates I had never met on the contract I am working on. As I typically do, I planned a weekend excursion to Paris on the way to Germany to round out the trip. And indeed, it looks like this is the only international trip for work I’ll be taking this year. I’ll cover all my 2019 travel here.
Last year you may recall, my team at IBM got swept up into a North America wide reorganization where IBM decided to focus attention on North America, and therefore my team which had been about a dozen of us, were all reallocated from Global Business Services division to North American division. That is all of us including our manager except two people Logan and myself.
We were left on the GBS team and floundering for leadership.. In fact we have changed managers 6 times in the past 12 months, and our manager, Rusty, who I had worked for since starting IBM was moved out, eventually leaving IBM, his manager, whom we were initially put under, also ended up leaving IBM. I don’t really need to go into the nitty gritty, but to say it has not been smooth sailing.
So both Logan and I were thrilled when the ISS contract in Germany needed our help. We had helped ISS (a leading workplace experience/facilities management company) with other parts of their implementation before (trips for me to Austria and London/Copenhagen), but this was a new client that is being incorporated into TRIRIGA, and would be a multi year project. So ISS contracted us for 2019 and looks now like we will be full time support for them through 2020.. Yay!
Felix, the ISS Project Manager, scheduled a team building week for us to all get to know each other and work on specific issues. Definitely helpful as we kick this off. The week long trip would be in Dusseldorf, where the client headquarters are.
For the most part this 2019 travel adventure was all work related. But we did get out a couple times to showcase the town.
Night one Felix took us “Bouldering”. I wasn’t too confident that I could do this without hurting myself, but wanted to participate in the team.. So I decided to be “the team photographer” and so documented the event on film.
On the second evening we went up the Rhine tower, an icon of Dusseldorf and had a team dinner in the rotating restaurant and watched the sunset.. Perfect.
On the final evening of this 2019 travel adventure, the gang went old town Dusseldorf, known as “the longest bar in the world” and found a traditional Germany restaurant for dinner in old Town. Braueris Schmacher reportedly is the oldest home brewery in Dusseldorf (1838). Starting with happy hour at Killepitsch Stube, where they sell Killepitch a local Dusseldorf Herbal Liqueur.
I had to leave Thursday while everyone else stayed until Friday because of our plans to travel to Miami.. I blog about that on our other blog (Eek, I haven’t written that yet.. Hopelessly behind!).
I even put together a Youtube Video from the week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_LrT0861U0&t=4s
When Felix decided we should all be in Dusseldorf, I immediately began to consider where I could take my 2019 travel side trip. I was considering a few options, but then… Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned down. I immediately knew where I had to go.. Paris.
I have been to Paris before, but I think it was 25 years ago or so.
This is a special time in the history of that building. I went to Paris to see Notre Dame in a state that it has never been seen before (with 800 years of history) and never will be seen again, since already efforts to repair the icon are underway.
The first thing I did when I hit the hotel was to take a train downtown, grab a crepe from a street vendor and walk completely around Notre Dame. They didn’t allow you to get very close, but it was still very interesting.
While I was downtown, I also grabbed the opportunity to go up the Eiffel Tower. I’m not sure I had been to the very top before, but I did so this trip. Unfortunately while in line it started raining, and the whole city was socked in by the time I got to the top. I had hauled my good camera and huge lens all the way to Europe, just for this event, but it was less that inspiring.
Logan wanted me to take a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower with my MAGA hat on, so I did, just for him. He said it didn’t count because he didn’t see crowds of angry people trying to harass me… But frankly anywhere in the world I have opened a conversation about American Politics results in interesting results. Paris was no different, and half the people love Trump and half the people hate him… Pretty much like the US. But I aim to keep the politics out of my blogs, so I leave it at that.
Arc de Triomphe/Champs Elysee
Another favorite of mine in Paris, although I didn’t get there on this trip, other than to pass by in my Uber which is impressive enough. Just difficult to take photos.
Just by coincidence my colleague from work, who had traveled to Brazil with me before and had been on my team from the beginning. Well, she was no longer on my team due to the above mentioned reorganization, but she just happened to call for some help on an issue, and we were chatting about when to meet again when she said she couldn’t in 2 weeks because she was going to be on vacation. I asked where her 2019 travel would be taking her, and she replied Spain, although she was going to take a weekend side trip to Paris. Wow! Really?? I’m going to Paris too!
Our timing almost could not have been more exact. Yohanna, her husband, Igor, and their daughter, Ellie, arrived a few hours after I did, and left a few hours after I did. My AirBnB got cancelled at the last minute, due to some maintenance problem or something, but then I just booked into their hotel. So We got to spend two days running around Paris together… Fun.
Paris Opera House
While Igor, Yohanna and Ellie were in their evening Uber ride, Ellie (6 years old) spotted the Paris Opera house, which she recognized from the Disney animated file “Leap”. She desperately wanted to go, so we got that on the agenda and toured the building, although I think she was disappointed because in the movie the little girl goes to the opera house and gets to rummage through the costumes ultimately wearing her favorite.to dance on stage. Ellie kept us moving from room to room searching for the costumes…
Yet another favorite place of mine is Sacre Coeur cathedral and Artist square. So we went and visited the cathedral and waled over to the square, although the artists square was very different than I remembered it. But I guess this is why we come back. I still think this is the most beautiful building in Paris!
Evening Bike/Boat Tour
On Saturday evening I had booked a Bike/Boat tour around Paris. This turned our to be fantastic. There were only 2 other girls and I with our guide.. Very personal. The bike had only one gear, and were a little spooky to ride, especially in the busy Paris streets, and in the drizzling rain as we started out..
We basically rode for 20 minutes or so to where we got on the boat. Then while we were on the boat tour of the Seine the weather cleared, and by the time we got back to the bikes, the evening was beautiful and the riding was no longer on the streets. I ended up very glad I took this tour.
This actually wasn’t the ONLY work travel I had this year. 2019 travel included a quick trip in November to the capital of Pennsylvania. And by quick trip, I mean, flew out there on Wednesday, arriving at midnight, working the following day, and heading back to the airport at 4pm to fly home… Quick trip. But refreshing to get out anyway, and enjoyed working on a different project, with a focus that is my expertise. Fun stuff.