Tag Archives: travel

August bank holiday

The Summer Bank Holiday (also known as the August bank holiday) is in a couple of weeks. We have left it too late to book anything, and I was looking the other night at possible places where we could go for a short break, but everything was fully booked or stupidly expensive.

So I think we’re going to do the easy option, which is doing a couple of day visits to places nearby.

What have I got in mind?

The isle of Wight.

It is near enough but would entail a lot of travelling. We would have to drive to Southampton (approx. 45 minutes) and take the ferry to the Isle of Wight (depending on the ferry and service, it could be an extra hour journey). Then, once in the Isle of Wight I would like to go and see the Needles. I have already been on the island a couple of times when I was living in Portsmouth, but I always visited the east coast only. Ideally we would stop in a little village to have lunch, see the Needles and a bit more of the west coast and head back home. It sounds like a nice little trip, but there’s lots of travelling involved.

 

Oxford.

I have visited Oxford once before, when I was 19; but I must admit that I do not remember much. I visited with a girl that I was on my same English course, but she was a bit of a moaner, and she spent the whole trip complaining about something or other, which spoiled my day a bit. So I would like to go back and actually see it properly this time. It will probably be a bit busy with tourists, but I have learnt to ignore them.

Oxford is only an hour’s drive from us, with the added bonus of park and ride, which makes visiting a small town so much more convenient, so you don’t have to worry about car parking.

 

Wells.

Wells is probably the one the furthest away and would probably need an overnight stay to actually make the most of it. It is two hours drive away (that, when compared to the trip to the Isle of Wight, is actually not that much worse).

I had never heard of Wells until I watched the TV series of Pillars of the Earth. In the last episode they show an aerial view of what the fictitious cathedral would have looked like in modern times and, after asking around, I discovered that it was actually Wells cathedral and not a computer generated one.

I’ve got a thing for cathedrals (and castles), they fascinate me. I can spend hours looking at their structure, figuring out how they were built, with all the intricate details and  features. So finally visiting Wells cathedral would be awesome.

Good thing that I really love this country and I am happy to go anywhere to visit!

The visit to Bogotá

It seems that I will be spending my birthday in Colombia. I will be there for a week for work at the end of February.

To be honest, I didn’t fancy going at all. We leave on a Sunday at silly o’clock, arrive in Colombia in the evening and start work on the Monday morning for the next 5 days non-stop. Then we get a few hours free of the next Saturday morning, get the flight back and arrive in London again on the Sunday in the afternoon. It’s going to be a killer…

The other negative is that the reason that I am going is because they want me to act as an interpreter. I have told them again and again that I am not comfortable doing that. Several reasons, the most important one being the fact that all the work-related vocabulary that I know I learnt in English, I do not know those words and phrases in Spanish and trying to get me to translate would be as useful as having a dictionary with you – I may get the immediate translation but it may not make much sense in the context.

In addition to all of this, our parent company has got very strict rules when it comes to travelling to certain countries. They have put Colombia under “amber category”, which means that they don’t think it’s a safe place to go to, so they have put all of these systems in place that seem a bit ridiculous to me. For example, all taxis have to be booked by the local office and we are not allowed to walk around on our own, least of all at certain times of the day.

But I’ve started to come around it. Now that the tickets are booked and I have no way of getting out of it, I am trying to see the positives.

To start, we are travelling business class and this is going to br my first time ever! (and probably the last time too, judging by the prices). The plane and the service looks awesome and I am kind of hoping that those 11 hours fly by quickly (forgive the pun). I also have a window seat in all four flights (London-Paris, Paris-Bogotá, Bogotá-Paris and Paris-London). And the on-board entertainment looks good (I’ve already checked the films, and they have “Melancholia“, which I’m looking forward to watching)

Whilst in Bogotá I know that we will be looked after by the local office, and they will probably take us to decent restaurants and all, and with it being my birthday while we are there, I am pretty sure that it will be fun.

And the third positive about the whole thing is that I will be getting two or three days off in lieu.. Not bad 🙂

I suppose I will write a bit more about the trip after it’s happened; hopefully I’ll get to take a few pictures!

I’m kind of dreaming of a white Christmas

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know”

Well, kind of…

I’m loving the snow this year. Seeing the snowflakes fall, seeing it settle, kids on sledges, making snowmen… It’s really fantastic. Despite the cold weather, one can’t help but feel cheerful with such a white scene.

However, with the snow comes the travel chaos. Roads, trains and airports have been seriously disrupted for the last couple of days. And my main problem is that they are announcing more snowy weather for Christmas day. Yep, that is going to be a problem, because we are supposed to spend the day with the family and nobody knows if the roads are going to be okay for driving. And the following day we are seeing more family, everybody is supposed to be travelling that day… and of course, nobody would want anybody to risk their security by travelling in icy and snowy roads.

And finally, we still don’t know the forecast for New Year. Is it going to keep snowing? I am supposed to be on a plane to visit my family in Spain for the first time since last Christmas, and despite the fact that I am not 100% looking forward to that little break, I am not looking forward to the travelling chaos either. I already had enough of that last year when we were stranded in Malaga’s airport* for 15 hours because of the snow in the UK (*and I don’t know about the brand new terminal in Malaga’s airport, but the old one was terrible – overpriced drinks, food and no entertainment at all)

Gatwick-Airport-has-closed-due-to-snow

So yeah, snow is gorgeous and fun when you are at home, playing with it in your back garden, when you have got plenty of food and drink supplies in your fridge and you really don’t need to go anywhere. Say you have to leave your house for anything, then you’re f*cked!

I survived my one-day trip to Madrid

Earlier last week the managing director of my company approached me and asked me if I could help with something important. He told me what the situation was and made me a proposal.

The situation.
The very first KNX International Forum was taking place in Madrid that week. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the CEO of our company -who originally was the one to attend- had to cancel and our managing director was going to attend in his place. Due to even more unforeseen circumstances, the managing director could not attend either. Apparently, anyone else was simply too busy to even think about going.

The proposal.
The proposal was that I did go and make the presentation on behalf of the company. Why me? Apparently, the main reason why they chose me is because I am Spanish!

Hell!

My first reaction was “Thanks, but no thanks” (actually, it was also more like “No fucking chance“) but after speaking for a while with our managing director, I kind of changed my mind. On one side, I felt I didn’t want to let the company down, and on the other, I thought it was the opportunity that I had been waiting for to do a bit of geeky KNX networking myself.

This proposal brought up the eternal dichotomy in me: I am an extrovert but I am also very introvert. I am cheeky and I am shy. I am talkative and I am quiet. I want to believe that I think positive, but sometimes I am negative. I kept thinking that the negative side of me would take over and that made me nervous. Very nervous.

But then I thought: Come on. You’re 32 years old now. You’re not a little girl any more. You don’t need anyone by you all the time holding your hand. Be strong, be brave.

My conditions to accept this proposal were two:
– I wanted to go as late as possible (I landed at 7pm) and I wanted to be back as soon as possible too (I was back in Barajas by 1pm the following day)
– The presentation had to be done in English. There was no way I was to talk about KNX for half an hour in Spanish. No chance.
My conditions were accepted and a few hours later I was on a plane to Madrid!

This has been the very first time that I have been to Spain in a no-holiday situation. Since I left for the UK, I’ve only been back “home” for holidays and little breaks to see friends. I’ve been to Malaga, Motril, Granada, Alicante, Valencia, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, and every time I went there I was in holiday mood. This time, however, I felt different. I felt like an important business woman in an important mission. I was looking back at my own country with different eyes, I was noticing different and exciting things.

The expercience was unique and really positive. I did my geeky networking around, I met some interesting people, I learnt a few things about speaking in public and everybody congratulated me after I had delivered my speech.

Now it’s done I can say: Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. However I am not completely sure that I want to see myself in that same spot any time soon.