After 42 years, The California Angels are going to the World Series! Watched most of the final game - although I managed to MISS the inning where they scored TEN runs - and called Dad afterwards to celebrate. Gene Autry must be smiling.
Other than that, my weekend has been very quiet. Went to see The House yesterday - I was impressed that at 5:00 p.m. on a Saturday, there were six guys working. A lot has been done, but of course there's still a lot to go. The stucco should be finished next week and drywall has been started.
Today was grey and drizzly, so I just relaxed at home with Ms Suki. Still not quite adjusted to the time change, but I'm very glad to be home. This was a very busy trip:
Saturday, 5 October
Our car service picked me up at 5:00 to take me to Newark airport for my flight to London. Yes, I could have flown from Philly, but since British Air was offering a cool 25,000 bonus miles to fly out of Newark, I figured I would take the time to go there and recoup some of the air miles I'll be using to go to PNG next year.
So, TWO HOURS later, we arrived at Newark. Ed, the driver, got lost. I had a lovely, scenic drive through New Hope and Morristown, and luckily had plenty of time before my 9:00 p.m. flight so it wasn't a problem.
I checked in and went to the lounge and had some dinner - lamb curry and a selection of cheeses. We boarded our plane - a 777 - and I settled in. British Airways' Business Class seats recline FLAT, so after about an hour in the air I was asleep.
Sunday, 6 October
I awoke when they turned on the lights about an hour and change before landing. I decided that keeping my eyes closed was better than anything they would be serving for breakfast, so I dozed for another 45 minutes or so. I got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep - not bad for a transatlantic crossing. Those 9:00 p.m. flights are much better than the 6:00 p.m. ones.
We arrived in London early - nearly an hour ahead of time! Usually that necessitates the plane having to fly lazy circles around Southern England until our original landing time. But the pilot came on and said that they were trying something new and if we all worked together and got ready in twenty minutes, they would let us land ahead of time. We did - and we did! Unfortunately, if the flight is early, there are never any gates availabvle, so they parked us at a "remote stand" and bussed us in. I have become a pro at transiting through LHR, so I found my way from Terminal 4 to Terminal 1, went through security and had an espresso in the BA Lounge.
My flight to Cologne was finally announced and I went to the gate, where there were NO gate agents. Not good. The lines formed and I waited until the crowd thinned. When I got through the gate, they put us on a bus and drove us to a plane that was - I'm not kidding - TWO planes away from the one I had left about an hour and a half before.
It was a quick flight - about an hour - but they served a nice cold chicken salad for lunch. We landed in Cologne around 1:30 and I retrieved my suitcase, found the ATM machine and caught a cab to my hotel.
We stayed at the Hyatt, a very nice hotel across the river from the Cologne Cathedral. I left a message for my client, Maura, had a cup of tea and a nice hot bath. Maura called around 4:30 and we met down in the lobby to walk into town for a while. Unfortunately, Sunday was the day of the Cologne Marathon and the finish line was in the square next to the cathedral. We waded through the crowds and went into the church. Even with the overcast weather, the stained glass windows were magnificent.
We walked through the pedestrian shopping streets, but most things were closed, so we had to be satisfied with window shopping. We noticed that many of the stores had displays for Halloween, which I've always thought of an an American holiday. It was pretty blustery and after an hour or so, we went into a little pub to warm up. After we thawed, we ventured out and found an Italian restaurant that had a lovely antipasto display. We were the first people in there - around 7:00 p.m. - but by the time we left it was packed. We walked back across the river to the hotel. I tried to get my computer hooked, up but couldn't get a connection.
Monday, 7 October
I met Maura and our London broker, Andy, in the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Afterwards, we checked out and caught a taxi to our meeting. After the meeting and lunch, we went to the train station and tried to get an earlier train to Hannover, but everything was sold out. We had a cup of coffee at a little restaurant while we waited. The train trip took nearly three hours - not exactly an express.
It was the first time I had been to Hannover and I was surprised at the wooded parklands surrounding the city center. We checked into our hotel and freshened up before dinner. We met our reinsurer in the lobby of the hotel and talked business for a while before heading to the restaurant. It was located in a renovated stable with a high, arched brick ceiling - very nice. Two other reinsurers met us for dinner and we had a lovely meal.
Tuesday, 8 October
We awoke early to get to the airport for our 9:00 flight to Zurich. There was frost on the ground - brrr. Once we checked in, I searched the airport shops to see if I could find some German batteries that we can't get in the states - no luck. Our plane was a 50 seat jet for our 55 minutes flight to Switzerland. They served us breakfast - with real china and silverware! It's been a long time since I've seen that on a plane.
We arrived in Zurich and caught a cab to our meeting. It wasn't a fun time, but lunch in their private dining room was quite tasty. Afterwards we headed back to the airport where Andy ran into two of his colleagues from London before our Swiss Air flight to Paris. A quick flight, and into a cab to sit in Parisian traffic.
But we had a surprise - the cab driver was actually NICE. He even thought it was funny. He said, "You can tell your friends that you found something unheard of in Paris - a friendly cab driver." He gave us commentary about the traffic, the areas of the city, the history of Montmarte and Sainte Chapelle, and the new football stadium, so we didn't mind the traffic jams nearly as much.
We got to our hotel and freshened up before dinner. We went to a place that I've been to several times before as it is right across the street from my client's office. It was very nice and relaxing since we didn't have any reinsurers to discuss business with. After dinner we phoned Andy's colleague Tim, who was also in Paris. We agreed to meet him outside his restaurant, about a ten minute walk. We met Tim, his clients and his associates and took cabs to Harry's Bar, a rather infamous American bar. We had a nightcap and talked and laughed, getting back to the hotel around 11:00.
Wednesday, 9 October
We met for breakfast and then checked out. Our first meeting was right down the street, and it went very well. After our visit they arranged to have us driven to our next meeting, which was across town near the Opera. We had our meeting and walked to a local retaurant for lunch. As we were sitting, another group came to the table behind us - including two people from my office in Philadelphia! What a small world!
After lunch we headed to Gare du Nord to wait for our Eurostar train to London. While we waited, we ran into two of the guys that were out with us the night before - again, a small world.
I hadn't been on the Eurostar before - it takes three hours to get from Paris to London's Waterloo station. We had Second Class seats, which was, in retrospect, a mistake, since they don't recline and were rather uncomfortable. We also had a Jamaican guy and a woman from New York who sat behind us and talked loudly the ENTIRE WAY. After we "landed", we said goodbye to Andy for the night and found a cab to our hotel, The Dukes. The is the same place I stayed two weeks ago, and where Maura and I have been staying for many years. It is small and quiet, located near the Mayfair section of town.
After we checked in and got settled, we went for a short walk to have dinner. I had asked the hotel to recommend a good place for Chinese just to have something different after all of the rich German and French food we had eaten. They suggested China Garden, a five minute walk. It was very nice, and a good change of pace. We ate, walked back to the hotel and hit they hay.
Thursday, 10 October
Up for breakfast and then into The City. We were early - surprisingly little traffic - so we went to a Starbucks to wait for our first meeting. We met Andy and were walking to our first meeting when our friend Keith spotted us and stopped to say hello - we hope to catch up with him in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks.
Meeting, meeting, meeting, lunch, meeting, meeting, meeting.
Once finished, we headed back to the hotel before dinner. Unfortunately, some of the power lines had been cut, so the electricity and water service was interrupted. I checked in with the office, then went for a stroll to see if I could find those German batteries, but no luck. I met Maura at 7:10 for our one block walk to the restaurant.
We went to a place called "Just" and had dinner with our old friends Jim and Lynn. We had known both of them for years when Jim worked in the US - he's been over in London for 18 months. Andy and I had run into them in Monte Carlo and agreed to try to find time for dinner during our London visit - what fun! It was great to catch up.
Friday, 11 October
After breakfast we went to the "old" Marsh Centre - we drove past the new building which will be finished within the next couple of months - to meet with the client servicing representative on Maura's account. We also had the chance to catch up with a couple of people we know in the office. We had two more meetings, and then headed back to the office where Andy had kindly arranged for a driver to take us to the airport.
We got to Heathrow around 1:00 and the driver dropped me off at Terminal 4 before taking Maura to Terminal 3 - I'm flying BA and she's on United. I checked in and went to the lounge and read until my flight was called.
An uneventful, albeit long, flight to Newark. Very nice crew, however - very attentive and they gave me a blanket from First Class when I asked for an extra one. Watched "Minority Report" and part of "Insomnia" on the video service. Apparently "Insomnia" wasn't enough to hold my interest since I fell asleep.
It was raining when we landed, but I found my driver with no problem. We made it down to Philly in about an hour and a half, and I was greeted by an enthusiastic Ms. Suki around 9:30 p.m.
[I can unpack the suitcase for a whole two weeks.]
~ ~ ~
Quote du jour:
"Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical."
-- Yogi Berra (1925 - ____) US baseball player, manager
previous ~ home ~ next