Wednesday, May 18, 2005

South Beach, Miami

I have never felt so out of place... so many beautiful people it is really strange, irritating in some ways!

Stayed at the Hotel Victor, a boutique hotel that Hyatt is running. Very South Beach... it is kind of like staying at a nightclub instead of just going to one... very neat, fun, but definitely out there. If I were staying in South Beach, I would definitely stay here... but it is a destination unique unto its own. Check out the photos on the website (pool area is very cool by the way, my favourite part of the hotel).

South Beach is... boring. A beach, great architecture but then all there is to do is eat, drink and watch people. There are a few shops off the main strip and in fact there are two cool shopping areas called Espanola Way and Lincoln Road, but they are far from the strip and not very big. Worst part was that meals are incredibly expensive and they include the gratuity... which would be ok if the service was good, but it generally has sucked, as has the food. In the future, I don't recommend eating at any of the restaurants on Ocean Drive at all. Generally, they suck (although I hear the restaurant at the Hotel Victor is yummy).

My appointment today canceled so I am doing work in my room as it started raining. Sucks. I'm sure it will be sunny by time I leave... oh well...


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Changi International Airport - Singapore

Last night went to have fish head curry for dinner... it was good! Apparently it is a famous Singaporean dish, we went to a very nice modern restaurant - it was actually just a big fish whose head was still on in a big bowl with curry and rice... mmm good!

Got back to the room and had all kinds of calls and emails, did not get to bed until 1am and had to get up at 5:30am. Totally sucked. I am working way too hard and I am going to get sick if I keep this up, I am glad I am on my way home to Chicago. I totally understimated how difficult it is to get work done in Asia when you're based in the U.S., the time zone is very difficult and everyone needs everything yesterday - literally, because it is the next day by the time you get their emails. And if you stay up at night, it is easy to get caught up in email hell with no sleep.

At least I will be able to sleep on the flight... thank goodness! I may fall asleep before we even take off...

Next stop in 7 hours is - HELP ME - Tokyo Narita airport. See earlier posting... YUCK!

Ciao for now...

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Too much time by the pool... I'm sunburned! Oh well, not bad but not good either.

Today was interesting, lots of people on the streets. I saw

  • "Actors" parading down the street in Egyptian wear doing an advertisement for a special on the Discovery Channel
  • A fashion show for Levi's literally in the middle of a crowd, they were having to move around people to do their stuff.... as if people would really have their hair done up in the way these people did!
  • A Japanese television show in the middle of a crowd on the corner of a street. They kept pointing to Tashimaya, the big Japanese department store.

Funny. When I went into Tashimaya, their food court was just disgusting, the most unappetising food I have ever seen. I finally chose these "tomato" noodles... turned out they used KETCHUP, not tomato sauce... I threw it away, it was so gross.

I DID eat in a very cool place. There is a mall called Paragon and in it a store called BloodBrothers (which incidentally has great clothes). Behind it is a little café called "Blood Brothers Café" and it is veggie and very cool, literally a place in the back of a clothing store. Totally would go back, maybe tomorrow!

So I hung by the pool and walked around and did a little shopping. Tomorrow I will do more window shopping, work out and actually do some work (unfortunately)....


The weekend! Hooray!

I slept 11 hours last night... must have needed it, woke up around 9am. I went to a barbeque at the Director of Marketing's new home last night, it was neat to be at a residence instead of a hotel... nice pool and the food was a great mix of Indonesian, Malay and Indian. Yummy! Stayed for a few beers and then came home and crashed...

Today I am downloading a CD to my new iShuffle, then I am going to the pool and just catch some rays. I had the opportunity to go to Bangkok this weekend, or even Bali, but I decided I should save those trips to go with someone special. I really would like to come back here, go to Bali and see Borobudur/Yogyakarta, and then maybe hit Australia again. Perhaps this winter that could be the big vacation...

I come home on Thursday and I can't wait to get back. It has been a long trip, productive at least from learning about the system and how well I've prepared or not prepared, but good nonetheless. So I'm pretending like I'm on vacation this weekend... so, off to the pool...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Kuala Lumpur / Singapore

What a fascinating place, I really liked K.L. a lot. I'm back in Singapore but I had to jot down some things to remember:

  • Their version of English is riddled with misspellings, it is strange: Sentral Station, Ekspress Train, Indian Restaran, etc. Easy to understand but a little strange to get used to.
  • Infrastructure is very modern but the city is a combination of wealth and grittiness. It was strange to be in a city that on one side had a bus station that is everyone's third-world nightmare and a modern subway that you can take to a slick, modern and beautiful airport. Shopping at Petaling street was for RM$20 (that's US$6) fake Cartier watches or at the KLCC mall at Petronas Towers where you can buy a real Cartier just like in any upscale mall.
  • Hot. The temperature said 91 but it felt much hotter, like 100. People just lie or sit under trees and do nothing to keep cool. At one mosque you can see people just lying flat on the floor to keep cool!
  • I wish the Islamic fundamentalists would come to K.L. You see such a large number of Muslim women (due to their dress, I assume there are many men also) who are along with Christian and Bhuddists, a very mixed society. It felt strange to see Malaysian (ie, Asian) women wearing Islamic headdresses, so many of them!
  • Very few bars here, hard to find any at all. This is probably because of the Muslim influence.

That is all I can remember for now, but I really enjoyed how unusual and different it was. Now I'm back in Singapore for another week of work...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Changi International Airport - Singapore

Waiting for my flight (delayed) to Kuala Lumpur. Great airport... very clean, lots of plants, tons of shopping and different types - not just duty free (snooze) but also a very nice Singapore souvenir shop, tons of ethnic eateries... and free copies of the Financial Times and free internet. Nice perks while watiting.

Tired, looking forward to getting to the hotel... flight is less than an hour long. I was going to go to the pool, but a torrential rain storm started so I worked out instead. I feel like I live here - rarely do I get to be at one place for so long, it is rather nice. I'm pretty familiar with the streets and the metro now, although Singapore isn't that big so it isn't hard to get to that point, I suppose.

Tomorrow it is supposed to hit 95 degrees in Kuala Lumpur. Ouch, that will be hot!

Today I did some shopping and got not only some souvenirs but I splurged and bought an iShuffle. I don't need an iPod as I won't listen to it much, but I wanted this for just quick trips to help kill time, plus it is easier to carry when traveling instead of Cds.

Time to board the flight... next stop, Kuala Lumpur!

Finally a day off!

Last night, Nora took me to the Novena area of Singapore, which is more residential, to a kind of fast food restaurant - but it was an Indian vegetarian place. It was called Komala's. Like at McDonald's they have individual selections or a value meal, which included your main dish, a drink (coffee, tea or hot milk) plus a side dish of curry mashed potatoes and either chick peas or beans. As I look at my receipt, I chose value meal B2 with a main dish of Orawa Masal with coffee. It was good! I thought that would be a great idea State side if more people liked Indian food...

We took the doubledecker bus back to the hotel and as we sat down, I noticed that there was a television in the bus! You can watch tv as you make your way to your destination... interesting idea.

Singapore is just a hopping, shopping place. I'd but the bustling meter right up there with New York and London - night and day, people are EVERYWHERE. Intense.

Today I plan on doing the Singaporean thing - shopping - then to hang by the pool and take a nap. I decided to buy a quick plane flight to Kuala Lumpur (locals call it K.L. for short) and will stay at the new Le Meridien there tonight, then spend the day there tomorrow before coming home. Very easy, can take the train to/from the airport at both places, and the flight is only an hour long including the taxiing and everything - just too easy. Why not?!

Ok, I am off to start my day...

Komala's in Singapore Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Working my butt off here, tonight I had three conference calls 8pm,9pm and midnight, but I just had one added at 10:30pm. Plus I started the day with an 8am conference call then training all day... very tired.

Singapore is hot, very clean and a busy, fast city. Lots of shopping! The hotel is wonderful, very modern and great service - food is good, too. English is the main language, very interesting to be in Asia but to hear English spoken so well - much better than in Hong Kong. The city is quite a melting pot too, I walked around for one day and saw not only all kinds of ethnicities but also saw a Hindu shrine next to an Islamic Temple and a Baptist church... very interesting, only in the U.S. have I seen that.

Thinking about going to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday night for one night but we'll see how it goes, if I am too tired I may just stay in Singapore. It is a 4-5 hour ride in a luxury coach and much cheaper than flying...

Ciao for now...

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Tokyo Narita International Airport

Help! I've been kidnapped by the Japanese!

And to top this all off, I had a huge hilarious blog that I was ready to post but was lost because this crappy airport lost its WiFi signal.

To make it short...

This airport sucks

- I am flying on JAL but all of the signs are directing me to AA flights that AA did not give me numbers to
- I felt like a victim at Auschwitz. "JAL go on white bus. Thank you." Where was I going? Why?
- All of the shopping is duty free hell, absolutely boring and minimal, anyways.
- JAL business class lounge is worst of all. Decor beamed in from 1983. "Lady and the Tramp" to "Don't Cry for me Argentina" in MUSAK, full strings, and loud too. Painful and crappy. All of the food is individually wrapped in plastic... even the sticks of butter. Bizarre.
- Plasma screen in the lounge! Hooray! Only shows stock tickers in Japanese! Boo!

I am bored out of my mind and despise this airport... 5 hour layover , too. God help me!

"Honshu, Isn't Tokyo airport boring?"
"Well, at least they have Duty Free!" Posted by Hello

Friday, March 25, 2005

Zürich Flüghafen (Zurich International Airport - Swissair Lounge)

Nice lounge, although food is mostly prepackaged and unexciting, I needed a snack so it sufficed. Apparently they have the 'longest consistently staffed airport executive lounge bar in the world' here at Swissair. Talk about searching for something to brag about... WHO CARES?!

A few facts that I forgot to mention about Zürich...

- Watch shops everywhere
- Chocolate shops everywhere
- Exchange rate is basically .75€=1$=1.2 CHF. Saw a cute t-shirt for 39CHF and I did not realise the conversion was so poor, glad I did not buy it.
- I love the parking signs here. For every parking lot they show the number of spaces available, so you know which ones are full or busy before deciding to pull in. Very convenient!

Ok, alles gud. I am outta here...

It is a holiday today and very quiet here. The hotel is also quiet, which is wierd for them... normally it runs 100% full, but not over Easter!

The rain has stopped and the mountains are clearing out. I plan on going for a quick walk to the lake after...

the Michael Jackson Trial Reenactments! SkyNews has them at 9:30a and 2:30p every day, and they are hilarious. I am sad that I have no capability for recording them.

Click here to see the actor playing MJ:

Too scary, even his nose is wierd.

Anyways, gotta finish breakfast and start packing. A busy day ahead, I'm a GOIN' HOME!

Thursday, March 24, 2005


My last night here and it is raining.

I had the afternoon off today, I went shopping and toured this lovely city. Bahnhofstrasse is wonderful, a long collection of stores and very cute shops and cafés along old winding streets just adjacent. Across the river is the old town section, also cute.

Lunch was at this shop that had a small and delicious lunch counter in the front but was a butcher and cheese shop in the back. I didn't understand the conversation, but obviously a street lady popped in... she was either drunk or on medication, clean but very odd. The woman behind the counter was pleasant and knew her, gave her an Easter egg for her bag but then she started talking to the customers. She was a "regular", a local but a bit off. Strange.

It's a thunderstorm now... lightning and thunder just went off. Cool!

The lake and mountains have been shrouded in mist since I arrived, how sad not to see them. Oh well. Maybe the rain will clear the air for tomorrow before I leave.

It was interesting, I was shopping and literally at 5pm all the shops closed up for the Easter holiday weekend. Switzerland closes up for Friday and Monday which are national holidays. Suddenly the streets were empty of people but full of cars getting out of town, and the bars were PACKED with people having an after work drink before heading home for vacation.

I headed back to the hotel, said goodbye to the staff and scurried upstairs. I had a conference call for work and am now just watching tv, ordered room service, will have a bath and go to bed... leave for the airport at 11:30am...

Next stop, HOME! Yay!

Monday, March 21, 2005


Leaving Paris at 1pm in 70 degree weather was hard, but frankly, I was looking forward to the quiet train ride to Zurich. The fact that a family with a 3 month old was sitting in front of me did not help keep it quiet, but thank God the little one kept quiet most of the way to Lausanne...

France is such a pretty country. All of the rolling hills, small villages with the little church in the town centre. Very serene, I fell asleep during the ride for an hour or so. When we crossed into Switzerland, customs/immigration boarded the train and checked our passports. I wasn't expecting that, and it reminded me of the time many years ago when we were traveling to Berlin from West Germany through East Germany... crossing the border, I remember the border guards with dogs all around the train, and all the scrutiny they gave the passengers as they checked their passports. It felt like an old movie from the 1950s.... this wasn't quite as dramatic, but still reminded me of that situation.

After changing trains (very quickly) in Lausanne, the train crept up the very steep slopes, overlooking Lake Geneva and the alps beyond. The slopes were stepped with vines and tiny houses clinging to the edges as if they were ready to tumble into the lake. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, but I could not take photos as it was a bit misty and the sun made it very hazy.

The Park Hyatt is a 3-minute taxi ride from the Hauptbonhauf. Very modern, it has a sleek glass exterior and the inside is filled with beautiful wood and modern furnishings, with quite a significant collection of art. They have an art guide in the room and I'll have to look through the hotel. It is really gorgeous, but very euro-modern. Fits the city to a T.

Listened to the MSU-Vermont game on the internet last night, my boyz made it to the Sweet 16 - to play Duke next. It certainly doesn't get any easier. That game is on Friday... by the time that I get on the plane home, I'll know if they made it to the next round. Crossing my fingers!

Off to get ready for a busy day...

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Another gorgeous day. The last two days there has been fog until 11am or so, but this morning the sun is shining and the forecast is 21C/70F. Amazing!

I had a great day yesterday; I slept in until 8:15am, had room service, went to the fitness room for a half hour, then got ready for my day. I went shopping at Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, plus also FNAC to buy some new music. The weather was a bit cooler yesterday (perhaps only 65F), but still sunny and loads of people were out.

It has been funny, I've been speaking French the last two days and I'm surprised at the comfort level that I have. It helps to be in France every year if only to brush it up; my French isn't great by any stretch of the means, but it is not bad, either!

I took the Métro to Chatelet and went to Centre Georges Pompidou, the famous modern art museum built with the structural skeleton on the outside instead of hidden within the walls. Anyways, I saw this interesting exhibit that was written up called "Dionysiac." As per the brochure...

"Dionysiac" explores a stance or sensibility shared by the fourteen artists represented, through works for the most part especially produced for this exhibition. "Dionysiac" assigns a particular relationship between art and life, an affirmation rather than resignation, which is expressed as much through anger and pleasure received through destruction as through excitement of life and flux. Blah blah blah...

A few parts were amusing, a few confusing, a few unpleasant, a few brought up your worst nightmares, and one exhibit was outright offensive. I opted not to wait in line to go into the special room where the exhibit was at -25C. That did not sound like fun at all. One exhibit was truly strange, it was a film about this guy who was dressed like a german tourist - knickers, camera around neck, dorky glasses. He took duct tape and drew two long parallel lines on a sidewalk next to a bus stop and a busy intersection (busy with vehicles, not people). Then he drew an X near the end of the two lines, then he stepped back and looked up. Then the camera peered up to the sky, then back down. The guy would look around him, as if he wanted someone to watch him and wonder what was going to fall from the sky and hit the X. Funny for a while, then dull. NOTHING happened. Wierd. I tried to understand how this related to the theme and I didn't get it.

There was one room called "Shit Plug" which was literally this huge room that looked like an artist gallery filled with oversized butt plugs, some that have been destroyed, dirtied, painted, etc. On two walls were films; one was displaying the artists chopping up plastic pieces (perhaps to melt and make butt plugs) and another were these guys talking about how their jobs were "shitty." I began to realise that as the movie went along, their jobs were literally about cleaning up shit. Unpleasant and offensive, just yucky.

One exhibit was a jukebox with a selection of music, but each CD had only one song, and the CD cover displayed also the name of the artist who chose this song on the CD. You could choose a song and it would play for a minute or so. All kinds of music, nearly all acid rock - much of it German - but it did have a couple selections of Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra at the end (strange). You could hear the music all over the exhibit.

For cultural purposes, I am glad I saw the exhibit, I needed to do something to expand the mind. But there was an option to go to an Egyptology exhibit at the Institut du Monde Arabe, and I should have done that instead! Oh well. The book store at Georges Pompidou is incredible and I did buy this cool book called "Event Cities 3" which is all design drawings about special event buildings drawn for certain cities. Very cool.

I came back and was so tired, I just collapsed and fell asleep by 8.30pm. Today, I woke up at 5.30am and couldn't go back to sleep. This is OK because I have to take the train later and will likely rest there. Today I plan on working out, then going for a walk and take a café nearby, then come back and get ready for the train. I leave at 4.30pm for Zurich. Tonight I have a call at 8pm (I think) then I will listen to the MSU-Vermont game on the internet before going to sleep...

Looking forward to a great final day in Paris and to visiting Zurich... haven't been there since 1997... ciao for now!

Friday, March 18, 2005


Training is done!

A long week. I'm looking forward to this evening, working out and going for a walk, and then waking up late tomorrow and doing some shopping and perhaps a museum. I desperately need a day off when I am well.

Last night I needed to go to the ATM adjacent to the hotel. As I departed and turned the corner, I was confused as to why there were approximately 100 random people hanging out in the street. As I went through them, I realised it was St. Patrick's Day - they were standing in front of Kitty O'Sheas, an Irish bar popular in the area. Unfortunately I was running late for a dinner appt. and could not join in...

Weather today a bit cooler, fog this morning. But still better than all the snow I hear they are getting in Chicago!

Au revoir, à bientôt!

Thursday, March 17, 2005


70F and sunny yesterday!

Weather is supposed to be strangely warm through the week. Took a walk after lunch to the Place de la Concorde, then to Place de la Madeleine and back to the hotel, nice. My room has a balcony overlooking the Place Vendôme, a nice feature in this weather!

Here through Saturday then off to Zurich next week... feeling 100%, bronchitis is finally beat. Hooray!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hong Kong

Getting better, but still tired.

Today I took the ferry across the harbour to Kowloon and then visited our local offices. I expected the ferry to be like the ferries in the U.S. or the one I just took in Sydney. Uh, no.... it was small and flopped quite significantly in the water (see website for photo). The trip was only 5 minutes long, however, so even in terrible conditions pretty short and manageable. Interesting.

After my meetings, I went shopping. Wow. The shopping... holy smokes. I heard HK was about shopping but I did not realise how blatant it is... just everwhere, especially in Kowloon. I was impressed, very nice and prices were expensive but not SO bad.

Got tired quickly, however, so came back and on the way tried to find a post card.... which was strangely difficult, had to get one in the hotel gift shop. I looked in the Wen Chai area near the hotel, which is all home-fixings (bathroom fixgtures, paint stores, hardware, etc) going south and strip bars going north. Strange.

Took a few pics of what a typical street in Wen Chai looks like on the website.

Back at the hotel and now chilling out before I take off tonight. My flight leaves at 11.45pm, which is a 9.30pm car to the airport. Joy. Next stop... Paris.

Ciao for now!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hong Kong

I've been so sick, it got scary.

On Friday, I woke up in Perth with severe symptoms that I asked for a doctor to greet me at the hotel on arrival in Hong Kong. I slept the entire flight and when I got to the hotel, the doctor checked me out and said that I had the flu... but that the over-the-counter meds that I was taking were making things severe. I had some new meds and slept 24 hours with few interruptions. Today, I feel much much better - but have lost 10 lbs and a lot of nutrients. It will take weeks to get back to health, still quite weak.

I am now not leaving until Monday night and don't train a class in Paris until Wednesday, so I plan on just trying to take it easy and not risk anything. I may venture out into Hong Kong a bit today, but not far from the hotel and only maybe some simple shopping.

Incredible view from my room of the harbour, skyskrapers and the mountains behind. The view at night is particularly unforgettable.

The last few days in Perth were great, good training courses and I was privileged to get a chance to see some kanagroos up close (photos to come... amazing) and to go on a river sail the last night. Great town, wonderful people and truly beautiful setting.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I haven't been feeling quite well since I arrived in Perth, and yesterday I fell apart. In the middle of my meetings I started to get the shivers and shakes, and I obviously had a fever - in addition to fighting jet lag!

I went to bed at 2.30pm and my fever kept breaking until about 8pm last night, then I started to feel better. I missed dinner with everyone but they brought back some meds for me which I promptly took and slept again. It must have been the 24 hour flu as I have a few remaining symptoms, not 100% but certainly much, much improved from yesterday. There is nothing scarier than being in a foreign country and very ill... even if it is Australia.

Yesterday it was partly cloudy and 93 degrees, should be cooler today (mid-80s). Unfortunately I will have to catch up on all of the lost time from yesterday. Tomorrow we have a morning sunrise breakfast on the water and Thursday night is a sunset sail... nice!

Off to work...

Sunday, March 06, 2005


What a great city!

Flying over Perth, I was struck with how much it resembles Sacramento. It is relatively flat and arid around it, but the city has a few hills, tons of trees and a river flowing through it. The CBD is located on the river, and up and down both sides of the river are jogging and biking trails. The city is made for the good weather, and it shows.

The flight was 5 hours long, but I worked nearly the entire flight. I was picked up and after checking into the hotel, we went to lunch at a nearby microbrewery located on the river. I had crawfish on a salad (HUGE crawfish, I might add) and after lunch we went for a drive through King's Park. The park is very beautiful, long winding roads bordered by immense eucalyptus trees and many lawns where the townspeople were napping or picnicking. Views of the city are amazing too (see my website for the main photo that I took from the park).

I was dropped off at Hay Street where they have an outdoor shopping area (here they call them malls, but they are outdoors with long awnings to keep the sun away - nothing like in the States). The shopping was amazing, lots and lots of stores and people watching. Strangely, there is one building that looks like it belongs in Innsbruck, Austria, complete with ornate clock and half timbered façade. Regardless, very neat area.

It hit 90 degrees today, so hot that I had to come back to the hotel and just chill out. I had a meeting with my co-workers and now am ready to go to bed... it is hard because I do not want to go to bed too early but I am tired, I did not sleep well last night!

Tomorrow after work they are taking us to dinner in town to apparently a swank restaurant; Tuesday morning we have breakfast on the riverside; Thursday night is a twilight sail on the river. They are taking very good care of us. It is appreciated, I hope I am awake enough to enjoy it!

Nite nite...

Wow do I love this city.

I arrived at the hotel and after changing, took the ferry to Manly. Had never done that before - a 30 minute ride, it was beautiful being on the water, the views of the city and Opera House/Harbour Bridge are just incredible. Boats with colourul sails littered the water and the sun was shining! Wonderful.

Arrived in Manly and you walk out of the Quay down a long pedestrian boulevard that is filled with cheesy eateries and cheap surf shops (and a few expensive ones). On the other end is a long beach ringed by pine trees and incredibly beautiful - and probably expensive - condos. Loved it. Lots of kids out surfing, tons of them in fact. See the photos on my website!

I got back and met up with a former colleague of mine who is now at the Park Hyatt Sydney, we had coffee and caught up. He asked me if I planned on seeing the Mardi Gras that night and I muttered... nah, I've seen those before, I just wanted to go to a little Thai restaurant I remembered from my vacation here years ago...

Little did I realise. I didn't make the connection until I neared the Darlinghurst/Paddington area and noticed EVERYBODY walking towards Oxford street. What was going on? Then I realisd... OH MY GOD, THE ONE DAY I AM IN SYDNEY IS FOR THE MARDI GRAS! The world famous Gay/Lesbian Mardi Gras of Sydney, there were easily 1 million people in the streets! It was absolutely hilarious, people in costume all over and visitors stunned... funny.

My favourite float were these three guys dressed up like Fran Drescher and lip synching to the Nanny theme song, on a float that said Sydney -> and Queens -<

There was another funny one of George Bush bashing, too, but I forgot all of it in the chaos. Everyone was hanging out of the bars drinking or just walking around looking at people. It went on and on and on... I finally went back to my room at around 9:30pm because of the jet lag but I was so happy I got a chance to see it. Sadly, no photos because I didn't bring my camera for the parade as I didn't expect one!

Woke up this morning with the sun rising over the Opera House and clear skies... on to Perth now (writing from the Qantas Club at the airport - again, incredibly posh) - it is supposed to be 90 degrees there today!


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Auckland International Airport

Arrived at 6:00am Saturday, slept 6 hours on the flight, got some work done and even played some of the inflight video games. Seats were very uncomfortable, however, even in business class, and the amenities didn't include tissues (which ironically I really needed). But the food was good, more than on other flights, and the service was fun - and funny. Overall I feel pretty good, but it is 11:00am yesterday in Chicago so of course I will feel pretty alive. The problem will be Perth... it is still only 3:00am local time when it is 11:00am in Chicago, so I will definitely be having late-in-the-day challenges there.

The guy sitting next to me on the flight reminded me of my friend Nick (you reading, Nick?)... nice guy, I need to email Nick. He is a cargo pilot (Nick is a hotel sales manager) and this guy flies all over the world. Poor guy didn't sleep at all on the flight, he is going to be messed up today!

I love New Zealand so much, I wish I had an extra day here instead of only 3 hours. The airport is under renovation, but the Qantas lounge is very modern and big, reminds me of the Admirals Club lounge in L.A. but smaller. I have always been so disappointed in the Admirals Clubs in South America but they are much nicer so far on this trip... nice, I can get coffee, a snack and do internet/work without much interruption, and it is much more comfortable.

I forgot my hat in Chicago so I bought a hat here at the airport for my stay, in case I need one. I need to figure out what to get Andy and thinking about sending a post card to Sierra, even if I"m only here for 3 hours... nice stores in the airport, but small. Timberland, All Blacks NZ, Duty Free, etc. No McDonalds (thank God!).

Using their computer in their business lounge at Qantas Club to type this because they don't have broadband connection. I will try and figure it out and if not, will have to just work from Sydney.

G'day... next message from the Park Hyatt Sydney!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

LAX - Admirals Club Lounge

Boy is this place swank, very modern, spacious and airy. Nice for a change, there is so much space and it is all split up so it stays quiet. They have leather chairs with headphones so you can listen to some prerecorded music, a theatre-style room to watch CNN, a granite bar and various cozy chairs - all overlooking the runways. Cool.

After watching "The Incredibles" on the flight (great flick, I love that movie), I worked for the remainder of the trip. 4 hours went by like THAT! So glad, my flight leaves in 2 hours so I will chill out, have a drink and make my way to the international terminal. Apparently I have to go through Security again, what a pain. I will be working for a while on the flight to Auckland, then eat and sleep for a bit. I plan on not working on the remainder flight from AKL to SYD, so the goal is to work as much on this leg as I can.

Ok, time for a drink... cheers!
Chicago O'Hare Airport

A sunny but cold (30 degrees) day in Chicago....

I'm dreading this flight.

I have a 4 hour flight to Los Angeles, a 3 hour layover, then a 14 1/2 hour flight to Auckland, another 3 hour layover, then a 3 hour flight to Sydney. Spend the day in Sydney, then I have a 5 hour flight to Perth the following day.


There is so much work for me to catch up on, in a way it isn't bad. I plan on organizing the work once I get on the plane into chunks to make sure I get an opportunity to sleep, too. I just hope that there are no delays or I'll go NUTS.

Weather in Sydney is supposed to be 79 degrees but rain on Saturday evening. On Sunday when I arrive in Perth it is supposed to be 84 and partly cloudy. I may just chill out by the pool there, who knows, I need some rest!

The Admirals Club lounge here is impressive, but as a main AA hub I suppose one would expect this. After checking in (!!) you take the elevator to the third floor and there is this massive space, modern, with a full bar and in relatively good condition - even if the decor is a bit stuffy. They also have Wi-Fi which is a nice change because I always have issues logging in at O'Hare. I'm not partaking of the alcohol, however, as I plan on working on the flight.

Ok, signing off for now...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Sao Paulo – Admirals Club Lounge

It is 10.30pm and finally, I’m on my way home. What a week… ending in a quick ride to the airport, only to find it crowded and noisy. I decided to hang out in the Admirals Club lounge – you get free access when you are on International Business class. The lounge has that incredible 1980s airport décor of mauve and grey carpet with rosewood doors and marble… and because it is Friday, it looks like a refugee camp with all the business travelers going home. Yuck. Free drinks, though.

I just adore the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo. The hotel put me in a suite this time, which was very lovely and spacious. The shower…. OMG the shower. Still the best shower I’ve ever had. Not only is the design pleasing, the rain shower is just at the perfect height for me, and the stall is so spacious. I love this hotel so much! Everyone was very warm and gracious, still the best service I’ve ever had.

This time, I flew into Sao Paulo from Buenos Aires. The airline was TAM, and it was kind of funny. I was not paying attention to the safety video, but when they spoke in English I looked up, and the video was with claymation-style puppets, like the old Thunderbird show or that recent movie Team America! Totally cute. It ends with them spelling out “Have A Nice Flight” in cute block letters. First class was nice service, but during it I decided to look at the in-flight entertainment. OMG, it was an old Star Trek episode, the one when that floating machine gets onto the Enterprise and it follows Captain Kirk to the bridge. Once it gets there, it starts to take control and it zaps Lt. Uhura, she loses her memory and has to learn English all over; Scotty is zapped dead. But not in English, it was in Spanish or Portugese, so I forgot how it ended. HILARIOUS. I wonder who they are marketing to…

Getting to the hotel was a chore. It was a 2-hr ride from the airport, the traffic was incredibly bad. Apparently there was a major storm and it just snarled everything. Once I got there, though, I totally relaxed – time for ME. The only free time that I truly had on the trip, other then the first afternoon in Mendoza (but I worked that night there). I didn’t work at all, went to the health club and then I had a massage at the spa, ending with room service. Dessert was incredible, just a huge hunk of pineapple with coconut sherbet. Simple, boy was it good. Mmmmmm.

For lunch they took me to Eau, which apparently was voted the best hotel restaurant in Brazil. It is French, yummy. For dessert we had the little cookies that are made with chocolate and Earl Grey tea. They were nice enough to send a little box to my room to take with me, very thoughtful. Of course I stole the soaps, they are from the Amazon and just amazing. I’m giving one to my mom.

Buenos Aires: what a great town. I really look forward to going back and checking it out. I saw so little of it! The new hotel will be amazing, I’m totally looking forward to staying in it. The official name is Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. Just wonderful. The neatest part of the trip was meeting Christophe again and his wife, who went to school at AFCENT in the Netherlands! Amazingly small world…

Looking forward to being home for a few days before going off to Australia, Hong Kong, Paris, Zurich and Lausanne. Should be fun!

Ok, time to take off soon. This lounge is incredibly cheesy… worst I’ve been to.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Buenos Aires

Wow. What a great city. Vibrant, beautiful buildings and streets, outdoor cafés and shops. It reminds me of a cross between Paris and Madrid, but with a Latin flavour. Neat.

I arrived at the Caesar Park - a hotel that will be our competition - and went for a quick walk. The new Park Hyatt will be just a block from here, and the streets have a neighborhood feel, yet there are high class stores nudged between modern and traditional European-style apartment buildings. Interesting. As I took a walk, I went down this little hallway called Alvear something or other (no, not the Alvear Palace). It was just a line of small shops built into a part of a building, kind of like a small mall. As I walked down, there were antique shops; a very hip and cute coffee shop; a stamp collector; at the end there was a neat outdoor patio and overlooking it a very small hip wine bar playing Eurolounge music, and another exit hallway - down which were a traditional Argentinian store with woolen rugs, etc and across a modern rustic furniture store in the Argentinian style (ie, simple wooden chairs with strong rope in a neat simple design as backing, etc). Neat place.

The Park Hyatt is literally a former palace, nestled between tree lined streets, expensive stores and apartment buildings. Reminds me of the Plaza in some ways how it is situated, although there is no "central park" across the street.

Can't wait to explore more... but bed for now.
Santiago de Chile

This trip has been a whirlwind. I arrived in Mendoza on Sunday. It was cloudy, and I was frustrated as I left my mobile phone in Santiago airport. It is lost! I cannot believe how difficult it is to do business travel without that phone. Luckily, I was able to call AT&T and have it deactivated and a new phone sent to me at home... I will get it once I get back to Chicago this week.

Mendoza is so lovely in the Summer! I love being in the summer in the southern hemisphere, it is February but it is warm! Cloudy in Mendoza and rainy at night... when I left the hotel for the airport, they had gotten enough rain to make the aqueducts completely full of rain water. It was amazing to see, very scary. You can understand the power of fast moving water when you see that. Usually the aqueducts are dry as the area, like the Wine Country of California or Australia, gets little rain.

Arriving in Santiago last night around 8pm was wonderful. The sun sets late this time of year, and it was just going down as I neared the city. The mountains are desert, similar to Arizona, and the setting sun made it just gorgeous. They are nearing completion of a superhigway to the airport and I got through customs-immigration and to the Hyatt in under 45 minutes. Amazing as the airport is far from the city and usually traffic and the construction makes it a 2 hr trip.

The city is so beautiful, glass skyrises, green trees and wide boulevards. It is like a combination of Vancouver and Los Angeles, clean and warm with mountains. Yum! The airport is nice too, new and very modern. Love it.

Now I am off to Buenos Aires, I have never been and am excited to see the city. I get in tonight and will be able to relax a bit, tomorrow is a full day to see the new Park Hyatt under construction and then to set the pricing. Should be good! Off to relax a bit...