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...