When I realized I would work in Madrid, Paris, Brussels and Southampton all in one week, I was prepared for some stress and even chaos. However, things went very smoothly.
Monday was a flight from Paris to Madrid and back. This was my second non-trip to Madrid, (see It Was as if I was Never There ) in that I have been there twice but have seen nothing of Madrid. I have to do this properly some day soon.
Tuesday I spent all day in Paris which is always a pleasure. I met my friends Janice and Christophe for a drink and managed to sneak in dinner at my favorite neighborhood restaurant La Grotte for a late dinner.
Wednesday I took the Thalys train to Brussels with only one strange incident. There was an announcement that the 4:01 train was cancelled, so another 4:01 train would accommodate the passengers. We were told to take a seat anywhere. Only one woman struggled to understand the concept. She believed that her ticket was more special than everyone else's and that she should be allowed to sit in the seat originally assigned to her on the now cancelled train. When no one agreed with her, she felt the need to say in a voice that carried through the train "Typical". I wonder if she feels better having given that response to a situation completely unworthy of her ire? For my part I took a seat and managed to survive the short journey to Brussels without any stress. Simple. There are truly bigger issues on any given day than whether I sit in Seat 15 or 18. Maybe her life is so trouble free that this was the worst thing that could have happened.
Brussels was grey and rainy, and I saw whatever was within a 3 block radius of my hotel including the Stock Exchange. I did pass by the European Parliament building which is pretty cool. Clearly I will have to return to know anything of this city.
Thursday I flew to Southampton. I have been there a few times for client meetings, but found a bit of time to check it out this trip. I am embarrassed to say I was not aware the Titanic sailed from Southampton, or that most cruise ships list Southampton as their port of call. It was the site of a huge muster of Americans during WW2 in preparation for D Day, bombed to pieces during that same war, but still surviving, if not architecturally pleasing to the eye. Oh and the Restaurant Coriander was worth the trip in itself.
Upon arriving in Paris Friday evening I was dismayed to see hundreds of people waiting for taxis. I decided to brave the Orly Bus instead, making my 20 minute ride a 60 minute bus plus RER trip. I even missed the chance to celebrate my friend's birthday. On the other hand I took the time to visit Serge for wine and cheese and practice my French flirting, so the evening was not a total loss. My friends and I are using our ability to flirt in French as a measure of our ability to speak French. It is a challenge, and I need a lot of practice!
For me it was a pleasure to have such a busy week of travel transpire without any major delays or undue stress. Business travel made easy. Thank you Travel Angels!