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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Falling Forward - Day 3 London to Day 1 Amsterdam

I sit here in a tiny hotel room, which is actually smaller than the room I had on the ship I came here on, while a raging party continues on the street below, oblivious due to the jams coming from my iPod (that’s right, one of my few Apple products), trying to catch up on my blogging, which I failed to do last night, but, hey, I figure an opening sentence with seven clauses (not counting the parenthetical remark) ought to score me a few makeup points.

At the moment, it’s hard to believe that yesterday I was standing before a room full of business people and process experts pontificating about small business. I come back to the reason for this in my next blog, which I hope to write after I post this one. You may just get to read them back to back if you weren’t at your computer for awhile or didn’t bother to connect a feed to my blog.

But I digress. If you saw my Facebook pics, you have some clue that things went well. Given that most of my readers are unlikely to give a crap about process management, I will hold the details of the conference. Suffice to say it ended better than my next effort.

Given how much we plan to move around, I decided that I wanted to be able to carry all my belongings on my back. This meant that the garment bag my suits are in had to go. I took it to the local MailStore. Those places are giving Starbucks a run for their money (not really). There was much discussion about the best way to send it. The ways which get there quickly require a signature, but I wasn’t about to pay to have it arrive before Susan left to join me. Finally, after 15 minutes of screwing around, they realized that it isn’t too big to go airmail after all, which is how they were going to send it in the first place.

Before I left to send back my bag, I got it out of storage and changed into the travelling clothes I had in it and put in my suit. When I picked up the bag from storage, the concierge informed me that Victoria Station (where I was going to catch the Underground) was completely shut down because someone had smelled smoke.

Fortunately, they took so long at the MailStore, when I got back to collect my backpack, everything was back online. It wasn’t until I got on the Tube that I realized I hadn’t removed my cell phone from the pocket of my suit. Oh well, I hadn’t used that dang thing once anyway. My Droid and netbook have been working “ok” as communications devices. The problem with VOIP over wifi is there are too many things that can go wrong and they often do. Nonetheless, it is still by far the cheapest way to communicate internationally. When we talk on Skype computer to computer – it’s free!

After a quick pasty at the train station (I know honey, I’m eating like shit, but I’m on vacation), I was off to the coast on the 19:18 to Harwich Town calling on many stops including Harwich International. There, I cruised through customs to board the ship. As cruise ships go – it wasn’t. Turns out, this thing is a high class freighter. Most of the ship is built to move tractor trailers back and forth between the UK and Northern Europe. They have a few decks of “guest” cabins and other accommodations for the truckers. There’s one floor that houses all the amenities. The truckers have their own section. They can use ours, but we’re not allowed to use theirs. I guess they’re regulars, so they get special treatment.

My first real impression of the Dutch was one of machine-like efficiency. They packed two places to eat, two places to get drinks, two places to gamble and a duty free shop in a very small area. They even had a private area for people with extra money, an Internet cafĂ©’ and a TV lounge.

After a look around, I went to bed. On my way back to my room, imagine my surprise when I noticed the clocks had advanced an hour while I wasn’t looking. Sonofabitch! All of the sudden, I’m going to bed late. So, I finally drop off and what seemed like 10 minutes later, a loudspeaker IN MY ROOM wishes me a “good morning.” WTF! How is this consistent with a good morning? No worries. I roll over and go back to sleep. But, no, it is clear there will be no more sleeping as regular announcements EVERY 10 minutes are provided until I drag my ass out of bed and join the remainder of the guests on deck nine. Needless to say, I was a bit groggy as my next day started – which will be for the next entry.

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