Europe HR Trip
My first trip to Europe.
For a first place in Europe for a Canadian to visit, Stockholm is
easy. The ride in from the airport takes you through forest, the
city is small (by European standards) and while there is enough
different to make it foreign, it's very english friendly.
So why was a I Stockholm? Basically to party. Our company
was hosting a number of recuiting events in European cities to help
spread the word that we are hiring and we are a good company to come
work for. I was there to answer the "in the trenches" questions
and provide the occassional bit of tech support. We had four
events planned over the two weeks.
We had a day or two to acclimate. I woke up early one morning to
go for a walk around "Gamla Stan" - Old town. It's basically
Robson street from Vancouver, a few hundred years old.
Our first event was at a club called Opera, in what used to be the city
opera house (before they build a larger one). We rented the space
from the afternoon until about 11pm when it reverted back to being a
The event itself
went off almost flawlessly.
About 20 minutes before the show started the projector stopped
working. Much panic - we were using the on site A/V equiptment
and didn't have a backup. 5 minutes before show time a
replacement cable arrived and we were golden.
The after party (when Opera went back to being a club) was quite
interesting. As an engineer, I don't spend much (any!) time in
clubs normally so I had no idea what to expect. Expensive drinks
- approximatly $10 a drink. The music was fine - nothing
exceptional. Thankfully no smoking. I retreated back to the
hotel around 2:30am.
I had the next morning in Stockholm before my flight. I visited
the Vasamuseet (Vasa was a big ship - Vasa Museum - now you speak
Swedish). I love that the most popular museum in Stockholm is
based on a bad engineer mistake made by managment (Royalty) that
shouldn't have made the call they did.
Needless to say, I was impressed. The ship was lost in 1628 just
hundred meters from the dock it launched from is almost flat seas.
Turns out it was way too top heavy (someone wanted a
good view) and too wide to be stable. Had they loaded it with
sufficent balast to keep it from rolling, the bottom row of gun ports
would have been underwater.
The museum is literally built around the ship. It is very well
restored and the original materals and workmanship can justify any
proud Swede - they make good stuff. Too bad about the managment.
Western Civilization (the grade 12 class) had a huge impact on
me. I lived in towns that didn't have particularly big art
galleries, the churches were relatively modern (as almost everything in
Canada is) and as a family we didn't travel to Europe.
Western Civ could be summarized as two things - paintings and places of
worship. Manchester Cathedral probably doesn't show up in any top
10 list of Cathedrals, but it was my first European Cathedral and it
had an open photography policy.
The Cathedral was badly damaged in World War II, but it's suffered
damage in many other events through time. The features we learned
in class (this is the nave, this is a chapel) we identifiable.
The part that really surprised me (compared to the churches I visited
a kid in Canada) is how little of the overall space can be used in a
single sermon. The modern churches I've seen are effectively one
large box with seats over most of the floor and occasionally
additional rooms for a nursery, kitchen and so forth. The
Cathedral layout was more like a vast farm that had been split into
many different plots by brothers that didn't like each other - a number
of beautiful small spaces but no single grand area.
Stained glass was always a favorite of
mine and again
I was surprised. I was expecting large glass panels telling
stories about various old saints and religious events. Perhaps
odd dragon or devil, lots of quotes from the bible. Turns out
most of the windows were just patterns and many of them weren't event
that direct. My favorite was a window rebuild after an IRA bomb
blast damaged the church in 1996 - it mostly looked like fire.
Going from one religious location to another, our event tonight was at
Old Trafford, home of Manchester United - arguably one of the best
marketed names in the entire world of sport. We took over the
sports bar to hold our event.
sports bars go
(chicken on a stick) it really
wasn't bad. More than Stockholm, this audience was keen to hear
alternatives. A large local games company was going under and
another was in trouble - we met artists and engineers looking for a
parachute. It was a good (and I believe productive) evening.
We had our first (and only)
ride. We took
one of the leaning trains down to London. Compared to
skytrain in Vancouver, it was pretty cool. Compared to the bullet
trains in Japan, it was pretty sad. That said, train seems to be
a beautiful way to see a country side.
We didn't have long in London - in Friday, out Monday
there is a lot to see in a short walking distance. I saw
the British Museum (or the building we put up to house the stuff we
took). While the architecture was very cool, the thing that most
caught my attention was a first edition copy of Shakelton's trip
notes. The Elgin marbles were cool but another reminder of how
poorly we seem to get along. I really liked the British Art
Gallery but of course no photos there either.
Big Ben was actually my biggest surprise impact. The houses of
parliament are beautifully decorated with a crazy degree of detail and
big Ben stands out as an engineer marvel of the time.
We took a "flight" on the highly branded British Airways Eye of
London. Like Tokyo, I was disappoint with how flat london is.
We spent the last few days of our trip in Edinburgh. August
stuffs Edinburgh full of festivals - the fringe festival, the comedy
festival and (much smaller scale) the Edinburgh Interactive
Entertainment Festival. The flights up were full and the hotel
situation was bleak. My trip was booked after everyone else and
unfortunatly I was booked at the airport Hilton rather than the swanky
but full Hilton Caledonaian where everyone else was staying.
Ever the optimist,
I asked at the London Hilton (when
I checked in) if I could move my booking in Edinburgh. The front
desk person couldn't do it but she gave me the number of the hotel in
Edinburgh so that I could call. She gave me the wrong number -
coincidently a number for a different hotel chain. When I got the
correct number, it turned out the Hilton Caledonaian was full (no
surprise). When I arrived in Edinburgh (at 8am - remember,
festival means crowded flights), I dropped in on the Hilton Caledonian
- the front
desk told me no luck - they were book up solid Tuesday night, but free
the remaining nights.
A few hours later I asked
again (optimist remember)
and it turned out
the desk staff read the computer wrong - while they were overbooked (by
3) the computer estimated they could overbook by 10 and with
cancelations still be OK for the evening. I took the booking - I
heard if anyone was turned away. Leason learned - if you want to
at a Hilton, be prepared to ask 4 times because they don't seem to know
how to use their computers.
The room was quite nice though.
The festivals were going full stregth by the time we were there.
The fringe festival (already off mainstream) has a challenge - how do
you get people to buy tickets to shows they have never heard of (no
branding) and have to select out of a program of several hundred
shows? Street preformances of course! It seems that most of
the extroverts in the UK were here and it was fun watch.
If you are more traditional, you can go to the castle take the
tour. Like other castles I've been to, it's been rebuilt a number
of times and the guide can tell you what's old an new.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo
I grew up I head lots and lots about this
Tattoo. First, tickets
were impossible - they sold out months before. Second, it was the
amazing event that you had to see at lease once in your
life. Turns out the ticket thing wasn't impossible - the
ticket office sells returned tickets every morning so if you don't mind
lining up for a few hours before (I was there at 8:20 am - office
opened at 10am - and I was about 20th in line) you can get
tickets. Amazing? It was pretty good, but it is very pro
military. We had dinner at our hotel this night and then walked
up to the Castle. We didn't have a lot of time and ran into the
largest security lineup I've seen in my life. The lines processed
quickly and we were seated moments before the Tattoo started.
Most amazing thing? How they can convince so many strangers to
sit so close to one another. Getting a tripod up was nearly
The show is made up of a number of performances. It starts with
piping and traditional performances like Scottish dancing. The
combination of well practiced high quality performances and the Castle
backdrop makes for a great show.
How's that go about Modern being crap? The mounted
motorbikes were a bit of a surprise as was the Mambo fire dancer.
The Russian dancers were really good.
There was "rapid reaction" demonstration - how 3 times the force and 5
times the hardware could take on some guys joyriding in a truck.
It was cool - my favorite part was the spent cartidges being picked up
Overally, a really good show. At this point, we had been in
Europe for two weeks (or more) and we welcomed coming back to
Canada. Turns out the day before British Airways had suffered a
strike (the food services company was outsourcing more) and the flights
were jammed full of people trying to make up their missed
flights. Oh, and no food on the planes. I was happy to land
Tags: performance(12), place of worship(8), costume(6), castle(5), translucence(4), boat(4)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Europe HRTrip
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:05:02 Edit
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