Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I AMsterdam p3

Though this was my 3rd trip to Amsterdam, there were many "firsts" this time around. Or rather, many significant memories that made this trip rather different from the previous ones.

First time entering the airport lounge. Not as fancy as a proper airline lounge, but a little rest area for those with certain corporate cards. I managed to get some warm corn soup with crackers before catching my flight. I only found out about this "privilege" when my colleague told me he was waiting at the lounge.

My first evening arriving in Amsterdam, I discovered from my boss that there was some winter market near the city. Looking for food I landed upon the Swiss stall because the raclette looked tempting. The puffs of steam escaping my mouth as I ate the melted cheese must have attracted tourists, for soon, the stall got crowded. I certainly brought some fortune to the merchants!

Trying a different hotel this time because the previous was a bit pricey, I managed to get a good deal online that came with breakfast. And it was still much cheaper than the Hilton! First time staying at the Crowne Plaza, I have lots of good things to say about this hotel, in Amsterdam. In fact, I have just left some really good compliments when they sent me the survey form to fill.

Going in winter to Europe meant there would be some special celebrations. In Netherlands it was Sinterklaas. Apparently the bearded guy in red suit walks around the city distributing presents. I've only seen a glimpse of him though from a restaurant. I know my colleagues in the European office got some gifts (most likely through HR), so I was delighted to get this on my table when I got back to the hotel one evening.

Our UK site went live on Friday morning, 7am to be exact! We popped the cork and enjoyed some champagne courtesy of the EC Director. It's like having champagne for breakfast, needless to say it was hard to get through the morning already having little sleep because of the early launch.

There were some strong winds across Europe that week. Apparently it went up around 50km/h, that's faster than the car we used to drive when we were learning how to drive! I almost got blown away a few times, remind me to eat more when I get back to Malaysia.

Unfortunately on the day we went live, I found out that Nelson Mandela had passed away the evening before. We were in a rather sombre mood that morning, as a sign of respect.

There are not many heroes out there willing to suffer, sacrifice and put their lives down for a cause they believe in, especially for so many long years. My condolences to South Africa.

I guess it's a reminder to myself, if I'm willing to do that too.

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