Monday, February 28, 2005

Sorry to ruin the suprise...

I'll get to the suprise in a bit.

First, I bet everyone who reads my ramblings is dying to know what the building I spend my day in looks like right? Well your wait is over (thank you for being so patient).



Pretty nice eh?

OK, on with my story...

So by now I am sure you know that I took the train to Zurich on Saturday. In order to make best use of the 3.5 hour journey along with reading Life of Pi I decided I would write some postcards. I won't say who they were addressed to but needless to say quite soon into my journey I had completed writing six cards. Yay for me! The cards still had to be addressed and stamped but that wouldn't take too long. I then proceeded to enjoy my day in Zurich. Luckily on the way home from Zurich I was pretty tired so slept most of the way back since I had no more postcards to write. I guess by now you can tell where I am going with this story. By the time I got back to my hotel room and emptied my bag my six wonderfully written postcards to six even more wonderful people (even more if you count significant others) had dwindled down to two. :-(

So there is my sad story for the day. Whose cards were lost? Who will get one in the mail shortly? I guess we will never know. OK, I know but no one else does. OK, fine I'm sure whoever found my cards on the train knows too but I doubt they know who you are. Then again...

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Wanna buy a Porche?

After the Porche museum I also popped into the factory dealership to see the latest production model and to see if I had enough Euros left to buy one. Who would have known they'd be so expensive?

How much would you be willing to pay for a 911 Carrera?





Can you read that? 85 000 euros! Double that for Canadian dollars. And that was one of the cheaper ones. They had a special edtion yellow 911 only available at the factory store for 125 000 euro. For the thrify Porche buyers out there however a Boxter could be bought for around 50 000 euro. I you happen to be passing by Stuttgart however they also sell their company cars so maybe you could get a good deal on a slightly used Porche.

Stuttgart

The German train system is very reliable. The schedules are down to the minute and after being on six trains this weekend only one was late. On my way to Zurich we were five minutes late leaving one of the stations and the conductor was apologizing profusely. In the end however I think we ended up only being two or three minutes late. I think VIA could learn a thing or two from these guys.

I awoke this morning very tired but determined to catch my train for Stuttgart. I made it with a few minutes to spare. Yay! Stuttgart is the home of Mercedes-Benz and Porche. I therefore spent most of my day visiting both of their museums and looking at lots of old cars. I liked the history side of it too. If it wasn't for the museums being open there is very little that can be done on Sundays around here. Everything is closed. I thought maybe in the touristy areas there would be at least a tacky souvenier store open but nope...all closed.

It was another cold and snowy day here in Germany. Luckily all my activities were at least inside but there was still enough walking outside to make me pretty chilly since all I have is my fall jacket. I keep hearing that they never get this much snow over here. Do I believe them? Is it just one big coincidence that all the snow they received this year happened while I was here? Seems a little convenient to me.

Well anyway enjoy some pictures...





Saturday, February 26, 2005

My day in Zurich

It is late Saturday and I just got back from my trip to Zurich, Switzerland for the day. Needless to say I am wiped right now. I walked myself silly for almost 8 hours and didn't even stop for food. Central Zurich is definately meant for shoppers, with lots of expensive stores to choose from. I went in a few but for the most part just kept walking. The Altstadt (old town) was nicer to me since it had lots of tiny cobble stone streets to explore. To walk its old streets is to follow in the footsteps of such famous figures as Charlemagne, Goethe, Einstein, and Lenin. The oldest houses date from the 1100s. After seeing as much of the city on foot and with a few hours still to spare I hoped on a subway and left town in order to take ride up the side of a hill in a cable car in order to get some nice views of the city. There lots of walking trails up there also but it was pretty cold so I pretty much took some pictures and then head back down again.

Geesh - I have more to say but am really tired. I am getting up early again tomorrow to go to Stuttgart so need some sleep.





Friday, February 25, 2005

Lunch at SAP

Lunch is provided for all SAP employees. Our building has a huge cafeteria that is laways packed at lunchtime. Each day there is a new menu of items to choose from and it is all controlled by electronic access cards. Since we don't work for SAP they have machines that you can fill your card up with money. The cost of lunch is always 5.50 euro every day no matter what is being served. It is still cafeteria food but for the most part it is retty good.

Last night we got back to Heidelberg at 7:00 so had an hour before the stores closed to get in some shopping. I had already run out of almost all my cash since no where likes credit cards that much. I decided I might as well go to a bank machine and get more money out while I had the chance. The first bank machine didn't accept my card. :-( I wasn't too worried yet but after three bank machines I was beginning to think bringing just my PC financial card was a huge mistake. What was I going to do for a week with no cash? I decided to try one more bank (it was much bigger than the others) and luckily the machine spit out a bunch of bills much to my delight. Actually, unlike machines in Canada which for the most part only give out 20s this machine gave me an assortment of 5, 10 and 50 euro bills. Very nice.

It is now Friday and I am sure I will have lots more stories over the weekend to share about my adventures in Switzerland and Stuttgart.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Life at SAP

We went out to a local brew pub last night for dinner. The beer was awesome and for food most of us ordered bratwurst, sourkraut and fried potatoes. Very german eh? What was also neat were the tables. The pub just had large square tables for about ten people so you are expected to sit at someone else's table if there was room. Since the place was packed our group of six joined to locals. They were nice and knew enough English but we did have to correct them when they thought we were American. I guess that is understandlable though since there is a large US Army base nearby. Speaking of the US good 'ol P. Bushy is visiting close by today. Supposedly he is visiting a military hospital were causualities of the war go.

OK - on to what I do during the day since no one seems to believe I am actually doing any work here. SAP is in a town called Walldorf which is about 30 minutes from Heidelberg. So far I've taken a cab only once and have had rides in the other two days. The SAP complex houses over 10 000 people so it is large! We are in building 3. In order to get in the building you need a security pass which I have. The security is pretty tight they have revolving doors like at the subway but glass that only move once your pass is accepted.

For the most part this week I have been catching up on all my work left back in Ottawa. I have also been learning a bit more about how SAP works and what its culture is like which was one of my objectives. I also need to meet with a few people that work here but haven't done that yet. so basically I am an Adobe face here who for the most part is just doing his regular day-to-day job. The days are a bit longer though, 8:30 to 6:30. Usually there is then just enough time to have dinner before going to bed. I'll save my story about lunch until another time.

I hope everyone is doing well back in North America. If it makes you feel better it has snowed every day since I got here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A few more pictures...

Here are a few more picutres. There is even one with me in it!!!





Die Kartoffel

You say potato, I say kartoffel.

This was the name of the restaurant we ate at last night. The restaurant is in a tiny medeival town about 20 minutes from Heidelberg. All the streets were very tiny and cobble stoned. We were there at night but I'm sure it would be an interesting place to see during the day.

Anyway, more about the restaurant. It is a tiny place whose speciality, besides potatoes, is meat. Not any kind of meat mind you. Their meat is a tender fillet server raw on a rock. OK, I will explain. Basically, after having your salad they serve you your raw meat on a very hot stone that you then proceed to cook yourself to your own liking. They also provide some sauces for dipping. It was quite enjoyable to cut off some raw meat and then watch it sizzle. I started out having some pretty rare peices but slowly more and more of the meat cooked until it was probably about medium rare by the end. Besides, the meat we were also served a baked potato with ample sour cream. Mmmmm, those Germans sure know how to eat!

Here is a picture of our table and a few of my co-workers.



Tschüß!!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Die Adler

So I went to my first European hockey game last night. The game was the Mannheim Adlers (Eagles) vs. the Nuremburg Ice Tigers. The Eagles won 4-3. Interestingly the eagles had some out of work NHLers on their team. One I can remember is Hecht who I think plays for the Buffalo Sabres.

Watching hockey in Europe is nothing like North America. The fans over here are amazing and the players really show their appreciation for the fans. First, the energy at the rink is huge. There are people drumming beats and EVERYONE chants along. Basically, take what you've probably seen or heard of soccer fans and put them in a hockey rink. They really love their team and show it. At the end of the game all the kids hang of the glass and the players come out for high fives and to wave to the crowd. I wish they did that in thr NHL. Also on the topic of hockey was their arena. It was outside! OK, that is a bit of an exageration, it had a roof but the sides were open to the outside so needless to say it got pretty cold inside. Also, one half of the arena was standing room only, that's where the real fans were. We opted to pay 26 euro each though to get a seat five rows from the ice.

The restaurant attached to our hotel is called Cafe Gecko. We get breakfast there for free but it looks like it is a pretty popular place the rest of the day as well.

Anyway, they have a web cam so who knows you may catch a glimpse of me sitting at the bar having a drink. I am six hours ahead of you so may be there around 10 or 11 pm your time.

Cafe Gecko web cam

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Denner Hotel

Here is a quick picture from my hotel window. It is early Sunday morning so it isn't too busy out yet. The building across the street is a big department store.

The autobahn

My trip from Frankfurt to Heidelberg was my first introduction to the autobahn. Let me just say that we were doing 150 in the SLOW lane in a Ford mini van and there were plenty of Mercedes and Porches passing MUCH faster. However, Germans are very good drivers so those speeds don't even feel that fast. Germans prove that driving fast does not equate to driving bad. There was no tailgating and everyone always indicated.

BTW...I've never seen so many people driving German cars before (hee hee, that is my joke for the day).

Guten Morgen!

I made it to Germany. It is 9:30 in the morning which would make it 3:30 am back in Ottawa. I guess I better not call anyone to say that I made it OK.

The flight was very good. Executive Class is definately the lap of luxury. I was going to describe what it was like but I don't think words can do it justice. My main course from my four course meal read like this, "Grilled Chicken Breast enhanced by Thai Red Curry Sauce, presented with steamed Bok Choy, Fried Rice with Egg and braised Parslied Carrot slices." It was yummy. Also, in honour of Shannon I had a lovely glass of port with my apperitif of cheese and fruit. I did manage to get an hour of two of sleep on the plane so hopefully that will hold me over until tonight. I spend the rest of the time watching TV. They had an episode of CSI but I had already seen it. Instead I watched a Discovery channel show about building a new bridge in the San Francisco Bay. For the movie I picked Sideways. It was slightly artsy but quite poignant (did I use that word correctly?).

Weather wise it is around 0 and snowy. There is snow around but no where near as much as Ottawa has.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Toronto Stopover

Hello,

I am Toronto right now enjoying another quick stay at the Maple Leaf lounge in Toronto's new terminal 1. I poured myself some honey brown on tap and am now benefitting from a delicious rum and coke. Boarding for my flight starts in about five minutes so I need to finish up and get to the plane.

Next stop...Germany!!

P.S. My thumb is doing better but I still haven't found any hand cream. Don't worry Shannon I will moisturize as soon as I can.

Yahoo! News - British say foods tainted by cancer-linked additive exported to Canada, U.S.

Not related to my travels but an interesting story nonetheless.

Yahoo! News - British say foods tainted by cancer-linked additive exported to Canada, U.S.

My trip has begun

It is now 12:40 pm on Saturday and I just arrived at the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Ottawa. I will be boarding my flight to Toronto in about an hour. In the meantime I am being treated to a large and unlimited assortment of beer and other beverages as well as lunch if I so desire. On a sad note however my thumb is currently bleeding. My skin is so dry right now that I scratched my thumb ever so slightly with my fingernail and managed to gouge a pretty nice hole around my knuckle. I was hoping to find so hand cream in the lounge but there is none so I guess I will just have to suffer. Maybe another Kilkenny will numb the pain.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The night before test

It is the night before I leave for Germany. I am currrently configuring my laptop for the trip and want to confirm that I will be able to update my blog while travelling.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Tremblant Trip

Well we are finally back from our trip to Tremblant. I am pretty sore now after three full days of skiing but it was defined worth it. Our group of 20 stayed at an awesome chalet arranged by Angela and I am pretty sure everyone had a great time. Here we are in front of our chalet.



Kathy was definately there even though it looks like she just grew out of the snow.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

My trip to Germany

I will be travelling to Germany in less than two weeks for a business trip. Since it is rainy and cold right now in Ottawa I thought it would be nice to see what the weather is like in Frankfurt.




Hmm, not too much better right now but hopefully it warms up a little bit more.

I will actually be staying in a city called Heidelburg which is about an hour south of Frankfurt and 1.5 hours from Strasburg in France. fort he moast part I will probably be kept busy working while in Germany but am hoping to see as much as I can at least on the weekends.

Here are links about where I am going if you are interested.

http://www.germany-tourism.de/e/metropole_heidelberg.html
http://www.heidelberg.de/Altstadt-Information/english/
http://www.frommers.com/destinations/heidelberg/0127010001.html

Monday, February 07, 2005

I'm back - did you even notice I left?

Argh - I switch routers a few weeks ago and have been having FTP server issues ever since. I finally got ot the bottom of my issues tonight however and now have all the right ports being forwarded to the right servers. It is business as usual at planetrumsey again.