Saturday, September 30, 2006

A break in Spain

We really had a great weekend at the El Montiboli Hotel in Villajoyosa. It's located about 30 km north of Alicante up on the cliffs overlooking the small fishing village. Just the place we needed. Our Easyjet flight took off on time from Basel airport and we reached our destination at 8:30 pm. From there, we took a taxi to our hotel and arrived around 9 pm. Our luggage was taken to our room and dinner was booked for us at the restaurant. We unpacked a bit and then left our room for the restaurant.

We were already practically falling asleep when the waiter came to us to take our orders, but we managed to stay awake until dinner was served. We had the foie gras and then beef with morels for the main course. I think I was too tired to really eat, but I did finish about half of the main course. A pity really, because it was delicious. After dinner and a digestive, we headed back to our room to find a Cava (local champagne) in a bucket filled with ice-water to welcome us. We decided to open the bottle even though we needed the sleep more. To our surprise, we finished the bottle out on the terrace and chatted until about 2:30 am! See, that's what good weather and the calming sounds and scent of the sea can do to you!

I woke up around 8 am the next day and the first thing I did was to go on the terrace and take in the sounds of the waves on the rocky shores and the pebble beach. I was in heaven! OrangeX got up shortly after and we showered and got ready for breakfast. After that, we decided to go for a walk and explore the hotel surroundings and the beach a bit. We decided to have a look and see what Villajoyosa was all about and found a very quiet town. Nevertheless, we walked along the beach, bought ourselves a bottle of water. The weather was clearing up and the temperature was increasing by the minute, so we walked back up the steep hill back to the hotel. It was after all a 2+ hour walk, so we were longing for the pool. Once we got to our room, we jumped into our bathing suit and went to the pool to relax.

We didn't do much more that that the whole three days, except for a short excursion in Benidorm about 10km from Villajoyosa. So it was sleep, pool, drinks at the bar, food and then chatting away on our terrace.

It was exactly what we needed! I wish we could have extended our stay a few more days, but we had to return. We do want to return to Spain. Maybe next time, we'll visit Sal, a blogger pal near Madrid.

If you want to see pictures of the beautiful setting and views, you'll find them here. I've been back to real life for 4 days and I wanna go back!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sozializing can be so tough

Before I start this actual entry, I wish to take the time to thank you all for the good thoughts and kind comments to my previous post. It was indeed a very difficult decision, but I know that I will be taking wonderful memories with me and of course stay in touch with a few colleagues.

Furthermore, Blogger is now throwing me off everytime I add links and publish. So you'll have to google or wiki whatever you find interesting until I have solved the problem. Anyway.

One of the things I will miss very much will be our so called “MasterClass”. It’s an annual event where we invite the Product Managers and/or Sales Managers and/or Marketers from all countries selling our products to participate. We prepare hands-on trainings on products, inform them of our development plans, brainstorm about future needs, organise workshops and have an external speaker over for an afternoon to talk about a specific marketing topic. And then, we organise team-building weekend activities for those who wish to participate. In the past years, we had wild water rafting, abseilen, night sledging in the mountains, paragliding, kayaking, adventure trails, cable gliding, and other fun stuff. This year, we are focusing our new product launch based on racing. The reason is that R., a quad - or tetraplegic, if you prefer- is not only the founder of the company but also came up with the idea of this new design. Now guess what his pastime is? Of couse! Racing. He races his Shellby Cobra (450HP) against able bodied competitors using a sip and puff system that enables him to shift gears; gas and brakes are hand controlled.

Now to this year’s “the company I still work for” MasterClass. Kick-off was last Wednesday around 1:30pm and we went through all the workshop and brainstorming bits. Then came the weekend: We left the office premises around 3:30 pm on Friday afternoon and made our way to our hotel Colmar, France, where we had booked rooms for everybody. We met for a few drinks at the bar before going to a typical Alsacian restaurant. After dinner, we took a last drink at the bar and all went to bed.

I must emphasize that nobody outside the Marketing team of “the company I still work for” has even the slightest clue of the whole event and what is carefully prepared for them. We follow the racing theme, yes? Okay. On Saturday morning, we had breakfast together and left the hotel around 9:30 am to visit the car museum in Mulhouse - if you like Bugatti, you’d love it there – and had a guided tour through the history of it all. We had lunch there and departed for the next “unknown” destination, which just by chance happened to be a race track.
We arrived and all “we” saw were motorbike trainings. Motorbikes? Hmmm. Everyone watched for a while and then, this couple came over to our group and started explaining to our guests that they were about to get some driving training on either… *drum roll*… a) a Ferrari or b) a Formula Ford 2000 car. You should have seen their jaws drop and their eyes light up when they saw the 2 Formaula cars and the one Ferrari pushed out of the hangars! They were all excited like kids seconds before they open their Christmas presents. For me, this is always a brilliant moment!

We had some theoretical training on security on the track and were given papers to sign (the usual insurance stuff). We formed two groups and had to choose which vehicle we wanted to drive. Since we had quite a few tall and bulky guys, I opted for the Formula car: 160 HP, weighs next to nothing, a one-seater, your ass to the ground and a real racing feeling. Shortly after the training, we started driving. The 1st round with the Ferrari was always driven by the trainer followed by a quick pit stop to change places and the next 4 laps by the newbie. The ones like me who drove the Formula were on the track all alone. There were other cars on the 3 km track as well, so we had to keep an open eye. I must admit that it can be quite scary to get used to this car type during the first two laps (after which we had to do a quick pit stop). From then on, I had another 4 laps to go and was not half as scared. Actually, I must have been doing between 190-220 km/h (120-135 mph) on the stretch of the last lap. There is no speedometer on there, so I can only guess, but I really pushed down the pedal. It was great fun and I would have done a few extra laps, but the next was waiting for his turn.

R. also came by with his Cobra and took on passengers to show them what racing is all about. He loved it and so did we. It was absolutely exhilarating!

At dinner, all were talking about their driving experience and I think we made a whole bunch of people very happy. We had a few drinks on the terrace and then in the bar, but I think all the excitement got to them at some point and some had to get up very early to catch their flights to their respective countries, and went to bed at a fairly reasonable hour (1:30 am).

I got home around 10 am on Sunday, but I was beat, so I just took it easy. Socializing can be so tough! This week at work was also pretty strenuous, but I am looking forward to the El Montiboli . Yes! OrangeX and I are flying off to Alicante/Spain for a three day rest. No laptops coming with us. No way! We’re going to do NADA! Just get some sun and let ourselves be pampered. Thanks for the hint, TBF.

You'll find pictures here.

Have a great weekend and see you all next week!

English around the world

Translation obviously is not everybody's strength. Enjoy!


Publicity for donkey riding in Thailand
"Would you like to ride on your own ass?"

Temple in Bangkok
"It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man."

Bar in Tokyo
"Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts."

Ticket corner in Kopenhagen
"We take your bags and send them in all directions."

Hotel in Moscow
"If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it."

Cocktail lounge in a hotel in Norway
"Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar."

Zoo in Budapest
"Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty."

Medical doctor in Rome
"Specialist in women and other diseases."

Hotel in Acapulco
"The manager has personally passed all the water served here."

Boutique in Tokyo
"Our nylons cost more than common, but you’ll find they are best in the long run."

Hotel in Japan
"Cooles and Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself."

Car hire in Tokyo
"When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor."

Boutique in Mallorca
"English well talking"
"Here speeching American"

Hotel in Tokyo
"Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such thing is please not to read notis."

Hotel in Bukarest
"The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable."

Elevator in a hotel in Leipzig
"Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up."

Elevator in a hotel in Beograd
"To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order."

Elevator in hotel in Paris
"Please leave your values at the front desk."

Hotel in Athens
"Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. daily."

Hotel in Yugoslavia
"The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid."

Hotel in Japan
"You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid."

Hotel in Moscow for a trip to a monastery
"You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday."

Swiss restaurant
"Our wines leave you nothing to hope for."

Polish hotel
"Salad a firm’s own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people’s fashion."

Taylor in Hong Kong
"Ladies may have a fit upstairs."

Taylor in Rhodos
"Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation."

Dry cleaning in Bangkok
"Drop your trousers here for best results."

Camp site in Germany
"It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose."

Hotel in Zurich
"Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose."

Dentist in Hong Kong
"Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists."

"Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time."

Tourist office in Austria
"Take one of our horse-driven city tours – we guarantee no miscarriages."

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Orange Soul

I haven't been blogging much lately. I only visited the favorites and left a comment here and there. I didn't even see the Soul of CS. I checked it out, answered the questions et voilà: this is the Orange Soul...

What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are a wanderer. You constantly long for a new adventure, challenge, or eve a completely different life.

You are a very grounded, responsible, and realistic person. People may not want to hear the truth from you, but they're going to get it.

You see yourself with pretty objective eyes. How you view yourself is almost exactly how other people view you.

Your near future is calm, relaxing, and pretty much what you want. And it's something you've been anticipating for a while now.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The big news

Now to the big news...

I have given my resignation at work last Wednesday. Yes! By the time I leave, I will have been working there for over 8 years! It was a very tough choice, but my health is worth more to me. I have a 3 month resignation period which means that – counting the holidays I have left – I’ll have my last day there on December 5th, 2006.

I know this decision may sounds stupid/weird considering that we are moving to Canada next summer, but if I have to force myself to work every morning for the next 6-7 months, it would have been hell. I sincerely hope that this is not a burn out, but honestly, I think that I have involved myself too emotionally and intensely in this company. Then again, that’s me. I am very emotional and I can only work for a company and products in which I believe. Somehow, the combination of certain people and circumstances in the past few years slowly put an end to it. I don’t want to blame it all there, but it certainly had a strong influence on my decision.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I can freelance and can take on temporary jobs until we leave. I don’t want to build up such a grudge against the company and the people that I end up hating it/them when I leave. I had to do it for me. It will certainly be rough financially the coming months, but I feel confident that all will turn out fine. Still, it was a big part of my life and I am sad to have to take this step.

...Hmmm.... I wonder how I will feel once I have really left… I’ll let you know.

Indonesian dinner # 3 and Mount Pilatus

I have so much in my head right now, that I’m not really sure where to begin. I think the best is to start where I promised to start: our last “Indonesian summer party”.

Ever since we told Ma about the first of three Indonesian nights, she wanted to be part of it and meet all our friends, too, so she offered to cook for the group. Because we knew we’d be expecting about 9 guests (plus the four of us), OrangeX decided to take the Friday off to do the groceries and help Ma with the preparation of the meal for the next day. She decided to make a very traditional Nasi Koening (pronounced nasi kooning). It is an aromatic yellow rice, usually part of the Indonesian “Rijstafel” or Rice Table. It can be served with just about any meat (satay skewers, meat balls, chicken, etc.), but Ma opted for meat balls, and chicken thighs and drumsticks served with the obligatory sambals (chilli pastes) on the side. Sliced of cucumber, bell pepper, thin stripes of omelette and dried onion topped the whole thing off. As a starter, she had also made her wonderful Pasteitjes which are something like the Indian samosas, but the dough is filled with a mix of glass noodles, ground beef, onions, garlic (??.. yeah, probably…), carrots and peas that has simmered in a special mix of spices and herbs, then baked in the oven. These are served with a sweet/hot chilli sauce. Yummy!

On Saturday, we prepared the tables out in the garden since the weather looked promising. We were supposed to be 13 people that evening, but Paolo was not feeling well, so he cancelled and Markus decided to stay at home to take care of him. The first guests, Thomas and Nicole arrived first. It was a good thing, since a couple of weeks before, they had brought us a 3 litre bottle of Crémant (bubbly wine) that we had cooled as a welcome drink. I promptly asked him to open it for me and then… the cork broke off!

Not only did it break off, but all the air had somehow escaped and whilst trying to pull it out with a normal corkscrew, the cork just fell into with the slightest push. Poor Thomas! He felt so bad, although he couldn’t have known when he bought it! Luckily, we had enough reserve in our fridge to cover all requests. Rammy, John, Diana and Andi arrived, followed by Doug and we had a few drinks and chats before serving the pasteitjes. Later, Ma, OrangeX and I went up to prepare the plates of nasi koening for each guest. We had a lovely evening with our friends and were even able to enjoy the whole meal outside.

Around 2 am, a few drops of rain started falling, so we all scrunched up under the balcony and I pulled out the sun screen to cover us all. We enjoyed coffee, a few single malts and Speckkoek, and all we had a fun time together. You’ll find all the pictures of the evening here.

On the Sunday, we took a quick drive to Paolo and Markus to bring them a doggy bag that we had carefully prepared of the dinner that we had the evening before. Paolo was feeling a bit better, but still not well. After that, we decided to go to Mount Pilatus, which is about an hour 15 minutes awas from Basel. We took the gondola cableway to Fräkmüntegg, the second highest stop to the top of the Pilatus because 1) we weren't sure how Pa would manage a lower concentration of oxygen (because of his damaged lungs) and 2) the last drive down would have left us but 15-20 minutes of view. Although the Pilatus is by far not the highest peak in Switzerland, we did get to 1416 meters over sea level and Pa took it very well. He really enjoyed the view and the clean air. Pa is very quiet and many would think that he is not enjoying it or that he's just staring into emptiness. He's not! He was fully in awe, probably feeling tiny before those great mountains and peaks covered with the eternal snow, but taking in everything he could. It's a scene I'll never forget. We took in the beautiful view over Lucerne and the lake, had a coffee and sandwich and went back down again. See pictures here.

Yesterday, we drove Ma and Pa back to the Airport. It was again a very sad event. I hate goodbyes and it was so good to have them over for the past three weeks. I will surely miss them, but we will be back in Holland to visit before we go to Canada. For them however, it's their last visit to see us in Switzerland. Well, maybe. I know they will miss it. I hope that Pa stays healthy enough to visit us in our new home in Canada. I truely do.

I though I'd start with this... Is this my soul

What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are a warm hearted and open minded person. It's easy for you to forgive and forget.

You are a very grounded, responsible, and realistic person. People may not want to hear the truth from you, but they're going to get it.

You see yourself with pretty objective eyes. How you view yourself is almost exactly how other people view you.

Your near future is likely to be filled with great successes and accomplishments. You just need to figure out how to get there.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Short update

Just a few words to let you know that all is fine, but we're both very busy right now. I haven't been visiting many blogs lately, but I will catch up. As you know, Ma and Pa OrangeX are visiting and I don't want to come home at 7pm from work and spend hours on the internet when Ma's been preparing dinner for us. I just think that it's not very polite. Secondly, right now I'm working 11-12 hours straight and in the evening, I need the break. OrangeX is just as busy - if not more.

Last weekend, we had a another little party with friends and on Sunday, we went to Mount Pilatus with Ma and Pa, but I'll tell you all about it in another post later this week. Then I'll have more news for you, but that will also have to wait 'till the next post. And no, I'm not pregnant! ;-)

Anyway, I'l be back to my old blogging self from November on, so bare with me, ok? :-)

Love and miss you all!