Short trip to Brussels

…and I mean really short: arriving to Brussels at 15.00 on Monday 21/12 and leaving at 15.o0 on Tuesday 22//12 – but the customers insisted on this meeting and flight tickets and hotel were paid by them so I only had to prepare myself and spend two days away from home.

Preparation

I was thinking of packing only my hand /cabin luggage: it has plenty of space for a two days travel and fits in the requirements of most airlines. All clothes, snacks (for the munchies at the room) and liquids, along with a pretty large box – gift from the company to our customer went into this one. However, I also needed to pack my 15-inch laptop and charger for working with the client as well as my WinTab for working on the plane (it was a long flight). The laptop would not fit in my small laptop case, so I had to go for my casual backpack; it didn’t fit there either (in the padded compartment) so I had to use the main one, reducing the space available for other stuff. I ended up with the suitcase and a packed backpack but thanks to Turkish Airways I didn’t have any issue.

As there is no transportation at all towards the airport early in the morning, I had to arrange a taxi pickup at 05.00; I have found that Asteras Radio Taxi is a reliable and relatively cheap option – and there are plenty of them.

The trip

I was flying from Athens to Brussels through Istanbul, with Turkish Airlines. For less than 200 euros – it was even cheaper than Ryanair at the point we booked the tickets a few days before the trip. The trip was a long one; I woke up at 04.30, got prepared by 05.00 and got the taxi – for something like 15 euros to the airport. I am no longer a Golden Miles+Bonus member of Aegean, so I could not access the lounge – I went directly to the gate, which was boring and challenging; no power outlets and for some strange reason, I could not connect to the free WiFi of the airport using my Windows 10 devices (Lumia 735 and WinTab). I got bored.

The plane was full but I managed to find a space for my cabin luggage. I spent some time reading material about the customer’s organization and the work we have already done for them. After having a nice breakfast (but only consisting of fruits, crackers, jam and butter, among others – I thing Aegean has the best breakfast with hot pies/crepes etc.)  I started feeling tired. The flight was short and I soon found myself at the Ataturk Airport.

The Ataturk Airport is big and crowded but still you can find some quiet spots with power outlets so that you can work or watch movies; however, there is only a 15 min free wifi option, which is appropriate only for connecting, sending and receiving emails and maybe checking in on Foursquare. It is a good thing that I have learned how to work offline during my trips so I stayed productive during the long transit time. I did not find any free water sources but I enjoyed the multicultural travelers, raging from north Europeans to Mongol-like Asians, with their colorful outfits.

As soon as I got to Brussels airport, I found my way to the bus line 12 which would drop me off at Schuman station; however, the telematic screen was apparently misconfigured so I found myself at the previous station, something like 25 mins on foot from the hotel room. I didn’t feel like using metro for a couple of stations and I wanted to take a walk seeing a bit of Brussels so I walked to my hotel room. I managed to get there on time (about 30 mins before my meeting with the client), checked in, got  bit refreshed and got prepared for the meeting – managed to be there on time as well. The meeting was long, I got exhausted and needed some rest.

Life’s hard for the business traveler sometimes 🙂

 

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Trip to Washington D.C. – The story in bullets

  • It was a business trip
  • I exchanged 200 euros for USD260. I would have gotten much less at the Athens airport.
  • I flew from Athens to Washington D.C. through Philadelphia with US Airways
  • Various snacks and beverages were offered during the flight but I still felt hungry; I tend to get more hungry when I am tired. All experienced passengers had snacks in their carry-on luggage!
  • It was really cold during the flight; it reminded me of Greek ships to the Greek islands, where the temperature in the salon is usually really low. I suppose they want to keep us fresh and young during the long trips in both cases. At least US Airways was kind enough to provide warm blankets to everyone during the flight.
  • Due to extremely long queues at the passport check points, in Philadelphia I missed my connection flight to Washington… had to wait for three hours at the airport, which to my surprise provided free access to the internet.
  • My luggage traveled to Washington without me, as I was told this happens with national flights. I was really worried that the last time I saw it would have been at the Athens airport; however, it was on the correct lane, waiting for me to arrive in Washington.
  • While waiting at the Philadelphia airport, I grabbed a snack and sat to eat it; I didn’t notice a small (but oily) piece of food left on the chair. This left me with one pair of trousers less during my stay in Washington.
  • I wish I have chosen a direct flight to Dulles or Baltimore airports; I would have saved a lot of time from the security screening and might have shortened my trip – both of them were more far away from the city center though (so I would have to take a bus and a metro later), and this is why I chose to fly to Ronald Reagan Airport. I promise that I will never do that again – Only direct flights to my U.S. destination if possible.
  • I left home at 07.30 and reach hotel at 05.30 (Greek time), so my trip took almost one day!
  • Metro at the Ronald Reagan Airport was not operational due to works; I had to get a bus for a couple of metro stations, carrying around my heavy luggage
  • I reached hotel only to realize that there was a problem with both my debit cards (both Visa and Mastercard); the Mastercard was rejected, while the limit for the Visa was 500 euros. I only had USD250 with me.
  • The hotel policy for Debit card owners was to charge a fee of $60 per night for the use of the card – I was not aware of that rule and would have paid in cash if I only knew about that. They said that it would be automatically refunded after 10 days – I never trust this kind of transactions, as businesses tend to “forget” that they have to give you back your money.
  • Each evening I returned to the hotel room after the meeting, only to realize that the magnetic key was not working; I was told during my last night at the hotel that this was due to the fact that the room was not paid yet. However, this also applied to my first night at the hotel.
  • I could not withdraw money from a nearby ATM with my Debit Mastercard – I will have to check with my bank about that. **edit** I had to slide the card in the ATM slot and after taking out I was allowed to proceed with the transaction. It was tricky and surely not how things work in Europe.
  • I was never sure the amount charged to my card by the hotel (twice), as the transactions took place behind the counter and in a nicely-hidden spot. And we are not talking about crooks here; it was a $250/night hotel at the center of Washington D.C.
  • I booked the room through Booking.com for a fixed price; I am curious to see how much I was charged in the end.
  • Finding out the exact price for an item is hard, as the prices shown never include taxes – and taxes are different in different cases. You can only find out about that after you pay.
  • On top of that, you need to tip in almost any occasion. You need to tip the doorman, the bellman, the waiter, the lady cleaning the hotel room, the taxi driver etc. Sometimes you are kindly requested to do so, sometimes you really need to. This is not common in Europe and of course it adds up to the prices.
  • I could not find a fast food in Washington, at least the ones shown in movies, with large burgers, large fries, large milk shakes. I only got to each some “big” (but still normal in size) sandwiches and less-than-normal sized milk shakes.
  • Walking around Washington was a pleasure; big pedestrian walks, enormous parks, lots of sights. I walked so much that my feet hurt.
  • You feel safe in Washington. There is police around the city, especially near the public buildings (which are really numerous).
  • I spent about an hour walking to the Capitol, thinking that the river would be exactly behind it; I was totally disoriented as usually, as the river was on the exactly opposite side.
  • There were a lot of buildings that looked like ancient Greek ones; it was really appreciated. On top of that, Americans seem to be really proud of their history and respect monuments and figures; this is not the case in Greece.
  • Jogging is very popular in Washington – you need to take better care of the joggers than the cyclists.
  • Jet lag is a fact – I felt exhausted every day after the lunch for the first days. Then I traveled back home, where things were even worse (see below).
  • There are no croissants in grocery stores (I think they call them Pharmacies here) – The only options for breakfast at the hotel room were biscuits and cereals, along with milk. I lived with that during my last morning in Washington.
  • I did not find any stores to buy gadgets/clothes etc. I wouldn’t have minded to get my hands on a refurbished Microsoft Surface tablet, a Nokia Lumia Windows Phonw or maybe a Mac Pro, but it seems that there was nothing around my hotel (and my long walks).
  • I was nervous about the use of power adapters in US with a Schuko plug (for my laptop) so I grabbed a cheap one from Athens, which costed my 14,5 euros. A similar but more well-built-looking adapter in the Athens airport was sold for 35 euros and the same one (as mine) at Philadelphia airport for about $30. I have to admit that I loved my adapter, which allowed me to charge all my gadgets using both the plug and the included USB port at the same time. It is highly recommended as a cheap alternative to the more expensive and elegant ones (such as SKROSS).
  • I had problems checking out of my hotel, as my cards could not be used for paying the remaining amount ($600 while my account balance was much higher in both cases). I had to visit an ATM and use both cards (Visa & Mastercard) for withdrawing money as there was a $400 limit per card by the ATM and I needed $600 (transaction which incurred fees both by the ATM and by my banks). In the end, there was a pre-charging made in both cards and one of them will have to be released (it may take up to 10 working days as I was told by the hotel). I just hope that I will not be overcharged. Cards are a mess-cash is good…
  • On my was back to Ronald Reagan airport I managed to get the wrong metro line and I started moving outside the city – thanks to a friendly passenger, I was told how to get the right line again.
  • Before flying from Washington to Philadelphia but as soon as we were seated in the airplane, we were told that there was an weight imbalance and one (volunteer) passenger from rows 1-4 should be moved to the last row; I am currently 115 Kg and was sitting at row 4, next to a guy who seemed to be twice as big as me. To everyones relief, I offered to move to the last row.
  • This time there were no big queues so I had to wait quite a lot at the airports. However, there was a 50 min delay from Philadelphia to Athens. This trip seemed endless.
  • As I flew from evening (U.S.) to morning (Greece) I had trouble getting some sleep during the flight. I spent two days trying to recover from the trip.
  • I was expecting my wife to pick me up from the airport but (of course) something happened and I had to take the suburban railway. This meant a delay of about 20 mins and me carrying my 20Kg suitcase and 15 kg backpack over a quite a big number of stairs at the destination station, as both the elevator and the escalators were out of order.

My brand new laptop backpack

After heavy use during the last years, including rain, snow and even sand from trips to the beach, my laptop backpack started showing its age. Some wholes here and there, disintegration of its internal cover which led to water coming in and numerous bits of this annoying black plastic in each one of the items I took out of my bag; it was obvious that it needed replacement as soon as possible and probably before my next business trip. What I needed was at least space for a 15,6′ laptop (I usually carry around my 11,6′ netbook), at least two main compartments (one for the laptop and one for my documents/folders/printouts, snacks etc.) and a smaller one for all small items, like keys, external hard disk, , cables, wallet, ID etc. Mesh pockets would be appreciated, in order to hold my reusable water bottle and umbrella.

During one of my last flights, I saw the Deuter Giga available through the Lufthansa Worldshop for 60 euros (other online prices were much higher). It looked pretty convenient, spacious and full of pockets for all the small stuff I am usually carrying around (especially during business trips). More or less it was what I was looking for. Unfortunately it was not available when I managed to visit the Lufthansa Worldshop in Frankfurt, so I had to look for an alternative…. and it didn’t took me really long!

Right in front of me I saw a really similar laptop backpack but in different color and with different branding; it was the Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 Collection Backpack. It was large (fitting a 17′ laptop), light and looked durable. All pockets and compartments I needed were available plus some more inner pockets. The price was right (59 euros) so I decided to take it back home with me.

Lufthansa_laptop_backpack1 Lufthansa_laptop_backpack2

Next step is the migration of all the stuff currently available in my previous laptop backpack to the new one, just to see how things will be organized in this new bag. Have I mentioned that I love this process? 🙂

My life with my brand new laptop – Toshiba Satellite C670-1C1

My business laptop (the one I use in the office) has been the HP tx-1110us. It was small and fully-featured, a little monster back when it was purchased second hand (I think it was 2008): 2GB or RAM, AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual Core Mobile Technology @ 1.6Ghz, 12.1″ WXGA High-Definition 1280×800 and 120GB hard disk. Unfortunately it also featured the problematic Nvidia GeForce Go 6150, which eventually caused the laptop to overheat and collapse. A colleague of mine managed to fix the laptop once (what the local official service failed to do), recovering it from what we though a burned motherboard; it lasted for two years of hard daily work before it collapsed again – and this time I could not recover it…

Since I realized that I was mostly working with documents, spreadsheets and web pages, and in addition I always left my business laptop at the office, I decided to buy on 17-inch model. I didn’t care about dimensions and weight (I have plenty of room on my desk) so I went searching for the replacement immediately starting from the budget models. I checked 4-5 of them but I ended up with the Toshiba Satellite C670-1C1. It was cheap (bought it online from a local store: e-experts.gr, powerful and looked reliable; in addition, it was covered by an amazing free option for extended guarantee from Toshiba that covers accidents, drops, theft etc.

(Photo taken from e-experts.gr)

The laptop is blazing fast for office use, sporting an Intel® Pentium B960 (2.2GHz) and 4GB of RAM, 500GB of storage and a really vibrant 17.3” LED HD+ Backlit Truebrite 1600×900. I have been working with this laptop for about a month now and I am really pleased with it. The screen is really comfortable for the eyes and really bright and the laptop does not show any sign of delay etc. However, I have noticed some minor glitches that I have to admit are rather annoying:

1. There are only two USB ports, none of them 3.0. This is annoying because since I always have a USB mouse and my external HD plugged in, I have no spare port for e.g. charging a USB device or connecting an additional device, if needed. When it comes to that, I prefer to unplug my mouse and use the touchpad instead, but this is not comfortable. Since there is so much space in the design of a 17-inch laptop, I think that it would be great if they could add an additional USB port. Let alone the fact that even though my HD is USB 3.0, it has to cope up with the limitations of USB 2.0

2. All ports (USB, ethernet, audio, power) are located in the on the left side of the laptop, while there is not a single port e.g. at the back, close to the battery, where all cables and devices would not interfere with hands! In this area I think that my (smaller) previous laptop had a much better design.

3. Battery will not last more than 2 hours when unplugged, with Wifi turned on: Even though this is my business laptop, I have to carry it around in the office in some cases (e.g. in the meeting room) and there is not always the option of a power plug (especially in the crowded meeting room), so one has to be careful with the power management when away from a power outlet.

4. There is no HDMI port / only the standard VGA port. Despite the fact that I do not currently have any HDMI monitor/screen to connect my laptop to, this port may be handy in the near future.

To sum up, I believe that these minor issues spoil the very good impression I get from this laptop. If I could only fix one of them, it would surely be the USB ports as I need more and having a USB-hub n my desk as well is not the optimal solution. However, since the price for the laptop was rather low and the rest of the specs were pretty nice, I will have to bear with that for the next years…

More to come in the future.

Turkish Airlines…flying many years back

To make a long story short:

1. We were supposed to take the Turkish Airlines flight of 13.00 from Izmir to Istanbul, so we reached the airport before 12.00. The flight was cancelled for reasons unknown to us. After that, we had booked a connection flight (Turkish Airlines again) to Athens at 17.00 from Istanbul to Athens.

2. We had our ticket changed to the flight of 15.00, and assured by the Turkish Airlines representative in the Izmir airport that we would have no problem catching the connection flight to Athens.

3. We had a really hard time trying to communicate in English with the Turkish Airlines employees at Izmir airport… only the basics and then we needed the intervention of someone more fluent.

4. The flight of 15.00 was delayed for 1.30 hour. In order for us not to miss the flight to Athens, we changed these tickets to the flight of 22.40 from Istanbul to Athens. No discussion about compensation (e.g. food/drink coupons).

5. We finally managed to fly from Izmir at 17.00 (2 hours of delay). We reached Istanbul at about 18.00 and at about 18.30 we realized that the flight to Athens was delayed by two hours!

6. We reached the desk of Turkish Airlines and asked to have our tickets changed to the delayed flight. We were told that the passengers’ list was closed, so we couldn’t be transferred to this flight.

7. We contacted the appropriate desk of Turkish Airlines in order to ask for some kind of compensation (we have been on the road for 6 hours and had already spent some money on food and coffees while waiting for their flights to take off). They refused any kind of compensation.

8. Now the time is 21.00, we are at the Istanbul airport and we are waiting to get on the flight of 22.45 to Athens. We hope that there will be no more delays.

9. Due to the cancellation/delays of the Turkish Airlines flights, we will not be able to use any mean of public transportation (they stop operating at 23.15). Instead, we will be forced to take a taxi, increasing the amount of expenses that we were forced to make due to the delays of the Turkish airlines flights.

I personally consider the approach of the Turkish Airlines totally unacceptable and in no way appropriate for a large airline boasting about its quality and position in the market. I am going to send a complain form (http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/air/doc/complain_form/eu_complaint_form_en.pdf) and see what the official reaction of Turkish Airlines will be.

UPDATE 14/10/2011: Our flight was set for 03.00 and we reached Athens at about 04.00, after almost 16 hours on the road. We were informed that the problem was caused by the strike of the air traffic controllers in Greece. However, this does not explain the lack of information from the Turkish airlines as well as the cancellation of the flight from Izmir to Istanbul as well as the delay of the next flight by 2 hours… the only compensation we received was a sandwich and a refreshment at about 01.30, after many hours of waiting at the Istanbul airport and a significant amount of money spend on coffees and snacks…

How can a trip go bad…

  1. For once more, I didn’t have enough time to prepare for my participation in the project meeting. There were so many tasks ongoing and my participation to the Training Course during the previous week did not leave me any free time to work on the preparations for my trip to Izmir. I only slept 4 hours before the flight.
  2. Even though I live just 10-15 mins from the Athens airport, I still had to wake up at 05.00 in order to get a taxi that would lead me to the airport and catch the morning flight to Istanbul . There is no public mean of transportation operating before 07.00
  3. It was the first time I was scared during a flight: The plane from Istanbul to Izmir was shaking so heavily that I almost fell off my seat.
  4. When we reached Izmir, there was a heavy rain. It was raining so much that we couldn’t even walk at the sidewalk.
  5. We arrived so late, that we only had time to check in at the hotel and leave our staff before going to the Yasar University for the project meeting.
  6. Nothing was covered by the project meeting organizers (e.g. coffee and lunch breaks) so we had to organize and pay things on our own.
  7. I had to make a really big presentation the next day, which I had not prepared, and my colleague provided me with feedback/revisions at 23.30 so I had to work overnight to finish it. Another 4 hours of sleep.
  8. The schedule of the next day’s agenda was so changed, that I lost track… lack of sleep contributed to it as well.
  9. During the 2nd night at Izmir I collapsed, so I slept from 22.00 to 06.30. I missed the chance to go outside but at least I got some sleep! 
  10. . I was supposed to present a paper on Wednesday evening but there was not enough time so my presentation was moved to Thursday morning. I had planned to get some sleep on Thursday morning and probably see anything of Izmir (it would be my first time to go out of the hotel/university campus and see how Izmir looks like.
  11. . My presentation sucked big time: There was no way to see my slides apart from turning to the wall, while the microphone was located in front of me. A light was blinding me while I was trying to see the audience. Soon I lost the sequence of my presentation and I started saying nonsense. I wondered if anyone was paying attention to what I was saying.
  12. . The taxi driver that took us from the university to the airport apparently ripped us off, since we had to pay 68 Turkish liras for the trip.  I think he made a circle outside the city, only to enter it again after some kilometers. You cannot avoid such things if you are not a local. Taxi drivers did not speak English at all…
  13. . When we arrived at Izmir airport we were informed that our flight was cancelled and  we would be assigned to another one 2 hours later… damn, we forgot to check in last night from the hotel.
  14. . On the last morning at Izmir, I changed 50 euros to Turkish liras in order to have money for the taxi and the duty free (I dreamed of buying something for my wife). Unfortunately, for the flight from Izmir to Istanbul there are no duty free shop (domestic flight) and there will be no time to visit the duty free shops at Istanbul due to the change of the flight. My current chances to visit Turkey in the near future are less than zero so I will be stuck with some 50 liras in my pocket.
  15. . Izmir airport smells of smoke and some kitchen/cooking odor. I feel sick already.
  16. . The public means of transportation in Athens are on a general strike, so I had to call my wife to come and pick me up with my sick son. UPDATE: I will arrive in Athens so late (after 00:00) that my wife will not be able to pick me up.
  17.   The 17.00 flight from Istanbul to Athens was 2 hours delayed, so if we hadn’t changed the tickets we might have been able to catch the flight to Athens… who would have thought about that…

In Izmir

Third day in Izmir, my first trip to Turkey. Things look like in Greece more or less but rather cheaper, but this is not strange. I didn’t even needed a passport to enter the country: My new ID with latin characters was enough – the Turkish people know how to attract people/tourists by removing burdens.

I am not a tourist here and I didn’t have the chance to see anything else apart from the Yasar University (a really impressive private university) hosting the project meeting/conference but I cannot complain. Damn, now that I think about it, I missed both dinners and never had the chance to shoot a single photo of the surrounding… at least I got to sleep more than 4 hours last night, so it worth staying in instead of going out. In the past I could compromise my sleep in order to go sightseeing, now after all these trips it looks like I prefer to cover my basic needs (e.g. sleep) before doing anything else. Maybe I am getting really used in seeing new places or just getting old…

I like to use the metro, get mixed with local people, see things and smell the air. Being one of the locals is not easy but some things help, like walking in the city and using public transport instead of taxi. Today I expect more free time in the evening so I hope that I will have the chance to go around and see things.

View from the Movenpick breakfast lounge
I am staying in Movenpick hotel, one of the best hotels that I have seen during my (numerous) trips around Europe: The room is really classy but with no eccentricities, well-designed and really comfortable. The bed is really nice, with comfortable pillows and mattress, full of amenities, such as free bottled water, a leather armchair with leg-resting support, even a speaker in the bathroom for listening what is currently played in TV while taking a shower! Breakfast buffet is also one of the richest and more tasty that I have ever tasted, demanding for sufficient time to be spent there. It is really strange that the room was not really expensive, at least compared to other European hotels of the same class…

I hope that it will not rain again today. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

External hard disk – The order

I have been searching for a good, reliable, portable and affordable external hard disk for the last 3-4 months (ok, it’s not always easy for me to make such decisions, for things that I want to keep for many years!). It is going to be used for storing my emails/inbox (if and when I find out how to store the Windows Live Mail inbox in an external drive), photos from project meetings and office stuff in general. No personal stuff in there…

One of the most reliable but not so cheap options was the WD My Passport Essential USB 3.0. Its main advantages were the following:

  • All my gadget/hi-tech freaks pals recommended this HD, due to its reliability. No one wants a cheap disk that will crash, leading to loss of of its contents.
  •  It is one of the lightest and more compact HDs around. That was really important for me, as it will be added in my backpack for frequent travelling from and to the office. The less I have to carry, the better for me.
  • I look to the future: USB3.0 will probably be implemented in my next laptop, so it would be nice to have an external HD with this feature (as long as it lives to see that day!).
WD Passport Essential 500GB Red USB 3.0 2.5'
So, after I saw a drop in price last night, I decided to go for it. I ordered it online from Electroworld for 64 euros (price includes shipping costs by courier service) and I already received the order confirmation. I chose the red color, because I believe that it will fit nicely with my pearl-white netbook (with which I plan to pair!). I have already made some purchases online from Electroworld and I was pretty pleased with their services and after-sales support.
Now I am just waiting for the HD to arrive and then I will start adding stuff!

Βιέννη, ημέρα 2η

Πώς γίνεται, κάθε φορά που ταξιδεύω με το Μπάμπη να πρέπει να δουλεύω μέχρι τα ξημερώματα… σηκώθηκα σήμερα με 4 ώρες ύπνο και χωρίς ξυπνητήρι παρακαλώ, έκανα το ντουζάκι μου και κατέβηκα για πρωινό. Ο μπουφές ήταν με διαφορά ο πιο φτωχός που έχω δει ποτέ σε ξενοδοχείο, ακόμα και σε hostel που έχω μείνει! Ακόμα και τον καφέ έπρεπε να τον ζητήσεις για να σου τον φέρουν… τα κλασικά γλυκά (βούτυρο, μαρμελάδα, κέηκ) και αλμυρά (αυγά χτυπητά, μπέϊκον, ψωμάκια) μαζί με αυτά που δεν τρώω ποτέ σε ξενοχοδείο (γιαούρτι/γάλα, δημητριακά, φρούτα, κομπόστες κλπ). Μετά από το δυναμωτικό πρωινό κατευθείαν στο χώρο συνάντησης.

Σήμερα είχαμε μικρές μάχες που μάλλον έληξαν αναίμακτα…βοήθησε και το χορτοφαγικό φαγητό το μεσημέρι καθώς και οι ξεπλυμένοι καφέδες που δεν μπορούσαν να διώξουν τη νύστα… υποτονικά όλα μετά από κάποια φάση, απλά περιμέναμε το διαιτητή να σφυρίξει τη λήξη! Μια μπυρίτσα στα βιαστικά για τον αποχαιρετισμό μέχρι το επόμενο meeting και μετά επιστροφή στο ξενοδοχείο: Απάντηση στα emails, report, οργάνωση για τις επόμενες ημέρες για να καλύψουμε το χαμένο χρόνο από τις 2 μέρες μακρυά από το γραφείο…

Άντε με το καλό να επιστρέψουμε αύριο στην Αθήνα. Καλή η Βιέννη, αλλά χωρίς παρέα δεν κάνεις πολλά πράγματα… άσε που με γονάτισε και η νύστα από νωρίς. Καληνύχτα και καλή τύχη!

Βιέννη – Ημέρα 1η

Ταξίδι για το 4ο project meeting του CerOrganic. Πρώτη φορά στη Βιέννη, πρώτη φορά και σε meeting του CerOrganic. Τουλάχιστον physical meeting, γιατί σε flash meetings έχω συμμετάσχει αρκετές φορές. Από τα λίγα ταξίδια που κάνω τελευταία και δεν περιμένω βροχή ή κρύο στο προορισμό μου. Ο καιρός στη Βιέννη φαίνεται (από την πρόγνωση) ίδιος ή και καλύτερος σε σχέση με της Αθήνας.

Υπάρχουν δύο γρήγοροι τρόποι για να μεταβείς από το αεροδρόμιο της Βιέννης (Flughafen) στο κέντρο της πόλης (Wien Mitte):

Με το τραίνο του αεροδρομίου (City Airport Train – CAT): Τιμή εισιτηρίου €10,00 μέχρι το Wien Mitte, μετά άλλα €1,80 για τη μετακίνηση με το μετρό. Διάρκεια διαδρομής περίπου 16 λεπτά, αναχώρηση κάθε 30 λεπτά (05 &35).

Με το μετρό (SchnellBahn – S-Bahn): Τιμή εισιτηρίου €3,60 (2 x 1,80), αφού περνάει από 2 ζώνες του μετρό (Auberzone + Vienna Zone 100). Διάρκεια διαδρομής περίπου 24 λεπτά (κάνει ενδιάμεσες στάσεις), αναχώρηση κάθε 30 λεπτά (18 & 48).

Η διαδρομή φαίνεται βολική και το μετρό φαίνεται να διασχίζει όλη τη Βιέννη, οπότε οι μετακινήσεις δεν θα αποτελέσουν πρόβλημα. Το ξενοδοχείο βρίσκεται περίπου 25 λεπτά με τα πόδια από το χώρο της συνάντησης, με μια διαδρομή που λένε (ο Μπάμπης τουλάχιστον!) ότι είναι ιδανική για περπάτημα, μέσα από πάρκα και πεζόδρομους. Θα είναι ευκαιρία να κινηθώ λίγο, γιατί το πρωινό σε ξενοδοχείο (μπουφές) μου πέφτει λίγο βαρύ κάθε φορά. Αν έτρωγα τέτοιο πρωινό καθημερινά στο σπίτι, τώρα θα σας έβλεπα από κάπου ψηλά, πάνω από τα σύννεφα! Το ανησυχητικό βέβαια είναι ότι τα ταξίδια όσο περνάει ο καιρός γίνονται ολοένα και πιο συχνά…

Μιλώντας για ξενοδοχείο, έχουμε κλείσει στο Zipser, το οποίο είναι από τα λίγα που προσφέρουν δωρεάν πρόσβαση ίντερνετ στα δωμάτια! Επιτέλους πια, αυτή η κατάσταση με το δωρεάν ίντερνετ μόνο στο lobby που συνηθίζουν τα περισσότερα ξενοδοχεία είναι πολύ εκνευριστική και καθόλου βολική. Πόσα βράδια έχουμε ξενυχτήσει με συναδέλφους στα lobby των ξενοδοχείων που μένουμε για να δούμε και να απαντήσουμε σε emails, να κατεβάσουμε πληροφορίες κλπ. Όσο για τις χρεώσεις, τις περισσότερες φορές είναι μάλλον τσιμπημένες, αφού ποντάρουν στην ανάγκη του πελάτη να είναι δικτυωμένος στο ίντερνετ για διάφορους λόγους (email, skype calls, photo uploading/sharing, document sharing, αναζήτηση πληροφοριών κλπ). Τη χρέωση του ίντερνετ στα δωμάτια τη θεωρώ απαράδεκτη, όπως θα θεωρούσα απαράδεκτη τη χρέωση για τις πετσέτες του μπάνιου, τα σαπουνάκια ή το πάπλωμα. Το ίντερνετ είναι πλέον βασική υπηρεσία σε ένα ξενοδοχείο, τουλάχιστον για όσους ταξιδεύουν για επαγγελματικούς λόγους.

Τελικά έφτασα στο meeting περίπου στις 12.15, σχετικά γρήγορα. Επιτέλους βρέθηκα στο δωμάτιο του ξενοδοχείου λίγο μετά τις 19.00, ίσα να αφήσω τη βαλίτσα μου και να ξαναβγώ για να συναντήσω τους υπόλοιπους… το δωμάτιο είναι εξαιρετικά μικρό, με διαφορά το πιο μικρό που έχω δει ποτέ!

Zipser room

Παρόλα αυτά φαίνεται βολικό και πρακτικό. Κρεβάτι μονό αλλά άνετο, με ζεστό πάπλωμα, μπάνιο κρύο αλλά σχετικά καινούριο, εξοπλισμός τα βασικά: Πορτατίφ, καρέκλα και γραφείο αλλά χωρίς μινι-μπαρ και μπιχλιμπίδια (σαπουνάκια, δειγματάκια σαμπουάν κλπ). Αντί για αυτά, μεγάλα dispenser σε ντουζιέρα και νιπτήρα με σαμπουάν/αφρόλουτρο/σαπούνι. Ευτυχώς είχα safe για να αφήνω προσωρινά διάφορα πράγματα. Ακόμα και το παράθυρο/μπαλκονόπορτα έχει φάτσα στην εξωτερική μεταλλική σκάλα κινδύνου! Τέλος πάντων, για ένα ύπνο είναι, και έχει και ιντερνετ στην τιμή. Περισσότερα αύριο. Καληνύχτα!