A challenging business trip to Ireland

I recently made a 3-days business trip to Ireland for a 2-day Conference. Due to a relatively recent operation I had, I decided to travel light, carrying only my backpack and a cabin-sized suitcase with only the basics. But this is a trip where things went wrong…

  1. During the flight to Dublin, I managed to stain my shirt (one of the three I had with me) with olive olive during the in-flight lunch. I tried to remove it with wet towels, hand refreshers and lots of soap and rinsing with water but didn’t succeed.
  2. I reached the hotel after about a long trip of 12 hours from Athens. As a result, I missed the interesting guided tour to the Kilkenny Castle, the Welcome Reception (drinks included) as well as a couple of interesting speeches.
  3. When I reached the hotel and started unpacking, I realized that the small dispenser with my dry-skin lotion was broken in the suitcase and left some stains on my second shirt – two shirts off before even the start of the Conference!
  4. My third shirt, which I had picked up from the dry cleaners just before the trip had some small coffee stains which had not been properly (and entirely) removed) – I only wish I had noticed that when I picked it up…
  5. The hotel had a maze-like arrangement (rather complex for newcomers) and some irregularities (e.g. Reception was on top of the 1st and 2nd floor!) so I got lost while heading to the reception. This resulted in me getting out of the building through an one-way security door (not opening from the outside) and I found myself in chilling cold, wearing only a shirt and having just left the steaming shower. That was a shock for me, but fortunately I didn’t catch a cold. No doors opened from outside, so I had to walk in the woods surrounding the hotel until I reached its main entrance.
  6. I left my smartphone to charge overnight using an EU to UK adapter but forgot that the UK power outlets have a small on-off switch. When I woke up in the morning, the smartphone’s battery was almost drained. It was a good thing I had my second device almost fully charged.
  7. On the way back to Athens, my flight from Dublin to London was delayed by more than 1 hour, so I was not sure if I will be able to catch my connecting flight to Athens. I tried to reach both Aer Lingus and British Airways through their social media (FB pages and Twitter) but I got no response. On top of that, power outlets in Dublin airport were out of order and I was running out of battery. Thank God for the free WiFi.
  8. When we landed in London, nobody knew if we had sufficient time to catch our flight to Athens. I was rushing so much that I missed the signs leading to the bus connecting Heathrow Terminal 2 with Terminal 5 and I had to walk much longer to catch the train. I was in a real shock.
  9. Fortunately our flight from London to Athens was also delayed, so I found myself boarding later on. Unfortunately It was delayed so much (more than 2 hours, if I recall well), that we reached Athens early morning (about 05.30) instead of 02.30.
  10. British Airways has turned into a low-cost airline and I was not aware of that. Instead of free beverages during the flight, we were handed a Marks & Spencer menu list and we had to pay for virtually anything that we needed – even for coffee and water. I feel sorry that I had opted for the BA flight instead of e.g. an Aegean one.
  11. The delayed flights along with the lack of proper sleep during the previous days, resulted in me sleeping abnormal times during the weekend, as I was really exhausted.

That’s the kind of stuff that you hate when traveling – especially for business purposes. No matter how well you prepare, things can easily go wrong. It’s a good thing that they’re not typical to most of my business trips, but some times, shot happens!

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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 🙂

 

Business trip with a tablet

I just returned from a two-day business trip. It was the first time as far as I remember that I traveled with a cabin luggage only and I had to make some room – starting with my laptop. Instead of taking my 17-inch (ouch!) work laptop from the office with me (too heavy) or my personal 15-inch from home (that was hardly an option, as both my wife and kids use it on a daily basis), I opted to take my 10.1-inch transformer with me.

Did it perform well? Well, I managed to finish my slides, keep up with my emails (using Mozilla Thunderbird on an external hard disk), browse and use social media, blog, check maps of the city and places to eat – all using just my tablet with its docked keyboard.

Could it be any better? Well, I had my micro-HDMI to HDMI cable with me, hoping that I could plug it in the flat TV available in my hotel room – unfortunately the TV did not have any HDMI ports. Apart from that I faced no performance issues with 4-5 browser tabs open, an external HD plugged in as well as a USB mouse and the charger at the same time.

Will I do it again in the future? Well, unless I get myself a 12/13-inch ultrabook, this will be my travel companion from now on. I may get myself a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse so that I can type faster and use the tablet from a distance while it is plugged in a larger monitor. No need for carrying around a much heavier 15-inch laptop or an even heavier 17-inch one – I have done that in the past and it did not work well while commuting with a backpack full of papers, books/notepads, cables etc.