Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Adventures of Steph/ven: #2: Minneapolis

The day before I departed on my holiday to Sardinia, there was raised the question of a team going out to see our customer, to help them with the next phase of our project. (I can say no more than that - see my "no work talk" rule.) I was adjudged to be the most likely candidate, probably to go out with one other person. So, I left my details behind, and went off on holiday.

I was therefore back in the country for less than four and a half days before I was jetting off once more, this time to Iceland and then to Minneapolis.

The journey out was not terribly pleasant. The flights both ways were absolutely packed, so there really wasn't enough room. Plus, there was only a single drinks service, and absolutely nothing complimentary. I guess that's the price of travelling economy class. Still, that's also worse than I've enjoyed on any previous trans-Atlantic flights.

Incidentally, I saw neither my Mum nor LC's while in Iceland. Nor Kerry Katona for that matter.

While over there, I was staying in the Hilton. But I should probably clarify that - this wasn't one of their top-end signature hotels, but rather one of their more modest budget locations. Really, it was more like a Premier Inn. Still I had a comparitively huge room (they were packed when I arrived, so I ended up with a handicap-access room, hence the larger proportions; I didn't complain), and it was everything it really needed to be.

Most of the rest of the trip consisted of work. I was there for fifteen days, and I worked fourteen of those. I did take the second Saturday off, mostly because there's a limit to how much you can do. But that was fine - as I see it, I was there for a particular purpose, and if I can better achieve that purpose by working very long hours for a short period, then so be it. It wasn't like I was over-endowed with options - if the choice is 'work' or 'sit round the hotel room', it's not a difficult choice.

(I actually did quite a lot of my work while sitting around my hotel room, and actually that was often more convenient than working from the office, but that was purely incidental.)

On my day off, I raced around various place. In the morning, I went to see the cathedral in St Paul (named for a different St Paul). Here's a couple of pictures:

I also went to see Fort Snelling, which was constructed at the joining of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers in 1820, and which was at that time the furthest outpost of 'civilisation' in the US. While there, I saw demonstrations of musket- and cannon-fire, which were extremely interesting. I actually had never seen a 'real' gun fired before.

Actually, that was probably the high point of my day. I'm just a little annoyed at myself that I never took any pictures. Oh well.

After that, my host and I had lunch, and then I made sure to go and purchase LC a nice present, to make up for being absent for so long.

Speaking of LC, we were quite fortunate that we were able to communicate using Skype while I was out there. I made sure to set this up before I left, and it made a huge difference - especially on those days when I was working out of the hotel, when we could use the video function.

And that's mostly that. One evening I went to see "The Wolverine", which was okay, though I missed the first five minutes due to going to the wrong cinema. And it was hot and humid out there, though I'm told it was unseasonably cool, and that things are about to head into winter quite fast.

Oh yes, and there's the ice cream. On my day off, my host took me to an ice cream parlour, where I had a huge chocolate-dipped cone filled with two nice flavours (one of which was banana and chocolate; I think the other was strawberry, but I forget). Anyway, that was nice, right up until I tried to bite into the cone itself. At this point, the non-chocolate-y bit twisted and collapsed in my hand. Thereafter, the whole adventure was something of a scramble - could I finish the ice cream before it melted all over my hand? (The answer, unsurprisingly, was "no".)

Actually, my diet there was pretty terrible. Meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, lots of soda, coffee, and huge amounts of beer. Very little fruit or veg... and yet, somehow, it seemed to do me a huge amount of good. I really don't understand these things sometimes. Oh well. (Plus, no Irn Bru! The sacrifices I make sometimes...)

The flight back was much better than going out. Because I'd needed a flexible return date, I'd been booked into Economy Comfort class, which had the same seats as Saga (First) Class, albeit without the fancy meal and the champagne before takeoff (seriously). So, I had loads of room, loads of comfort... and was too tired to really appreciate it. I spent my time watching crap sitcoms, while lamenting that the light wasn't good enough to read by. Of course, I was too tired to read anyway, but it's the principle of the thing.

(I still didn't see any relevant Mums in Iceland on the way back, but I was only there for about 45 minutes - just long enough to buy a wonderful mug with Vikings on, and to visit the toilet. Still, I fear the adverts may have been lying.)

And that was my second adventure.

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