Monday, April 2, 2012

Work Travel

I live a truly blessed life, I really do. A year ago, I was lost with a silly idea that somehow became a reality. On top of that, the same job I had that made me drive to the suburbs everyday finally picked up, and so about 6 months ago I started travelling all over. Trip to Budapest here, Atlanta there, Cape Town name it.

Most of the time it’s great...

I am told I am visiting a new city...nay country...nay, continent! Who ever knew ticking this box on my to do list would happen so early in life.

Sunday morning I wake up with a buzzing excitement. I pack in a hurry, not caring too much about what I have in my suitcase. Who needs to wear something cool when you are going somewhere cool?! Travelling this much has allowed me to relax a bit and know that no matter what I forget I will be ok.

Long or Overnight flight to destintation – sometimes coach, sometimes business. Always tipsy.

Time passes so quickly when you have so much work to do in so little time, that without realising it my colleagues have already left me to finish up and then enjoy my weekend in Shanghai, Germany, etc.

While I am alone, I’m so excited for the opportunity to do things I never find time for anymore: working out, reading a good book, catching a great movie on TV, and having some thoughts to sort through.

The weekend arrives and I am filled with joy over what my adventures may bring. Unfortunately, the books on my kindle are just not quite up to snuff for me at the moment but that is OK. Perhaps I can make friends at meals and outings!

Sometimes the food is outstanding, and when it is I think of all my friends and family who I wish could share it with me. Food is such a great insight into a culture, and when followed up by a great outdoor activity or museum – the weekend cannot really be any more fulfilling.

At the end of my journey I hop on to a plane and am whisked away on to my next adventure. Ah, such is life!

....and sometimes it ain’t.

I made status, I sit in lounges, I sip champers. I am that person at security that judges you for not emptying your pockets. I cut you in line, get on the plane first and shake my head at you when your overhead luggage has no place else to go but down below. And I know it comes off as rude, but if you were on a plane as much as myself, you’d do it too.

Imagine my time:

Wake up Sunday morning in whatever state Saturday has left me and throw some stuff in a bag. Ensure I have a credit card, passport and toothbrush – pray I brought enough underwear.

Give the cabbie backdoor routes to Heathrow to avoid the flyover or traffic depending on the hour and time of day. This is my small talk.

Long or Overnight flight to destintation – sometimes coach, sometimes business. Always tipsy.

Monday morning: Arrive in what I pray is not a long immigration check before scooting off to work. Did I get a lot of sleep? When are they going to change the meal from chicken and leek? Is my hair fixed? Am I wearing deodorant? Doesn’t matter. Client has paid for me to show up and work and that is what I will do.

A few days after what I’d like to call the blackout phase I realise I was smart enough to “take advantage” of the trip itself and stay over the weekend. Exactly what I want to do after this week, right?! STAY HERE! So while my colleagues continue on to the next destination or go home, I work those last couple of days by myself and thing of how much fun the weekend will be.

I wake up to that lovely prerecorded wake up call. Dinner that night I decide to venture out. But no matter how good the food, it is just not that fun eating by yourself with absolutely no conversation in a public place, so the next night I order room night too.

Wake up Saturday morning. Get a map, start my adventure. Then realise I have no freaking clue where or what to do. I didn’t have time to plan. Wondering the streets, I have a mediocre tourist meal at a restaurant I found on trip advisor. I look for a fellow tourist, or someone of a similar descent that may speak English to get some advice on what to do but there isn’t one in sight.

Then I think I’ll just go back to the hotel for a nice workout, movie and sleep. Call room service again. Sometimes I order room service just to hear someone say my name and ask “ How is you.” I am immediately judged when they get to my room and realise dinner with 2 glasses of wine was for 1. Whatever, back to the movie.

But oh so gone are the days when Shawshank Redemption or While you were Sleeping comes on...nowadays I get excited when Valentines Day is showing instead of some movie Jack Nicholson starred in pre-Shining. I did not know so many movies flopped in the early 80’s , and that they were then sold to Starwood Hotels.

Saturday : Still Alone. Haven’t had a conversation with someone in 3 days. Childhood memories of charades are polluted with my now feeble attempts to ask for directions to the museum with my universal acting skills, pointing to pictures of things I want to eat and trying to make the shape of a giant red wine glass with my hands.

Off to the gym, back to the TV. Check facebook for the 500th time..most of the updates are because someone else has popped out either a kid or the question...and to think I wanted to write about a cool statue I saw today.


I would rather sit in silence than watch “Ninja Assasin” or hear about (again) how is Greece is pissed off that the EU (aka Germany) doesn’t want to throw money at their problems. Now Spain is realising siestas aren’t exactly profitable. Great. Love the news.

I happen to be in a book rut where every book I start I cannot get into because the last one was so damn good.(please give me suggestions!)

So I turn to music. Music when I’m walking, working out, all the time. The number of dance parties I’ve had in my room could rival every chick flick break-up scene ever made. Music is so great. It would be greater if I had time to update my ipod in the last two years. ( good thing Ben Folds and Steve Miller band are timeless)

I remind myself to look at this new world around me. To soak it in, to push myself to find new experiences...but there are a limited number of times you can sit in cafes and restaurants staring at people before you become a full blown stalker. Only so many times it is endearing to wonder around a city for 5 hours getting lost and ending up in the bad end of town. Only so many times you can sit at a bar and have the same basic conversation with people before realising the language barrier is too high to break.

Sleep is off, the food is hit and miss,and while I think working out will just be my answer – I find I am constantly too exhausted to go down to the gym, or don’t know which direction to run upon stepping out of the hotel ( as several of my destinations lately have been in small towns without a gym)

At last, I am back at the airport for that highly anticipated flight back home. Stepping in the house, I am elated. If only for a couple of days, until the next trip is due.

And the verdict is: Travel is totally worth whatever capacity you can get it. The bad stories are funny, the great stories are what you cherish and the ones in the middle are still different than how you would be living everyday in one place. However, like all things in life it is much more fun to share an experience than have one all to oneself. :)