I mentioned that I was nominated to go to Berlin for a special event that was taking place there for our German Retail Market. The reason that I and a few others from my office had been selected was because the CEO of the company was unfortunately not going to be stopping off in Amsterdam on his “European Tour”. My Finance VP actually suggested to my bosses that I go as one of the four to represent our regional support center based on our passion and enthusiasm for the company. Of course I was totally honored and humbled to have been chosen! But I may have also mentioned that it was the busiest time of year for us?
The normal work challenges were enough during this period, but somehow I had to find a way to make it work. On the 20th I left the office and went directly from Amsterdam to Düsseldorf, where I would stay the night and in the morning very early take a flight from there to Berlin. I was completely stressed from work load, tired from working overtime and on top of everything run down and feeling like crap because I had been (stress) eating like crap. The hotel I was staying at was amazing, but kind of out in the middle of nowhere. I had very little cash (bad arrangements on my part and the taxi costing more than I’d planned) and very little food and the reception closed literally 15 minutes after I arrived so I couldn’t even inquire about a place to eat and was too tired to even bother anyway. Unfortunately I didn’t get a brilliant night’s sleep regardless of how comfy the bed and pillows were. I was up and out by 6am and on my way to the airport. Thankfully I was greeted by smiles and friendliness at Starbucks and had a delicious breakfast and eventually I was on my way to Berlin (oh yeah and sidenote: I was also visited by Aunt Flo in her Big Red Hat… had “supplies” with me but no pain tablets, which really, really sucked the full day I was in Germany).
The flight was uneventful (except for the fact that it was during Oktoberfest, so on the flight they gave us yummy fresh warm pretzels…) and once I arrived I met up with two of my colleagues who’d just flown in from Amsterdam. We thought it’d be pretty easy to get to the hotel where the event was happening, but as it was the Pope was also in town, AND staying at the same hotel so we had to take all kinds of detours through the city.
The event itself was really nice. In the beginning we just mingled, had coffee and sandwiches and I was so lucky to meet a load of people I’ve only had email correspondence with over the last 5 years. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits despite some news that had been delivered a few weeks before (the office is relocating quite far from where it is now) and soon it was time for us to go in for the Open Forum.
We watched inspirational videos made by partners in the Market themselves (and of course it was all in German so I had to crank up my language skills pretty hard to get most of it – the gist anyway) and then videos that had been shown to partners all over the world. Then the CEO spoke to us and shared a few of his stories as well and opened up the forum for questions. To generalize (which I hate doing but I don’t mean it negatively) the Germans are not as vocal or daring with their questions in these situations, at least not like the Dutch or the French who will just come out and say whatever it is on their minds. A few of my German colleagues asked a couple of questions, my American colleague (who works in Amsterdam) asked a question and then I asked a question last. I was kind of scared to ask what I wanted to know from him, but at the same time I’m familiar enough with how he is to know it would be ok. And… he said it was a very good and very brave question and he answered it honestly.
After the forum we chatted a bit with several people and then took a stroll through the Brandenburg Gate up and over to Potsdammer Platz where we finally decided to get some lunch. We ended up at an amazing restaurant with gorgeous food and sat and chatted for two hours before we headed back out to the airport. At this point I was in massive amounts of pain thanks to Auntie Flo, but I still have to say I had a brilliant day. At the airport I found the nearest pharmacy and the woman there was so incredibly helpful and even offered me water for the tablets I bought to ease the pain (that has never happened to me, regardless of country I’m in).
I arrived back at Düsseldorf and my lovely husband was there to pick me up (he rocks!!!). On the way home we stopped in a German town about 45 minutes from us for dinner. It’s always the little places in the middle of nowhere that have the best food and service and this place was no exception! The day was great but there was still stress involved in getting there – the dinner with my husband was exactly what I needed to feel more relaxed. A perfect end to the day!
Next up – Work Event and Social Event