Sarah and I just watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I know, I know, Welcome to 2004! Well, better late than never. Actually, we bought the movie on a whim at an HMV in Ireland at a drastically reduced price. Shades of Being John Malkovich*and 12 Monkeys make it intriguing and more than a little creepy at times — but in a really emotionally engaging way. So, yeah — don’t ever erase someone who cares about you from your mind; it’s pretty much the cruelest thing I can think of.
Earlier this week, we hit the movie theater for the latest Coen Brothers flick Burn After Reading. Maybe I’m going soft in my old age, but that one didn’t sit nearly as well with me as Fargo or The Big Lebowski.* It just didn’t seem as clever, relying much more on screamed curse words and lame sex and adultery themes for the entertainment. Even the Brad Pitt character was funny but vapid — and mostly just vapid. I don’t know, maybe I’m getting crotchety, but I expected more of them.
Anybody been to Iceland and feel like telling us about it? What’s not to miss? What to avoid? Can you get the same thing closer to home (Norway, Sweden, Finland)? Suggestions/recommendations as soon as possible would be much appreciated.
Whew. I’m tired. That week was bumpy, even with a one-night stay at home from Thursday night to Friday morning.
Arriving in Sibiu was fine and smooth for me, but one of the guys from Iași had a six-hour layover in Bucharest — travel inside Romania is not always easy. And my travel buddy from Nuremberg on this trip got there with about two hours late, which caused us to postpone the plant tour to next morning…cutting into our work time. But we had a lovely dinner at a very traditional restaurant.
I thought we would be able to get past the slightly bumpy start after a night’s sleep at the Ramada Sibiu. Maybe it was too comfortable — when we finally finished the plant tour and started to get down to business, I realized I’d left my little bag of cables and connectors and Elektroschrott back at the hotel. Which means I couldn’t get us onto any part of “my” company’s network (since we got bought last year, our networks have been completely separate). How embarrassing. But I tried to rectify the situation by grabbing a taxi back to the hotel on my lunch break. It took a half an hour just for the taxi to arrive, and then forty-five minutes to get from the plant (outskirts of town, 1 minute from the airport) to the hotel and 15 minutes to get back from the hotel to the plant. What did I learn? Traffic in Sibiu can be extremely chaotic.
We had another very nice, traditional dinner in Sibiu that evening, and I was playing around with my tripod and remote shutter, trying to take some interesting low light (no flash!) pictures. I think I still have some learning to do in that realm. Oh, and it would help if everyone would stop moving while I’m shooting, please.
Checking out of the Ramada Sibiu the next morning was also somewhat chaotic. There was a mad dash of businessmen yelling at the lone receptionist guy about how they were going to miss their flights because their taxis to the airport hadn’t yet shown up (even though the poor receptionist guy called twice, pleading for a taxi to show up, etc.). I was a bit stressy too, but it turns out we had nothing to worry about. We got to the airport just fine and were delayed in boarding our plane for TWO HOURS due to foggy conditions both in Sibiu and Timisoara. Then after boarding, we waited another one hour in the plane on the tarmac before the weather finally broke.
Of course, all of this put a big time squeeze on our meeting in Timisoara and frustration levels there rose again. Walking around downtown Timisoara at night after a meal at a fancy restaurant helped us relax a little. The next day in Timisoara was stressier again (fortunately not for me — I was mostly observing on this part of the mission) due to time constraints and personal objectives of the participants, but thanks to the team assistant in Timisoara, I budgeted plenty of time for the trip to the airport and all went smoothly on the way home.
10 hours after arriving here though I was already on a train headed out to Nuremberg, in meetings all day with my boss and his boss and my Nuremberg travel buddy from the first four days of the week. I’d planned to finish the week with a 16:31 departure from Nuremberg to Regensburg, but the discussion got kind of involved, so I opted to catch the 18:31 instead. And then the discussion caused me to miss that train as well, despite running all through the Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof and actually pressing the button to open the door to the train. Missing a train by less than 5 seconds is really, really frustrating. So I waited an hour at the train station and finally made it back to our apartment around 21:00. I am glad that week is over.
Ramada Sibiu Hotel
Emil Cioran Str, No 2
This is a pretty snazzy place! Nice room with a great bathroom and a classy design. My only complaint: the breakfast options were pretty meager (plenty of horrid coffee though, if that’s your thing) and although they offered to pack us a snack to compensate for our early departure, there was no coffee available at all that morning. Here are some pictures from the room:
I’ve been back from Ireland for three whole days, and now it’s time to head out again. Tomorrow morning I’m headed to Romania on business, but not to my usual destination of Iaşi. This time my Iaşi team members are meeting me in Sibiu for two days, where we will get to know some new colleagues doing similar work, to explore our similarities and differences and try to make a proposal for future collaboration.
Then, I’m off to Timişoara for two days to soak up some knowledge from two kinds of experts — one German and one Romanian — before returning home to Germany on Thursday evening. But that’s not all; I’m in Nürnberg for the day on Friday, so it’ll be a full (work-)week on the road.
We had grand plans for our last day in Ireland — Blarney Castle, or maybe even another shot at the Cliffs of Moher.
But in the end we decided to play it closer to “home” in Kenmare, and we are glad we did. We were rewarded with spectacular views of the Lough Leane in Killarney National Park and on a whim strolled 500 meters through the woods to the Torc Falls.
From there we headed to Ross Castle, took a short tour, and headed home to get ready for the big travel day (today). Fortunately, that all went smoothly.
After the big, wet trip to the Cliffs of Moher, we opted for a somewhat easier drive down to the most southwestern point of Ireland, Mizen Head*. We were rewarded with much brighter skies and stronger winds blowing the clouds around. We had a blast setting destinations into the GPS into our rental car and then ignoring them if something interesting appeared on the horizon. Stopped into Schull for lunch.
Yesterday we tried to drive up to the Cliffs of Moher because we heard they are fantastic. The weather was crummy when we left, but we were hoping it would clear up or at least break a little bit while we were visiting the cliffs.
Didn’t work out that way. We got soaked and couldn’t see ANYTHING. So we bought some postcards and shipped ’em out. The postcards look nice. After that we stopped in a little town on the way to explore its prominently displayed graveyard on a hill high above the town’s center, which resulted in some spooky photos. But it was very quiet and peaceful up there, which was refreshing after the disappointment of the invisible Cliffs of Moher.
The GPS device included with our rental car gets big cheers for taking us along some of the cutest roads we’ve seen yet, on our way to the ferry to help us skip past the mouth of the River Shannon (shaving at least an hour off our drive time on the return trip).
After three days, we finally gave up on the wireless internet access that is supposed to work from our room. It just doesn’t…but it does from the lobby.
It’s going pretty much as planned. Thursday we wandered around after arriving in the afternoon. Yesterday (Friday) we explored Cobh (a.k.a. Cove, previously known as Queenstown), a major emigration center in past decades. They have a lovely museum on the topic of emigration. Oddly enough, our first excursion in Bremen was to Bremerhaven to explore their emigration museum (a few posts back). Today the weather kinda disappointed us, so we stuck to exploring Cork on foot, with a little light shopping, and a visit to their Butter Museum (no samples!?).
We’ve been making sure to have Bailey’s in our coffee and a glass of Murphy’s with dinner and are enjoying the Irish Breakfast selections (barring the black pudding).