Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hitting the Road Again

I started a new job on March 1st this year with a company called Core Solutions, based in Hong Kong. My first project is with a company in Lille, France and I will be flying over this Friday for the project kickoff next Monday. I will be flying back and forth all summer and am hoping to do some sightseeing on my free weekends (Paris, Belgium, Normandy....). So, I thought I would resurrect the travel blog to post pictures and stories. I hope there are still some readers out there!

I'll check in again once I get there!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Is anyone out there??

So it seems my hiatus from international travel is coming to an end... I will be flying to Hong Kong in a few weeks for my new client. I have never been to Asia, so this will be a great opportunity to see another part of the world. Unfortunately, I will only be there for a week - and, it happens to be monsoon season. Hot, humid and lots of rain. So, stay tuned!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

How do you get there from here???

This is Mary and I on our flight to Cape Town. Delta started direct service from JFK to Cape Town (via a stopover in Dakar, Senegal at 4:00 AM). The flight is about 18 hours and with the fight to JFK and the layover, its about 26 hours of travel time total. We were unbelievably lucky to be UPGRADED on the flight, though. For those season travellers out there - what are the chances of being upgraded to business class on an international flight when you only have Silver status? The answer is, when the airline oversells the coach cabin by 44 seats - pretty damn good! I, of course, am on the left. Mary is in the middle and our new friend on the flight, Barrie is on the right. Our flight attendant for the JFK to Dakar flight looked suspiciously like my boss - I am not kidding. He agreed to let us take his picture, but he left the plane before we got a chance. It was weird, I tell you.

Mary flew back home this past Friday and I am anxious to hear if she managed to get upgraded for the return flight as well. Keep your fingers crossed.

Alive and...... well, Alive in South Africa

Hey - remember me? It's the long lost blogger. On my last trip home, I was assured by various friends and family that if I started to blog again, they would, in fact, leave comments. So, I am taking you at your word and will invest some of my previous free time to update you on the goings on in Cape Town.

Since my return to the Motherland 2 weeks ago, there have been many hours logged (not blogged!) at work. A good friend and co-worker, Mary, flew back to Cape Town with me as she is our corporate trainer and was coming down to the train the future users and administrators of the application we have been building and configuring for the last 5 months. It was Mary's first trip to Africa and I *think* she enjoyed it. When she wasn't working 12 hours days or preparing to work 12-hour days, that is! We did manage to squeeze in some fun times - she got to see the famous jackass penguins (pictures to follow) and we spent our one free weekend at a private game reserve about 2 hours outisde of Cape Town and got to see some amazing animals (again, pictures to follow). She kept a list of all the *crazy* things she observed in South Africa - she has promised to send me a copy. I'll be sure to share it with you.

Our project goes live on August 20th, so the countdown has begun. I fly home in less than 6 weeks.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Words to Live By

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.
— Anonymous

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Sorry I am not there to spend the day with you, but I am sending you these "virtual" flowers!

And to all the other Moms in my circle of friends - Happy Mother's Day to you as well. Kathy, Jane, Sherry, Melissa, Cheryl, Collen, Muffin, Debbie, Anne, Ann, Amy, Joanie, Kelly, Kim, Anita, Elise, Candi, Stephanie and Holly.... I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Black Out

Have I mentioned the power issues in South Africa??? Evidently, the greater Cape Town area (I am not sure exactly how widespread an issue this is in South Africa, but I am willing to bet it is huge) - outgrew its power grid in 2006. Mind you, they were warned that this would happen in 1998. But it seems someone thought they knew better. Uh huh.

As I sit here, in downtown Cape Town, I am typing in total and complete darkness - my only source of light is the screen of my laptop. I can hear the rather loud hum of generators outside my slider (remember the picture from last night? well, picture all that with no city lights).

Since we got here in February, we have become rather used to the scheduled, rolling blackouts at the office (usually on Thursdays), but they last for a minute or 2 and power is restored. Generally, the power will cut out 3-4 times and then you are safe for another week.

This is my second black out in my apartment in Cape Town. The first one was not so fun and I will simply tell you that the security guards at my building are quite nice and they seem to know me now as I was locked out of my apartment with no way to get in without power (security doors and elevators do not work without power - hmmmm - someone should have thought of that!). That power outage lasted at least 4 hours and came back on sometime in the night.

Since I can barely see the keyboard, I guess I will have to stop working for this evening. Darn.

PS - I think I am going to invest in a rather large flashlight tomorrow. Do you think that is a reimbursable business expense? Sue?????

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pictures, pictures, pictures

I finally remembered to take a picture of the really cool vase I bought down here and promised a few people pictures of. Low and behold when I downloaded the picture to my laptop, along with it came a ton of pictures I had forgotten all about. Not sure why some of these have not downloaded before now, but here comes a virtual smorgasbord of pictures - in no particular order!

Here is the long awaited vase picture - isn't it cool???

This is the view from the slider in my living room at night. Sometimes I can see the port of Cape Town in between the 2 buildings on the left.

Here is a sample of some of the shells and sea glass I have found in Africa. Dan is convinced I don't leave an intact shell on any beach we stop at and he may be right. I brought a gallon-size Ziploc bag FULL of shells and sea glass when we came home a few weeks ago.

This signpost is in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. As you can see, we are 12421 km from home. That means we are 7718.052 miles (approximately) from home. Somehow, the flight seems much longer!

The grow things BIG down here. This is a picture of a cricket - at least, they TELL me it's a cricket. I have my doubts. Now that it is cooler, I have not seen as many of these ugly things, but let me tell you - they are *everywhere* at Sh*prite. And on Monday mornings, it's the worst - I swear they manage to get inside the buildings just so they can commit suicide. Ick.

There is a display of statues on the V&A Waterfront called Nobel Square - Dan wanted his picture taken with Desmond Tutu.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Time Flies...

when you are having fun or just when the time at home is too short and fleeting. It seems hard to believe that my 2-week visit home is over - there are still people I have not seen or had a chance to even call. There are still a few hours left, though, so I will be trying to squeeze in as much as possible. Of course, that is in between some lingering work tasks I still have to complete, shopping for supplies to bring back to Africa, some personal business that still needs to be attended to (maybe the tax return I still have to file?). All that and I seem to have acquired a nice chest cold. That should be *really* fun during 18+ hours of flight time.

I am charging up the batteries for my camera, though. Boston to Cape Town via Amsterdam. I hear Matt Lauer was in Amsterdam earlier this week on his "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" series. I was also informed that the tulips are still in bloom - maybe I can ship some back to Natick? Then I just need to make sure I am *home* next spring to enjoy them!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dorothy knew what she was talking about...

There is NO place like home. I think I may have said that once before, when my project assignment was in Manchester. Well, its true and I will say it every time. As much as I enjoy seeing other parts of the world, there is nothing like coming home after a long trip. And I am blessed to have good friends and family who make that home-coming even more special, like: Mom and Dad, who stopped by my house and left me bagels, cream cheese, milk, OJ and Cheez-Its! Bill, Cheryl and Erin who stopped by and left me blueberry muffins, cheese & crackers, cookies, more milk & OJ and some beautiful tulips. Kathy - who in addition to bringing in all my mail for the past 2 months, left me a 12-pack of Coke Zero (they don't have that in Africa yet) and a huge Easter basket of treats since I missed Easter at home this year. It seems my friends are also well-aware of the general emptiness of my refrigerator! LOL. It was wonderful to wake up at 5:00 in the morning and actually have food to eat without having to run out to the store and it made me smile to think of the wonderful people who made that possible.

Quote of the Day

Real Simple magazine sends me a "quote of the day." This is one of my faves:

Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to.'
— Lao-Tzu

Monday, April 14, 2008

Easter Sunday - Afternoon

When I returned from tree-surfing, Dan appeared to be feeling better, so we made reservations to go sailing on a harbor cruise. Shortly after we left the dock, Dan decided his stomach was not as well rested as he thought it was, so he pretty much stayed in one place. As for me, learning to sail is on my list of things to do in life and it has been years since I have been on a sailboat. So needless to say, I think I had more fun than Dan did on Easter, but he was a good sport about it. Here are some pictures:

I can't resist adding another picture of Dan with a drink in his hand, but actually the drink was mine and he was just holding it for me. Really.

The water was a bit choppy, so the captain determined it was not safe to make it through the 300m wide inlet and head out to the open ocean, so we spent our time cruising back and forth through the harbor. However, that also gave some of us the opportunity to take the wheel.....

That's the captain on the right and the first mate on the left. They don't look too concerned, so I figure I must have been doing an OK job.

It was a beautiful afternoon for a sail, and I only wish Dan had been feeling better.

The Map of Africa

OK - going back to Easter weekend, Dan and I took advantage of the long weekend by heading to Knysna (pronounced NY-sna), which is east of Cape Town and near the border of the Eastern Cape Province. One of the folks at our client was nice enough to give us an itinerary of things to do and places to stop along the way. We stopped for lunch in a town called Wilderness and also made a stop at the local beach where I picked up a ton of oyster shells. We also saw a sign for something called the "Map of Africa," so we took off to see what this was.

After driving up a rather steep mountain and down a dirt road, we were about to turn back after the next bend in the road when we actually arrived at the mysterious destination. The "Map of Africa" is actually a look-out point - and when you look down, you see that Mother Nature has actually carved out with land and water the outline of the continent of Africa! I am sure that the picture does not actually do this justice, but here you go:

Can you kind of see it??? If not, you'll just have to trust me - it was pretty cool.

It's BACK!

I have NO idea where it went or why, but suddenly the "magic" toolbar is back. Just when I was going to make a quick post and go to bed. Well, now I have to upload all these pictures I have been promising. Well, here goes:

The long-awaited baboon pictures! This was quite a few weeks ago, when Dan and I ventured down to Cape Point. It was also my first day at driving on the left-hand side of the road, so these pictures were taken by Dan. Can you see the baby on the back of one of them?

OK, I am pretty sure Dan used the zoom on this one, as I don't remember the baboons getting quite that close. The glare on the photo is due to the fact that we were dafe in the car, with the windows rolled up!

There was about 6 baboons in this group, just hanging out by the side of the road, or on the road itself. Needless to say, they stopped traffic, but we had a great view.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Technical Difficulties

If you are wondering why there have been no posts lately, well, there are 2 reasons. One - Dan and I have spent the past 2 weekends working, so there has been nothing fun to take pictures of or blog about. We are preparing for our conference room pilot, so its been all work and no play. Please wish us luck this week. Two - even when I have found a few spare moments to compose a blog entry and post a few pics from previous "fun" weekends (I know I promised you baboon pictures and I know you are all still wondering what we did on Easter afternoon - I hope its not been keeping you awake at night), Blogger has seemingly "dropped" the toolbar that allows me to attach pictures. I am stumped. Can't find the darn thing. I thought maybe this was an IE error, so I tried logging inwith Firefox. No go. So, if you want to see more pictures, someone is going to have to help me troubleshoot this. I know quite a few techies are *supposedly* reading the blog (although NO ONE seems to be commenting - ah hem). If you have any insights into my Blogger issue, we can resume the pictures from CPT. Rest assured, Dan and I will NOT be working next weekend. Nope - NOT AT ALL. So, there should be some good pictures to post.... if only Blogger would cooperate with me. Sometimes, I just hate technology! LOL. :-)

PS - this same "missing" toolbar also contains the spell check. So, please ignore any mis-spellings.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday - Morning

There are many pictures from our weekend in Knysna, however, most of them are on Dan's camera and I need to download them to my laptop so I can post them. However, there are one set of pictures that never made it to Dan's camera, so I will share them with you now.

One of the "suggested" activities we were given for this weekend was a visit to the "Tsitikamma Canopy Tours." Tsitikamma is one of the national forests east of Knysna and is technically in the Eastern Cape Province. You need a reservation, and the only booking we could get was for Sunday morning at 10:00. Dan woke up feeling rather sick to his stomach, so we agreed this was not an appropriate excursion, given his condition. You will see why shortly. So, I headed out on my own as it was an hour's plus drive from our hotel. Dan went back to bed. :-)

So, what is a "Canopy Tour?" It is the opportunity to see one of South Africa's indigenous forests - from the top down. Suspended from a series of cables, you cross from one platform to another - 10 "slides" in all. I would like to say that you gain an appreciation for the trees and vegetation on the forest floor, but it truly goes by too fast. I was more concerned with braking in time so I did not crash into the next platform.

Here are some pictures....

Suiting up....

Yes Mom, I wore a helmet!

Suited up and ready to go.

Yeah, well - we kept going.

You could call this "tree surfing"

A safe landing!

Stay tuned for more pics - including "Easter Sunday - Evening"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Week

OK, I know the blog has been a little light this week. But, a) long hours of work have prevailed and b) the batteries in my camera died.

However, the good news is that South Africa celebrates Good Friday as a national holiday as well as Monday. It is undecided as to whether Monday is actually "Easter Monday" or "Family Day," but I am not going to argue with a 4-day weekend. Unfortunately, I was not able to schedule a trip to Victoria Falls as by the time I realized the 4-day weekend was fast approaching, there were NO accommodations left at The Falls. Plan B - a trip up the eastern coast of South Africa, also referred to as "The Garden Route." It is supposed to be a beautiful route and we have made reservations at a nice Inn that I have been told can be a "base of operations" for sightseeing around the area. Among the activities I've been told not to miss is the "tree-top tours" where you actually fly between really large trees suspended to a cable. I saw pictures and it doesn't look nearly as dangerous as I just made it sound. Never the less, I will be sure to take pictures. Right - camera batteries are dead. I will suck it up this time and buy a set of batteries. Mom and Dad are mailing me a CARE package, and it contains the battery charger. However, it probably won't be here before tomorrow. Oh, well.

I will miss the celebration of Easter at home this year, but I will be thinking of friends and family, to be sure. I am lucky that I will not be alone, but have my new friend Dan with me to enjoy the sights in Knyzna(he doesn't know it, but I gave the Easter Bunny a heads up as to his location this weekend. LOL). My niece asked me on the way to the airport when I was leaving Cape Town what I had given up for Lent this year. I told her that I had given up my home for the next 6 months and I thought that was sacrifice enough this year. She agreed.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

68% Peaceful

My good friend Jane finds these really cool surveys online and posts them on her blog: This survey was to determine how peaceful you are. Since it's Friday night (or Saturday morning, depending on your time zone) I figured my "peaceful" outlook was pretty good since I have 2 days of rest ahead of me. Now if I had taken the survey earlier today, I am not so sure I would have scored even this high. LOL

You Are 68% Peaceful

You are a very peaceful person. All is good in your world, no matter what's going on.

Occasionally you let your problems get to you, but you generally remain upbeat.

Your inner strength is inspirational - much more so than you may realize.