Saturday, November 21, 2015


Today started with another delicious breakfast, fortifying us for a day of culture and walking. We were sad to find that Dublin Castle was not open, but glad to discover that the Archaeology museum was a short walk away. After breezing through the prehistoric section, we focused on medieval and Viking history, especially the Battle of Clontarf. No photos in the museum, but I bought a nice sword for Sam in the gift shop.

Then we headed for the train station for a trip to Howth.

Good thing I had the sword to scare away the pigeons.
Howth is a fishing village with beautiful views and sometimes cold winds.
King George IV visited once. We stood in the same spot.

Now, time for a hike. On the way, we saw Yeats' house.

It was a long hike. It felt good to get out of the city.

An early supper of fish and chips was well deserved! Tom and I split Andrew's mushy peas and we finished with Guiness and Irish coffee.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Not Australia

Well, I met this guy in Dublin airport.
We had a meaty breakfast with this guy.
Then we took a tour of Trinity College together.
Book of Kells was cool, but our favorite was the Long Hall. Everything in this building predates our home nation.
Then we got some drinks and snacks at a pub, also called The Long Haul.

Then we made this guy sit through a historic movie and old house. (This was my idea).

Then we found another pub and they ate some more meat. (I had a salad).

The night was young! What else is there to do here? Oh, here's a pub called Devitts.

"My beer looks fantastic."

Why? That's a good question. The best way to answer that is with after dinner drinks at Devitt's.
Tom wanted to hear some jigs. Thankfully, we found a good place for this. Though perhaps that is not really so hard.

The last stop at The Bleeding Horse can only be explained by the dilution rate of my new favorite drink of the trip through the night, Jameson and Ginger. With lime.

No ginger needed at this establishment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Sorry, I know I haven't done a good job posting updates this week. "Busy" is a lame excuse, but it is a valid one. Work days this week have seen me up early, quick chat with the family, and in to the office between 7:30 and 8am. I have been fortunate enough to continue my lunch streak - different locations and different people most of the time. (Okay, a few repeats with my favorites). 

Monday I went to straight from the office to meet a friend for dinner. She took me to her house first and I met her adorable kitties :-) then relaxed for a bit and met her dad for dinner at his favorite place, Tann. It was like being in his dining room! He personally knew the staff and the menu. It was just delightful.

Tuesday included a drink after work at a very cool rooftop bar and a wonderful, wonderful conversation with someone in the office that I don't have an excuse to work with much any more. The great thing about this trip is that I have been able to spend time with my "new" work colleagues from current projects, "old" work colleagues from past projects, and my BFFs that I talk to daily when I am in the US.

Last night I also desparately had to do laundry, too. Lots of up and down on the elevator. Every night I also have my touchpoint with my IT PM in the states, and often another call home to my favorite people there. I like the morning calls better, though, because they have more to report.

So that's pretty much this week! Two days and two nights left. I have just about finished up the things I set out to accomplish and am starting to make progress on another big project which is just kicking off. . . it's been very productive. And I've benefited a great deal.

More on my weekend later.  

Saturday in Ballarat

My close colleague and friend Marie invited me to spend some time with her family this weekend in Ballarat. It was about an hour and a half on the train out of Melbourne.

First up was the botanical garden and row of busts of past prime ministers. Here I am with Holt.

Then we had lunch and visited the Wildlife Park. I loved it! Kangaroos roamed free and you could purchase kibble to feed them out of your hand. 

Some of them were very lazy. 

We were able to get quite close the the kangaroos and even pet them.

Another highlight was feeding the Tasmanian Devils. We watched them scurry about after pieces of mice thrown to them by the keepers and listened to their screaming.

I also saw koalas, quokkas (mini kangaroos) and quolls. Here's a quokka - so cute!

Thursday, June 25, 2015


It makes sense that on the day after my husband created a blog post called "Quiet" I find myself feeling solitary.

I didn't work too late today and decided to hit the gym after dinner. The gym was fine for a hotel gym, but there was no music, no tvs, and no shelf on the treadmill to prop up my iPad. So. I.  just. ran.

Which is fine, right? I felt that it made the aloneness of running even more alone. Maybe tomorrow I will take a walk instead. I picked up some walking tours of the city that look interesting and not too time consuming. But that shouldn't matter either. . . I have an odd pocket of time between 5ish and 8ish during which I really don't need to work anymore and no one is really awake in the US. 2-3 hours alone is a gift in my "normal life," but in Australia I feel like I need to fill it up!

At least my lunches this week have been very nice. I've secured invitations every day this week, with a different person or group each time, at a different restaurant. It helps offset solitary brekkies :-) and dinners. Next week I have some dinner engagements lined up, too.

Something else to look forward tomorrow is some time at a sales conference, where a new tool will be launched (I worked hard last year on the log on process to access this tool). So that will be interesting, and very different. Something I haven't done before!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

No more jet lag! (I think)

I've been too tired to go out the past three nights. And woke up between midnight and 2 for varying lengths of time.

But last night I got just about a full 7.5 hours sleep and have felt much more myself. Or maybe it had to do with the two coffees that I were kindly purchased for me this morning. . . Whatever the case, I had some energy tonight and headed out after dinner.

I took a walk downtown. Just to enjoy being in Melbourne for a bit, buy some postcards, and spend $40 on Tim Tams. 

It feels good not to be crashing at 8pm. And I made my first withdrawal, so feel like I've got everything I need right now. Plans are coming together to visit my friend Marie in Ballarat, a mining town outside of Melbourne, this weekend. Days have been productive and full. People are making time for me and it's incredible to have face to face conversations when it's almost always over the phone. Someone asked me today, did I NEED to come? Well, no, I could have done all of these meetings over the phone, in my evening, taking twice as long. Or not had those meetings at all. But being here helps me understand the business better, the people better, and get better results for everyone. I really see it as a great investment.

I'll leave you with a photo or two of my walk. They call it a Chemist, not a drugstore.

Brekky is short for "breakfast."


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fireworks in the City

I am not sure why, but I was just treated to a lovely fireworks display here from my fantastic view at the hotel. They even had a big finale like at home in Abington!
I've caught glimpses of fireworks shows in Philadelphia, but never saw a full-blown downtown fireworks display before. THey were launched from boats in the below and reflected by the buildings and water against the backdrop of steet lights, neon lights, and car lights everywhere. . . it was impressive and beautiful. 
Which reminds me of the other thing that struck me this evening on my walk back to the hotel - how different living in a city is to my everyday life. My family loves to spend a day, a weekend, or even up to a week on vacation exploring a city in the US. We've done it many times now. But my day-to-day life takes me from the suburb of Lansdale to the suburb of Malvern with visits to the suburbs of my family and friends in between. I love spending a day in Philadelphia, but I am not a city dweller. It's different.

At one point, I crossed a street to get to a little grocery store to buy some dinner before heading back to the hotel. The flood of people that cross the same street towards me was almost overwhelming and couldn't even see the stoplights for the people that came. The pace is different - heading out for coffee or lunch is a brisk walk. Going to meetings can involve the elevator. My hotel room is on the 19th floor and desk at work is on the 33rd. . . very different from the two story buildings that I spend most of my days in. I forget when the fast paced city life wore at me last year. (That will probably come back to me sometime in week two.) 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Two out of three issues resolved

The biggest issue, of course, being a lack of clothes, toiletries, and pretty much everything. I really didn't expect this to happen and was quite caught off guard not having anything more than the absolute essentials for my first night and morning in Melbourne. I was so glad to see these two suitcases in my room when I returned after my first day of work this evening.
Notice all of the re-routing stickers? They must have had quite a journey. I have never been so happy to unpack!

The other issue I resolved was Wifi. I can get 30 minutes free per day at the hotel, but can't hook up my work laptop to it. So I bought a new sim card for the modem that I borrowed from Kelly last year. The Optus store wasn't open on Sunday so I had to resolve that one today. Now I am good to go. 

Next up is resolving my cash issue. . . having difficulties with ATMs here in the city, but Chris is going to help me with that and I am getting by with credit cards just fine for two days. 

My first day at the office! So good to see everybody (well, just about everybody - some have left or are on leave) again and meet a few new folks. Some rearranging means that they are not all in the same spots that I remember them in last year. . . though I don't think I remember it that well. 

A good day. Not too many formal meetings (I kept it that way on purpose), but lots of catch ups with important folks and two different trips out for coffee which was a requirement! I did not sleep last well due to jet lag and anxiety over lost luggage.

Next up: getting some weekend plans in place and adjusting to the time zone.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Door to door in 35 hours

How long did it really take? I set a stopwatch when the car came to pick me up at about 11:40am. Times below are on the stopwatch.

 Bags checked, TSA line.

1:40 Flight delayed 70 min. Lunch: veggie pizza and terminal C house salad.

2:03 Flight delayed 2 hours, 30 min. Sitting in terminal C, waiting for a 3:45 pm San Antonio flight to depart so ours can move in.

2:34 Composed blog post.

3:01 I won't make my connection in Los Angeles. Rebooked on later Qantas flight, bought magazine.

4:17 Flight delayed 3 hours 30 minutes. Visited customer service desk again, she thinks I might still make the later flight.

4:56 Finished first magazine.

5:18 Call from home.

5:58 Finished dinner: Mediterranean plate, water. 

6:12 Deleted old photos on iPad and edited clock display.

6:30 Snooze/rest? Eyes closed, but might not be called sleep.

6:50 Plane arrived!

7:40 Boarded.

8:52 Finished second magazine. Bought overpriced inflight snack.

9:10 Snacks consumed except for mint. How can it be both all natural and sugar free at the same time?

10:42 Nap.

12:55 More sleeping. Descent to LAX.

14:44 Now at gate 157 in Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX after confusion (mine) and delay (airline's). Rebooked on a flight that departs 11:55 pm LA time through Sydney.

15:24 Boarded and seated.

18:18 After some sleep and rest, others are done dinner. Now I can recline more. Ear plugs and Zzzzquil.

23:24 Awake, feels like 8 am. Pizza from flight attendants! Still hungry, find almonds from Mediterranean snack plate to chase pizza.

25:25 Watched a movie called The Water Diviner. Flight path says only 4:24 to go until we land in Sydney!

26:57 Snooze/rest some more. Drank water and tried to walk a little. Hunted for glasses.

27:55 Breakfast! Much needed coffee.

28:45 Been reading a new book on the kindle, The Light Between Oceans. Thanks, Chris! Time to fill out Customs paperwork.

29:35 Descent to Sydney. Gave spare US change to Unicef.

29:59 Landed.

31:33 Waiting for departure to Melbourne. Cleared customs but my bags did not make it. Found a place to charge my phone and free Qantas wifi! Send domestic and international texts. Agricola turns.

32:04 Seated by the exit. Agreed to help passengers in the event of emergency. Briefing.

32:52 Still enjoying the book. Coffee and cookie en route to Melbourne.

33:58 Landed

34:20 Filed baggage claim, booking shuttle to hotel.

34:29 Almost there! Shuttle en route to hotel.

35:01 Checking in!

35:15 Aaand, checked into room!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Second Trip

Hi! I haven't posted in almost a year and now I am back because it's time for my second trip down under. I am currently in the Philadelphia Airport, Gate 24C, which will board in a little more than an hour for the flight BEFORE mine. I hope to be on the flight to LAX after that. . . more on flight delays later.

First, a few of the things I am doing differently on my trip to Australia. Unfortunately none of them are the three things in my last post from 2014. I am not bringing my family, nor taking a holiday at the end, and I'm actually going to be gone fewer days instead of increasing my stay to 3 weeks.

I booked a different hotel. I liked Quest a lot, but it did not have a gym. I just couldn't exercise outdoors as much as I wanted last year, so I checked with my friend Monica at work who has been to Melbourne twice. Her ultimate recommendation was Oaks on Market. 5 min walk from the office, studio apartment, gym, and laundry service. Sounds good.

The other thing I did differently was book a coach flight for the second leg of the trip. My company will pay for business class if you are going 8 hours or more, but I just couldn't justify the exorbitant price of a late-booked trip on business class. 15 hours in coach from LAX->MEL means that I am going to give Zzzzquil a try. I didn't sleep at all on the flights last year, except for an uncomfortable nap on the way home to Philly from LAX. I piloted the Zzzzquil at a hotel in Reading last weekend and was pleased with the results. So we shall see what happens.

Chris set me up with talk and text, so I feel more connected. I borrowed a nice big suitcase from my friend Ken. Bringing a "real" coat with me this time. I was cold by the end last year and felt conspicuously American in purple. So, it's the black peacoat TL helped me buy this time around.

I think those are the differences. So wish me luck and follow along on my next trip to Australia.