The capital of Europe
Despite the generally grey Brussels weather, I had a pretty interesting and rewarding couple of days there. Things went a lot better than I had expected. Right out of the gate my travel was a lot easier and more timely than I’m used to. With a history of a couple of twelve hour travel days, I never look forward to the tedium, but this time things went more smoothly.
The hostel I stayed in was quite clean and well run. Never did I feel unsafe or disgusted. As a pleasant bonus to the trip I got a chance to see Delphine, a friend who is in Brussels studying. I also met a number of her friends, widening still my international network of acquaintances. We hung out Wednesday night and then I returned to the hostel for a relatively fitful night of sleep.
Waking early I got ready and had some breakfast which was included in the room price. I found the building I needed to get to OK and was there a bit early. We had to sign in for visitor passes because it was a secure building. Once upstairs, I saw a few of my team members and others I recognized from the last meeting. That day, Thursday was a long day – with about 10 hours of meetings, discussions and preparations of a working document. As a member of the IT team, it was a tough chore to try to determine the IT needs of the other groups, along with general improvements to the website. Even suggesting that the site needs some serious visual work brought on a whole lot of unease among those people involved. It was a tricky chore to handle it diplomatically.
But at the end they had organized a dinner for us at a nearby club. Thai food in an environment that was as far removed from a Thai restaurant as possible. But it was tasty and afterwards we hung out a bit talking over the increasingly loud music. Eventually, someone decided it was time to go dancing and so we headed up. At least a couple of us did. Some were not so ready and willing to get up on the dance floor. Long story short: dancing, sweating, dancing, sweating, leaving. I and a woman who works for ACA were the last of our party to leave around 23:30.
That night I slept a lot better as combination of the long day with the exhaustion of dancing. I went through the same routine in the morning again and ended up at the Madou Tower (which was the location of our meetings) about 30 minutes early again. But this time I knew the procedures and I went in to wait for an escort up to the 9th floor. Meetings on the Friday were mostly reports of Thursday’s work and as usual we tended to run a bit late. After one last lunch with my colleagues I bid them farewell and headed to the airport.
The flight home was also quite comfortable – paying for the selection of seats with extra legroom was worth every penny. All said and done, it was a successful trip. Now onto reality and hopefully a thorough start to my project work. :)