Saturday, May 05, 2012

European Adventure - Day 27 (Homeward Bound)

Today was my day to fly back home! Dariush and Nouchine picked me up at Bob and Michelle's house around 8:30 am and we headed toward the Dusseldorf International Airport. It was raining and cold; perfect weather for my departure (remember).

We stopped at a great little restaurant and had a nice hearty European breakfast. Breakfast consisted of a heap of scrambled eggs, meats, breads, yogurts, fruits and veggies. After we all gorged and had a few laughs, we headed to the airport which was only about 10 minutes away. Dariush helped me get checked in and saw to it that I made it through security before he and Nouchine headed back to Cologne.

Nouchine helping me with my luggage. :)

Fast forward 8 hours (no sleep). I landed in Chicago and had a 4 hour layover. Talk about maddening!! I was so close to home, but had to sit around and watch the clock tick by before the quick little flight back to my girls.

Finally, I made it home to Jennifer, Lizzie, Jazzy and Daizi @ the Columbus Airport. My plane landed a little before 9:30 pm, which was about 3:30 am by my internal clock. The reunion was AWESOME! The girls met me at the gate and gave me a huge family hug. Each of them made me a 'Welcome Home' card and I read each of them with 100% of my full attention. They had so much detail in them and I simply loved them.

The girls giving me their cards

We left the airport and headed for the CheeseCake Factory @ Easton. I was so happy to be home!!

Thanks for reading all of my adventures! :)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Dusseldorf, Germany - Day 26

Today was yet another great day. This will be my last full day in Germany.

I woke up around 8am and met Bob at the table for work shortly thereafter. The idea was to cram in a few features while I was still here in Germany. I was actually pretty amped to knockout some final features before wrapping up for the week.

The InfoPlanIT Meeting Table

As it turns out, we didn't do much work at all. Bob and I just sat around and geeked out on other (non-work related) stuff most of the morning. He was showing me some cool stuff with virtualization and networking. He drew up a very slick model for me to configure my own network at home, and I learned quite a bit about configuring virtual servers before lunch. It was so cool!

Around noon, I headed down to the Altstadt for the last time to do some last minute souvenir shopping. I popped in and out of a few different shops and found some great gifts. I am not a big shopper. I dread shopping, but I must admit once I got in a flow I was actually having a good time finding all the perfect gifts for everybody.

After 3 hours of solid shopping, I headed back to Bob's flat and we had to jet back out the door for an event for their kids. Michelle had been working overtime for the last two days preparing food for this event and we were all attending to partake in the evenings events. The event was a blast! Dariush joined us and we had a great time. The food was delicious (props Michelle), and the dessert parade was great as well. Dariush and I played Mario Kart Wii with some little kids and they put a hurtin' on us.

Dariush and I took off around 9:30 or so and headed back down to the Altstadt to just hang out and enjoy the evening together. I was going to try and meet up with Illuk, but I didn't have access to his number and it would have been a stretch to try and make it work tonight (my last night in Dusseldorf). I'm vowing to hook up with him the next time I'm in town. It just didn't work out this time... Sorry Illuk! :(

Dariush and I had a blast like we always do and just walked all over the place. We stopped for a beer, and then walked up and down the river. We eventually took the train back to Bob's flat around 11:30 and I packed my bags for the journey home.

Bob and Michelle were great hosts. I learned a nice German proverb while over here and felt that 3 nights in their house was a perfect duration for my stay in their home. The proverb states that "Guests are like fish. After about 3 days, they start to smell." :) Bob and Michelle saw to it that I was well fed and entertained during my stay here. They saw to it that I got to experience all the great things of a lifestyle of living in the "Zentrum" of Dusseldorf.

Not only that, but it was very cool that Bob let me come over and take a 2 week vacation during a pretty critical time on a project we were working on. My vacation set our productivity back a bit, but it was just what I needed to "reboot" and I made memories (with associating blog posts) during those two weeks that I'll have forever. It was actually Bob's idea to have me come over during the Dusseldorf Marathon and he actually helped me schedule it into our work schedule. Not many people have such a cool employer. I'm pretty fortunate to say the least. Thanks for everything Bob!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Dusseldorf, Germany - Day 25

Today was epic. :) First of all, the day started off with home made blueberry muffins. I actually left out the fact that Michelle made fresh blueberry muffins after we got back from dinner with Dariush last night. The smell completely consumed the entire house and Bob and I got to be her taste testers. We thought they tasted amazing, but we had do another test, so we each had another... Yup, they were delicious. :)

Needless-to-say, we woke up to these delicious gems, and topped them off with some fresh coffee. Then it was off to the office in Dortmund again. The reason today was epic was because I was going to finally meet this guy that everybody has been talking about, by the name of "Bill". I've heard so many stories about this guy, and feel like I know so much about him.

When we got the office, there was a guy sitting in our room and I stood patiently waiting while this guy talked to Bob. I was dying to know if this was Bill or not. After their brief conversation, I said "Are you Bill?", he said "Are you Luc?", and then I knew it had to be him. It was a pleasure to finally meet him. I was ready to go home after that, for it was the only thing I had to do in Dortmund today... Mission accomplished.

Bill, Bob, and I all worked in the office til around noon, and then headed to that delicious restaurant for lunch, Divan's a few kilometers from the office. I ordered the exact same thing that I ordered last time and had no regrets. This stuff was so good! From lunch we headed back to the office and worked a little longer before heading back to the house.

Today was an exciting day for Bob too. He got his new car today. His new ride is a VW Passat with all the fixins. It literally had 10km showing on the dashboard when he got in it today. It was an honor to be his very first passenger today. :) On our way home, we actually stopped at a truck stop along the auto-bahn and were able to geek out with it. We learned all the buttons and knobs and basically just played with it for about 10-15 minutes... Yeah, we're geeks.

By the time we got back on the road, we had figured out how to work the on-screen navigation system. Bob had his iPhone hooked up to the car so he had full access to his contacts, phone numbers, music collection, etc all accessible from a few buttons on his steering wheel. This car impressed the crap out of me. It had even more features that I could go on and on about, but I'll just end now by saying it kicked ass.

When we got back home, I updated my blog for about an hour or so, and then we had a great meat loaf dinner which was prepared by the world famous chef Michelle. It was really good. I mean, really good! I'm a huge meat loaf fan! One of my favorite things about meat loaf is that everybody makes it different, and Michelle's was very good, even though she claimed she "forgot how to make it"! Honestly, it was da-bomb...

Michael, Michelle, Bob, and Matt

After dinner, we all sat around and enjoyed some laughs and then called it a night around 11pm.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Dusseldorf, Germany - Day 24

Today was (yet another) great day. I woke @ 7:30, showered, and headed down for a quick breakfast before checking out. I have accumulated so much luggage that I had to make two trips down to Bob's flat. The first load had my "carry on" and my computer bag. The second load had my big luggage which has all of my gifts and souvenirs along with all of my clothes. The big bag is stuffed and my carry on still has lots of room. Therefore, I may need to move somethings around before I fly out on Saturday.

Since I had all my things down here now, we were able to listen to music from my iTunes library today. Here comes another great use for the iPad... Bob was able to connect to my MacBook Pro from his iPad with the push of a button and a 4 digit code on my Mac. We then had full control over my massive iTunes library from a touch screen devise on the table. Not only that, but we still had instant access to his Apple TV, his iTunes on his main computer, and his laptop, all from this single devise. Simply ingenious!

Around noon, Bob and I grabbed some umbrellas and headed out for some lunch. It wasn't a full on rain, but it was sprinkling pretty steadily. We walked about a mile to a German-style Radio Shack which sold various computer parts and electronics. Our mission was to pick up some beefed-up routers and  for the flat since we were maxing it out with all of our computing. While Bob worked with the employees, I just looked around the store and was consumed in the geekiness of each isle. It was hard to walk out of there without buying anything, but my euros are low and most everything in the store I can get at home. From Conrad, we crossed the street and ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant which had a buffet style selection of deliciousness. After lunch, we headed back towards the flat to finish up our workday. Oh, did I mention it rained this entire time. Not bad, but enough to take notice. Bob and Michelle call their new hometown Drizzledorf, and it fits quite well as I now see.

We worked at the table until around 6pm. Around this time, Dariush showed up and was going to be joining us for dinner. It was great seeing him again, and he was finally able to meet Bob. The last time I was in Europe, Dariush and Bob worked together over the phone to help me out of a tight jam with my debit card in Paris, France. We all headed down toward the Altstadt and stopped to eat at a very nice seafood restaurant, named Fischhaus-Dusseldorf. We found a table outside under a large overhang and enjoyed the evening. A few times it really poured down rain and it was cool to see all the lights reflect off the stones on the street. My dish was delicious; I ordered a mixture of different grilled fishes. We also enjoyed a nice bottle of white wine with our meal.

Dariush and I @ Fischhaus-Dusseldorf

I think it goes without saying that we had a great time this evening. 

Around 9:30, we started our journey back toward the flat. It had stopped raining by this time and it actually turned out to be a beautiful evening.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Dusseldorf, Germany - Day 23

Today was a holiday. Woke @ 7 am and got ready for my day. One of the first things I noticed was that the street was very quiet this morning. Typically around this time, I'd hear cars and people out on the street below. However, this morning (being a holiday) the streets were completely deserted. After getting ready, I walked downstairs for a quick breakfast and found that much of the morning staff had taken a holiday today as well. The breakfast was a bit sparse, but absolutely no complaints here! I had an apple, some breads and cheeses, and a yogurt.

A view from my room of Gartenstrasse

As I made my way down to Bob's flat, I noticed that the streets were still very quiet. It was almost eerie. I could only hear a few birds really. My footsteps echoed off the buildings beside me as I walked the 300 meters towards "the office". It was the quietest that I'd ever heard this city sound.

Bob and I worked all morning at the table over various cups of coffee and some iTunes. This was cool... He would turn on his tower, which he would then link up to his Apple TV, but then he would control the Apple TV with his iPad. It was mind blowing at first, and really got me thinking. I may need to get me one of these things... ? Jennifer?... ? :)

For lunch, I ate my leftover pizza from our lunch break yesterday. I ate it strait from the refrigerator and it was just enough. I washed it down with a huge Germany beer. Bob and I worked at the table until about 4pm. Around this time, I packed up my things and headed back down to my hotel. The plan was to finish up a few last minute changes, check in my code, and then get ready to meet up with Nick at the Cinestar Movie Theater to see the new Avenger's movie!

Dr. Nick

I was actually a bit late with my meeting time and left Nick waiting for about 20 minutes or so. Whoops. I got out the door a bit late due to some last minute fixes with my project. And then I had to wait on the train for about 5 minutes. By this time, I was already late... I got on the train and was only going to be about 5 - 10 minutes late. Unfortunately, I got off the train a few exits early on accident. I ended up walking about 1 - 1.5 km's. When I arrived, Nick was there and it looked like he had been waiting for a while. Sorry homes! :)

We immediately went in and got our tickets, some beers, and a big tub of popcorn. That's one thing I'm really liking about Germany; you can get beer anywhere. Here we were at the movie theater and I ordered a tall Radler beer before entering the movie. Viva la Deutchland!

The movie was AWESOME!! We saw it in 3D and had some pretty good seats near the front of the theater. The movie had all the things that make blockbusters great. It had humor, action, explosions, crazy special effects, and a great story line to boot. I hope to see it again when it comes out in the states. I found out that the movie is currently only available in a few countries, and Germany is one of them.

After the movie, Nick and I hung out back at the Altstadt where we drank a few more beers and ate some pizza at a nice oven pizza place. We said our good-byes and promised to keep in touch and went our separate ways. It was a lot of fun hanging out with Nick and I'm glad we got to hang out over here in Dusseldorf.

I made it back to the hotel and decided to pack my bags for an early morning check out. Tomorrow I will move my residence down to Bob and Michelle's flat. Packing took me about an hour and then I went to bed around 2 am.