Monday, December 21, 2009

Amsterdam, Day One

My company trip to Amsterdam was amazing. I really had the best time. Here are some quick highlights:

Before the plane took off from JFK, we had time for a quick drink at the bar. I wanted a soda and a beer and couldn’t decide (that’s so unlike me!). Tim, a Brit, suggested a Shandy, which is a beer topped off with lemonade (we had to settle for Sprite). It’s a girly drink but it hit the spot.

There were 5 of us traveling on KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines). The plan was big, with rows of 3-4-3 and 1st class upstairs. But the back half of the plane was all cargo. Massive. Kathryn and I sat behind the 3 other guys, with a woman in between us. The woman offered to let me sit next to Kathryn, meaning I get the middle. I said no thank you. She flipped out and demanded another seat. In the end, we got a full row for just the two if us and were ecstatic.

I couldn’t sleep on the plane. I started to watch The Time Traveler's Wife. SPOILER ALERT: the guy dies. My biggest fear is that I don’t get to see my kids grow up, and that’s exactly what happens to him. Right after he dies, there’s a scene where his daughter climbs into bed with the mom and they snuggles, exactly the same thing that Harley and Lilah do. All I saw was my girls sad and me not there. I lost it. I couldn’t watch the rest and was fighting to keep hold, the same way I did when we watched Bridge to Terabithia (remember that, Brian?). I had to go to the bathroom and calm down while thinking to myself, what’s going on here? My mother’s father died young, and he had a daughter and a son, just like me. Anyway, that really, really sucked.

After that came some terrible Bollywood movie. Still no sleep, so I played Minesweeper and got a few minutes sleep here and there.

We landed at 11am local time, 6am my time. First thing we do is go to the closest Starbucks. I lead the way. “We come all the way to Europe and go to a Starbucks” can be interpreted in both a good and bad way. I got my bold roast with a shot of peppermint and was very happy.

Got to the hotel and took a walk through the flower market, which would have been amazing if I had any interest in flowers. I force the group of us to go to the first supermarket we seeing, and Albert Hein (a chain I know all too well from work). I love supermarkets, and all the different shapes, sizes, and products were way more exciting than they should have been. After that, I started saving little packs to take back home with me.

We had a lunch that we all struggled to stay awake through. Back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap before the company party. They had us all gather in the lobby. There, I met all the people in the London and Bath offices that I've spoken to but never actually met. It was exciting and fun.

At 5:30pm, a flurry of cabs took us from the hotel to a boat on the river for a short cruise, drinks, and dinner. We passed a hotel with a bicycle parking lot that was 3 stories high and must have had at least 1,500 bikes. No joke.

The party was fun. Open bar, 3 courses including lamb steaks (I had 2). They had a belly dancer as random entertainment. I got pulled up, along with 4 other guys. I did not want to go, but I could either be embarrassed while dancing or be the dick who refused to go up. I did what I had to do I think people appreciate that.

After the party, cabs to a club where we danced until 3am. I kept getting drinks but still have no idea who paid for them. Awesome. Spoke with the CFO of the company, not sure about what. After that, we met back at the hotel and went to another bar, a small gay bar where a guy unsuccessfully tried to steal Kathryn’s purse. Tim and Parker almost got into a fight, and we ended up swigging Hendricks Gin from the bottle in some one’s hotel room.

We finally shut down at 5:15 am, with the New York office setting the pace for the night. We planned to meet for a 10am breakfast. Yeah right.