Espana that is, not Spain. I think it is pretty silly that we change the name of a country or a city that is in another country. Think about it, Espana is said Spain in English. Deutschland is called Germany in English, etc… The list goes on and on. It would be a little like your calling your neighbor Bob, even if his name is Kurt. Or, just deciding that your wife should be called Cookie when her name has always been Liz. And, before we start the "English is just silly" thing. Before we think that we English-speakers have completely cornered confusion, brace yourselves, we are not alone in this insanity. The French call London, Londre. The Germans call America, Amerika. The French call Germany, Alemagne. (The French also do not have a word for weekend, but that is a different story altogether.) Looks like we're all in it together.
I happen to love France, by the way.
As some of you have realized, I have been in Europe for the last 5 weeks. Yep, you read that right…5 weeks. Started off last summer when I was in Chatel, France. I thought, "Dang, this is a good place and I could come back for a ski holiday, then base myself here for a while and get some work done." So we did.
My wife, Liz, and I came over mid December. Our daughters joined us just before Christmas and we spent Christmas in the Alps in France. We skied, we bought baguettes, we ate Pizza (Euro style) in Chatel, drove 2 hours away to Italy because that is the home of the best pizza in the world. We became regulars at our favorite restaurant in Chatel, Le Fiacre. We went to Geneva, we did more skiing and, well, bought more baguettes. We did not get as much skiing in as we had hoped, as the snow was not great. But, It was a good time, and I have been able to get some of my French speaking ability back.
New Years came and went, the world did not go down in flames, and then I started doing some work over here. I did a few days in our office in Zurich, I went up to London for a day for a meeting, I went down to the new LEOPARD TREK team intro (thank god I got the format right on how I used the team name) etc…
This week, I was in Sevilla, Espana for one of our regular managers meetings. We have a few of those a year, normally based in Wisconsin as that is where most of the managers in the company are. But, one of them per year is held somewhere else in the world. We work on a lot of the things that it takes to run a global company. My part in that is the product development part and the marketing part. It means that I get to talk about the fun stuff and show product development plans etc... Last year we were in Zurich, this year Sevilla.
Ok, so one of the things that I need to come clean on right now, Sevilla is a great little city. If you thought that it wasn’t, you're wrong. Just sayin.
Below is a partial list of the things that I did while I was there.
1. Flamenco dancing at the Flamenco museum. While there I saw a real Flamenco dance. I can tell you now that what I was doing bore no resemblance to what I saw. Despite one 10 minute Flamenco dancing lesson.
3. Our Meeting was held each day at an old Palace inside the old city. Way cool.
4. Drank fantastic Café con leche (you're right Ali, Spanish coffee is really good). But, the size of the cup at the old Palace where we held the meetings, was silly. It was the size of an espresso cup. So, being practical, I took the cup from breakfast and used it at lunch time. (I brought it back afterward – jeez.) They looked at me like I was American or something.
This little place above, I stopped and got coffee a few times. Not sure what the meat hanging above was all about.
Takes a few bikes to get all the company managers around town for the evening.
5. Rode all around town on a bicycle with the rest of the management group one evening. Saw a bunch of the city. There is no question that the best way to see a place is on a bike. That's me in the foreground, part of the Trek group strung out behind.
7. Had Tapas. I figured that while I was in Espana, I had to do that.
8. Ate dinner each night at 9 or later (ugh…, Spanish people really do not even go out and eat until at least that time. Really, I thought that my daughter was kidding me.) And yes, that is a pretty spectacular view out the window behind the table.
We had a bunch of really great meetings, and picked some directions for the company and products for the next years. If you are thinking right now, that I have an alright job… you would most likely have your head on straight. Either way, I hope you will not be disappointed at what we have coming for next year and beyond.
When my kids were little, we used to play a game a dinner called Best and Worst. Everyone had to tell the best thing that had happened to them for the day, and the worst. It was a great conversation starter. Here is my version of that game for the blog.
Best of the Week
Choosing the best was tough, it was a close tie between the bike ride in the evening around the city and the event below. But, since the bike ride is pretty standard fare, I am going with this story.
I stayed in a little hotel in the oldest part of the city. The buildings were stone, dated from before the USA was even a colony and were incredible. The streets were almost too narrow for a car to go down, sometimes they were too narrow. The streets were mostly cobblestones. (And almost every day they were wet. I never figured that out, I also was not the only person to notice that.)
The courtyard in front of our hotel was labeled Plaza de Jesus de Redencion. There was a picture of Jesus up on the wall. One day, there was a guy going by on a scooter. I saw him get off the gas on the scooter, coast by the plaza, cross himself, then get back on the gas… hard. It was classic, and qualifies as the best thing I saw all week.
Worst of the Week
Vegetables, or more accurately, the lack of vegetables. I normally have my largest meal of the day at breakfast, then I have a salad for lunch and then a small dinner. Espana is completely the opposite of that, small breakfast building to a large late late dinner. I find that hard to get used to. I normally can get on with whatever the local food is. But, the thing that I just cannot figure out is where the vegetables were. I had 4 days with 3 meals a day and have to say that I only saw 1 set of vegetables the whole time. Did I just miss them?
Most Surreal "The-World-is-a-Small-Place" Moment
The night we were riding around the city on bikes, I participated in a conference call from my phone with someone from the USA, who was on his cell phone while in Japan. It was weird, I was literally riding around an old cathedral, while working through a Shimano dealeo. Yep, it was like that.
My mother says that I was in Sevilla when I was a kid. I suppose that was true, but I am conveniently ignoring that and calling this the real first time I was there.
That’s it for this week.