Posts Tagged ‘work’

Work and Guinness

May 19, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Today was a good working day in Dublin. I had an early morning meeting and then worked in hotels and supermarkets the rest of the day.

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After work I went to the Guinness Storehouse because it’s a thing to do. There’s a Jameson distillery in Dublin as well, but I’ve had enough of whisky distilleries.

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At Guinness, it’s a huge operation. It’s a lesson in brewing the beer and the history of Guinness where you go up and up, and each floor has something new, and ends with a drink at the rooftop bar. Then you walk out through the merchandise. Great model.

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It was cool, but I wasn’t having so much fun because I had a hard time relaxing and enjoying because of the heavy crowds, and was carrying around a heavy laptop bag. Should have expected this on a late Friday afternoon but was still was in a very irritable mood. But then I drank the pint that was included in the cost of admission, then everything turned really awesome all of a sudden.

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After that I walked around Dublin 2 area, had a much-craved burger for dinner (it happens sometimes!) and a nice glass of red wine, and walked home. All in all, a pretty good day! Happy Friday.

Love, Annie

Sligo, Sliabh Liag, Northern Ireland, and Dublin!

May 18, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope all is well, happy Thursday, and hello from Dublin! My hotel is in a good location, and though it’s not a luxury hotel, it’s very well suited to business people with clean, practical rooms, fast internet, and long high top tables in the lobby with outlets that are so well suited for working. High tops are my fave. Here is the River Liffey that runs through Dublin:

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Here’s what’s been going on the past few days. I’ll work backwards. Today was incredibly productive. I sat down for breakfast at 8, started working, and before I knew it, it was after 4. I barely moved. I was in the survey zone, making calls, doing internet research, really killing it, and I also managed to answer a few normal work emails. I am no longer nervous or overwhelmed about the amount of work in front of me here.

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I left my hotel and wandered over to the restaurant through Trinity College campus. The library, which is apparently super, was closed for a book launch, so I’ll visit another time. I ate dinner at The Pigs Ear, which was phenomenal. I had a scallop appetizer and then short ribs. The short ribs dish was so decadent. I also has a glass of delicious light red wine from Cotes du Rhone that was recommended, read my philosophy book, thought up some new rhymes and made myself laugh, and thought about the Social Contract.

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Starting today, I feel like I’ve finally hit the “survey stride” point in the trip (the second through fourth week were always the easiest) so now I’m a little sad it’s almost over. But it will be nice to get back. Yesterday was also productive. I had meetings all morning between the meetings I had quiche, my favorite food, and salad and Matcha tea from a super healthy modern food places in the techie expat area, and then worked all afternoon from a different hotel. In the evening I walked around the city centre, made a reservation at The Pigs Ear, and ate dinner at a place called The Farm, where I had Fish Pie, which I didn’t completely realize was anything other than a joke from the Beatles song Penny Lane. Turns out it’s cooked salmon and mashed potatoes, baked with cheese on top, and a specialty at The Farm. Really good!

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Then I went to meet my friend Angela, who was also in Dublin, but went to the wrong Slattery’s bar! Oops. It was okay though, I had an after dinner drink and chatted with the bartender and an Irish army officer, who had traveled a bit as well and was pretty excited about the Giro d’Italia bike race that was on tv. We talked about politics, of course. Here, people ask me all about Trump and what it’s like in America. In other recent travels after the election, It’s come up less.

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Tuesday, I began in Sligo and ended in Dublin. It was a day of work, travel and fun. I got up super early, finished work, and drove up to the Bushmills distillery in Northern Ireland, a detour on my way to Dublin. The distillery tour was great. After Auchentoshan and Bushmills, I now have an excellent understanding of how whisky is made. On the tour there were some older guys taking a morning off from their golf trip. I noticed I gained their respect and interest after explaining to the group why Bourbon barrels from the US, one of the types of barrels used at Bushmills, are so popular for ageing whisky. One reason is that they give a delicious flavor and color to the spirit, and another is because they are inexpensive due not due to low quality but due to high supply.

WP_20170516_009Bourbon barrels cannot be reused so distilleries in Kentucky sell them off more frequently than, for instance, sherry wineries in Spain might sell their barrels. It also helps to explain why the whiskies aged in sherry barrels or French wine barrels are often more expensive. So I chatted with these guys, one pair of brothers and their friend all from Seattle. One of the brothers is apparently a famous NFL referee who has done the last 4 Superbowls 🙂 And the other brother traveled all his life for work. Cool! So we discussed travelling, work, and Bill Belichick. I only had a tiny taste of whisky there because I was driving, but got to pick up some bottles you can only get from the distillery.

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Then I went to Giant’s Causeway, which is also in Bushmills, Ireland, on the coast about 6 minutes away from the distillery. Giant’s causeway is the outcropping of pentagon-shaped rocks on the coastline. It’s pretty wild. There’s a walking route that takes you up a cliff and wow, it’s so beautiful. I also lucked out with the afternoon weather.

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Then I drove to Dublin airport, dropped off the car, and taxi’d to the hotel. The driver was called John F Kennedy and he was cool! I walked around, had a Guinness (it’s good – I’d never actually had one before), learned how in Ireland you have to let the Guinness settle and then the bartender tops it up. Then had okay tapas for dinner.

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On Monday I went to meetings all morning and it was very productive. Later in the afternoon, I visited Sliabh Liag (pronounced like “Sleeve League”). Since it gets dark so late in Ireland right now, it’s possible to do awesome things even if you start late. Great! I was interested in a gin distillery there (rounding out an education on spirits) and got a tour and explanation of how to make gin from a company that wasn’t even in production yet because of working out tax stuff! I learned if want to make gin, you need juniper berries.

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On the drive there I stopped at a roadside restaurant/bar to use the toilet, having consumed a lot of water and coffee. I was in and out and the owner of the restaurant said to me “you have a hard time relaxing, don’t you?” Yes. So then he said, just sit back and relax. And we sat together outside at some tables, chatted, and appreciated the scenery for 15 minutes. Then I was on my way.

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They said there would be cliffs at Sliabh Liag. They weren’t kidding. These may have been more amazing than the Cliffs of Moher and hardly anyone there. I walked up a huge cliff face and it was soo windy at the top. In jeans and the silk shirt I had worn for work, I was not expecting such a hike! But it was okay. There were sheep grazing around the cliffs area and I stepped in so many sheep poops, but cleaned my shoes after.

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I drove back and ate fish and chips for dinner in the town of Killybegs, and felt very at home in the small maritime town. Back at the hotel I had planned an early night in, but then I went down to collect laundry at reception, visited the bar to get a bottle of sparkling water, and somehow that turned into a few glasses of whisky and interesting discussion with an adorable younger bartender and a pretty drunk businessman who seemed to have some interesting stories, but wasn’t able to tell them properly. The last pic is Killybegs.

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I’m very excited for another working day in Dublin tomorrow!

Love, Annie

Grimsby and Hello Ireland!

May 13, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are having a nice weekend! Wednesday I finished work in Newcastle, and in the afternoon drove to the next location, Grimsby, UK. It’s approximately three hours’ drive from Newcastle with an extremely different vibe. Grimsby is a smaller town with many people working at the refineries and the windfarms nearby. There are a TON of windfarms in northern UK and Scotland. I walked around the first evening around 7pm.

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Everything was closed and the few people walking around seemed very odd, unpredictable, pretty sickly. It was a little disconcerting. I visited a cocktail bar and was told not to take pictures of this ugly pace because it would break my camera! I ate dinner at an Indian restaurant, which was awesome, for the food and the cool employees. I ended up eating there the next two nights as well.

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Everything is inexpensive in Gimsby. I pay more for my small apartment in Boston than it costs for any of the rental properties here, including even luxury detached houses. On Thursday and Friday I worked. On Thursday afternoon I visited Cleethorps, which is the next town over and has a bit more going on, and a beach, which was under construction (?). Other than that, not much to report. I started a new book about Philosophy, was really productive work-wise, and wrote some raps and poetry.

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Also, it’s important to note that the people in Grimsby are really nice and welcoming, and the people observed on the first night weren’t a good representation. Now it’s Saturday and things have gotten way more exciting. I woke up at 4:15am, drove 1.5 hours to Leeds Bradford Airport for an 8:30am flight (in retrospect, booking the flight from Leeds was impractical and kind of silly… it looked closer to Grimsby on a map, even with driving directions, than it is in reality. Now I have the empirical evidence to really know that, so great… though… is it possible to really know anything? ugh, new philosophy book).

I said goodbye to the Ford Kuga, which I think got its flat tire back because the pressure alert came on again, and took a flight to Dublin. At Leeds airport someone pinned me as American and was like, “is it true, in America, they have burgers This Big??” with his hands like around an American football. So I said, “Bigger!” Ha.

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In Dublin I picked up a new rental car, and they gave me a white hatchback-kind of suv BMW as my “compact car.” Awesome! I made it a point to be extra charming and hilarious at the rental car desk, and to put on some subtle lip color before. It makes a difference. In line I met some businessmen who were super psyched to be starting a two-week guys golf trip all over the Ireland coast. They gave me the idea to go to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, which I’ll visit tomorrow.

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I was thinking of going to Belfast for lunch and chill before heading to Sligo, but decided to drive straight across to Sligo instead. It was a really fun drive — the car is smooth and fast with a far superior sound system AND a built-in nav system, which is really easy to use.

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The hotel in Sligo is great, and my room is huge! Larger than my apartment. At check-in, they let me know about an event tonight, stand-up comedian Tommy Tiernan! I had no idea who that was but love standup so got a ticket.

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I got ready to go for a hike but then it started pouring so I drove to Rosses Point, and walked around in the rain. It was beautiful even in the rain, and then it got sunny! And then pouring again. So I had a coffee at a nearby hotel and walked around some more, then back to the hotel for cocktails and dinner and Tommy Tiernan, who, it turns out, is a pretty big deal, and hilarious, and a great performer.

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There was no assigned seating and I had a seat in the fourth row centre so was able to really observe his motions and way of working the stage. I feel so lucky to have seen this show! What a lesson in Irish culture, and about the reputation of Sligo county!: I’m driving in a cool car, NOT a “sweet ride” because in Ireland if you say “ride,” that means sex. If someone offers you a ride, you can say “i’ll take a lift,” unless, of course, you want the ride. Also, if a man is erect, that’s called a “horn.” I was also surprised that religious reputations, catholic v. protestant, play a role in daily life and assumptions about people’s personalities.

Love, Annie

 

Northumbria and Scotland

May 10, 2017

Hi Family and Friends,

Monday and Tuesday were nice. Monday I started work early and had a meeting in the afternoon. Then I went for a drive to Alnwick castle, which is in some Harry Potter movies. I took the coastal road back, which was beautiful.

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It’s one benefit to having a GPS, you can kind of “wander” and see where the road goes, yet it still calculates the route back. At one point I got out of the car to get fresh air and had a private beach! For dinner I ate at a restaurant specializing in muscles.

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Today I took a day trip to Scotland. I woke up at 5:45 and was on the road by 6:30 because the first stop was the Auchentoshan distillery, which is just west of Glasgow. Even with the GPS I got lost so I couldn’t make the 10am tour. Fortunately there was another at 11.

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I was in a tour with a family from France with an adult and his older parents. The parents didn’t speak English and kept speaking to me in French as if I understood. I had to keep telling her (unfortunately) I had no idea what she was saying, but i got the sentiments from body language. I told them aside from hello, goodbye, please, etc, I only know one word “travallier” which means “to work.” It’s kind of true and they thought that was moderately funny. The tire pressure gauge on my rental car was on, but I had decided to ignore it because it wasn’t “red” it was just “yellow.” But one of the staff members at Auchentoshan noticed I had a flat tire and they had a great tire pump that plugged into the 12 volt socket in the car so they helped me fix it. The staff there was so nice.

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For lunch I visited the West End neighborhood of Glasgow to a restaurant that came recommended by the distillery guide. It was a special meats place so I had a hanger steak which isn’t something I would normally order but was very delicious and extra exciting because I had literally eaten just peanuts for breakfast.

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Then I drove to Edinburgh, which is about an hour away. By the time I got there it was almost just after 3 pm. I put an hour and a half on the parking meter and started wandering. It was a lucky day and lucky parking space. I had no idea Edinburgh was so cool. Everyone was outside hanging out in the sun below the great buildings. I could appreciate the beauty of the situation but to be honest I felt terribly lonely and sad walking around there. It was an instance I would have liked to share.

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Then I started the drive back. There was some traffic getting out of Edinburgh but not terrible. I started to feel better when the roads became empty, and winding up and down the hills. With the kind of tight turns that are very thrilling and you want to take fast. And “blind summits” of hills that if you take fast, it’s super thrilling because you’re not sure what’s past it, maybe the car will fly away. I’ve felt this skiing. The bulk of the drive on the first leg was major highway but the drive back was all windy roads. The border of Scotland and England was especially cool. Driving today was a big loop. Total distance was just over 350 miles or 560 km. That was pretty aggressive — not as much as the 500 mi (800 km) trip between Klaipeda/Riga/Kaunas last may,  but up there.

For dinner I ate at a different Indian restaurant from the one on Sunday. Now, back to work.

Love, Annie

Working Week in Hong Kong

January 26, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s Thursday night, almost finished with the week. It’s been fantastic getting to know everyone in our Hong Kong office and learning about the Chinese New Year traditions. I’m starting to feel very comfortable here, of course will be leaving soon. The city (and the neighborhood I’m staying in) is so international, people assume I live here. During the working hours I’ve been conducting interviews for Hong Kong based travelers and it’s been going great.

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Monday I had a Sichuan style lunch with my colleagues nice and spicy after work I visited a cocktail bar around my apartment and had a cocktail with gin in a little bathtub. And that will be it for Hong Kong cocktail culture. Then I ate dinner at a Korean fusion place which was OK and fell asleep early.

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Tuesday for lunch I had dim sum with our small team and I tried chicken feet. Good to try as they are very popular here. You eat them by sucking off all the skin and the bit of meat for each piece, and putting the bone aside. Eh. After work I went to eat beef brisket noodle soup at a place called Kau Kee there is a line but it moves quickly. Worth it.

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Then I walked through Central area and took the metro to Kowloon to visit the Temple St Market (the websites say to go, but not worth it) and then met up with my colleague for a second bowl of noodle soup. Shrimp wanton noodle soup this time. She was showing me how to put vinegar on my noodles but accidentally gave me a big dose of Chili oil. which was okay because I like spicy. Ha!

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Wednesday for lunch we had an even bigger team lunch for different kind of Dim Sum. After work I visited the Victoria Park flower market and Lunar New Year Fair around Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations. It was bonkers, and an interesting array of smells one after the other from stinky tofu to daffodils. That’s “nipplefruit” in the picture above.

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It was so crowded that I was nervous. Then I walked back towards the hotel past the Wan Chai area where I had more wanton noodle soup for dinner. I kept walking and bumped into a different colleague! What are the odds. Then I walked home along the pier. I stopped needing a map.

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Today for lunch I had fish balls noodle soup with a colleague, and went out to dinner with the other survey team manager based here and his wife. They took me to a traditional tea house restaurant with a great atmosphere and we ate Cantonese food which is fairly bland but good with lots of vegetables, and then to an old school dessert place.

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SO cool. Then I got foot reflexology and will head to bed. Hope you’ve had a great week!

Love, Annie