Zurich - wibbler.com

Hazy at best

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Aaaaaannnnd breathe.
Ah, that’s better. You know, there are good and bad things about my line of business. For me, the high points include the hotels and cities that I frequent along the way, and the fact that almost everything I buy can be put down as expenses. There are low points too, of course – the queueing at airports, on motorways and at service stations all take their toll, my girlfriend is unable to join me on my whirlwind adventures – and when you slump into bed after sometimes working 16 hour days through the swirling mists of flu, you sometimes want to sneak off to a secret place where no-one can find you. I hear Osama’s cave is fairly elusive.
This last week and a half has been spent:
– late night partying in Camberley with friends at work, where I found that I love working with those fine people. I also found that I can, against all expectations, stay awake until 3am despite my increasing age.
– watching a football match with Michelle, Olly and Vicky the very next day, where I spent most of the day recovering from the night before. And cowering from fans after QPR lost. Again.
– travelling up to Edinburgh to train people for two days on a piece of software that they had used twice as much as I had. My straining voice managed to hold out. The downside of the trip was the obscene hours spent crafting a training course while training myself at the same time, and the upside – Edinburgh is a spectacular place to be drunk.
The waves of nauseating flu are subsiding, and I’m looking forward to a quieter week. No such luck, of course – I’m off to Winchester and Newcastle this week, and flying to Zurich next week. Maybe the week after I’ll manage to sit down for a day – and even get to the gym…

Switzerland – Cheese, Chocolate and “Services”

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What’s Switzerland famous for? Cheese, you might say. Chocolate, certainly. Milk churns, cow bells and milk maids, most certainly. But as I found out this week, one thing you’ll see more than anything else, more than all the cheese, chocolate and milk maids you can think of, is brothels.
It was with a heavy heart that I glanced over the itinerary for my latest two day trip overseas. Zurich was the destination, and I fancied a quick pootle round the area, taking in a few of the delights of the Swiss capital. But the plane flights betrayed my plans. I was to fly out at 6.30am on Tuesday, and fly back in at 10pm the following night. I was going to be knackered.
But at least I had a colleague with me to pass the time. Jonathan has been with the company two years, and was used to the constant to-ing and fro-ing. He’d even had the forethought to bring a portable DVD player, and as the time ticked away from our early arrival at the gate, we sat down to watch a few minutes of Anger Management.
I’ve flown many times in my short life, but as we were bussed to the plane a few minutes later, I was taken aback. The world’s smallest passenger plane had plainly been scheduled to take us, somehow, 300 miles across Europe. Clambering up the rickety stairs into the cabin, I struggled to see how the thing would stay airborne. Swissair did their best to keep everyone calm as the abnormal creakings from the fuselage put all of us on edge. The engines roared, the cabin shook and we pelted down the runway, cowering in the “brace” position that the crew had urgently warned us about minutes earlier.
As it turned out, the plane held together. In our shock, and due to poor language skills, we managed to order first class tickets on the train from the airport. This was an excellent move, as it turned out. We sunk pleasingly into luxury seats and waited to leave for Basel, a town about an hour away.
It’s a common theme in all the countries I’ve visited so far on business. – that without exception, public transport is many times better than our own. The Swiss train glided silently out of the platform, clad not in sticky, spilt coffee and chewing gum, but in freshly-cleaned carpet and leather-clad seats. Hills, mountains and businessmen passed the window as we slipped by, and the scenery was every bit as stunning as all those Dairylea adverts promised. Eight thirty in the morning, however, is not the time to be all romantic about trees and hills, and we slumped drearily back, catching forty five winks.
We arrived as about 11am, not very bright and definitely not bushy tailed. An account of our visit to offices would bore you senseless, and frankly the rest of the trip was a drudge of meetings, courses and frantic scooting back to the airport, just in time to catch our flight. However, before I go, I should mention, again, the brothels. On our trip to a restaurant on the first night, we discovered neon signs offering “massages” and “services”. These weren’t discreet – there were bold as brass, and the 20 mile trip uncovered at least 15 of these places. Turns out they are completely legal, and accepted as a way of life. And, for better or for worse (I’m sure the Swiss Tourist Board will be up in arms) that is what I shall remember Switzerland for.