My Internet radio makes sure I’m aware that local Oktoberfest celebrations are happening. While I have never officially been to an Oktoberfest occasion, I was able to enjoy a beer in Germany a few months ago. It was when I was in Berlin for a team meetup.
The city wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. For some reason I had it in my mind that Berlin was going to be full of crowded streets and tall buildings similar to NYC, but that was not what I found. Instead, to me, it felt more open and suburban — but with beautiful statuesque buildings.
Right from the get-go the trip was interesting. You see, I was not on my “normal” team at work. Instead, I was on a six-month rotation with mobile support so I ended up joining the mobile team for some learning. Almost everyone was new to me. I mean, I knew their names and interacted often with them in Slack, but I hadn’t met a majority of them live.
Knowing that two of the teammates were from Utah, I grabbed the opportunity to fly out to see my children and fly to Germany from there. Hudi and Mollie drop me off at the airport on their way to a party, so I was a bit early. I made it through security with no problems at all. So did my colleague, but he did hear some rumors while on line that made us a little worried about our other colleague who was joining us. They were actually bumping people from the flight because it had gotten so hot outside so fast that they were concerned the plane would not be able to take off.
Since I wasn’t technically on the team, just a rotation, I volunteered to give up my spot if it came to that. I felt I couldn’t lose on that one. More time with the kids 🙂 But it didn’t come to that. Our colleague soon joined us at the gate.
They asked people whose final destination was Amsterdam to volunteer to be bumped from the flight. We offered to be bumped ourselves, but they didn’t want us since Amsterdam was not our final destination. I only saw a few people take the airline up on the offer, but they must’ve figured something out. I’m guessing baggage. Whatever the case, we boarded the flight and took off with no problems. That was exciting.
It was great meeting my teammates in person and learning lots of stuff. One of the great benefits of working together is observing workflows. It was at a meetup like this that I learned one could pin tabs and delete all tabs aside from the one open (or to the right or left) by right clicking on the tab and choosing the option I wanted. Simple stuff that saves a lot of time and finger clicks. I also learned about some tools that make work life easier and help me provide better support.
As with most work trips, I mostly saw the inside of the hotel conference room. We ventured out in the evening for a meal, but that was pretty much the extent of tourism until the end of the week.
Still, we got to see some poignant sites while heading to and from our meals:
Since the lockdown my habits seem to have changed a bit. In the past, I would get up early and exercise then grab a meal with teammates. During breaks I would call home or talk with teammates. In the evenings I would play games until late. This time I found myself grabbing alone time more than ever.
There was no use calling home much since Chris’ work schedule and our time zone differences made connections tricky. Instead, I went to my room for some quiet time. I kind of just didn’t exercise except for walking if a restaurant was within a couple of miles.
One of the things I was looking forward to most was enjoying a nice, dark German ale. It was actually surprisingly difficult to find this. One evening we ate at a traditional German restaurant, and I got my wish, though — with delicious pretzels as an added bonus!
I will admit I was not able to drink it all myself. A teammate helped me finish it off.
We usually got back from dinner around 9pm-ish, and I found myself slipping off to my room for a nice soak in a deep tub while listening to podcasts (which was also testing for my job since we provide support for Pocketcasts). I like being a tester 😀
Breakfast was a highlight of my day. I still joined teammates for that — just like the old days. Somehow I didn’t get a picture, but I had rich hot chocolate every day — right after a delightful cappuccino and espresso. Caffeine overload, right? But it was soooooo tasty! The food choices ranged from fancy cheeses to the perfect eggs and even stewed tomatoes (I’m a real sucker for any type of heated tomato).
As the week wound down we ended up with an afternoon off then a day where we only had to work two hours so I got some touring in. For the afternoon off I joined three colleagues on a trip to the Berlin wall. It was different that I had expected. A lot shorter, and the art was amazing. Still it was sobering knowing the history behind it. I’ll write more on that another time.
Overall it was a good week. Made even better by the thought that I would go back to the US to be with my kids and grandkids. It’s nice to be able to travel again.