So I was in Germany today. For work. Got up at silly-o’-clock, also known as 5am. Car picked me up at 5.45am and I was whisked to Gatwick airport.
I had a Bill Murray Lost in Translation moment en-route. Racing through the concrete jungle of outer London, Croydon to be exact, I saw a big billboard advertisement for Budweiser, the style of which I actually rather liked. It resonated on some level. The sun was red and rising and this huge billboard was somehow lit up when I saw it.
The flight was painless enough though was one of those very small planes, the kind that looks like a dragonfly, with a propeller on each side.
It’s only 1 hour 5 minutes to Dusseldorf. Colleague was there to pick me up and the office isn’t too far away.
It was a good day overall. But not everything is rosy. Unlike the UK (which is the goose that lays the golden egg) – our German operation has really struggled in recent years. I kind of knew this but the Head of Office was also fairly candid. The office is quite pleasant, in a business park on the top floor of a building, but they’ve lost a number of people over the past year (which is in sharp contrast to our other offices). So the meeting was a little sombre as I know they really need help from those of us at head-office.
We travelled into altstadt (the old town) for lunch at a very traditional German restaurant. I had the selection of sausages, mash and sauerkraut washed down with alt beer (a local dark beer which tastes v.good!). We then had a walk along the Rhine and saw more of the old town. The weather was very mild and quite sunny.
Then back to their office for a couple more meetings. I can’t believe the German office hasn’t had a UK visitor in two years and they seemed to really appreciate me having gone over. There is a certain arrogance and aloofness that prevails in the London office with respect to other offices. There is an expectation that overseas colleagues will always come to London rather than vice versa. Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll be able to help them out and we covered a decent amount of ground.
I was dropped at the airport at 4.45pm for my 5.25pm flight. The flight – tiny again – was all boarded and ready to leave at about 5.15pm. But in stark contrast to the cliché about German ultra-efficiency – we couldn’t get a departure slot and ended up sat on the tarmac for ONE HOUR before finally being given the green light to go. Very annoying. Thankfully the flight was just less than half full and I had no one next to me, but even so.
Flight back to London just over an hour. Gatwick manically busy but you don’t expect anything less. I got home about 8pm.