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The European Cannon Is Here (Station To Station) November 25, 2008

Posted by Richard Foote in Travel.
6 comments

I’ve recently returned from a very full on, action-packed 3 week tour of Europe (although it took an additional 36 hours for my luggage to return as well).

After traveling for 30 hours, I finally arrived at my first destination, Helsinki to present at the Finland Oracle User Group Conference. Taken out to dinner that evening by the charming Heli Helskyaho for a Lapland feast that included Smoked Reindeer, Bear Meat Balls and plenty of strong Finnish liqueur in my own personal Kuksa Cup. I recovered in time to present at the conference the next day in the wonderful “Mirror Room” at the Kamp Hotel, definitely the most impressive venue I’ve ever presented at. Feedback after the presentation suggested it was well received and I had the pleasure of attending the fabulous Finland User Group anniversary dinner afterwards.

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I was then off to Denmark to attend the Miracle 8th Anniversary Party. A big thank-you to Mogens and Annette for their hospitality, supply of Miracle Beer and a loooonnnng, entertaining party.

Next stop Brussels, for the first of my Index Internals Seminar. But first, I had the opportunity to explore this beautiful city with its narrow cobbled streets and historic buildings. The Grand Place was just stunning, definitely one of the most beautiful man-made places to visit. I just stood there for an hour or so just soaking in all the history. Went to see the Manneken Pis of course and just had a great time walking around and looking at all the wonderful old buildings. The seminar went really well although sadly the venue itself was definitely the worst I’ve come across, a small training room stuffed with far too many people, looking at the presentation via too few monitors with the worst coffee imaginable on offer (yes coffee is important).

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Unfortunately, the cold European weather and far too little sleep due to jet lag was catching up with me and by the time I left Brussels to return to Helsinki for the next seminar, I had a really bad cold and high fever to contend with. I woke up the first morning on the seminar in Helsinki feeling like death warmed up and all I wanted to do was stay curled up in bed. However, duty called and I managed to drag myself to the seminar venue. It was a much more appropriate venue, a large presentation room with a big screen display and quite decent coffee on offer (most important). Managed to get through the seminar successfully even though my voice just about disappeared by the end. After a few hot saunas each evening, I began to feel well enough to explore the city of Helsinki and do a little early Christmas shopping.

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Next stop, Dusseldorf in Germany. Here the seminar venue was at the same hotel where I was staying so it made life nice and easy. Had a free day to explore the old part of town and had a great time just walking around checking out Dusseldorf. Highlights included walking along the Rhine, going up the Seattle like Dusseldorf Rhine Tower for some great views of the city, down along the picturesque Konigsallee moat and through the charming Marktplatz. The seminar itself went really well with the 40+ attendees having a good time in the plush surroundings of the Linder Congress hotel. In a first, taught the last session whist drinking a German beer in hand, a gift from one of the attendees !!

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Final destination was Turkey and the amazing city of Istanbul. Will never forget the taxi ride to the hotel, with a sea of buildings, wave after wave, on hill after hill as far as the eye can see, with various Mosque towers sprinkled throughout. It’s probably the most crowded city I’ve ever visited, with a population of about 1/2 that of all of Australia. The seminar was again held at a really nice venue with it’s own facility to order your own custom coffee (hey like I said, it’s important !!). The attendees were again a real nice bunch and a big thank-you to Tonguc Yilmaz who showed me around town and took me for a lovely traditional Turkish dinner and a fabulous, strong strong Turkish coffee.

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After nearly 3 weeks on the road, it was great to finally see lovely Sydney harbour through the window of the plane and returned home to sunny Canberra. Perhaps next time, I might even be lucky enough to arrive at the same time as my luggage !!

A big thank-you to all the 100+ attendees who managed to get to one of the seminars and made them such a success, will eventually get to all your emails I promise !!

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