Friday, 18 March 2011

Sweden's Wall of Food

The offices are mad beautiful..the view is stunning..and their food options in the cafe/kitchen commons is well as...interesting...and...well, I'll let you be the judge.  First the view...

Next the 'shelf 'o fruit'...baskets of fresh bananas, pears, oranges, peaches and apples.

Next let's move to the wall of food...imagine your local convenience store..  You swipe your EA card, open the door, and with a price gun, choose what you will eat and take it to the opposing wall of microwaves and Nuke it.

Some examples of what is housed as the wall of food include:

I'm pretty sure "Gooh" is GOOD or Yummilicious in Swedish.  This American girl is thinking Goop is more appropriate.  Yikers.

And finally, some of my favorite packaging of the trip.

I am having several crates of this shipped over on the QE II, if you care to try any.  Isn't it interesting that 'makes you feel fuller longer' is in English?  Note the Goop pkg is not bilingual.  Is there a message here?  Hunger not quite under control...  no worries.  The next shelf has pizza!

And for dessert, who can resist Billy's PannKakor...strawberries and crepes!  Yummers.  Looks like a hot dog logo to me though.  Sorry, but not a pastry font.

Sweden was awesome.

EA America...step is up...Geneva's coffee bar ROCKS

Seriously, EA US has the crappiest coffee machines in the globe.  I can, with zero reservation, say that the coffee I drank in Geneva from the fancy machine, was better than some in the cafe's or restaurants.  Here's the gang enjoying sushi!

And here's the magic caffeine machine in action:

Please forgive my silly narration, I forget there is a microphone!

Italy was so apologetic as the terrible coffee options they had, that they sent out for a proper Italian coffee.  Here's how a 'take away' coffee arrived.

Foil wrapped china cup complete with saucer.  Seriously unbelievable and not a drop spilled and hot, no less.

I'm learning to drink coffee without my ritual of hazlenut or toffee nut or whatever nut-of-the-day is at Starbucks.  Haven't been to Starbucks except at one airport we saw one in Stockholm and then we didn't make it back because arrivals and departures are weird there.  I wonder what habits I'll break and what ones I'll pick up.  One thing I WILL NOT be doing is watching CNN.  OMG, I am sick to death of 24/7 Japanese and Libya coverage.  Haven't these people heard of reality tv over here?  We had the results of American Idol Top 12 revealed last night and I have to go find a pirated viewing on the internet somewhere tonite.  Klever Kate watched Grey's Anatomy last night while I played 2 hours of Plants Vs. Zombies with 100 deg fever.  (Side bar:  I am in the level where there is lightening.  I swore my Ipad was blinking with no power and I was freaked.  NOOOOOO!  I can't have broken my ipad.  I went to the charger, turned it off, etc.  Reboot, prayed, lit candles...and then went back in.  This time, the lightening followed by thunder sounds and rain, and I realized STUPID STUPID ZOMBIE GAME!!!!!!!!  You're the BEST!

Three Days Later...back at a pharmacy In Prague

Death plague illness continues to try to take us down...all 3 of us.  I nearly coughed up a fur ball in the presentation today.  God help me if those poor men report back on me.  I shall be canned instantly.  The good news is I have made that presentation so many times now, even with ringing ears and coughing like mad, I still got the point across, I suppose.  They thanked us anyhow!

It started snowing during the meeting.  The first flakes of the trip.  Wisely, I chose this day not to bring a coat, but an umbrella.

 At this pharmacy trip, I purchased a thermometer which gave me a reading of 38c.  Off to the iphone for google to get me to a converter which reported over 100f.  There you have it, my Czech thermometer has confirmed I am indeed ill'in  Not a great day to play in snow with no coat.

You know you are sick when you are taking medical advice from a pharmacist that does not know much English but points at parts of your body for discussion.  As you can see above, the little package with the moon and stars is the only way I could find the Czech version of NyQuil.  And when I picked off shelf, she was urgently saying, NO NOT NOW, and waved her hands to indicated time passing.  I truly believe my life's work as a packaging graphics manager, is very important indeed.  The universal/global imagery across everything is astounding.  Lays Potato chips are my favorite localization treats.  All the flavors over here.  Quite frankly, America gets ripped off.  Except for the Prawn chip.  Lays?  Who wants a seafood flavored potato?  Chinese have their own shrimp chips.  I digress. back to the pharmacy.   I enjoyed our mime game, so I decided to tug at my lip and say mouth ulcer.  I have (excuse if tmi here) multiple mouth ulcers, which the internet says is brought on by lack of sleep and stress.  No shit Sherlock...I'm flying out of a country every other day, can't sleep because I am sick, and I have no money that works every time I land, and I miss my mmmoooooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy!  LOL  Anyway back to pharmacist.  Amazingly, she knew immediately what to give me, spot on, as Kate would say.  Lush!

Today's pharmacy trip and subsequent trips have resulted in inability to do actual video game store checks.
Maybe over the weekend.

Sigh.  Signing off from my Sheraton room in a beautiful Eastern European city, Prague.  Here's a few more snaps of what we came across yesterday in search of a money ATM machine.

Amazing cheese shop!  Look at the Pesto cheese to the right of my head!  And Paprika cheese, which I learned later is a red bell pepper, atleast that's what came on my pizza.

  Oh, and the funniest thing we've seen so far in Prague...


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Pharmacy Field Trip

After a great day with Petra, Rikard, and Maria, the girls and I all had a very special field trip to Apoteket today. After some comical moments trying to interpret Swedish medical/pharmacological jargon, we settled on what we think is antihistamine for Kate (to go with her anti-inflammatories, nasal sprays, and Sudafed), cough medicine for me, and ear plugs for Cole (to prevent the inner ear pressure issues that are plaguing Kate from rearing up in Cole's cold-infected head).

Yes, we're all ill.

It's possible we may earn some not-so-nice nicknames for our germ-laden visits ... after the incubation period ends, but we're hoping that we haven't passed on anything more than our appreciation for all of the kindnesses shown to us thus far.

Tomorrow we're off to Prague ... to hopefully share only our collective Sims branding knowledge!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Poland ... who knew?

Did you know Warsaw has some tall buildings that are like really TALL?  And some that are super colorful?

Also, today I invented what I am calling the "SNEAKY SNAP".  Where you put the iphone on FaceTime forward, pretend you are play a vid game or checking email, tilt the phone and Sneaky Snap Attack the unsuspecting victim.  Note, it is key to put the phone on silent as to be Stealthy in your Sneaky Snap Attack.  Here's my first victim:

Hello?  There's no mistaking we are in Poland is there?  He's like quintessential Polish man with the thickest mustache he had to have started in 1972.  By the way, the Polish taxi fleet is nearly 100% Mercedes with the cheapest horrible cloth seats produced on Planet Earth.  It's so weird.  The Citroen we rode in was MUCH nicer.  We've been in lots of Audi's as well.  

This concludes my analysis of Polish transportation, as we did not go anywhere by plane or train today.  And no side trips to Budapest, Zimbabwe or other lands unplanned for this tour.  However, it isn't over yet!

Stockholm, Sweden tomorrow.  As I wrote on Facebook (5 words I vowed never to say but have been sucked in by Kate and Jess), BRING ON THE IKEA Swedish meatballs.  I'm hoping to be able to Snap a pic of a real liVE Ikea factory!  How cool would that be?  Do you think Ikea is even CHEAPER in Sweden?  hee hee

Forgot to comment on Polish food.

Exhibit A:  Lunch at Mall Food court.  Carrots were tasty.  Potatoes Crispy.  Fish...I believe prepared by the Gordon Fisherman.

Exhibit B:  Ribeye steak with the best red wine reduction sauce, more potatoes and a garlic sour cream sauce.  al dente green beans and al dente baby asparagus in a delicate butter sauce.  Umm, hello this was in the lobby of hotel at the Westin Warsaw.  Seriously...I might even YELP this one.

Exhibit C:  Wait for it.  You know the Dessert is coming.  Or as Kate the Brit says...Pudding (even when you are ordering Chocolate Fudge Lava Cake, as Kate does whenever on the menu)

Fresh fruit in a ganache cream served with Kiwi Passionfruit fusion sorbet.  Umm, yes, it was stellar and the little star is a dried hibiscus flower...which I touched and took a bite of and my fingers are still stained pink.

Now I am tired and ready to prepare for our trip to the coldest destination of the trip.  Sweden!

Best Quotes of the Tour, Part I

"Relax. We're French. It's okay." -- FX, Lyon (we've adopted this as our motto for the tour)

"We are literally tunneling through a mountain right now. In Britain the trains can't run if there are leaves on the track. Swiss Rail: 1. British Rail: 0." -- Kate, Geneva to Milan

"Bon soir!" -- Cole, everywhere really, in any possible situation

"Sometimes fusion is just weird." -- Kate, dinner in Warsaw


Warsaw had a rather dubious start.

After a flight cancellation and an unexpected quick-change in Budapest, Cole and I arrived in Warsaw a bit on the fatigued side.

Then, as we lumbered towards the exit, we were approached by a kindly looking older gentleman who asked if we needed a taxi. Well, yes, we in fact. We weren’t positive that this was the way to go about it, but, not wanting to be rude, we settled for “Yes, we do…” and then Cole asked if we could use a credit card. No, we emphatically could not.

So our helpful driver directs us towards a cashpoint/ATM/distributeur/Bancomat – whatever we’re calling it here – and Cole withdraws more cash and we return to our driver, who immediately takes over Cole’s bags and hustles toward the exit.

At which point Cole asks “How much is the fare to central Warsaw?” (Note: Cole had already asked this question when she changed in her residual currency at the exchange, but we didn’t want to be surprised if she had misheard.) The answer, according to our would-be taxi driver: 120 PLN. According to the lady at the exchange: 40 PLN. Hmmm.

Now my sketch-o-meter isn’t just a faint buzz but full-on alarm bells. So I mutter to Cole that I don’t feel good about his. I think we need to find a proper taxi rank and give this guy the heave-ho, but he’s commandeered her luggage and is speeding back across the airport, so what to do. “Not a problem!” says Cole. It turns out her “WFC” attitude goes nicely with my sketch-o-meter. So with my unease growing, Cole abruptly wrests her luggage from the man and we head over to the official info booth to be told, again, that the fare should be about 40 PLN. Hmph. Well, there you are then.

Out to the taxi rank, safely (and reasonably priced) delivered to our hotel, where we were helped by lovely hotel clerks … and then I look up the exchange rate. 1PLN is $0.33 USD. So perhaps the huge discrepancy wasn’t so huge (in one way of thinking). And yet, whatever the exchange rate, it was clearly inflated to 3x the going rate.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Seriously Saturday Nite in Milan

Been gone from home for about 10 days now.  I am seriously Euro trashed now.  Today I hit a wall.  Albeit a tasty and beautiful one, but a wall just the same.  I am ready to leave Milan...after I buy a brick of Parmegiano Reggiano tomorrow.  Tonite, I ate leftovers from lunch for dinner.  I simply could not go out for dinner one more time.  Too much of a good thing is still too much.  I swear to God I am happy we are going to Poland tomorrow, because if I don't get away from the endless supply of croissant, pane de chocolata, blah blah, butter and chocolate, blah blah blah, I am going to vomit.  I hate to complain, but I have quite literally been a kid in a pastry shop.  Every breakfast we have croissant.  Today, I figured I would skip, counter balance with an egg white omelette with broccoli for breakfast.  I ate broccoli for dinner last night too.  Craving veggies to flush the sugar and butter from my pores.

Tonite, as Jess and I got off of the last of our train rides...about 6 rides now, we were just cruising through the train station like we were locals.  It didn't even phase us.  Screaming Italians bustling all around and we could have cared less.  We have Euro-ized.

I did laundry in the sink tonite.  Everything has lost the smell of Tide.  Luckily I brought some little squeezy packs along so my jammies smell like home.  It's the little things in life.

Things I am learning about myself on this trip:

  • I can't be rattled anymore.  I just can't.  I don't have the energy or time.  I have taken WTF to WFC (who f'n cares).  
  • We are doing it wrong in US.  They closed up shop at noon today to go home and sleep or whatever...and opened back up at 3:00p.  Serious ghost town until 3:00 when it was like a locust plague of Italians poured into the streets.  There is NO economic downturn in Como, Italy, my friends.  NONE. 
  • I almost had my wedding rings stolen from my hand yesterday because I didn't want to be rude and tell the man to stop shaking my hand.  I'm too naive.  
  • I love adventure, as much as I don't think I do.  
  • I see amazing in stupid things.  I was laughing so hard when I was in the le' toilette and Elvis was singing "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You".  In Como, Italy!  
  • I wish I was a food photographer for a living.  I love to photograph it.  Colorful and enticing.
  • I love packaging.  I love to read all the stupid call out copy...see the funny shapes...and of course, photograph it.
  • If I want to do it bad enough, I can.  Example:  I will not walk across my living room to find the remote to change channel on tv.  However, I walked for 2.5 hours yesterday just because I wanted to "walk home from work in Italy".  2.5 hrs = 4 miles...lots of stopping to photograph and talk to people (and thieves). 
  • I have an excellent sense of direction.  See above.  no map, no directions, just memory from cab ride that morning.  And landmarks such as a giant Gelato bar that caught my eye and I found my way back to hotel!
  • I always knew I never met a stranger.  But I will LITERALLY talk to anyone.  I don't know why I don't care who they are or what they do, I will still approach with a question or comment.  (see thief above)
  • I will shop forever at a flea market, even if my feet are bleeding and it's approaching dark and 40 degrees.  The thrill of the hunt is like no other excitement for me. 
  • I have not watched tv in 10 days and I have survived.  I think I need to use this time to detox.  Of course, I have been typing on laptop so that is considered addition switching isn't it?  Ok, so not alot of progress there.
  • Speaking of addictions, I have a new one.  After 13 years working at Electronic Arts, I have become addicted to a video game (not one of hours, LOL).  My Ipad has introduced me to Plants v. Zombies and I have it on my iphone too.  Steve Jobs has literally turned me into a gadget geek.  I'd say I am a delayed early adopter that dives in big, once I finally get suited up.  I rock a macbook, ipod touch, ipod classic, nano, iphone and Ipad.  Ay ya yi.   
Enjoy some pics from the trip so far!  Kate and Cole in Geneva...Geneva...Jessica...All 3...Lyon...EA Lyon...Milano Chocolate Salami.  (Don't ask how it taste because the shop was closed.  Dangit)
Off to bed because Warsaw, Poland awaits.  I better Google some translations tuit suit'.  Whatever.



PS, Kate went home on Friday so she is not in Milan with us.  Miss you Katey-kins.  Can't wait to see you in Poland tomorrow nite.  Jess and I are having a General Lie In tomorrow until we depart for Lufthansa gate.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

What Happens in Switzerland, stays in Switzerland

Until I have a glass of wine and all bets are off...and so are the bellmans caps.
Poor kind gentleman  didn't know a Texas tornado was blowing into Geneva!  They had no time to prepare.

Bon Soire!

Quintessential London

I took public transit in London.  I won't do it in San Francisco. I got lost on Bart.  Seriously, what has come of me.  I'll tell you what...if I don't be brave I will be captured by the Taliban and that will be the last of me.  I'm going to milk this world tour for every ounce of my being.  You say, it's for work right?  And I tell you, I work with some of the most amazing and inspirational, passionate people...literally all over the world.  It's inspiring and most importantly, they are glad to see me and the two lovely woman, Kate and Jessica.  We are like a 3 man M*A*S*H unit, delivering wisdom on the brand.  It's like we have penicillin to the creative starving and sick.  Ok, I am being overly dramatic, but seriously, when you saw who authored this post, you knew what you were getting into so power on, or buggar off.

Incidentally, I have adapted the native accents and languages.  However, I can't be bothered with using them correctly.  I pick my favorite word of the day and use it often and loudly.  Today was Bon Soire.  I believe I am trying to say 'hello' but I tell everyone good night...all day.  the lady selling me chocolate.  Bon Soire!!!  I also love to say Merci bo qou...hell I can't spell it if I can't say it.  Lord help me.

Tonite at dinner, we toast to departing Geneva Switzerland.  I asked the chicks what the word of the day in Milan will be.  We settled on Buon Giorno.  As far as I'm concerned that the crappy frozen pizza from home, so my Italian will be 'very good'.  Tres Bien...or something.  I have never used so much on my Iphone.  Critical when translating a menu.  I don't want to be eating any lizard tails or Ox balls.  OMG, we are going to be in Poland soon.  I better get googling or we may starve to death.


Monday, 7 March 2011

Fantastic Collector's Edition Bundle

Cole and I may have to share custody of this little cutie when we get back to the US. One week in her cube. One week in mine...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Great Expectations

File this under not living up to expectations. No, not Cole as my fellow traveler. She’s of course wonderfully laidback and approaches all of our experiences thus far with her usual quick sense of humor (only whilst in London she’s adapted it to a sense of humour, naturally). It’s my no-iron shirt. Or so called. To be fair, it might have had an outside chance at living up to its hype … if I hadn’t subjected it to my over-packed suitcase along with many other “travel-worthy” items.

Which of course led to my courageous investigation of the in-room ironing capabilities. A trouser press, an iron and an ironing board. That all seemed “well promising.” Until I set up the ironing board, which was either made with child labourers in mind … or for some other extremely small ironers. I’d include a photo here if only I could get the proper perspective (I couldn’t). So you’ll have to imagine it barely coming above my knees, which it cleared by a whole 2 inches or so.

That said, the miniature board more than made up for its diminutive size by returning my no-iron shirt (with some effort from myself, not a small child, leprechaun, or Dobby himself) to a reasonably wearable condition. Success. Or as my friend Charlie would say, “WINNING!”

Thus, I deem our trip is off to a successful start! Hurray!

We diverted to EuroDisney.  Don't we wish.  Somehow even Mickey doesn't sound fun in 34 degree weather!!!