European Tour 2018 or Thoughts From The Road

As I battle jet lag, and prepare for our busy fall presentation schedule I will give you a few thoughts that struck me from my recent European vacation. So here we go. My goodness there are some wonderful places in the world! While I will always love being a Canadian and the wonders of this beautiful country I also love seeing the sights and experiencing the cultural around the world. There is a feeling of wonder you get standing in the ruins or walk around the cobblestones where Julius Cesar himself, may have walked, or was probably carried. Touring the Colosseum, trying to imagine what must have gone into the building of this monument, what great things our species is capable of.  Architecture, sculpture, painting, art, and engineering. It is hard to really imagine how so many great works of art, monuments and structures were made without the benefit of modern machineries. Amazing!

Human history is fascinating, sad, heart warming, inspiring, odd and so much more. Running through Berlin you are struck by the sad horrific history. Name plates with the names of Jewish Germans killed during the World War, can be found throughout the city. Bullet holes in building and monuments along with parts of the Berlin wall dot the cityscape, reminding us that these atrocities occurred less than 100 years ago, not that long ago is it? Viewing pictures of what Berlin looked liked around the Brandenburg Gate after being liberated by the Allied Forces, complete devastation now replaced by new buildings. Then seeing the window where Michael Jackson dangled his baby out the window at the Hotel Adlon, guess that would fall into the odd category. Today you can wander around the city feeling safe for the most part, seeing a city experimenting and finding what the new Berlin will be.

Tourists can be odd. Most of us travellers are trying to experience the culture and see the sights. Most of us are trying to use the local language, appreciate the cultural differences, understand that mistakes happen due to miscommunication, and that people are basically doing their best to help and understand you. Than there are those tourists amongst us who feel a country should adapt to them and not the other way around. One example packed, and I mean packed, into the Sistine Chapel you are asked not to take pictures and not to talk, of course you are struck by the art and architecture… and then by the tourist talking and the flashing of the cameras.  Hopefully you are a tourist that makes locals glad to welcome you to their country

The best thing about travel is the unplanned serendipitous events that happen along the way. Like getting lost on a bike tour and finding the best pasta meal of your trip at an outdoor café in an industrial town beside a highway in Pontassieve, Italy. Sitting at an outdoor café enjoying a wonderful meal in Berlin when we start up a conversation with a gentleman from Basel Switzerland, which leads to a wonderful conversation about rollerblading marathons, who knew, world politics and the state of life in Switzerland. Or biking around a corner in a small Czech town and looking back to see the Karlstejn castle, magnificent. Attending a soccer game in Italy and being told the required chants and customs by your seat mates so that we fit in with the local fans.

Travelling back through Montreal I watched the business commuters going through their routine. Line up in the frequent flyer line for priority boarding, check, catch-up on texts, check, appropriate carrying on luggage, check. Watch as the regulars “look down their noses” at the not so frequent flyers, get in the wrong line. Don’t they know the rules?  I lived that life for many years and boy I do not miss that lifestyle. I always believed that actually seeing people face to face helped me understand their unique challenges and to better understand their needs and help me help to help them to be successful. Sitting in one of the corporate towers in Toronto it is difficult to understand what it is like in small town New Brunswick, or Portage and Main in Winnipeg or the challenges on Vancouver Island. Invaluable first hand knowledge is wonderful, but it comes with its own challenges, long flights, loss of routine, time away from friends and family and a negative impact on  your diet. We continue to trumpet the benefits of working in VLR but on now on your terms. No longer do you need to worry about travelling for three weeks, or the need to travel for business on someone else’s terms and of course no daily commutes.

Finally, as regular followers may remember I was in Europe to run a marathon. I am pleased to report a new world record was achieved in my event. Spoiler alert  I was not the one achieving this record. My race was disappointing, yes I finished but I never felt comfortable, and I was never able to get into a rhythm and reach my goal time. I finished and if you told me that I could still run a marathon 30 years after I started I would probably have been pretty happy. So I will take the positives from the finish and learn from it.

Have a great week.


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