March 8th, 2012

eliphas, napping

Business travel

I've been in Kosice (in Slovakia) for a few days now on a business trip, goal is to create a twin of the system we are running in the office at home, and get it running. Which is a slogging, two-steps-forward-one-step-back task, not like that "being thrown in headfirst trying to make sense of stuff" that I had in the US. This time, it's the local team who are thrown headfirst into the deep end, after running only a quiet outpost in the shallows for some years.

The work is OK, though I wish the sun wouldn't set so soon (not even Spring equinox yet, plus, being about 10 degrees to the east, sunrise and sunset come about 40 minutes earlier than at home), or I could manage to leave work before 6 p.m. some day. Maybe tomorrow. And even if not, the weekend is upcoming, and I fervently hope that the local guys are less enthusiastic about working on the weekends than my co-workers in California were.

The guys are a little over-protective, which, together with the work, and not knowing the language, is very exhausting. A bus ride and a walk do wonders to clear my brain, being given a ride in a car, not so much. Also it means that I have very little opportunity to use even the half-dozen words of Slovak that I try to memorise.

The weather is cold but sunny. Even the day I woke up to find new snow had fallen was sunny. I'm glad I checked the weather forecast and brought my winter clothes, though! The city is a little broken down around the edges, with big holes in the street and some large modern ruins standing around, there is some shabbiness and broken backyards, but the streets are clean enough for Switzerland, and the old city centre is quite shiny (as far as it can be determined in the dark). There are a lot of German chain stores in the shopping malls, which feels very strange.

My hotel is about 3 km from my place of work, which makes for an 11-minute-bus ride. I leave the hotel at 8 and sit at my desk at twenty past.

But I am tired. I have slept four nights here, and two of them I was in bed around eight and slept straight for 11 hours. The only night I didn't was when the co-workers took me to a pub, and, well this night, so far. I feel that language takes a big part in this. It exhausts my brain, and makes going into the city after work a task, so I don't and let after-work-exhaustion crash me instead of overcoming it with a walk and a cup of tea or some hanging out in bookstores.

Getting here was quite a journey. We were joking at work that it would be faster to travel to India. There is no direct train, no direct flight. If you do not want to fly, you take the fast bus to Prague (a little under four hours), and then a night train, which leaves in Prague shortly before 10 p.m. and arrives in Kosice at half past seven in the morning. A place in a sleeper car is affordable and quite comfortable, and I would have slept well if my damned cell phones hadn't rung every two hours to inform me that I was now entering a different network. Czech, Polish, Slovak, Hungarian, and Slovak again, wtf? Next time I'll switch them off.

I was picked up at the station by a co-worker and driven to the hotel. It's a nice hotel. I have one of the three-star "economy" rooms, which is large by a little sparsely furnished, and as it is on the upper floor, the windows go to the sky. Also, no comfy chair. But it is clean and non-smelly, the staff are very friendly, the heating is efficient, and there is sufficient hot water in the shower. The one thing I sorely miss is an electric kettle.

For Saturday, I plan sightseeing and some shopping, and eat some cake. Sunday, I'll really need to stretch my legs and rest my brain. Current plan is to go to the zoo. After that, have dinner in my hotel's posh restaurant, and at 11 p.m., maybe take a taxi to the airport to pick up a co-worker from home who has to set up another part of the system. Or maybe the guy can manage on his own. But picking him up would give me another excuse to be out on my own and make me feel competent. We'll see.

Meanwhile, Snow is looking after the cats, and she tells me that they are very concerned about the state of things, and very cute while they are at it.

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