Europe Sampler, Part II: Brussels

comic062809We first sampled Belgium chocolate through a box of Galler in our hotel room. Unfortunately, G and P ate 3/4 the box in about 5 minutes and entered blissful hibernation. However, if not for the sacrifices of my teammates, I would not have survived to write this post, instead, I would be lumbering in chocolate heaven, never to return. The remaining members of the Team, Y and me, would be covering Brussels by ourselves the first day.

Brussels probably had my favorite architecture on the trip, next to some parts of Paris.
Brussels probably had my favorite architecture on the trip, next to some parts of Paris.

Our first goal was Autoworld, a museum of historical cars located in the awesome Parc du Cinquantenaire. The archway was the most breathtaking building I’ve seen up to that point, unapologetically magnificent, from the extremely wide wall paintings on either sides of the horseshoe to the bronzed guardians on the chariot. Brilliant. Continue reading “Europe Sampler, Part II: Brussels”

Europe Sampler, Part I: Amsterdam

comic062309The bad luck started early when my Boston-Newark flight was delayed for 2 hours. Anxious idling in a waiting area is not my style, so I struck up a conversation with the businessman to my left, who turned out to be a partner in a bank.

He looked like he was trying to look happier than he was – his smiles sighed and his laughs frowned when we talked about mundane work and life and he gave advice that seemed to have been nailed to his heart: “If you get the big things right – and there are only two big things really: your job and your wife (chuckles, points to ring), you can make all the small mistakes you want. Never make the mistake of working for money. It drives people crazy and doesn’t make you happy. Find a job you love and you will not have to work.”

But there was no mistaking the youthful sparkle in his eyes when he recalled the tonic-like air of Notre Dame and the comfortable drizzle of the streets of London. A naked glee surfaced when he talked about how the best part of 8-AM meetings in Europe was getting to climb mountains and enjoy parks for the rest of the day. I handed the conversation to him at that point, and his hat no longer looked as heavy on him.

“Good meeting you, son. You have a long and exciting life ahead of you. Good luck on your trip.”

“You look like you still have sixty years yourself.” I was not really joking.

Of course, we get another delay taxi-ing in the airport, so by the time I exit the plane,  Y, G, and P were already in the plane to Amsterdam. I started running Olympic-speed (in the event involving flip-flops and two bags). “Final boarding call for Yan Zhang for flight XXX, departure time 5:20” repeated itself twice, but two Continental workers cheered for me (“Go go go!”) as I Usain Bolted down the final stretch, ending with a long jump into the gate at 5:09. “No need to be so feisty, brother,” said the second worker.

Continue reading “Europe Sampler, Part I: Amsterdam”