It’s 1:00AM but I’m too wired to sleep right away, so I’ll write up my day and then crash …
I left Ghent early this morning and caught the train to Brussels. It was only 8 euros, and I was thinking “man, this is really great what 8 euros buys on the train” but then the conductor came and told me I was sitting in 1st class and had a 2nd class ticket. But 2nd class was nice, too. 🙂
I got off at Brussels-North, and the short taxi ride to the Microsoft office turned into a fiasco. The driver, a crazy chattering French guy, drove around a bit before getting there (I had studied the map earlier and he didn’t take the obvious short route), and then when he got to Microsoft he explained there was another Microsoft building nearby that’s the one I wanted. He then drove around for 30 minutes, going very fast around turnabouts and making me actually feel sick (lack of sleep contributed to that no doubt), then when he finally dumped me back at the place we’d been 30 minutes before, he wanted 97 euros. I expressed shock and indignation, and still wound up paying him 80 euros. Geez.
I had a meeting in Brussels about a cool Open XML project and also a meeting with a person from a Belgian governmental agency. I shouldn’t talk about the details, but here’s an actual quote from one of my meetings today: “for example, slides about operations in Afghanistan would have certain details tagged in the XML as restricted, others as classified, and so on.” (Hint: the Belgian army is definitely not in Afghanistan.)
Then I was off to the airport, and this time I got a much better driver, a very likable and talkative elderly little guy. But we were so busy bonding that he accidentally kept my Amex card when I paid him, which would have been a disaster for the rest of this long trip. Then, while I was waiting to check in inside the airport I heard behind me “Mr. Douglas!” and there he was with my Amex card. Cool.
The flight to Ljubljana on Adria Airways was delayed over an hour, so I got in around midnight. And I’ve never felt more like a VIP upon arrival in a country.
I had the first two rows to myself on the flight (12 business-class seats just for me), and I was the first person off the plane. When I walked out of baggage claim the first person I saw was a smiling driver with sharp cheekbones and a crisply lettered sign that said MR. DOUG MAHUGH. I smiled, he smiled and gave me a quick firm handshake, then grabbed my suitcase and led me to his car parked right outside the door along the curb. (Don’t you miss pre-911 airport procedures?) He drove very fast but also very smoothly through tall dark forests, with the outline of steep hills in the distance and occasional large white churches lit up near the highway. Soon we were in Ljubljana, and he pulled to the front of the hotel, I said “do you speak English?” and he said “yes, sir, I will be your driver and will pick you up at 8 in the morning, you can pay me when I return you to the airport tomorrow evening.”
The guy at the front desk was similarly brisk and pleasant, and in no time I was headed for my room on the top floor, where I stepped off the elevator and my room is straight across from the elevator, the closest possible room and on the top floor with the best possible view.
I like Slovenia, based on my extensive experience of it over the last 90 minutes. Too bad I’ll only be here about 18 hours. But it will be nice to leave, too, because my Second Life partner (we got hitched last night, that’s the secret to sharing a house) will be waiting for me in Munich tomorrow evening. Can’t wait to get a good night’s sleep!
Here’s a final photo from Ghent taken about 24 hours ago …
Hmm, speaking of Second Life, I just noticed when I posted this that Julien posted something silly over in France this evening. hi Julien! Nice to have dinner with you and Greg and Olivier last night, thanks for coming up to Belgium. Man, that sure seems like a long time ago already!