For reasons I’m not really sure of, my manager asked me to book a trip for one week: three days in Paris and two in Bucharest. Something to do with vacations and ability to travel, etc. I didn’t question it.
And because of a long story that I’m not going to bother writing out, I was flying to Paris Sunday evening, arriving Monday morning. Usually I fly Saturday so that I have a day to adjust to the time zone and don’t have to go into the office right away. The last time I flew on Sunday and went straight into the office, I was extremely tired all day, even falling asleep at the desk at one point. I was not looking forward to the whole situation. So I did everything I felt I could to make sure I could sleep on the plane and be awake for the office. I woke up early on Sunday to pack and so that I’d be tired later on. I bought a neck pillow, which I have judged others for having for years. I got a pharmacist’s advice on drugs I could take to knock me out on the plane. I switched my phone’s time to Paris time before taking off so I would already be thinking in Paris time. When I was on the plane, I didn’t touch the screen in the seat back in front of me. I wasn’t going to watch any movies or play any games; I was going to sleep.
I slept sporadically for maybe a total of two hours? I can’t sleep on planes, no matter how hard I try. I was bummed out and not looking forward to the day at the office.
Since people usually don’t show up to the office until 10am, I arrived at the just in time to drop off my suitcase at the hotel and walk over to the office with Chloe, who flew in the day before.
Much to my surprise, I wasn’t as tired as I was anticipating. During a presentation meeting, I was struggling to stay awake, but I wasn’t the only one. The content and presenter were boring everyone. But after that, I got a second wind and was good to go.
Juliette, who joined the team at the beginning of the year, had finished her prohibition period so a little party was being throw at the office at the end of the day to celebrate. They got some things to snack on and we hung out in a meeting room. The company had recently bought the team a photography light to take Q&A videos, so we were taking group photos together with the light and a makeshift background made of company promotional material. Then someone brought out two mics that are hooked up to the meeting room’s speaker system and we started singing karaoke. It was a lot of fun; I got very into it. People also discovered that I was very good at karaoke, probably because I listen to music all day at work and pick up lyrics fairly quickly. I would however like to clarify, although they didn’t, that being good at karaoke and being good at singing are two very different things.
People petered out as the night went on, and eventually there were just a handful of us left at 11pm. We cleaned up and headed home. Although we hadn’t really eaten dinner, I wasn’t particularly hungry. Not bad for someone who hadn’t really slept.
The next day, I was shocked I didn’t have a sore throat. I had been singing (poorly) for a number of hours and had definitely pushed my voice too hard on Chandelier. Nevertheless, there was no harm done. We had a meeting as the design team to do some brainstorming and look for inspiration on a couple side projects in the afternoon. Largely, it was just another day of work. One of the guys asked me if it was annoying to travel so many miles to basically just do business as normal. I didn’t really have an answer to that.
It was at this point that my manager wondered if we would extend our trip; stay in Paris for the rest of the week then spend next week in Bucharest. Had she asked a week earlier, I would have said yes. But I only packed 6 outfits and didn’t really fancy the idea of having to call and get my entire itinerary changed, as well as having to find somewhere to do laundry. And a very tiny part of me wants to encourage better planning on their part in the future by not bending to their last minute whims. Then there was a proposal to keep the trip to Bucharest as it was but come back to Paris next week. But all the same reasons listed above applied. And when I asked why they wanted us to come back, they didn’t have anything that couldn’t be done over a conference call.
Perhaps I should also take the time to mention that it was discovered that Wednesday is a public holiday in Paris, so the office was going to be closed and nobody was going to be working. Not that Chloe and I would have been doing much work anyways, because our flight to Bucharest was in the afternoon and we needed to leave about 1pm to get to the airport. Regardless, Chloe and I now had a bonus free morning in Paris. It ended up raining all day, so it wasn’t a particularly pleasant morning in Paris, but I’m not complaining.
We were going to Bucharest to work with the development team that implements the designs that we work on. But again, it wasn’t particularly clear what exactly we were supposed to be working on with them. We had some meetings together but nothing that couldn’t have been done over a call. Heck, the second day we were there the main developer didn’t even come into the office because he was so busy he didn’t have the time to commute.
But on to the fun stuff. Thursday after work two of the devs took us for a walk around some of the city then out for dinner. We walked by the Palace of Parliament, which is the second largest administrative building in the world (behind the Pentagon). It’s a massive building and quite intimidating. And in the grand scheme of history, it’s fairly new; it was completed about 50 years ago.
We went to one of the devs favourite restaurants which serves typical Romanian food. We got two huge platters of meat and some various sides.
The next night, the other two devs on the team were hanging out with us. It was forecasted to rain, so we decided to go to an escape room. It was kind of horror themed, meant to be scary. I definitely screamed multiple times. But I also love escape rooms. They’re the kind of puzzles I love. We did the room with 15mins to spare, and I was on such a high from completing it. It was only 9:30 at that point, and the place had another escape room that wasn’t booked. One of the dev guys bowed out, but the three of us ended up doing the second room. It was longer and had multiple rooms. At one point I got trapped in a room by myself and couldn’t get out until the next clue was solved. It was so much fun (we also solved that one with time to spare).
Chloe and I booked our flights back on Sunday so that we could have Saturday to be tourists. We went to a large park to the north of the city where there is the National Village Museum. They’ve relocated hundreds of old buildings from around Romania to the park. It really is a museum, but the artefacts are buildings and it’s all outside. It was fun to walk around and enjoy the warm weather. You could go inside a handful of the buildings. Chloe’s favourite part was the cats that were roaming the entire museum. We saw at least six of them, and judging by their colouring they’re all from the same litter. They were pretty cute.
Chloe was hungry, so we got lunch at the closest restaurant, a Hard Rock Cafe. It felt wrong, but what are you gonna do about it? We made our way back to the hotel and just relaxed for the rest for the afternoon before going out for dinner. I sat in my hotel room that’s bigger than my apartment and enjoyed an espresso of sorts from the coffee machine and read my book.
The dinner was alright, but as Chloe pointed out, the restaurant seemed to have something against me. The waiter only gave me half a glass of water, then took it away before I was finished with it. My lava cake dessert had collapsed by the time it got to me so I didn’t get to crack into it myself. I wasn’t upset by any of this really, it was just funny that it was all happening to me.
It was really nice to experience Bucharest. It’s definitely not a place I would have ever gone on my own accord, but it’s a cool city. There’s a lot of graffiti everywhere which took me a while to get used to. Some day I’d like to go see the castles that are around Romania, the one in Transylvania being particularly famous for the vampires. Their currency, the lei, is about 3 lei to 1 Canadian dollar. So everything looked expensive but was actually pretty cheap. A nice bonus!