The next chapter in “Whose life is this?”

There is no way that my deepest imagination could have pictured the scenes which unfolded last week on my first international business trip. The world I now find myself in is at once exciting, bewildering, challenging and awe-inspiring.

Let’s do this.
Here we go. Zurich to Munich, Munich to Trieste.
Arrival in Trieste, Italy.
This maritime world is a very international business.

My peers are brilliant in engineering and languages, coming from corners of the globe I’ve yet to explore. I can’t help but hum Ernie’s  little ditty “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.” And yet somehow, this is exactly where I belong right now.

Not our engine but another big one we were allowed to photograph.

This isn’t my first foray as a fish-out-of-water. Back in the day I spent a season as the only female at a landscaping company, I spent a long and very wet summer as the only cow-girl at a dude-ranch. Heck, I even spent my formative years looking and playing like a boy – who knew this was all training for today?

Our group.

Ironically, this business trip, where I was the only woman in a sea of men, fell during the week of National Woman’s Day. When the hotel staff handed me a small bouquet of flowers upon check-out, I asked my colleagues where their flowers were. I was informed that it was National Woman’s Day. Huh, who knew? Awkward.

Pretty flowers for National Women’s Day.

I admit to feeling a bit conflicted about my position as a woman. On this trip, without fail, I was served first at every meal we had. Doors were opened for me, umbrellas offered.

Does this show a level of inequality? I guess it does.

Should I be offended by that? Am I regressing the plight of women by admitting that it was all very nice and greatly appreciated?

I wasn’t asked to fetch the coffees or take minutes. No one called me “little lady” or “doll”. I was seen as a contributing member of the group, fulfilling the role I was hired for. Gender played a role but in no way did I feel diminished or repressed. Quite the opposite.

I know I’m lucky. Not all women are.

I digress.

The trip was to demonstrate a new technology our engineers have made possible. At a test-facility in Trieste, Italy (with the hills of Slovenia just behind the plant) one of our massive engines was run through simulation tests to prove the technology’s effectiveness. And it did. In front of important guests from Korea, Norway and France; all there to witness for themselves the seamless execution of the new technology.

It was impressive. WE were impressive. Among our guests, I was also a “first timer” having never been to our test facility before. I didn’t need to pretend not to be wide-eyed and slack jawed; many of us were.

Checking into the hotel was another story. I did my best to hide my “WHOA!!” excitement, pretending like it was no big deal.

The Savoia Excelsior Palace
The bliss of a clean hotel room, all to yourself.
Word to the wise…don’t pull the string with the little red ball. It’s not a clothing line. It’s a panic alarm. Noted…oops.
Happiness is a hotel window that actually opens.
The view from my room.
Nice spot for a business meeting.
Or the hotel-room office.

Oh right, we’re here for work. Focus…

I firmly believe that I didn’t embarrass myself. There was the unfortunate shoe incident but there was really nothing I could have done to prevent that.

Mandatory steel-toed shoes and hard hats. Nothing like some unisex steel-toed shoes to firmly plant you in frumpy-town.

The factory was amazing. I wasn’t allowed to photograph all I wanted to. The enormity of the plant was remarkable. Massive scale, all automated and efficient. The beauty of the enormous propellers being polished and tested was truly something.

Touring the actual engine after the successful test.
The ship’s control. How fun is that?
Virtual reality glasses to allow technicians to troubleshoot on-board problems.
Okay, maybe I did embarrass myself with a quick selfie.
Luckily, if the work situation became a little overwhelming and I crapped my pants, the washrooms had a handy self-cleaning station. So reassuring.

And then there was the food. Thank goodness these trips, for me, will be limited to once a month at most. Eating that well, night after night, would be serious trouble. And the wine! Thankfully I’m not foolish enough to try to keep up with my male colleagues in this regard. The after-dinner grappa was not a temptation even remotely. Limoncello on the other hand… I only indulged once.

Every meal was amazing. This was my favourite. A salad starter with 4 different fish salads.
Seafood risotto
All seafood, all the time. The black square, did a number on my teeth. Was trying to discreetly pick out poppy-seeds all evening.
The most amazing octopus I’ve ever had.
The one indulgence. And yes, I did regret it the next morning.
So much cutlery. A “typical” 9 course Italian meal.
This restaurant is owned and operated by the same family since 1865. Trattoria Suban.
The stroll through the square to dinner on night 3.
My dinner companions.
Not in Kansas anymore…

The majority of the time was occupied by factory tours and meetings. But the morning we were to leave, the sun came out and I had an hour to explore the pretty city of Trieste.

My last cappuccino in paradise.
The square on one of the rainy, grey days.
Did I mention it was rainy?
Oh the Italians, and their impeccable style.
Blue sky just in time to depart.
Everything was fresh in the morning after the rain.
Pretty boats on the canal.
Pretty square in the old town.
Spring scenes in Italy.
Pretty orange.
There are pretty doors to be found everywhere.

All-in-all, a pretty awesome first trip. Can’t wait for the next one. London in April.

So tempting. Maybe on the next trip.
Farewell Italy. You were great.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Terry Johnson says:

    What an amazing adventure, can hardly wait to be part of your next one. One just never knows where life will lead you, guess that is the magic of being. Thank you so much what a lovely tale.



    1. Thanks Uncle Terry. You’re right, we have no idea where this life is leading us but we’re sure determined to enjoy every bit of it! Thanks for tuning in! Love, The Niece

      On Sun, 11 Mar 2018 at 18:45, mexicans in switzerland wrote:



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