Business trip to Poznan Poland

Strange hotel room at the Platinum Palace Poznan
Strange hotel room at the Platinum Palace Poznan

A few of members of my team work out of our Poznan office, and although we manage to function as a team using email, phones and video conferencing there is nothing like meeting face to face. So the start of this week I will be spending my time in Poznan. The flights from Luton were a bit inconvenient, the flight there would be reasonable being at 0800 but the flight back would have meant a start at 0300 to catch the feeding flight of the 0800 out of Luton, I would prefer to avoid that. So I settled on flights from and to London Stansted, the flight out was at1235 then I would return late afternoon on the Wednesday.

i was in the office by 0730 to get two and a half hours in before having to leave for the airport. Unfortunately I could not get started straight away as there was a networking issue and I was the only person in to resolve it, I may have been better off working from home. The drive to the airport was pretty uneventful (around the M25 was clear) I did see a lorry on fire on the M11, there were flames and smoke and a driver stood well back on his mobile. I guess I may have been fortunate as there was the potential that the fire brigade would have shit the motorway due to the dark smoke.

The river that runs through Poznan

I had pre book Mid-term parking which came with the fast track service through security, which was good but did not save me much time as the queues were quite short. Air side was very crowded so they clearly shift a lot of people through so the low queues suggest to me that the airport is well run. The signs and queuing at the gate were a bit confusing and one queue were told to face the other way as they were the end not the front of the queue. Boarding was pretty smooth even though only the front door was being used to board us passengers.

The flight was pretty straight forward I used the time to catch up with emails and type up a few documents. At the other end we were quickly through security. I got the impression that Poznan is not a busy airport as there were not many people about. The taxi driver had a sign with my name on it, which is the first time I have had that, it made me feel more important than I am. It was a short drive to the Platinum Palace Residence my abode for the next two nights. The name is interesting as I could imagine that a marketing department or brand management company did some brain storming and came up with the three works and just strung them together. Platinum a rare metal so think exclusive, Palace is where monarchy live in luxury, and Residence is what they call posh hotels. The hotel was modern and all shiny inside with a big light fitting that draped down in reception. My room was very different, the door was the only black one on the first floor, and when you entered there was a shiny purple wall in front of you, with a 1m corridor down each site to the far end of the room where the bed was under the window. So essentially the room had a room within it like a Russian doll. The internal room consisted of a shower cubicle with glass doors an a W.C. with a glass door, beyond the glass doors there was a mirrored wall. The corridor around the inner and outer room was about 1m wide.

Market Square Poznan

The evenings are light so I took the opportunity to walk into the centre f the city, but not before catching up with my emails and reconciling a report. Walking into town took about 40 minutes the weather was sunny but I needed a light coat. I was heading for the old town but missed it and ended up at the river where not much happens so I turned around and headed towards to the old town using Google maps. The main square in the old town is full or bars/cafes/restaurants but there were also lots of stalls as a festival was going on. Complete with a singer and band on a stage.

I wandered around the square taking in the sites, and took the opportunity to take some hand held panorama sets, you may see the results here if they work out OK. I could not decide what are where to eat as Poland is not that vegetarian friendly, but then I spotted a restaurant that was selling Pizzas so I stopped for pizza and a beer. Suitable replete I walked back the hotel but took a different but parallel route so as to take I more of the sights.

I was in bed pretty early 09:00 I found I kept of getting woken up quite a bit as the hotel was near a main road and tram line and the trams are quite noisy as their solid steel wheels ground along the solid steel tracks. The room however although weird in its layout had air conditioning which worked so the temperature was just as I wanted it. I was up at 07:00 to give me time to have breakfast before the taxi arrived, to take me to the office in Rokietnica.

It was the first time in Poland so I was paraded around the offices and introduced to everyone before I could get a chance for a coffee. Once that was over I got down to some work with the team, the aim was fact finding and to find out what good stuff they do which could be shared across out division and suggest some of the good stuff we do in GB and Ireland that might be appropriate in Poland. The factory is in a fairly rural location and the IT guys office looks out on to a wheat filed and a scrubby but f land, I was pleasantly surprised when I spotted a Marsh Harrier quartering the scrub. Things are very civilised in Poland I was well looked after, for example in the UK if I visit a site someone will usually arrange a sandwich for lunch, in Poland you get a menu and a hot meal is delivered, on the Tuesday I had salmon and potatoes with a salad and on the Wednesday I had grilled trout and potatoes and salad, all delivered by a local company.

The guys had agreed they would take me out and show me the sights in the evening and they picked me up from the hotel and took me to an Italian restaurant that also did contemporary Polish food. I had spinach for a starter with Parmesan, followed by steamed Perch-Pike with apple and cabbage and spinach dumplings which was very nice. For dessert I has proper baked cheese cake. The guys suggested a special beer for me which contained honey in the brewing process, it was very nice. After the meal they wanted to go and try traditional vodka but I was not keen as I find it is very easy to get hangovers so I really do limit my alcohol consumption. Instead they took me a walk showing me some of the sites unfortunately I had seen most of what they showed me, although it was great to know what it was I had seen the day before, and nice to know that by just following my nose I had managed to see a lot of the things worth seeing. They insisted that we at least have one more beer and we ended up in a pool hall where we had a couple of rounds of pool. We eventually left the establishment and I was back at my hotel before midnight (just). I hope this does not become a regular thing when I got to Poland as I am not good at staying up late on school nights especially in a hotel where trams trundle by in the night.

The next morning the taxi was early and I was ready so I ended up at the office in good time 08:15 (or 07:15 UK time), my flight was at 16:05 so would have to leave at 14:00, but that would give me a chance to meet up with a couple of people in Finance and finish going through the things we had on our list, and have my chosen lunch of grill trout. The queues at the airport were reasonable long but moved long, and they opened a third x-ray machine as I got to the front of the queue. I was right about Poznan not being a busy airport there were none of the crowds that I had encountered at Stansted, there was plenty of room for everyone. Looking at the departure board there was only one screen of flights (15) between 15:30 and 22:15 which is not many.

The flight departed on time, once at cruising altitude I got out the Polish looking custard like pasty I had purchased which was very once and quickly consumed, then I settled in to the flight reading some articles I had downloaded before I departed the office, and caught up with a few emails. We used the Stansted shuttle to get back to the terminal once landed, which was interesting the shuttles are line horizontal list they arrive the doors open you get in the doors close then open again when you get to the terminal all without a driver.

The drive home was about an hour so all in all the flying and travelling was not too bad.


Tokyo, Japan the journey home

Turd topped Tokyo building

Had a goods night sleep woke up with plenty of time to spare, so had an opportunity to catch up with the Japanese soaps on the TV and make a coffee. The taxi was booked for 07:30 we were in reception at 07:20 time to check out, we had not spent a dime at the hotel facilities, at £20 for breakfast who blames us. Helen popped to our favourite convenience store to pick up some bun sticks for breakfast on the train. The taxi was waiting so we left the hotel at 07:25 for the 10 minute journey to the station.

The station was fairly clear, and we were down at platform 4 by 07:40 for the 08:00 train. I had some credit left on my SUICA card so I used one of the vending machines that are everywhere. I chose what appeared to be a black coffee one. It came out hot which was unexpected, so bought another one for Helen one that looked white, however Helen reminded me that no caffeine was allowed before the flight to help the relaxation process. We had plenty of time to spare at the airport in fact the check desks had not opened. After a short wait premium economy were called forward, and we checked in without any hassle.

Helen insisted on going to a smoking room at the entrance to the terminal for what she thought would be her last cigarette in Japan, whilst I busied myself getting more footage for the Japan video. Security and immigration, where they checked that we had left the country, followed they were swift and efficient, Narita does not seem to be a very busy airport but it does have extensive facilities if only Heathrow was so easy to use.

Cat from Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

We had and and a half to waste in the terminal building so we wandered around and looked at the relatively few shops compared to other airports I have frequented. Helen found the only bar, which was more of a small food establishment, to have a glass of wine, while I went and had a look at the origami shop, and managed to buy some colourful origami paper the remaining credit on my SUICA and some loose change, the final odd yen went into the UNICEF collection box. Helen was please to find a couple of smoking rooms close to our gate. They are quite strange places, there is a sliding door to get you in which closes to seal the smokers in, then there are two or three columns punctuated with an ashtray the continuation of the column above the ashtray serves as an extractor for the smoke, we wouldn’t want them the breath any in would we.

The very cold north of Scandinavia

The flight was called bang on schedule and we settled down with a small glass of champagne, while we waited for us all to get on board and the plane to be loaded, the plane left the gate about 5 minutes early. After a smooth take off, which took longer the the small planes I am used to, we hit some mild turbulence as we rose through the clouds. Once at cruising flight the entertainment system came on but I was disappointed to see that it was not an on demand system like we had on the way here but a scheduled watch with a choice, just like watching tv. Then as I typed away on my iPad I was handed a Samsung galaxy tab to watch movies and stuff on demand, which is better than on the way here as the video quality is better.

Meal one consisted of pasta with a tomato and pepper sauce, with a salad on he side, followed by apple strudel and custard. Helen reckoned that the meal represented more portions of fruit and veg than she had eaten all week in Japan, I went one portion further and ate Helen’s apple strudel, which had two portions, apples and sultanas. I watched a couple of films one called Savages which had John Travolta in and was about a couple of drug deals who get in too deep, it was quite violent. The other film was Lawless which was set in prohibition times and was about bootleggers which I enjoyed. I got three quarters of the at through a documentary about Bob Marley when the battery ran out on the tablet and it refused to charge. A new power supply was supplied and I was able to finish off the documentary which was very interesting, I have always liked his music but I didn’t know much about the man, but I do now.

Pocari Sweat my favorite

Some details about the flight. First we headed north up Japan then turned west just south of the Dzhugdzhur mountains over the Aldan plateau, then south of Verkhoykanschiy. Next there was a couple of thousand miles of nothing no towns marked on the map display. We were so far north that we were flying where the sun does not rise. Eventually we hit the very north of Scandinavia and as we turned south the sun appeared again and we were able to see some land. The coast looks very cold, and has very sparse habitation a real wilderness.

What were the highlights of the trip? The thing I will remember the most is the earthquake, and the little noodle bar we were in when it happened, the locals just shrugged it off but for me it was a once in a life time experience. Shrines and lots of them, it was really nice to get out of Tokyo for the day to Kamasuta and see at lead a little bit of the country side. The transport system in my opinion second to none, it just has to be that way how else are they going to transport such a volume of people without it all just grinding to a halt, I am sure there are places where at least 6 systems are layered on top of each other, I saw three layers of trains over a road above a tube station that servers two lines. The cyclists here seem to be a law unto them selves they cycle the right way and the wrong way down 6 lane high streets when they are not cycling on the pavement, all while holding and umbrella, talking on the phone and smoking. The friendliness and politeness of the Japanese themselves always trying to out bow you and never accepting to be the first through a doorway, always smiling. In the country on the little walk we did the all the people we passed said hello. The brown eared bulbuls which were everywhere especially where there were Ginhko trees with their fruits that smelt like dog poo.

The flight continued down the west coast of Scandinavia then across the North Sea then in over Suffolk where a few 360 degree spins were needed to get into the correct landing slot. Then we were back in blighty. Immigration and customs were a doddle after a very short wait for luggage. The taxi was only a few minutes away so I grabbed some bread for breakfast and we headed home.

So that’s it the end of a great weeks holiday, in a far away place.