Catching Up (IV/IV) – Surf’s up!

26 09 2010

Gee… now I was highly motivated to blog on after the summer, but still it took me another 5 weeks to complete my quadrilogy of catching up, with more things happening in the meantime that deserve further up-catching… another indication that time does go by much too fast in general.

But ok, here goes: the last big summer episode was a fantastic six day trip to stunning Portugal, the south-western corner of which to be more precise. As it is never to late to try some of your childhood dream fascinations I had decided to learn to surf – the wave riding thing, no sail, no kite, just a board, the ocean and me! When checking with Verena, a good friend of mine who is as close to a surfing pro as anyone I know she sent me to the village of Carrapateira where I arrived on what italians would call the “Ferragosto”-weekend in the mid of the month. As I had not been able to secure some accomodation beforehand I tried my luck knocking on doors around the village, getting a bit desperate already when I happened to find the bio-farm of an Austrian-gone-Portuguese who offered me a spare camper parked on the side of the field.

The Magic Bus

The Magic Bus

I nicknamed it “The Magic Bus” (see it on Whotube) as I was already thinking that a small miracle needed to happen in order for me not having to sleep in my car and as a reference to “Into the wild”, one of my favorite movies of the last years. Anyway: I very much do recommend Klaus’ hospitality and to advertise also his “real accomodation business” here is the link to his apartments!!

So all is well that ends well and after two days I was supplied with a room in the house of a lady in the village where I stayed for the rest of this short holiday. But a very special thanks and mention here goes to the supplier of this room: Edoardo, owner and fantastic host of Pensao das Dunas (Link!!)

Seriously, I have travelled a fair bit in my life so far but the hospitality encountered here stands out very distinctively! Edoardo goes out of his way to help his guests and even people he can not accommodate for lack of space in his cozy pension which is not too big. So whoever gets a chance to go to this area, don’t miss to go there. And book well in advance!!! The link is up there, Edoardo speaks around 5 languages, his wife even 10 more, so no worries that you might not be understood!

To finish up I want to say that meeting people with open hearts has made this trip so memorable. Maybe that area attracts such people in particular. To be mentioned – besides Edoardo, his congenial partner Victor and Klaus from the bio farm – are the surf camp students from all parts of Europe, the Danish family who have a house at Bordeira beach (can you imagine!?), the accountant-goes-rock-musician and his family from Lombardia, the teacher ladies from Barcelona and a very special note: thanks to Malgorzata from Poland for your company during my last breakfast on this holiday and even more for inspiring me to get back to writing this blog. 🙂

Portugal impressions




Catching Up (Episode III/IV) – Mountains, cheese and chocolates

4 09 2010

With summer reaching its peak and the offices of the Italy-based company emptying up due to August retreats of its inhabitants, time had come also for me to leave Vienna and go see some of the world, to relax, to meet old friends and new acquaintances.

The first week of doing so I spent in Austria’s neighboring country Switzerland, to pay long overdue visits to friends who had moved to work there – to be more precise in Bern and Neuchâtel. The first thing you can notice about Switzerland when you travel from Vienna is that supposedly no one travels there, at least not for leisure. This can be derived from the fact that in the airport bookshop you can find travel guidebooks for some very exotic destinations, but none for Switzerland. The second thing you might notice is how organized that country is. Getting a half-fare card for the swiss train system plus a ticket from Zurich Airport to Bern took me roughly two minutes (!), including a brief wait in line, filling in a form (done by the SBB official) and the payment. And the trains themselves have a no-nonsense approach to punctuality: if it says 18.27 then it is 18.27, and not 18.26 and definitely not 18.28… scary, kind of! 🙂

So what is there to do beyond the obvious sightseeing

Downtown Bern

Downtown Bern

(e.g. the city of Bern, nice!): Certainly enjoying the nature in its different aspects – the most fun one being a boat ride in a rubber boat down the Aare river from Thun to Bern, in Captain Jörg’s very own river yacht. This turned out to be a favorite day out for quite many people, as we arrived on the departing point there were already a lot of other boat crews getting ready for the ride. And as pointed out previously also there organization Swiss style prevailed as there was a guy offering “inflate your boat with my compressor for a couple of Swiss francs”. The only obstacle on the otherwise quite relaxing float are the rapids near Uttigen, called the “Uttiger Schnelle” or “Uttiger Welle” by locals. Maybe the same locals who suggested us to pass it on the very right part, which we ultimately decided to ignore as the waters where really white there (right) but not on the left… the reason for this being – as we were soon to find out – the fact that on the left where we tried to pass there is an upstream current. Which took us around in circles, until we managed to row clear of it and went straight through the middle of the fun – wet, but ultimately happy! (I am giving this detailed recount as I was not in a position to shoot pictures or movies during the action, sfortunatamente. 🙂 ) Get an impression on some other guy’s video below:

The second part of my visit then brought me to the French speaking part of Switzerland, namely the quaint city of Neuchâtel where I was very nicely hosted by Judith and Magali, who took me on the first day up a little natural marvel in the Swiss Jura mountains: the Creux Du Van,

Creux Du Van

Creux Du Van

a massive cliff in an otherwise gently hilled landscape. Other than that experiences featured my first cheese fondue (yum!), a bike tour of the three lake country (beautiful!) a hike on the foot of Eiger, Moench & Jungfrau glaciers (fantastic!)

Glacier Views

Glacier Views

and swimming in the Aare river (17.5 °C, by free will, not by boat accident!) as well as Lakes Neuchâtel (refreshing) and Morat (summerly bathing temperature). And to fill train and plane traveling times I read Dan Brown’s latest “The Lost Symbol” and got quite disappointed by the ending. But anyway. OK, and if you have been patient enough to read to here than you may also want to take a look at the picture gallery for sake of completeness.

A trip to Switzerland – August 2010




Catching Up (Episode II/IV) – The Sister City

24 08 2010

Now for technical reasons too boring to detail I was almost leaving out another very nice trip done this (early) summer: under the guidance of the local Usual Suspect a small but dedicated expedition team explored the other really beautiful capital city on the Danube (any Slovakian reading this: sorry guys, I did not mean yours)!

Budapest from above

Budapest from above

So what was there to do for the excursion team: eat (well, a lot), sweat and soak the night away in the fantastic historical Rudas Spa (take a look here), explore the city profoundly (and look good wearing John Ford glasses while doing that) and finally get ourselves surprised, a little drunk and quite happy during a wine tasting session sampling very nice Hungarian wines. Even a business idea was born! We would just need someone to actually DO SOMETHING. But doesn’t that always seem to be the problem? (See: MBA teamworks, inter-human relationships, etc.) Well, I may be getting to philosophical here. Better look at some pictures – feel free to send your feedback regarding the beauty of the glasses and consecutively of those wearing them to Mr.Ford directly! Alternatively drop me a line and I will pass it on!

Budapest Visit June 2010




Catching Up (Episode I/IV) – The Romanian Wedding

24 08 2010

Now the most remarkable event of this spring for me certainly was the wedding of Oana and Ciprian in Romania, at the Black Sea. Now I consider myself an experienced wedding-goer, but my non-Austrian experiences so far were limited to Italy (Veneto) and kind of Italy (South Tyrol, the german speaking Italians who like Italy mostly when it comes to sports or to their fantastic tax deal with the Italian state, but that’s entirely another story).

Wedding At Mamaia Beach

Wedding At Mamaia Beach

So Romania promised to be interesting and this promise was kept. There were friendly and open people on all sides, families and friends of the couple, fun and drink-hard sailors and there was a romano-hungaro-austrian reunion.

And being already there, Andras and me did a quick sidestep into the Danube river delta, to get just a glimpse of one of Europe’s last remaining natural treasures.

Pelicans in the delta

Pelicans in the delta

Just get more impressions for yourself! Here is a picture gallery and here is the Romanian half-cousin of Angus Young playing “Thunderstruck” on his harmonica!!

Oana’s wedding and Romania




Taking a look back

20 10 2009

A week ago I entered into a new chapter: after the MBA year, newly employed with UCG. (Actually I am not really employed yet but that is another -less interesting even if somewhat bizarre- story.) So maybe this is a good a time to look back and of course look at the bottom line, if possible.

First of all, as in my good old days of regular blogging activity I looked for some images to illustrate my blog post with and I found two excellent things the first of which being this one below:
MBA outcome?

And wondering how to go on about reviewing my MBA experience I soon realized that it could be a good thing to enlist the help of an expert in back-looking, and who could be better suited for this than good old Frankie-Boy who has written the inofficial anthem of all back-lookers some quotes of which I am using to guide myself on this sentimental journey. However, I hope I am not facing the final curtain on a short term so I’ll have to start somewhere in the middle of the song.

“…I’ve lived a life that’s full,
I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway…”

Yes, this was a life lived in full by my standards. Could have done some more partying and some less studying I guess, but then I remember Friday nights when no one wanted to go out because everyone was so busy working for the MBA (That’s true, I even blogged about this misery, one can still read it). I have also done a number of things for the first time in my life, which becomes increasingly harder to do as one gets older.
And yes, I did my fair share of travelling and exploring Italy during this year as all enthhusiastic followers of this blog may confirm.

“…Regrets I’ve had a few,
but then again too few to mention…”
Again true. I stand by my choices. Yes of course, with the knowledge of now one could do things better facing the same questions, but then was then and now is now so WTF.

“…I did what I had to do,
And saw it through without exemption…”
In terms of the MBA that is a good way of putting it. I really do hope my way of “seeing it through without exemption” was acceptable and beneficial for those working with me and that they forgive me the moments in which it may not have been so.
Seeing it through to me also means in the context of this past year truly letting go of something old to have the opportunity for something new to begin. That can be hard to do at first, but becomes a bit easier when doing it repeatedly. There is a wonderful story describing and explaining this phenomenen I was introduced to only very recently called “The Parable of the Trapeze”, you can read it here. Strongly recommended!!!

“…I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried,
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing…”
Yes. Emotionally all of this has accompanied me through this year. And this is where I have to bow my head and say THANK YOU to each and everyone who has been present throughout this year -physically or just remotely- for being such an inspiration and a part of my life!!

“…For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself then he has naught…”
Hmm, would certainly be interesting to follow that train of thought but that might be taking it a bit too far for this humble “Bologna experience” blog, as it says on the headline. Further discussions must remain reserved to long evenings with good friends and maybe with a lot of decent red wine . And they must remain unprinted. OBBIVIOUSLY!

So in the end the first class of the world famous and best Retail Banking MBA programs have graduated, to find themselves amidst a league of other extraordinary thinkers and scholars, academically decorated with the very same three letter code. To prove that point I am using the second result of my image search which I have mentioned before.

And for those new-MBAs looking back in anger, I offer some consolation: true, a Harvard MBA might get you a good job, but does it prove you are smart? Does it prove you are a good person? I say no to both. And also for that my second picture shall serve as evidence.

 

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Harvard sucks, Bologna rules!!





19th of July, Stadio Olimpico, Roma

21 07 2009

So here’s the concert review now. I feel like I have already told so many people how much I loved the concert, but to honor the boss this post needs to be written. Because of the swimming world championships in the stadium next door the beginning of the concert had been postponed to 22.00 hrs, quite late when you expect a regular concert to last 3 hours, but anyway, Roman authorities seemed to think this would be a good idea. When I arrived at 20.00 the ground floor area was already filling up.

Stadio Olimpico before the concert

Stadio Olimpico before the concert

At 22.30 the concert then finally started. The video below captures these first minutes and the big enthusiastic welcome that the crowd was giving to the boss and the band.

Even though all the way through “Badlands” the audience was already really participating and singing along, the boss went on the first of his numerous running trips around the stage and asked the crowd shouting into the microphone “Is there anybody alive out there?” Oh yes, there is! What makes his shows so special for me is the almost extreme degree of participation by the audience. I mean, on what other concerts do you find thousands of people singing along not only the words of some of the best known songs, but almost all songs and even certain guitar or saxophone solo melodies?! So a big part of the magic is certainly the community of fans. But I will get back to that thought later.

The music was solid quality big band Rock, I am tempted to say “as always” with the E Street Band. The main impression one gets is just a wall of sound, with just few points of individual particular performance. To give an example what I mean: you have an organ/keyboard player (Charles Giordano, replacing the 2008 deceased Danny Federici) and a piano (“The professor” Roy Bittan”), you have up to 4 people playing some guitar: Bruce’s wife Patty, Nils Lofgren, Steve Van Zandt and the boss himself. So given that plus average stadium acoustics: how are you going to distinguish who’s playing what? The answer is: it does not matter, because that is not the point of a Springsteen concert. However I really enjoyed some of the guitar playing of Lofgren, especially the somewhat futuristic solo he played on the otherwise plain 80ies tune “The promised land” while spinning around his own axis like a dervish…

But coming back to understanding the magic of the show: during the 2,5 hours I was there waiting for the show to begin and contemplating both some of the past shows I had seen and the fact it was a Sunday, the thought occurred to me that in a way an evening with Bruce and the E Street Band has things in common with a religious service. And during the concert I found more arguments to support my theory:
(1) As already mentioned, it is a celebration of life or to honor life one could say. Speaking about “is there anybody alive out there”, which is also part of the lyrics of “Radio Nowhere” or also in the starting song Badlands the line “For the ones who had a notion an emotion deep inside, that it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive” or the energy coming from “No surrender”.
(2) The way he interacts with the people, also physically, walking on those stage parts that extend into the audience, touching and being touched, holding, shaking hands. It’s the blessing in the church of Rock’n’Roll.
(3) His special attention to the children that were there, taking a little girl and a little boy on the stage, making them sing into his microphone and lovingly appreciating everything they do, no matter how much out of tune… 🙂
(4) And special probably to this Rome show: having his mother and his also 80+ year old aunt dancing with him and the band onstage during one of the last songs – a uniting of generations in the one spirit of life, transmitted via the sound of Rock. It was very impressive to me.

There might be more things worth mentioning about this show and maybe I have already waited a bit too long before starting to write all of this down. But what I do remember vividly is the feeling of walking out that concert area at 1.30 a.m., after 3 hours of singing and dancing, before that 2 hours standing and waiting and still feeling energized in an incredible way. So it just remains to say: Thank You!





A fan’s journey

21 07 2009

Earlier this year – when I thought I would spend it entirely in Italy – I came across the news that the BOSS himself would be coming on another tour to Europe. So checking possible consert dates and locations I quickly decided that Rome would be my best choice. Well, fate in the form of the MBA program then moved me to Munich in June and I considered getting tix for Munich or Vienna and selling the Rome ones… but then I thought: WTF, it’s just another good reason to go to Rome!!

What I did there I thought I’d just tell through pictures, so please find as a link below my photo-novel: Escape to Roma.

Roma in summer...

Roma in summer...