Friday, 23 June 2006

An interesting trip to Sofia...

We had a series of meetings scheduled in Sofia with our local Bulgarian team. The meetings went very well, but the things that happened on this trip certainly made it one to remember!
Firstly, the plane from Tegel was delayed, so the re-routed me through Munich. I thought this was a good idea, until we were held at our parking spot for 40 minutes due to a massive thunderstorm closing the airport. We then taxied out to the runway... only for another front to sweep in and close the airport for another half an hour. The planes in front of us had to return to their stations to refuel, so we were the first plane out when the storm passed. However, it was a very rough flight out.
We were picked up from the hotel for our meeting the next morning, and we had a really productive morning. For lunch, we were taken to a local cafe. The staff took forever, and when they were asked to hurry up, the meals arrived pretty much straight away.

I had ordered a chicken dish with a spicy sauce. When I fished into the sauce, the first piece of chicken that I pulled out was completely raw... and the second and the third! To speed up, all they had done was put raw chicken onto the plate, then cover it in the sauce I was going to have! I was pleased I hadn't eaten any of it! We refused to pay for anything and the locals ordered me a sandwich from a little deli to eat during the afternoon meeting.

That evening we went to a great local restaraunt - wonderful Bulgarian food. It was interesting that there were many large guys with ear-pieces in, wandering around whilst we were eating. When we asked, we were told that this was the restaraunt owned by one of the biggest mafia guys in Bulgaria! Not sure if I felt too safe if he needed such protection....

Following this, we were dropped back at the hotel where we got changed, and then headed out to Flannigan's to watch the football. (See separate blog entry). Following the match, we went to the casino where we were served free drinks and played blackjack until about 3:45 am, then headed back to the hotel!

Because of the success of the first day, we were finished by lunchtime on the second day. As the local manager knew my colleague like to play golf, we were given her car and sent off to a new golf course just out of town. It was really great - I get so few opportunities on these trips to do some stuff for myself, and this was a great chance. I had not played golf on a course for about 9 years, so I didn't expect too much!

We had a great time - as we teed off, some big thunder clouds rushed over the mountains. Lots of lightning and thunder all around, but the sky stayed clear above us... until we reached the 8th. After teeing off, we looked at the sky, and the lightning getting closer and closer and decided to pick our balls up and head for the clubhouse. Our timing was nearly perfect! It just started raining as we approached the clubhouse - then the skies opened. With less than 20m to go, running flat out, it was as if someone poured buckets of water over us and we were absolutely drenched! We were also trapped in the clubhouse as the massive storm rolled through - so a few beers and a sandwich helped us pass the time.

The storm eventually cleared and we headed back to the office, to get changed into some dry clothes and head home!

A very interesting trip!

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