A Rhine Valley Weekend

Wow, I am so far behind in my posting! I had grand plans of writing a series of posts during the flight home, and I did…for my professional blog.

Alas, the personal blogs have suffered.

So although I’d love to go into great detail about my weekend in the Rhine Valley for one of our client’s weddings, my mind is a sieve these days, and I can’t recall all of the lovely moments. Instead, I’ll share with you the links to some of my photos:


Our Final Day in Kuala Lumpur – Betel Leaf, the Royal Palace, Batiks and Ciao Ristorante

The Royal PalaceI was feeling quite sick again and had spent the whole morning coughing up a storm – my flu/cold had morphed into what feels like the beginnings, if not the onset, of bronchitis. I was exhausted and not sure how I would survive lunch and another tour without passing out.

But lunch managed to revive me! Our guide had told us how Indians use spices to clean the alimentary canal and improve health, and following a fairly spicy lunch of papadams and various chutneys, along with rice and chicken curry, I actually started to feel much better. It really was uncanny.

Continue reading

A Day in Kuala Lumpur – Batu Caves, Royal Selangor, and Carcosa Seri Negara

The owner of Royal Selangor
Everything was delicious (I had a special non-seafood menu – that would be a theme throughout the conference), but by the end of the meal, we were all stuffed. And running almost an hour behind schedule.

We agreed to cut out one of the afternoon activities, but I was unwilling to push the dinner back – it was already set for 8pm, and we had more than a few jet lagged delegates.

Finally, we got on our way and first headed to the Royal Selangor Pewter factory. Kuala Lumpur is known for their pewter, and our guide filled the spaces between stops with a stream of consciousness soliloquy about every tiny detail he’d ever heard about Kuala Lumpur. Some of it I remember and will share with you, but my brain certainly reached a saturation point fairly quickly.

We did learn that although making pewter seems like a very repetitive, menial type of job, those who do it are considered artisans and are paid as such. It’s also a job that is handed down through generations – those who come from pewter artisans are given the first opportunity to become artisans themselves.
The other thing that I remember is that our guide said that pewter is often given as a wedding gift in Kuala Lumpur. It’s called a “seven generations” gift, because it is seen to be so meaningful that it will be passed down through the family’s generations. Since I’m headed to an engagement party next weekend, I’ll be bringing them some pewter and sharing the story. Continue reading

Traveling to Kuala Lumpur, via Dubai

And sleeping and resting is (mostly) what happened. I was able to sleep a LOT on the flights going over to KL, and had picked up some flu medication, hand sanitizer, tissues and mints in London to use on the plane. So by the time we landed, while I wasn’t feeling good, I certainly was feeling better – no fever, for one!

We were flying Emirates, which was an interesting experience. I was pretty excited that they had hummus as an appetizer for pretty much all of the meals, so that made me a happy camper. For some reason, even sick, I can still manage some bread and hummus.

We landed in Dubai in the fairly early morning, and the airport was pretty quiet (I only know this because when we got there midday today, it was a mob scene). We did a quick stop at the ladies room, and it was the first time I’ve ever been in a ladies room that was totally silent. No one said a word. There were a lot of women in various forms of burkas – some were full, with only their eyes showing, while others had their faces showing. It was always interesting to see a couple, where the man was wearing a very casual outfit of shorts and a tee shirt, while the woman was covered head to toe. Although, as I said to my dad, at least it was easy for her to pick out what to wear that day – like my former days in a Catholic school uniform! Continue reading

Back to My Favorite City – London

Site visit to the Corinthia Hotel
We finally arrived at Gatwick, and zipped over to Durrants Hotel on George Street. It is a lovely old London hotel, with a lot of character…but less than good service. The hotel still uses what look to be original keys, which you turn into them every time you leave the hotel.

We freshened up and headed out into the afternoon to do a bit of shopping and have a bite of dinner – the next two days would be very full with meetings, so it was really the only free time we had. I picked up some doggy mugs at a great kitchen shop along the Marylebone High Street, which match the dog mug I got there last year (now I’ll have four!), and picked up the matching forks and knives for the two spoons I got at Emma Bridgewater last year. 

Then, we headed to The Rajdoot, our favorite Indian place to visit when we’re in London (and really, our favorite Indian place, period). I ordered my usual chicken tikka masala, and we learned from another patron who was talking to the waiter that it was a different chef that night. We were both pleased with our curries, and the naan bread was some of the best we’d had, but I ended up getting just a touch of food poisoning that night, which was less than ideal!

The next day was FULL. We started off with a meeting at the Corinthia Hotel, which is a new property in London, opening in about mid-2011. It’s ideally situated on a very quiet block, just up from the Thames, near the walking bridge. And the hotel itself is beautiful. It’s owned by the Corinthia group of hotels, and the London location is their flagship property. They’re hoping to become the Mandarin Oriental of Europe, and having seen their property, I can say they’ll definitely give them a run for their money. Continue reading

A Weekend in San Vigilio – a 12 Day Trip Kicks Off

So I’m currently flying back to the States on the second of three flights today (and all of them about 7 hours!). It’s been one of my longest trips ever – 12 days – and I spent time in London, San Vigilio, and Kuala Lumpur.


We left approximately a gajillion years ago on flight 1 of 8 for London. Next year’s annual conference and 25th anniversary meeting is going to be held there, and we needed to do a few site visits to figure out what our program will be. But first, we were off to San Vigilio again. So after a quick dinner at our airport hotel, a fairly decent (and VERY quiet) night’s sleep, we were off to Gatwick and on to Innsbruck! Continue reading

Checkin’ Out the OC and a ride on The Duke’s Boat

The Christmas Tree at Fashion Island…not quite Rock Center!

Saturday morning was there before we knew it – and that’s the way the conferences always go! The first couple of days leading up to the conference feel like they take forever, but once it gets underway, the time just flies.

My friend brought me another latte from Starbucks – yum! – and we had another productive business session.  Afterwards, as we were getting ready to head out for a mostly outdoor afternoon, I fielded a couple of phone calls letting me know that it was sprinkling over in Laguna where we would be heading for lunch. Oh dear.

But our events planners told me they thought it would pass through, and since events planners tend to be on the cautious side for this type of thing, I decided to share their optimism.

It was sunny in Newport, and we drove about 25 minutes to Heisler Park, where we had lunch on a bluff overlooking the ocean.  It had stopped raining and the sun was peeking out, and it was really beautiful.  There was a breeze – always the case by the water – but it was just lovely.  Some people wandered down to the beach to take some photos and enjoy the water, and I think everyone really loved the setting and the picnic lunch. Continue reading

Our first day in Newport Beach

Happy and tired events planner!

The next day, I was free until our board meeting at 3, so I booked another massage and otherwise just relaxed around my room.  I did order room service for breakfast – oatmeal this time – and it was so disgusting that I could only eat a few bites.  Having had three bad meals, I was a little concerned about our in-hotel dinner that evening.  But I was keeping my fingers crossed!

My massage that afternoon was with Seiko, who also massages Kobe Bryant.  She was a lovely woman, who worked hard at getting rid of the knots in my neck and back.  I appreciated her efforts, but it definitely left me feeling a little beat up the rest of the week!

Despite having less time than the day before, I did manage to sneak another ten minutes in the steam room as well, which was again very relaxing.  It left me in good shape for our board meeting and welcome reception!

I shouldn’t have been worried about dinner – it was lovely! We started with cocktails outdoors, despite it being a bit on the chilly side, and everyone was very happy to see each other again and get the chance to catch up.  We had a buffet dinner, and the beef was excellent. I was also excited that they had pretzel bread, which was delicious! Continue reading

Fall in Newport Beach

The view from my room
Here I am again, typing a recap of my trip while on a plane. It just seems to work better to spend my time getting a bit more sleep during the conference, and running the risk of forgetting something for the sake of more rest!

We left midday Tuesday, with a less than pleasant flight via Continental/United. Fortunately, we had a direct flight right into Orange County, and were renting a car, so once we had our bags, it was an easy drive over to the hotel, which was about five minutes away. 

Our home for the next few days would be the Island Hotel, just across the street from our hosts’ offices. Although the hotel wasn’t right on the water, and it was undergoing construction just next door for the duration, it was a really lovely place.

Because it’s so close to the airport, it seems to end up being more of a business hotel, so during the week, despite being fully booked, it’s very quiet. When we arrived, I was battling a travel migraine (fun), so we decided to stay in for the night. I headed up to my room, got my luggage, ordered room service, and was surprised with the delivery of a lovely spiced pumpkin bundt cake from the events company I was working with. Continue reading

A Final Day in Copenhagen – Tivoli and a Hilarious Gala Dinner

Photo 2The next morning definitely dawned too early – as in, my dad had to text me when I was supposed to already be downstairs to see if I was okay. And I was still asleep. Good thing I had a few minutes!

We had another good morning session, and again headed off to lunch – this time at Tivoli gardens. I’d read about Tivoli in a murder mystery several years ago that took place in Copenhagen, and looked forward to seeing it. It’s supposed to be one of the most famous landmarks in the city. We took a short coach ride, and walked a short distance to get to the entrance and our restaurant, Groften, was close by. 

The group filed in, and we were in a private room overlooking the rest of the restaurant. The meal was to be served family style – and it was a smorgasbord. It’s just something you have to do when you’re in Denmark! Unfortunately, we had no idea how many courses would come out, but it worked out fine. Continue reading