EMEA EXPO

I get more amazed by this company every year.  A couple of weeks ago I had the great opportunity to join some of my Western Europe High Potential colleagues for a training in a three day training in Amsterdam.  The amazing accomplishments, stories and insights from these 90 people was a fabulous experience.  To also have Microsoft invest so much into us helps me feel proud that the company truly understands its asset is its people.  I would be more than pleased to work for any of the people I interacted with over the three days.  In these three days we focused on bring out our voices as leaders and what is critical in empowering our people and teams to be great!  So many of the things you know but when you get caught up in the execution and everyday hustle and bustle you forget!  I truly enjoyed our trainer, Martinuzzi, Bruna.  If you have never engaged with her, you definitely should.  Her energy was contagious and her insights into your soul quite perceptive.  I love my learning circle!  You are probably thinking what is a learning circle…  It is a great program in which you have 5-6 of your peers question you through a challenge your facing until you come up with the right solution to solve it.  You are not supposed to give advice but in the end a little advice is shared and with the years of experience in different parts of the business it is great to get a fresh mind to help you overcome blockers you are giving yourself.   It is unbelievable in the short amount of time how much trust you build and how much you can share with strong amazing people.  My guys are great and we will meet again in February in Barcelona, one of the most fabulous cities in Europe!  After the training, my husband joined me for a nice relaxing weekend in Amsterdam.  I do suggest coming in the summer not winter- it was really cold!  A few pictures of the festivities…

 

Cooking School with WW SPI Leads

So we just concluded a two day offsite in Munich with the WW Security and Privacy Leads with a couple Chief Security Advisors thrown into the mix.  We had representatives from Central Eastern Europe, Russia, UK, Canada, Latin America, Germany and Norway.  It was a great mix of folks with a wealth of knowledge.  We discussed our challenges and break through ideas to truly help our customers and partners protect their data, infrastructure and information for their companies with our security and privacy features, advocacy and solutions.  Can you believe we sit on a council with all our security competitors sharing information to ensure we help customers from any vunerabilities.  We also had the opportunity to do a little team building and did an Italian cooking school- who would have ever known we had so many great chefs.  It was a great little place next to the English Theater.  It was super cute, very cool renovation from garage to cooking school.  I now know how to make my favorite dessert: Tiramisu.  Here are some pictures of our cooking adventure:

Romania Influencers

I love Romania.  THe people are probably one of the most friendly in all of CEE.  So I took a trip to Romania with my husband to see the sites for a weekend, which turned out to be work.  What originally planned to be a weekend of sightseeing in Bucharest and then a sub visit on Monday turned out to be the Romania technical expert summit in a little village outside of Bucharest.  (A small town outside of Brasov called Sacele).  My husband was a good sport to land and ride 3.5 hours with one of my Romanian colleagues.  He arrived late at night at the little German like hotel and amused himself while I did session, we did head out for a short hike in the woods and saw many of the villagers hiking up to get fresh water from the mountain stream for the day.  While he was traveling to join me, I was scaling up a mountain side not dressed properly and having to borrow a sweatshirt and hiking boots from Loredana.  It was very beautiful.  I then had a presentation with the technical experts and some fruitful discussions on what Microsoft can do better to support technical communities.  We then got to partake in a Romanian festival and tried rotisserie Pig, Hungarian-Romanian Goulash, and the only vegetables Romanians eat is pickled- cucumbers, tomatoes, and cabbage.  We tried some Romanian partially fermented grape juice and regular wine.  Good times.   Afterwards we headed to Brasov, then to Dracula’s castle and then the long trip back to Bucharest (it should have taken 3 hours instead it took 6).  The next day, Greg and I joined Loredana for her 30 birthday celebration at a Mexican Restaurant.  It was very nice of Loredana’s husband to then drive us all over Burcharest after the dinner to ensure we saw all the sites! Greg then headed home and I went back to work at the Romanian subsidiary as we went through Q1 and Q2 plans and execution.  Some pictures below of the few days in Romania. 

A few fact about Romania for you.  Bucharest is hometo over 2.6M residents. Romanian legend has it that the city of Bucharest was founded on the banks of the Dambovita River by a shepherd named Bucur, whose name literarily means "joy." His flute playing reportedly dazzled the people and his hearty wine from nearby vineyards endeared him to the local traders, who gave his name to the place.  Bucharest is laden with historical charm – from the streets of the Old City Centre, which are slowly being restored, to the grand architecture of the Royal Palace and the lush green of Cismigiu Park. The city also claims a large number of museums, art galleries, exquisite Orthodox churches and unique architectural sites.  Nicolae Ceausescu’s legacy, including the Parliament Palace (formerly called the People’s Palace), which at 3.76 million square feet stands as the world’s second largest building after the U.S. Pentagon, provides an interesting introduction to the dictator’s megalomaniac vision.   I saw this and it has got to be larger than the Pentagon it goes 11 floors under ground and 11 floors up- it is amazing.  Very sad that people were starving and he had to create this palance for his ego than the betterment of the people of Bucharest.  Bucharest’s buzzing cultural scene – 37 museums, 22 theatres, concert halls, opera house, 18 art galleries, jazz clubs and hip nightclubs – will certainly keep you busy.  You must go visit- I highly recommend.  A few pictures of our trip:

TechEd Berlin- 20 year celebration

So last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down.  The weekend started with an offsite with our Microsoft Business Group Leads and IT Pro Audience Marketers.  We spent the weekend discussing our H1 plans and execution and what we can do better in the Central Eastern Europe Region.  We have amazing stories and amazing outreach to help IT Pros across the region reach their full potential and help them be the top technical experts in their field.  After our offsite we got to participate in Monday’s historical event.

Too bad it was pouring rain but I was able to see and be next to the falling dominos representing the location of the previous wall.  There was approximately 1000 dominions made by students that stretch almost 1 mile.  I was able to walk by the Lincoln town cars (well actually Mercedes) of Gordon Brown and Hilary Clinton as we were walking towards the Brandenburg Gate.  There were people I was standing next to who were East Germans at the time celebrating on the wall.  I have to admit I was surprised to have Jon Bon Jovi as the band that kicked off the song before the Dominos fell and theme music to who wants to be a millionaire.  For great stories and videos of the Berlin Wall, please go to MSNBC- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33492472/ns/world_news-fall_of_the_berlin_wall_20_years_later/ I particularly found the tunnel to freedom to be one of the best. 

After the fall of the wall the rest of the week was dedicated to Microsoft TechEd Berlin, our largest IT Pro and Developer conference in Europe.  On Tuesday night we launched our first Women in Technology Session for IT Pros and developer women in Europe.  After 20 years of the falling of the wall how have barriers for women been removed in the technology industry was the discussion we had.  Throughout the week we had many security sessions, virtualization sessions, development sessions, SQL sessions and it is always good to catch up with my fellow product team members from Redmond.  On Wednesday night we had a party for our amazing technical experts that have supported us with Windows 7 through the Springboard series. 

At the end of the week, my husband joined me and we joined the Romanian team for some site seeing through Berlin.  I think we are now adopted Romanians after several dinners, lunches and many kilometers of walking.  The sites we saw were the following: Brandenburg Gate, the Berliner Dom at Reichstag, East Side Gallery, Alexanderplatz, KaDeWe (the big department store East Germans thought all west Germans could afford to shop-like Macy’s in New York), Tiergarten, Pergamon museum (I have no idea how the Germans are able to keep all those relics from Greece).

Below are a few pictures from the adventures:

 

 

Off to Belgrade, Serbia

So I have had the opportunity to visit my team in Serbia twice this year.  Our first visit was to discuss Q1 plans and how things are going in the server business in Serbia and how our outreach was going to IT Pros across the country.  I love this team where 2 guys are doing the work of 15.  During our brainstorming, we decided to launch our first ever Influencer Summit in Central Eastern Europe at the Sinergija Conference.  Sinergija is the Serbian’s team largest IT Pro and Developer conference that has been running for more than ten years.  This year we decided to do a pre-day with our top technical experts across Central Eastern Europe to bring them together, share their stories, get additional trainings and understand better their needs for the support they do for local communities.  We brought 85 experts from Russia, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Malta, Bosnia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Serbia.  We also brought some MVP experts to speak, Microsoft Research and one of our Security experts from EMEA.  The poor team hit Murphy’s law like no other.  First, with an outbreak of swine flu that scared many from wanting to travel to Serbia.  Then the patriarch pasted away and the country was declared 3 days of mourning which put businesses on hold.  Then the track leaders of their Win7 sessions got the worse flu and had their demo machine stolen.  But the team still moved forward and drives an amazing conference!

As you can see from most of my trips, they are composed of the MS office, Conference Center, Hotel and some local restaurant.  So Jose, Gavin and I did a tourist trip on overdrive after breakfast.  We powered through the sites in 2 hours before we had to head and do our sessions.  So a little about Belgrade, Serbia...  Belgrade (Beograd) is the capital of Serbia, and has a population of around 1.6 million. It is situated in South-Eastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula, at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has since ancient times been an important focal point for traffic, an intersection of the roads of Eastern and Western Europe.  Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe, with archeological finds tracing settlements as early as the 6th millennium BC.  Belgrade’s wider city area was the birthplace of the largest prehistoric culture of Europe.  I was quite surprised to read this.  Also, Serbia has been conquered by many groups.  In medieval times, it was in the possession of Byzantine, Frankish, Bulgarian, and Hungarian rulers. In 1521 Belgrade was conquered by the Ottomans and became the seat of the Pashaluk of Belgrade, as the principal city of Ottoman Europe and among the largest European cities. It frequently passed from Ottoman to Austrian rule and remained an Austrian outpost until the breakup of Austria-Hungary in 1918. The united city then became the capital of several incarnations of Yugoslavia, up to 2006, when Serbia became an independent state again.

Couple of cool sites to visit: Kalemegdan Park, St Mark’s, Old Palace, Student’s square, parliament, and the walking area is pretty nice.  A few pictures below:

Visiting Budapest, Hungary

So I am a bit behind in my blog, so I am going to try to catch up with my trip to Hungary, Serbia, Ukraine, Romania and TechEd Berlin.  My last three weeks have been a little crazy.  So first stop Hungary.  We have a great team of Zoltan, Peter and Judith.  Unfortunately, our team of three is severely understaffed and taking on more work possible for three people.  For a team of three they are doing an amazing job but have a lot on their plate to make significant strides and changes in the business.  With this launch wave of new products (Windows 7, Windows Server 2008R2, Exchange, System Center, Forefront, SQL, Visual Stoudio, Office 2010 and the list goes on), my lead Peter is doing so great outreach and creativity with helping IT Professionals get up to speed, improve their skills and have all the resources needed to help their companies save money and be more efficent.  What makes things very difficult is the current economy.  After long days and many meetings, a little about Hungary…  A great article from the Economist, talks about Hungary is on its way out of this recession just a little exceprt below for detailed article visit- http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14512527.   
 
AFTER years of crisis, Hungarians are used to belt-tightening. Although Hungary was among the European Union members that suffered most in the recession—GDP will shrink by 7% this year, just behind Romania and the Baltics—the outlook is now better, thanks partly to recent austerity measures.  The government has trimmed public spending by fully 3.8% of GDP this year, with most cuts falling on social spending and public-sector pay. These cuts came on top of earlier ones that reduced the budget deficit from 9.2% of GDP in 2006 to just 3.4% in 2008. More are on the way. The Socialist government, led by Gordon Bajnai, wants to chop an extra 1.7% next year to keep the deficit within the IMF-approved limit of 3.8% of GDP. It has also set up an independent fiscal council to monitor compliance with budget-balance targets.  The combination of these cuts and a big IMF loan is having a marked effect. The threat of a run on the currency has receded. The banks, mostly foreign-owned, have not collapsed, as many had feared. The forint is not quite back to where it was before the financial crisis but the central bank has felt able to start cutting interest rates.  What Hungary really needs is a review of all areas of public spending. A slimmer state requires big reforms. Yet the likely election winner, the centre-right Fidesz party, has spent the past seven years zealously denouncing even tiny reforms as sell-outs to fat cats or as disasters that would condemn the country to poverty. As elsewhere, Hungary’s underlying problems arose from wage rises unmatched by productivity growth and social spending that is too generous. It may be optimistic to think that, like the rest of Europe, Hungary has now learnt its lesson.
 
A liitle about the country- Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is split into 2 main areas: Buda-The hilly West side of the Danube (Districts I-III, XI-XII, XXII) and Pest-The flat East side of the Danube, covering the modern commercial core of the city(Districts IV-IX). Top sites:
  • The Parliament Building (Országház). A neogothic jewel, beautifully situated overlooking the Danube. It is very much worth going inside, but you can only do that during guided tours, which are FREE (ignore those trying to pick you up outside the Parliament). Tickets for guided tours can be obtained each day from 8AM. You will have to go in front of the Parliament and queue at the ticket line. Again, ignore those that ask you if you want a guided tour. Just pick up your ticket inside and come back at the hour on the ticket. Guided tours in English are held each day at 10, 12 and 14.
  • St. Stephen Cathedral (Szent István Bazilika). The main church of Budapest is an important example of neoclassical architecture, recently renovated.
  • Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) The biggest Synagogue in Europe, and the most impressive in the world. Next to the Synagogue is a small but impressive museum. In the rear of the Synagogue is a memorial for victems of the Shoah. The synagogue was recently restored to its former grandeur. A block away you’ll find a smaller, but nearly identical synagogue built long before the Great Synagogue. The plaque in front explains that this was used as some sort of assembly grounds for those persecuted during the Holocaust before they were deported. It has not been renovated, and you can see through the boards on the outside how decrepit it still is. A chilling sight.
  • The Royal Palace (Királyi palota). The most popular attraction on the hill. Very cool and there is a yummy wine cellar at the Palace- you must try….
  • National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria) Inside the Royal Palace wings B, C and D houses an astounding collection of paintings.
  • The Fisherman’s Bastion and lookout terrace (Halászbástya). For impressive views across the Danube to Pest.
  • Matthias Church (Mátyás templom, aka Church of Our Lady). Dominant neogothic church crowning Budapest’s cityscape – nowadays is under reconstruction.
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    Couple pictures from the trip:

    Visiting my team in Poland

    So last week I headed to Warsaw, Poland to see how my team is doing.  They went through a big transition from moving from one team (Maggie, Kasha, Mariusz) in one division of the company to another team (Karol and DPE team) in a different division.  It was also difficult as the new team has a different execution model than how my team is use to executing.  I would say each team member has a great plan but now they need to come together to build a cohesive strategy.  Almost there…After long days of meetings, planning, revising and negotiating we headed out to fun dinners to see the town.  The first night we headed to the Praga area and had a very yummy international restaurant where both old teams and new teams came together.  The second night we headed to a fun local place that was very angelic.  The food was fabulous and we had traditional polish favorites.  The last night we started at the roof top lounge where you could see the entire city of Warsaw and then allowed my boss Csaba join the ladies night out.  We took a nice walk from the Marriott to old town Warsaw.  We had Polish Tapas and Vodka at an old time Communist Era Bar.  We then headed to this cute restaurant that had over 50 different types of pirogues and special polish honey drink that was hot, alcoholic and very sweet! 

     

    Let me give you a little history of Warsaw.  Warsaw is the capital and the largest city in Poland.  It is located on the Vistula River (very beautiful) roughly 370 kilometers (230 mi) from both the Baltic Sea  and the Carpathian Mountains. Its population as of 2009 was estimated at 1,709,781, and the metro area is approximately 2,785,000.  Warsaw is the 8th largest city in the European Union.   On 9 November 1940 the City of Warsaw was awarded with the highest military decoration for courage in the face of the enemy.  Warsaw is also known as the "phoenix city," as it was completely destroyed during World War II, and rebuilt with the effort of Polish citizens.  It is an amazing town and the people are so very friendly.  I loved our taxi driver who had amazing customer service but was 3X the price of the regular taxi- oh-well.  Sometimes service is worth the extra charge.  I hope you decide to visit Warsaw.  A few pictures of the trip…

     

     

    1st Day of Oktoberfest

    So I headed to Oktoberfest today with my neighbor Bernie.  I should have known Greg was going to bail on me when he said he would meet me there at 13:30.   The wether was perfect not too hot, not too cold, no rain and not too many people- just yet that is…  We got there and walked around before meeting the Munich International Ski Club with our Box section Hacker Tent.  The tents are amazing, huge and hold 9000 people.  It is crazy they take 2 months to build, 3 weeks of festivities and then another 2 months to take apart.  Over 8 million people will come to Munich and I think it is 6 million masses of beer and 3 million chickens are consumed in the 3 weeks of Oktoberfest.  We joined 80 of our closest ski buddies for Mass biers, 1/2 chickens, dancing and singing.  Greg finally shows up to make an appearance for 15 minutes and then said he was going on a quick walk and never came back.  Bernie joined me and we enjoyed the next 4 hours.  After feeling quite drunk we headed home so we can be productive at work tomorrow and not be too drunk. 
     
    Let me give you a little history lesson on Oktoberfest-  Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were renamed Theresienwiese ("Theres’a Fields") to honor the Crown Princess, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to "Wiesn". Horse races in the presence of the royal family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in subsequest years gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest.  In 1811, an added feature to the horse races was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest – and at one time – the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds.  In the first few decades, the choices of amusements were sparse. In 1818, the first carousel and two swings were set up. Vistitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands, which grew rapidly in number. In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by the enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries. The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair. The range of carousels offered was already increasing rapidly in the 1870’s as the fairground trade continued to grow and develope in Germany.  Enough history… Here are a few pictures from the day.

     

    Windows BG Leads do offsites in style

    So I headed on Wed. from Moscow to the Windows Client BG Leads offsite in Milan.  To my suprise we headed straight to the Staium to see the Inter- Barcelona Game.  The downfall for me is arriving at the Stadium with 76,000 people and having a suitcase and backpack with it pouring rain.  I was then told to go against the traffic of all the people and head to the Metro to meet the bus to leave my bags and head to the game with the team.  After a 40 minute walk and 2 hour wait,  I finally found the bus-dropped off my bags and headed to the game.  The energy in the stadium was crazy but it was no Allianz stadium in Munich.  It was a tie 0-0 game and not much energy in the offense, mostly defensive game.  Expected a lot more from Barcelona.  We then headed to the Castle.  Yes, the offsite was in a Castle and we had the Castle to ourselves!  Our rooms were amazing and the faclities perfect!  The food was fabulous and the conference facilities great! Free internet access and anything you needed you got.  I felt bad for my leads as our offsite as always in Munich at the MS office. 
     
    A little history of the castle for you.  Villa Gallarati Scotti is probably the most majestic of the many delightful villas constructed in the area. Of the Baroque structure, transformed into Neo-Classic shapes with a monumental entrance between the end of the 18th, beginning of the 19th century by the architect Simone Cantoni, there remain only the traditional U-shaped play and several interior spaces with 18th-century frescoes. The 19th-century modifications also involved the park, transformed into a typical English landscape, inside of which traces of the Baroque garden survive with a valuable nymphaeum of Neptune located on the northern edge of the landscaped area. In 2008, the restoration of the villa was completed and it currently houses a centre for conferences, seminars.  I would recommend staying here absolutely wonderful!  A few pictures from the 2 day offsite. 
     

    Russia-I Love My IT Pros

    So our CEE Headquarter Sever Team headed to Russia this week.  The team has a lot of changes the pervious IT Pro Lead moved to Dubai to run IT Pro for Microsot Middle East Africa.  The teams BG Lead (manager) is moving to Slovakia to run the Microsoft Marketing Organization, so there was a lot of discussions on where the startegy would go in this fiscal year.  My acting lead Anton is doing an amazing job and I am so pleased with teh plans and how well the team is working together and driving a great strategy without a manager.  We are also launching a Women in Technology Microsoft Chapter and exeternal user group.  The team took us to great dinners after very long days, and yes we did have some vodka.  You will love the picture of Csaba with the after taste of Horseradish Vodka.  I had to head to the Windows Client BG Leads offsite in Milan, Italy-so I missed the great site seeing tour across Moscow.  You’ll see some great pictures-wish I was there.  The poor team, some how I got a free upgrade to a suit and my team-plus my boss just got single rooms… 
     
    Let me give you some interesting facts around Moscow.  Moscow is the capital of Russian Federation. The city area is about 30 km in diameter and the population reaches to almost 10 million people.  To be able to find the right building on any street, it’s useful to know that in Moscow house numbering starts from the center. Also, the odd-number houses are located to the left, and the even-number houses – to the right. So, if you’re looking for Tverskaya st., #2, for example, it will be located very close to the Kremlin (which is the most central place in Moscow), on your right-hand side (if you turn your back to the Kremlin). The main historical core of Moscow is Kremlin (a fortress – on photo), which is located in the core of the city. Tverskaya street, which is the main avenue of the city, starts from the Kremlin and heads north to become Leningradskoye Shosse, which leads directly to St. Petersburg (750km).Moscow has a radial structure, and the Garden Ring road defines the center of the city. A smaller Boulevard Ring defines the city’s downtown.  In august 21, 1991, there was a small revolution set in Moscow. The government was changed and there had been tanks for several days in the centrum of Moscow. At this time the Soviet Union was over, but it was a strange time for some period. Also a little earlier there were the first democratic mayor elections in Moscow. 1991 was the beginning of the Democracy, people were excited, waiting for changes, but it turned out to be hard process. Good times till my next trip in November.

    MGX-I drank the punch

    So I noticed I forgot to blog about MGX- Microsoft Global Exachange.  This is the one week a year that 17,000 Microsoft employees from around the world get together to understand the strategies for the new fiscal year.  This is my 7th MGX and I can’t believe every year I get re-energized and chanting I LOVE THIS COMPANY!  Amazing Products, Amazing People, Amazing Research and Amazing impact in helping people around the world- makes me so proud to work for this company.  It is also great to catch up with co-workers you haven’t seen for months- some for years.  I am amazed at our MACH ( Microsoft Academic College Hires), could you image what it would feel like starting Microsoft right out of college and then being in the Atlanta Dome and seeing flags from all over the world and people chanting I LOVE THIS COMPANY with Steve Ballmer runing around the dome.  Its pretty cool.  Here are a couple pictures from the week.
     

    Weekend in London

     

    Well, we just got back from a long weekend in London and we want to share with you our latest adventures.  On the right you will see some pictures from our romps through London.  The first day we landed late and had dinner at this strange Pub called the Churchill Arms where we met my old boss and her husband but the pub was a Thai restaurant.  The next day we did a lot of walking must have been 12km, we went to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, changing of the guard, St. James in the Field Cathedral, St. James park, Buckingham Palace, National Gallery and dinner at a Belgium Restaurant and met our friends’ boyfriend-Mike at a quirky little Pub in Notting Hill Neighborhood to listen to music. 

    The third day it rained a lot so we spent most of the time using the underground.  The second picture is the millennium bridge that we took to the Tate Museum.  This bridge was over budget and did not open on its target date of 2000, it cost 10 million pounds to build!  We headed to  the Tate Museum and saw a play at the Shakespeare Globe and had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant called Neil’s Yard.  The play was really cool, it is the top picture and it was open air and no roof.  The bad thing is it rained the whole time and the people standing in front of the stage got soaked.  Greg was smart and saw an area on the far right side of the stage where we had a good view and stayed dry.  My favorite part was our futbal game Chelsea versus Burnley.  The crazy thing is no beer drinking in your seats, only in the food area.  If that was the case in Germany no one would be at the futbal games. 

    Greg’s favorite part of the trip was our ride on the London Eye.  The next 2 pictures.  Our friend in Munich, Steve Murphy help build it.   He told us that when they opened they did a big commemoration to breast cancer and he had to tied huge pink ribbons on top of each pod.  The view was amazing and it takes 30 minutes to go all the way around.  There is a cute kids 4D movie you watch before the trip-Greg liked the pictures of us in the funny glasses, we’ll spare you from viewing.

    Weekend in Prague

    Greg had not been to Prague, Czech Republic yet-so I took him for a long weekend.  I do love this city!  We did lots of walking, at least 18km a day- Greg wanted to kick my butt by the end of each day.  We saw Prague Castle, did a bike tour through the city, did a show, saw music, went to great restaurants, and investigated neighborhoods.  We love the great art structures around the city.  The FREEDOM wall was one of my favorites.  The Dancing Building is very cool!  We saw typical Praue flats, which are pretty cute.  We had dinner with one of my co-workers and his wife.  It was a jammed pack 5 days.  If you haven’t been to Prague it is a must!
     
    Some interesting facts of this Bohemian city- Prague history is an epic story. Inhabitants of the city have witnessed a declaration of independence, Nazi control, brain washing communism & capitalist democracy. And that was just the 20th century!  Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of Europe’s (and the world’s) most popular tourist destinations. It is the sixth most-visited European city after London, Paris, Madrid, Rome and Berlin. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world’s most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Noveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.  It was also Mozzart’s favorite city and it’s known that he had stayed with many citizens of Pargue when he was fired by the King in Austria. 
     

    Summer in Oregon

    So with my MBA finished, I now have a life and my hope is to keep my blog up to date.  So Greg and I headed home to enjoy the great Oregon Summer.  Greg stayed home for a couple months and enjoyed fishing, camping and hanging with his boys.  We climbed South Sister, did my hooding ceremony, went to the Oregon Coast and saw whales, hiked the Oregon dunes, went wine tasting, went to soccer games, went camping, went deep sea fishing and headed to central Oregon for fly fishing, hiking and enjoying the warm sun.  Oregon is one of the most beautiful places in the world and being gone sure has made us appreacite it.   It was great to see family, friends and catch-up with co-workers in Seattle.  Good times, now its back to Munich…

    Christmas in Soell and Winter Party

    Okay, so I am 6 months late on this entry.  With finally graduating from my MBA, I now have a life again.  So I am doing my blog catch up.  So over the winter holiday’s we had our annual Munich Holiday Party- this year we had about 45 packed into our tiny 3 room apartment.  We went through about 20 bottles of win and a case or two of beer.  Our crazy friends stayed till about 2:30AM and then headed out dancing till 6AM, crazy people!  The funniest was watching a bunch of expats (Spanish, British, Russian, Austrian, Croatian, Irish and Auzzies) and Germans trying to play Scene-IT with American Movies. 
     
    After our party, Greg and I headed to Austria for Skiing and Snowboarding for the Christmas holiday.  Well, Greg’s great idea in saving money got us a pension that had lovely pictures on the bathroom showing us how to clean the toliet and shower. (I Know..)  Also, the conditions were so great that it rained almost all of the trip and the most fun was sledding down the 3.5KM sledding trail (which was a lot of fun!).  The town was cute and we spent most evenings at a pub listening to a dutch band seeing covers.  We became friends with a dutch family for some reason folks from Netherlands love Soell.  Here are a few pictures of the fun event…  I give Greg points for trying to schedule a great skiing holiday but the location and hotel were a little lack luster. 
     
    In December we also headed out with the Munich International Ski Club on several trips.  Our favorite trip to Solden occurred first weekend in December and was brilliant.  Great snow, gondola walking distance from our pension.  Our pension with sauna and great breakfast.  We also headed to Austria for several day trips that were fantastic.  The Alps are great over the winter!
     
     
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