It’s cold in Scotland…

… or rather in Scottish conference hotels. Cold enough that one of the participants at the UKLUG conference observed: “Looks like they’re trying to do an indoor simulation of the climate in the Highlands!”

The conference venue.

We were there – at the conference of the English Notes User Group – the UKLUG. We took part as an exhibitor. All in all a very well-organized event, which brought us many new European contacts. In this respect, very successful.

We had prizes at our stand, too.

The trip was less successful from the authors personal point of view. “I’d like to have your job, travel around the world and get paid for it!” Any IT professionals out there that are yet to hear this sentence? Sure, it is very comfortable to be constricted in a nutshell called airbus coughing at other people or beeing coughed at by others. It is also very exciting to get to know airports, city limit signs and conference hotels. “Edinburgh is a beautiful city and worth a trip.” Errr… yes, may be. Most likely it is, if I have to judge by what I saw through the windows of my taxi or while I was still airborn. But I didn’t see more than that. Instead, I experienced the indoor Highlands – the air-conditioning-system was over our stand and I had decided to wear our short sleeve shirts for the event. Now I can find my way around in a Scottish pharmacy and I also know that being stuffed in an airbus is even more annoying when you are sick.
And then someone asks you to write a travel report about this trip for the newsletter. Ok! Travel report? Sure…
Wednesday morning, roadtrip to the Frankfurt Airport. Road works are annoying! Really! And again an extra round because the correct entrance to the car park is not there where you expect it to be. At least the check-in is “Lufthansa” this time. Practical, as you don’t have to search them in Terminal 253. Check in my suitcase and head for the gate. I can’t stand the crowds in the terminals! There is much more peace and quiet at the gates, therefore I usually go there as fast as possible – after the mandatory security check, of course. Unpack the notebook, take off my jacket and empty my pockets. But first you have to get that far. I don’t know why, but as always the people in front of me have to discuss, whether this procedure is required or not. This discussion takes ages. Murphy’s Law – my line is always the line that moves slowest, even if it may be the shortest of all the lines. But then I am declared “safe” and have made it. Find a restaurant, sit down, grab a bite to eat. “The smoke thereafter” is history. “Smoke-free airport” – thanks EU, thanks Frankfurt Airport! Duty free? Nope – inner-European flight! Remind me to fly to England (Sorry – Scotland, of course!) via Switzerland or China next time. Get-in-time. We get on the bus. Then we do a scenic tour around the airport for what feels like half an hour at least. Seems that the pilot parked the plane and forgot to jot down the parking spots number on his parking ticket, thus forgetting where he parked the plane. Oh well… I’m sure they’ll find one that looks like ours. Finally we’re there and… we wait. Someone or something is being loaded and we have to wait another 20 minutes. 20 more minutes of additional social interaction on a slightly overcrowded bus. Fine! Time to get in. It’s a 737. Thank you! The “old” aircraft have the rows of seats lined in a way that adults can sit – halfway comfortably. I assume it’s just to expensive to have them refurnished according to the “lets see how many people we can squeeze on top of each other” seating standards you find in the “state-of-the-art” aircraft. I’m sure, there’ll come the day when they will start fitting folding chairs on the wings – lots of unused space there! Board, fasten seat belt, take-off. The rest of the flight was enjoyably uneventful. The plane was only two thirds full, so there was a free seat between every two passengers. Scotland – baggage collection, foreign exchange (Welcome to the non-eurozone!), find a taxi, drive to the hotel. Check-in and carry the baggage to the room. Eureka! It is 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I take a short rest and call home to say I’ve made the trip in one piece. Then I decide to play the tourist.
Take a walk around the hotel. A circle with approx. a 4 km radius. Saw the castle, took a picture. Other than that… just taking in impressions. Scots seem to have a different sense of temperature. More Northern European, so it seems. My coat collar is closed all the way and my hands are in my pockets. Yet and still there are plenty of miniskirts around. Brrrr! Ahhh… a Starbucks! Yes, I know – not exactly typically Scottish! But I just had to have a cappuccino, so I did. It is getting dark and I am tired. Back to the hotel, take a look at the exhibition area, unpack and sort the exhibition gear, eat, sleep.

Saw the castle and took a picture.

And that was it for the “tourist part” of my travel report. Two days of exhibition – Thursday and Friday – Friday with a runny nose and constantly increasing body temperature. Hit the bed at closing time. Saturday I can sleep for an hour more, grab breakfast and off I am for my return flight. I could add a little extra philosophy at that point, but I don’t want to repeat myself. Driving home from the airport – it doesn’t rain, it pours! I arrive home arround 8 o’clock in the evening. Tired, annoyed and still nursing a cold. My wife asks if Edinburgh was a nice place to visit… I have to laugh!
I’ll see you soon in a conference hotel near you…