So I was sent to another world behind the Atlantic for working matters. First time overseas for a guy approaching his way to fourth decade. I haven't been travelling that much for sure - if one does not count the force of imagination. It would be somewhat boring and also inappropriate to go into working details. Since I seem to have a livid mind I won't leave this experience untouched though. Just to state a disclaimer, it wasn't all for fun - quite some nine hour days in the office. However, I tried to get some out of it.
First day. After three hours in bed I had to take a cab to the airport. No queueing though and plenty of tired waiting time. Some Finnish sweets for the colleagues. I had a nice little discussion in the plane with a Serbian student. From that point of view Finland sure looks like a - if not paradise - safe haven of secured living.
Shift to a bigger Jet towards Atlanta, Georgia. Another first for me. So over the Atlantic and some time zones. Lufthansa had quite a nice entertainment system for the passengers. And also one really atractive stewardess who had some resemblance with a colleague of mine. Her slight clumsiness at times only made it all that more fun to follow! Thought of throwing the young lady a nice little compliment. Well, I ain't that kind of guy. No syrup if there aren't pancakes to go with. It sure was nice to eat the cheese with white wine while listening to some jazz in the headset. And the ocean kilometers beneath seemed like a wrinkled deck of blue steel. Over the icy Labrador and along the east coast of America went the jet.
Of the plane to the soil of new world, through the security checks and customs. I did some replay dance in the scan chamber - apparently a kind of waist alert. Next headed for local metro, all good with a Breeze card from a vending machine in my hand. And then it hit me: where the heck is my digital camera. Too late to go back, first casualty of this conquering was somewhere behind me. Suspect the space under plane seat. Well, I survived the metro ride with slightly bitter taste from my own foolishness. Had some burger and a big fat dessert accompanied by a local colleague of mine, after which just needed to deck the hotel bed. Georgia evening still had warm breath with some sprinkles of water in it.
Beer count 0/1: a pint of Franziskaner Weissbier in Frankfurt airport, something familiar to start with.
Second day and first morning in USA. I had to do some streching to have my stuck legs and back going. Then learning to deal with local shower kind of system. Next breakfast - here comes the starch and animal fat! Ham and mushroom omelette and a load of wheat based produce. Learning to tip. Georgia weather turned its back on me - high 30's in Fahrenheit and rain. So no walk yet for the European without driver's lisence. Nice shuttle bus driver dropped me to the office.
(here was the secret work stuff in office)
First day of work in another continent was completed. Crazy European headed for hotel some quarter of a mile away. As it was expected, someone just simply dropped to the kingsize bed. I did try to see some Monday night football but managed it poorly. It was about half time when the hunger sent me to scavenge something to fill the void in my stomach. Restaurants were everywhere but mostly closed. Pedestrian surely felt himself somewhat out of place. Finally I was able to find some corner place which served a log sized stromboli with sauce surprisingly similar to my own patented tomate sauce. Back to bed then over the not so nice crossing. By the way, Saints stomped Giants.
Beer count 0/1: no beer for me since I took the hotel death night straight on.
Second morning in USA. Some stretching and morning TV before breakfast. First some fruits and yoghurt since it all cannot be that heavy. Then pancakes with butter and caffeine dose. Now it was OK to head for the office with own two feet. Another Georgia morning started in cold and damp conditions.
(here was the secret part again - have to mention the oddiness of having subs and potato chips as lunch though)
I did notice a pub along the way to office in the morning. So it was my instant destination on my way after working hours. Straight to the bar table and a new brew for me. I had a cod burger with crisps and went for another beer also. Local bartender named Chris certainly knew his job. Well, to the hotel I headed since there was more to come.
A colleague picked me up for some bar trivia with his friends. So I went. There sure were no tailor made questions for the Finnish guy. The team did finish in second place for the evening, not much of my effect there. I had some pizza and beer along with gained respect of answers to certain questions and apparently quite fluent English for a true foreigner. It certainly was fun to meet locals in a bar of good music, beer and food.
Beer count 4/5: Samuel Adams Winter Lager and some excellent IPA (outside the official list) in the corner pub, Michelob Ultra and Laughing Skull in the trivia bar - all new acquaintances for me.
Third morning in USA and finally some Georgia sun. Newly developed morning routines of streching, local news and learning to shower in US. In the breakfast my tips had started to make a difference since this sir was already being served to the table with his waffle. Thanks for the fruit and yoghurt combo it was not pure starch attack with some fat from animals.
(not for your eyes and ears stuff here - with more bread, meat and mayonnaise based lunch served with Coke as lubricant; pecan pie with vanilla ice cream in the afternoon was on unexpected extra)
After office hours same colleague from yesterday took me for real southern barbecue - accompanied by his son. I got to see the skyline of Atlanta both in the sunset and in the night lights - from a car window. A glimpse of Georgia Tech, Olympic swimming center and Martin Luther King Historic Site also. But the best was served in a hard-to-find restaurant next to a railroad track field. A crispy rib as a starter, Brunswick stew and collard greens as sides and burned ends (really tender and smoky beef) as the main atraction. Really good southern stuff with intense, sour and rich taste jam packed my stomach for sure. And seasonal plenty-of-hops beer as the beverage of choice was another great pick.
To see the really good local things you have to be able to bounce around with the good people of your destination.
Beer count 5/6: Sierra Nevada Seasonal in the barbecue house.
Fourth morning and the same routines again. Crispy and clear low 30's morning it was. Back to protein batch in the form of an omelette with rich fillings. I gave up to the lure of having some baked sweet goodies early on. Then a brisk walk to the office on an alternative route.
(secrecy bound and somewhat dull work - powered by American Italian food)
For the evening I was dropped to a mall quite some miles east. Now I'm not a big shopper but since in USA I had to have my small share of it. I found something to bring back home and also fit in my cabin luggage. Not that cheap in those close to city malls though. It was funny though to hear from a black guy "cool pants, man". My red pants weren't the usual choice. I managed to get lost in an American mall for a minute and found myself shopping cosmetics. That really spells time to find exit and run to the hills with one's money!
I found the metro station and headed for a new region of Atlanta for me. I had agreed to meet a friend of a Finnish colleague and that I did. Two strangers in a totally new environment for me. Well, what the heck. I might just go with flow and rise to the occasion. I'm quite bad company while shopping and more keen to good food and beverages with interesting people. Should be bound to great discussions then - and that's what the evening offered. Along with another new beer and buffalo burger. Got to give thumbs up for women who drink their beer graciously!
Eventually it was time to try some local cab on my way to the hotel. Of course the cab driver was a Pakistani immigrant with fourteen year experience from the streets of New York. Again nice to talk with different kinds of people. That cab driver had a hefty tip.
Beer count 6/7: Leinenkugel's Fireside Nut Brown to go with the burger.
Fifth and last morning in USA for now. Same morning stuff with packing included since I was bound to take flight back to Europe come evening. Ham and cheese omelette, more starch and a brisk walk in a sunny Georgia morning followed.
(once more the office stuff here - with some generic burrito to keep me going)
So compliments and direction to local metro station. If it had been a game of who doesn't belong here I was the certain pick. Anyhow, I made the airport without any problems and cleared the security check. Then final spending on some random and foolish souvenirs. I had also supposedly cajun style fried shrimp dish in a pub along with one more new beer in American soil.
To the confined seat of an Airbus I pressed myself and took one last look at the sea of fireflies - metropolitan Atlanta lights they were. Had a nice but brief conversation with a woman of Asian background. Apparently she was a nursery professor heading for Cairo. And also very thankful of me using my height to help with her luggage.
Beer count 7/8: Sweetwater 420 to go in the Atlanta airport.
A bad night's sleep it was. No room for long legs and head dizzy of tiredness. Very thirsty feeling which only with water could be written off. Well, finally the flight was over and I was back in the old continent. Food in the plane was OK, entertainment good enough and another quite attractive Lufthansa stewardess aboard. So it was survivable although not all pleasant.
I was forced to spend some five hours in Frankfurt airport. Damn tired but no real opportunity to get some sleep. I strolled around the shops and did my final spending. I was amused in the security check since I was guessed to be niederländisch. Well, I taught the clerk quickly that danke in Finnish is kiitos.
Had to go for frankfurters and potato salad to make my whining stomach quiet. I threw in a pinch of work and tried read a paper. Not a huge success story. As one final encounter with a stranger I shared a discussion with French man living mainly in Finland. He was an entrepreneur of some sort, nice guy to talk to. I managed to throw in words of my employer's current business.
There was one final surprise for me. In the same flight back to cold dark north was a familiar person. Someone quite a few steps higher than me in the company hierarchy. Infact, almost the opposite ends. My secret identity was probably not revealed since I'm pretty much nobody. And my brief moment of shame in the form of stand up kind of a performance some eight days earlier was from behind a mask.
Well, in Helsinki I took a cab home and had some words with the driver. As a tip, I know where I'm not going to buy an apartment.
Beer count 8/9: Licher Hefeweizen as the liquid to flush down the frankfurters.
All in all, my first visit to the American continent was excellent. If not the lost camera. Still I give value to the experiences acquired. Atlanta seems to possess some really good food and plenty of warm hearted people. Hopefully I'll get to return sooner than later and land some golf in. Spring or fall would do good but first got to take care of the business.
Someone did not bother to check his spelling or grammary. And managed to write a lot of not that much. And again sabotaged his good night's sleep.
Beer total: Intense, rich, full-bodied, exciting, surprising, unique, does not leave bitter after taste - the way I like my women... BEER. Always joking and dead serious at the same time...