I just love flashmobs, and this is a true beauty! Wish I had a commute like this .
I just love flashmobs, and this is a true beauty! Wish I had a commute like this .
I just love flashmobs, and this is a true beauty! Wish I had a commute like this .
Sometimes I’m wondering what happened to 2011. Where did it go? What has happened during these 365 days?
It all started in London of course, when I was still working with Ernst & Young. But I was also applying for another job, since I found out that the future that Ernst & Young had in mind for me (which is, actually, a good future) wasn’t my piece of cake. That’s how I came in contact with my current employer, VisitDenmark. On April 1st, I wasn’t fooled but I got an amazing call saying: we’de like to have you on board, could you start as of May 1st? (don’t think it’s so easy to find a job, my first contact with VisitDenmark was already end of January :-p).
With my new job I’ve entered an entire new world, meeting lots of fun and inspiring people. I also got to know a new city (Copenhagen), which is very easy to fall in love with quickly. I’ve also been to Aarhus one time last September and this week I was in Vejle, but there I haven’t seen much more than the hotel I was staying in :-p. You often hear that Dutch and Danes feel rather close connected to each other, in the way we live, communicate and do business. One thing we can definitely learn from the Danes is their sustainable mindset, it’s amazing to see and read about what they do to decrease their energy consumption.
Unfortunately 2011 hasn’t been a very good year for my gospel choir Reflection in Utrecht. It’s very difficult to find new members, both for the choir and the band. Maintaining members is also a challenge; it feels that being an active member of an association is just not as common anymore as it used to be 10 years ago. Next to that it’s rather hard to find new places to perform, lots of churches also have to cut on expenses and rather create their own little band then hiring somebody. We’ll see what 2012 will bring, maybe the new board members will be full of unexpected ideas .
There are a million other things to tell about 2011, but at some point you should start focusing on the future and see what kind of exciting things the new year has in store for you.
Since last Monday we have a new intern at our office, Marcus from Bornholm, which is a Danish island near the Swedish coast. He arrived last Friday morning, and after he had left his stuff at his room, he dropped by at the office. Still a bit tired from the early morning flight, he met all of us and joined us for a drink that afternoon.
It was funny that his arrival brought back a lot of good memories of my own period of being an intern at Novedge in San Francisco, already 2,5 years ago. My flight left around 11 AM from Amsterdam, and after a 9-hour flight and several hours in time difference, I arrived on SFO at 2 PM. My new boss, Franco, picked me up and drove me to the office (I’ll leave out the part where we found out that I got scammed for $ 1000 by paying rent for a room that didn’t exist, these are not good memories :-p). There I met my new colleagues, Cris and Carolyn. Everybody was excited that I arrived, while I could only think of a nice bed to sleep in. So Carolyn went to Google Maps, printed a map of downtown San Francisco and started to explain very enthusiastically what to do in the city. ‘If you walk that way, all down Market Street, you’ll end up at the Ferry Building. If you go left, and follow the street car, you’ll pass Pier 39 with lots of nice shops and of course the sea lions! You’ll also see Coit Tower, which is a perfect spot for a panoramic view on the city.’ My head started to spin a bit harder, but I tried to stay focused and process all this new information. She continued, pinpointing at the map: ‘Here you have Lombard Street, there is the Pyramid, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate park, …’ It was so sweet to see Carolyn explaining all the best spots in town, but as it was already very difficult to keep my eyes open, it was a bit too much at the moment. Luckily there was plenty time during the next 6 months for Carolyn and me to explore the city (and more of California) together .
Ahh… those were the times! Although I’m starting to fall in love more and more with Denmark at the moment, there are still pieces of my heart which I left in San Francisco…
After the first 2 weeks at my new job at VisitDenmark, I can only say I’m very happy and feeling lucky that I’ve been given this opportunity. Loads of information has been thrown at me during these first days which made my head spin more than once, but it’s amazing to learn about this completely new industry, and destination! I’ve never been in Denmark, but what I’ve learned from it so far makes me want to explore the country to its fullest extend! I’m sure I will get that opportunity .
The Business Meetings industry is also very interesting and exciting! I’ve become a member of MPI, Meeting Professionals International. This organization brings planners and suppliers together and aims at sharing knowledge and networks. Last Wednesday I went to an event (a so-called ‘educational’) about Event ROI and Meeting Architecture Planning. Informative speeches and inspiring speakers; a great introduction to the club!
The organization has welcomed me very warmly. First of all of course the direct colleagues at the office in Leiden, but also colleagues from other offices in Copenhagen, London and Hamburg. Next week I’ll travel to Copenhagen for the first time in my life for an introduction on all IT systems, and 2 weeks later I’m being invited to London to learn about the MICE industry from UK colleagues who have been working in this industry for years already. Learning from the best first hand .
So after the first 2 weeks at my new job at VisitDenmark, I can only say I’m very happy and looking forward to all the great things that are still to come!
A few months ago I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying my work anymore. Something was bothering me, and at first I couldn’t clearly identify what it was, so it was a great relief when I found out what it was: being an advisor to financial institutions at Ernst & Young isn’t my cup of tea after all. I really had to get used to the idea of the possibility of applying for jobs and leaving Ernst & Young. But the longer I thought about it, the more enthusiastic I became about finding a job that really suits me and already makes me happy when only thinking about it.
In November 2010 I started applying for jobs, which was a bit difficult while being in London. Luckily I had some flexible time on Fridays, so I used these days if I had an interview or assessment. In January I came across an advertisement for an Online Marketing Coordinator at VisitDenmark, the Dutch branch of the Danish Tourist Office. The job description really appealed to me, I had never thought of making a career in Social Media a year ago. I had a very nice interview with 2 ladies from the company in Leiden, and after the weekend I had a second interview over the phone from London. Unfortunately I wasn’t hired for the job, but luckily they liked me and saw some possibilities of creating a new position that was going to focus on the MICE market, where most of the activities of VisitDenmark mainly focuses on the Leisure market.
A process of writing a proposal and getting approval from all kinds of different people from Copenhagen, Denmark started. Every now and then I called with the office in Leiden to show my enthusiasm and to inform about the progress of the approval. Finally, at Friday April 1st I was called with the great news (and relief ) that the office in Leiden got the approval to hire me as of May 1st. Immediately I informed my boss and asked if it was still possible to transfer as of May 1. After discussing with my direct colleagues it was soon clear that May 1 wasn’t going to be a problem. And on top of it all, I was also able to take the 3 weeks holiday I had left. That meant that Friday April 8 was my last day at work! Suddenly time was flying like crazy!
Last Monday I already had a day on the job for VisitDenmark, visiting a congress on MICE with my new boss (Mathilde), organized by MPI, “Meeting Professionals International”. It was a great day with lots of interesting speeches and inspiration for the business of event management. It was also a very nice opportunity to get better acquainted with Mathilde. On top of it all, we signed my contract during the lunch break, on a bench in the sun. Life is good!
After 5,5 months in London, it became clear last week that this week will be our final. Sad to leave the fun people I’ve met here, but glad to be going home. It’s been quite a trip: lots of fun, sight seeing and musicals, but also lots of snow, several delayed or cancelled flights and long working weeks. But in the end, the client is very happy with our performance and the job we’ve done, and that’s what counts.
To get the most out of my last weekend I’ve planned lots of things to do and see. So I was pretty sad when it turned out to be raining all weekend (how appropriate…), but luckily that didn’t spoil all the fun. I started with the changing of the horse guards on Saturday morning. Unfortunately that wasn’t exciting as I hoped it would be, but it’s great to see all the tradition and customs the English have. After that, I did some shopping and went to Leicester Square where I met Hieke. I know Hieke from my time at university (many years ago ), and she’s currently in London doing research for her PhD thesis.
At my favourite shop in London (the TKTS discount ticket booth ) we bought 2 tickets for Blood Brothers. No problem at all I’d seen this musical already last November; I was really excited to see it again! After that we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral to experience the beauty of this cathedral and the crypt, one of Sir Christopher Wren’s master pieces. Actually I like St. Paul’s cathedral better than Westminster Abbey, the latter is more like a huge burial ground while the first is a beautiful organized, structured cathedral without statues and coffins everywhere .
At 5 PM the evensong started at St. Paul’s, so we stayed to listen to the wonderful singing of the cathedral’s choir. After some dinner we took the tube to the Phoenix Theatre at Charring Cross Road where, for the second time, I cried out loud at the finale of Blood Brothers. Such an amazing story, with the first party being hilarious most of the time (when everybody is still young and reckless) and the second part being more serious when life as a grown up can be tough. Highly recommend everybody to see this musical! Thinking about writing a blog post about all the musicals and shows I’ve seen here, just as a recap of the cultural blast of the previous months.
This week we’re wrapping up our work, getting rid of the last to-do’s on our list. Friday morning I’m flying back home, with lots of good memories of these months in London. After a (hopefully) quiet weekend I’ll be back in business next week Monday, starting a new assignment in The Hague.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!
Although this is my 4th month in London, there’s still loads left to explore. Luckily there’s also much time, since I’m not going home as much as I did last year. This morning I first had a 40 minute swim at the Tiller Leisure Center, which is actually very close by my apartment. So that’s not an excuse anymore. Let’s just hope I can continue this behavior :-p.
The Lonely Planet with all the earmarked todo’s got stolen last year after I left it in my mailbox for a colleague, so after my swim I worked my way through my newly bought Rough Guide of London. Earmarked everything again, and realized I have to spend my spare time more efficiently if I want to tick-mark all earmarks :-p. So I walked to the tube at Canary Wharf to get to Leicester Square for my first goal of the afternoon: musical ticket. And yes, they had a perfect seat available at Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ at the enormous Dominion Theater at Tottenham Court Road.
After this victory I went to St. Martin’s in the Field, a little church next to Trafalgar Square. When my mom was in London last November, she told me about the world famous orchestra of this church (which I’d never heard of), and almost made me promise I’d go to a concert at this church one day. So I went inside to get the program for the next few months, and lucky as I was, a little orchestra was rehearsing for tonight’s concert! So I took a seat in the benches and enjoyed the beautiful music for some time. But it already started to get dark (at 3.30 PM, I’m ready for Spring to come again!) and I still wanted to take a walk outside, so I took off to Temple and Holborn, where I wandered around for some time. Later that afternoon, my colleague Dominic texted me if I was in for some drinks, so we met at the tube station and found a beautiful old pub, called the White Hart.
And now I’m at the theater, waiting for the show to begin and using the time to pre-type this blog post, so I can directly upload it when I’m back home. And of course I’ll add a little review about the musical .
Okay, it’s break now, and this musical is just mind-blowing, freaking AWESOME!! All the elements of a fantastic musical are there: beautiful, rocking music, a big cast with fantastic dancing, a great story and a beautiful stage. It’s awesome to hear all these familiar songs and lyrics, and the writers made an amazing (and hilarious) story out of it where all the songs fit in perfectly! Thank God there’s a second part, can’t wait until the break is over!
(10.45 PM, in the tube back home)
Well, let me give it a try… The second part was as extraordinary as the first part, and the grand finale was just…. I don’t know the perfect word for it. Loud rocking music and lights flashing everywhere! Adrenaline raging through every body in the theater, including the actors. And that voice of the main character (who isn’t really playing Freddy Mercury, but he could be)!!! All the big hits passed by, ending with Bohemian Rhapsody, with a brilliant guitar solo. It still gives me goose bumps thinking about it.
I can only recommend to everyone to go and see this musical and experience yourself how this musical affects you. With having seen more than 20 musicals in my life, I rate We Will Rock as the most awesome so far!
After 2 delightful weeks of holiday at home in my new apartment (it’s still new to me, I’ve only lived there for a few weeks in total!), I’m back in town again. London that it. Last week Monday I flew back to my spot in Canary Wharf. A different apartment, but still the same. Just a few floors higher and red cushions instead of green, but furthermore it’s all the same.
At first I didn’t really feel like going back, I loved being at home! But when I thought at all the things I still hadn’t visited (Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, etc.) and all the musicals I hadn’t seen (Billy Elliot, The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, etc.) I got more and more excited about going back to this amazing city called London!
But of course the main reason for me to be here is work. Monday January 3rd was a Bank Holiday, so we started on Tuesday January 4th. Right now it’s only me and one other colleague, compared to the group of 5 we were last December. That’s because the majority of work is finished, but what’s left is still a big chunk. And what makes it more difficult, is that the people we need to provide us documentation, are extremely busy closing the books and drawing up the Annual Report. But it’s good to be back, we’re having fun again and the client appreciates our work. So I’m sure it’s going to be hard working, lots of fun, and lots of opportunity to enjoy London!
…this awesome video! I love flash mobs (remember the one at Antwerp Central Station?), but this one is just amazing! It gave me lots of goosebumps, so I don’t want you to miss out on this video!
Carolyn, what’s the link to your flash mob at Union Square in San Francisco?!
With all my earmarked pages in the Lonely Planet, I was rather indecisive yesterday about what to do. So I started at Borough Market, and walked to the Tower of London afterward. But the crowds didn’t really please me, so I thought of another thing to do. I came up with visiting Highgate Cemetery, which was supposed to be a beautiful cemetery in North London.
Around 14.30 I arrived at the gate of the cemetery, and found out there was a tour at the west part of the cemetery 15 minutes later. Highgate Cemetery opened in 1839 and is part of the “Magnificent Seven”, seven cemetery around London. The tour was unexpectedly very interesting and informative (I won’t call it entertaining). The girl that showed us around had fabulous stories about some of the people buried, and the cemetery was really beautiful. For example, this is the tomb of George Wombwell, a famous menagerist in the 1800′s.
And this is the tomb of Thomas Sayers, an English bare-knuckle prize fighter and national hero. He wasn’t very fortunate in love, so his dog called ‘Lion’ was the chief mourner during his funeral, which was attended by thousands of people.
The class system from the Victorian time also shows on the cemetery, the closer your lot was to the footpath, the richer you were. One man (Julius Beer, owner of The Observer) had an entire mausoleum built. Not to have himself or his family buried, but just to show off his wealth. At the time the mausoleum was built, it cost 5,000 pounds, which equals 3 million pounds nowadays.
Another beautiful grave is the one with the sleeping angel on top of it. According to the guide it is also one of the most photographed graves. I must say, it is really gorgeous…
Never would have expected that the trip to this cemetery would be so amazing, I can highly recommend everybody to go and see the cemetery and do the tour! Please do click on the Wikipedia links and read the stories of the people, they are worth it! Check out for more pictures the London 2010 album.