London and Manchester 2017

How lucky am I? The second time in a year to go to my favorite place on Earth, and this time, no one was barfing all over the Airbnb. (Okay, honestly, nothing could ever beat our trip last Christmas, but that was definitely a low point.)

This trip was for work. My team (the Happiness Hiring team, also known as Athena) met up in London to work on things, and then we went to Manchester for a couple of nights for an event. It was very busy, but what better place to be busy? Plus, we’d just made our three European teammates (Dan, Cécile, and Hannah) travel to Canada for the Grand Meetup, so it was only fair we went to them this time. We’re so kind and generous.

Monday
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Auckland time!

Sorry for the delay, have been catching up on work and life and sick kids.

So I left off with us leaving Sydney on Friday. We had breakfast at the airport (Beckett said it was the best eggs benedict she’d ever had) and then got on our flight to Auckland.

You know, when you are flying from Australia to New Zealand, you think “oh, that’ll be an easy jaunt, it’s so close” but then you realize it’s a) not as close as it looks on a globe and b) another country. So the flight was almost four hours but since it was international, we got a meal and wine. Score! (But it also means passport control and customs yet again.)

So anyway, we watched La La Land on the flight, ate some reasonably yummy airline food, drank some New Zealand wine and then landed in Auckland. We got in a cab to get to our airbnb and proceeded to sit in gridlocked traffic for an hour and a half. The traffic was due to torrential rain that was causing…I dunno, flooding? Or just bad driving? In any case, our trip took three times longer than usual so by the time we got to the airbnb, we were tired and missed the speaker dinner.

Welcome to Auckland!

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A few days in Sydney

I really need to be better about blogging more during trips and not saving it all for the end when I get overwhelmed. I also need to remember to set my camera clock to the local time so I don’t have to figure out exactly how many time zones to adjust it afterwards. Especially fun when you have DST starting in one country while you’re gone. (Ultimately I decided life is too short to care if my photos’ data is off by that many hours.)

I apologize for any repeated photos from the last post or social media. And now, let’s start the recap…

I left for Sydney on Sunday, March 5. George and the boys dropped me off at the airport after lunch at Chipotle, and everyone was in high spirits. I had a bit of time to wait, so I was still at the gate when Linus called me, sobbing, and begging me to come home. Well, break my heart, why don’t you? Talk about feeling like the World’s Biggest Jerk. Sigh.

Leaving #nola. #travelmattic #timelapse

A post shared by Pam Kocke (@pyjammy) on

I’m not going to bore you with the details of the next 20+ hours. First I flew to San Francisco, which took 4 hours. Then I waited for Beckett, and we got on the 15 hour flight to Sydney. It was fine. I slept a few hours here and there (which is huge for me, so yay) and I watched a few shitty movies. United can bite me for still having the old movie selection on the plane, so there was nothing I hadn’t seen a zillion times. LAME.

We arrived in Sydney on Tuesday morning, which still doesn’t fail to freak me out a little bit (WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY?!?!?) Getting through security and customs and all that was a piece of cake, though I was pretty upset not to get a single new stamp in my passport during this entire trip. Sad! However, the reason for this appears to be that everything is automated and therefore extremely fast, so I shouldn’t complain too much.

We got a taxi to the hotel, the Metro Hotel on Pitt. It was nice. They held our luggage while we got lunch at a sushi place in a nearby shopping center. I posted a pic on Instagram and it seems as if everyone on earth has been to this exact sushi place. We did a little shopping after, and I got some lipstick that was very appropriately named for my job. (The final interview for everyone applying to work at Automattic is called the Matt Chat. I wrote a little about it here.)

After we were able to check in, we took little naps, then got some dinner from a place down the street. Found a bottle shop for wine, and watched some Australian tv before crashing. (Well, American shows on an Australian tv set.)

The next day we went to find somewhere to get some work done. We ended up (after getting lost and going to the wrong train station) coworking at an adorable cafe on an adorable little side street kind of alley thing in an area called Artarmon with our coworker Kristen. When the cafe closed, Kristen invited us back to her lovely home where we drank her wine, ate her candy, petted her bunnies, and played Ticket to Ride. We are outstanding guests.

That evening, we…ate again? Probably drank a little wine? It was a week ago, now!

The next morning we got up bright and early for a run. Our hotel was not far from a park (Hyde Park?) that connected to another park (?) that led down to the Sydney Opera House and the harbour.

It was such a nice run! It was cool outside and not sunny, and we ended up running 5k (but Beckett only counts running, so including the walking and climbing stairs and stopping to admire the flowers, we actually went a lot further.)

 

It was a great run. After we got back to the hotel, showered, and ate breakfast, we headed to the Zoo. We were determined to see some Australian animals, and since we were sticking to cities, we figured this would be the best way to go about it.

We saw adorable schoolchildren, koalas, kangaroos, lots of snakes that can kill you, and other exotic and deadly and cute creatures.

Later, we made our way across the Harbour Bridge (via train again) and got off in Milsons Point. The view of the Opera House from this vantage point was really spectacular, but we really came across to see Luna Park up close. Kind of nutty. It wasn’t open, sadly.

After lunch, we headed back across the water and did a little shopping and saw a giant fluffy dog and then rested up before our event that evening. We were hosting a little gathering for the local WordPress meetup group, where we chatted about support and hopefully convinced some people there to apply to work at Automattic!

The next morning, we had to pack up our stuff because we were headed to Auckland!

To be continued…

 

A few pics from Sydney

Today we are in Auckland, but Beckett and I were in Sydney from Tuesday to Friday. I will post a lot more photos and words when I have more time, but for now, just a few pics…

11 days in Europe

Okay, I need to just get this written before I forget everything.

For a good recap of Spain, read Erica’s post here.

Friday morning

Arrived in Barcelona, after a flight with no sleep. I tried. I really tried. At least I got to catch up on some movies.

Had my first jamon sandwich, then met Erica at the airport (her flight arrived not long after mine) and we headed into town to drop off our luggage at a locker, and then we just wandered around until our Airbnb was available.

Many, many photos from that day are in this post.

Walked through the Gothic Quarter, made our way through a path of what felt like miles of blankets covered in fake Michael Kors handbags, “Nike” sneakers, and sunglasses. Finally got to the beach! Put toes in Mediterranean!

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A visit to the Sagrada Família

Erica and I went to the Sagrada Família on Saturday the 18th, after we’d given our talk. (More details on all that later.) I had tried to go when I was in Barcelona last time, cough cough, but didn’t get to.

Anyway, I’m not usually one for visiting old buildings or churches, but this was truly exceptional. So unique and breathtaking and many other adjectives. Construction began on this church designed by Gaudí in 1882 and it’s not done yet.

Erica and I also booked tickets to the tower, which was fun and hair-raising. (You take an elevator up but a tightly wound spiral staircase down, and it’s kind of terrifying.)

Without further ado…

Details outside

The interior

Views from the tower:

Terrifying staircase:

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People right as they walk in, stop, dumbfounded, then take pics.

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They say it’s going to be finished (finally) in ten years. We’ll see.

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Back in the US

I have much to blog about, of course. I initially was going to try to keep up as the trip went along, but obviously I failed miserably there. But I’ll post a bit now while I sit in the United Club lounge with a glass of wine and free wi-fi. (But I really need to make it fast so I can go call Kristina. I haven’t talked to her in 11 days and that is entirely too long, considering we usually talk one or two times a day.)

It’s hard to believe how long this trip was. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing. I had a fantastic, exhausting, busy trip. But it felt like a month, not a week and a half. When I think back to when we were in Barcelona, it feels like eons ago.

I also have to give a shout-out to my colleague Erica. She was an excellent traveling companion, and we had a great time together. I think it’s safe to say we’re both suffering withdrawal from each other. We were apart very very little over the course of the trip. This could have gone horribly wrong. Even traveling with good friends can be a harrowing experience, but I can honestly say she was an amazing travel partner. Probably doesn’t hurt that the girl likes to eat. Heh. She was extremely supportive of my ham cone quest, and she’s a vegetarian. Now that’s a friend!

Okay, here’s a little Pam ‘n’ Erica collage (you’ll probably see these again in future posts too. Deal with it.)

Okay, my wine is done, so I’m going to publish this now and go call Kristina. Can’t wait to see my boys! Cross your fingers that the bottle of schnapps I brought back makes it intact. I’m tired. Stop babbling now.

 

 

Ham cone!!!

My favorite thing to eat in Spain is the ham. I suppose more specifically I mean the jamón ibérico?  Whatever it’s called, it’s delicious. When Erica and I were in Barcelona, I spied a cafe with a sign outside advertising “Ham Cone”, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. A paper cone filled with pieces of jamón. I was determined to get a ham cone before we left Spain, and today my dream came true!

We were walking back to our Airbnb after lunch (I purposely had a very light lunch) when we passed Mercado de San Miguel. Right when we walked in, we saw a stall selling HAM CONES!

It was way fancier than the ham cones at the other restaurant – three times more expensive, and quite a lot of ham, even for me. But I have until lunchtime tomorrow to eat it. And it’s insanely delicious.

Also they gave it to me on a paper silver tray. So fancy!

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Gotta give props to Erica, who is a vegetarian, for supporting me on my epic quest for HAM CONE.