This week was spent in Freiburg in Germany on a customer visit Naturally I was dreading it as my boss and I would be meeting the big, bad client who would be giving feedback on my company. My company includes me, so there was potential for personal critique as well. What if the information was negative. I could hardly reply by retorting ‘your mother’ at them (even if I had wanted to) as that might have been viewed as unprofessio0nal.
The flight on Tuesday was at 7am, which meant a 4.45 wake-up call. I was incoherent and distressed like a wounded animal as I staggered around my flat, wondering what on earth I could have done to deserve such an early start.
The trip to Frankfurt was uneventful. I stoically kept my eyes shut for the duration of the flight in the vague hope that I might fall asleep during the two hour journey. No such luck.
There was four of us travelling from my office. We rented a car and the other three took turns in driving the four hour journey. I felt like the spare wheel, being unable to drive. On the plus side I got to see the countryside uninterrupted.
We arrived by lunchtime and checked into the hotel. As we were not required at the customer site till the next day, we had an afternoon to explore the town.
But first lunch. I had schnitzel and sauerkraut. Well I was in Germany.
And chips. Well I am a human being.
It was unseasonably hot with the temperature in the early thirties. I had not been expecting this so I was sweltering in my smart casual office attire. As Freiburg is in the Black Forest it is surrounded by trees and mountains. We decided to climb a mountain.
The slope was steep and grinding and the intense heat caused the sweat to trickle into my eye. What an unlovely way to burn. The summit was worth it however as it provided a glorious view of the city.
Freiburg is a medieval town in the south west of Germany on the border with France and Switzerland. It is the wine region of Germany and boasts incredibly beautiful architecture of a very ornate and Swiss style. It contains several cuckoo clock shops (or Kuckucksuhren as they are called in German.)
We descended the hill in a puddle of sweat and called into a hillside café for a shandy as our just refreshment.
That evening we ate in a traditional German restaurant. I am unconvinced that the sea-bass I ate was local – seeing as we were so far inland.
The next day was meetings. All the vile stereotypes of business people were present.
It is possibly wiser to draw a discreet veil over my opinions on some of the participants.
My policy of grinning inanely, and nodding like the village idiot any time I was spoken to, seemed to work. I have no idea what I have agreed to do however so time will tell.
The evening meal was in a very swank restaurant on the hill. As I was feeling mutinous I ordered the most expensive items on the menu. Convincing myself that I was the oppressed working man, was easy and gave me some fake justification for my greed.
Beers in a microbrewery followed.
I cannot pretend that I enjoyed the trip. It wasn’t a holiday.
But the town of Freiburg is gorgeous. It would never have entered my head to visit it, had it not been for this trip. So I suppose the outcome was good when all is said and done.