Monday, 23 May 2016

Reunited in London - meeting long-time friends Day 5 (Liza)

After I heard the news that I was going to UK, it only took me a few seconds before I contacted my friends based in London.  I was so excited to see two of my closest friends - one is my high school very close friend - Lalaine and my college buddy Liza, both have been in London since their kids were babies. My trip planning was easy because they recommended the attractions I needed to see. This extension of my business trip is already charged to me so I have to scrimp on the spending and as we all know London is one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world.

Since I already did some touring around the City on my own and with the Sandeman tour, Liza brought me to the places I need to have my photo taken.  The highlights were the changing of the Royal Guards at Buckingham Palace, our Tea time at Harrod's and the rainy photo shoot at the Tower Bridge. She was as excited as I am as we were about to reach Buckingham Palace, we had to find a good spot in order to see the changing of the Royal Guards up close and we were successful.

After being entertained by the marching guards, we walked around to see Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I had a good time teasing Liza about fearing that we might get lost and her opting to ask for directions, which I disagreed because I had never done it. I relied upon my map and instincts and thank God I'm always able to find my way.


My photos at the Big Ben reflect my happiness as I have a photo in one of the icons of London. Liza and I traveled towards east of London and have caught up with our stories and updates during the long trip. When we reached their place, I was in for a gastronomic surprise prepared by John. I had ginataang alimasag, pakbet and maja blanca for late lunch and early dinner. So busog! I met my godson after more than 15 years I believe and boy was he so handsome and so tall. Liza was saying he is an independent boy and working hard to finish his studies. I'm so proud of you, Nathaniel!

We went back to the city with their little girl - Christine Faith (same age as Candy) and had photo ops at London Bridge or Tower Bridge. It was short lived because it rained hard and we were really wet. Our next stop was at posh Harrod's to have some afternoon tea. This is the only time I remembered to bring out the flat doll that Candy sent me to take pictures with while I was on tour. I had our only picture together with candy's new friend Tin. Heading back to the Victoria station to claim my luggage, it took us longer as it is now rush hour - tubes and stations were so full of people.

My one day with Liza was not enough but both of us had nice stories of God's love, provision and faithfulness in our lives. That is enough for us to be reconnected as we were not only college friends but also sisters in Christ.

Friday, 20 May 2016

My Molson Burton UK Adventure - UK Trip Day 2-4

After travelling for almost 3 hours from London, I finally reached my destination.  The Taxi driver toured me around Burton On Trent before I checked in the hotel. I had an appointment for a tour around the Brewery at 3:00 pm and I was late. I still went to see my contact person and after some interview with the Quality staff about document control, OWD and other issues, I was so excited to go inside and around one of the oldest breweries of Molson. 

As expected, I found the brewery very clean and world-class looking and the people all aware of the rules (i.e. PPE). I took pictures for our own brewery to see as inspiration.  Learning about its history and how it transformed to what it is today, I was amazed.

I ended day 2 with dinner at a fancy restaurant - The Dial. Because this week is going to be a string of drinking sprees,  I had champagne on my first night here.

I was excited and nervous at the same time to meet my counterparts in Europe and Canada.  On breakfast time the next day, I met them one by one.  I felt like I'm in a beauty pageant, they are all equally beautiful and smart people and I found myself fitting in.

Day 3 - Today was a get-to-know-each-other day and we had workshop on influencing.  I am so proud of myself that I conquered my fears and broke down the walls.  I easily made friends that on dinner time and the tour (Yes, I went to another tour with them), it was like we've known each other for a long time. we had dinner at The Dial again.  I was so ashamed to face the waitresses because I forgot to give tip the previous night.  The night was awesome. I enjoyed the chatting and the beer.

Day 4 - It was presentation day.  I knew the content of the material but because I thought that National would report for all Canada, I didn't bother preparing, I was told yesterday and I thought I forgot about it while drinking but it dawned on me that it was happening.

So consider this the swimsuit, formal wear and question and answer portion of the pageant rolled into one. Good thing I didn't speak first or last.  I spoke in the middle and I had ideas on how to enliven the presentation.  When they were talking about how beautiful and gorgeous their countries were, I also felt proud that I am from the beautiful nation called Canada. So I took the opportunity to tell them about how the country is not only beautiful with its natural resources but also with its people.  With the diverse population and culture making up Toronto (I am one of the immigrants who moved to Canada) and also we are all people-oriented, it was but timely to say that Toronto boasts of its people from wide variety of cultures. It really felt like how Pia Wurtzbach of the Ms. Universe fame nailed the QA. hahaha. I was glad it went well. I admit speaking in front of an audience is not my forte but I think I was able to relay the message.

Today was the beer champion day and we had lots of beer to taste and match with food.  We were treated like kings and queens at another fancy restaurant by the river and before we started, we took lots of "selfies" in a picturesque setting.  This was one of my most favorite nights because this is where we really shared and connected.  Those I was seated next to were amazing, we shared and talked about government, religion, places, people (kinds of and Molson people whom we knew) and everything under the sun without qualms. I really felt that I belong to a family. Our pictures show how amazing this night was (and how great our beers are).  I intentionally made the photos look small because I didn't want to share my colleagues faces, I didn't ask their permission.




Monday, 16 May 2016

My unexpected UK Travel Story Day 1

My first travel on my own this year was just recently when I visited my sister and her family in Mississippi, USA.  I had a good time as a tourist and explored Elvis Presley's Graceland and other attractions nearby.  Last month, I had the opportunity to travel again but this time because of work and it is outside North America -> United Kingdom.  Backtracking two months,  I found out about the Global Meeting through my counterparts in Canada.  My boss was promoted and they thought that while they haven't selected a replacement yet,  I could come and join them,  But of course, I didn't have the nerve to ask my boss because I knew he wanted to go too.  I knew it was impossible but I wished that I will be able to go there and in other European breweries too someday.

On April Fool's morning, I received a call from my boss and asked me a favor, and that is to represent the Toronto Brewery to the Global Meeting.  Of course, I said yes and am very thankful for the unexpected news.  Everything happened so fast, I was very busy at work, have to prepare for the Global Meeting while still attending my Lean Six Sigma course at U of T.  The clincher was when I found out that I had to take my final exams without finishing the remaining lessons and I had to write the test on the day I was flying. So exciting, right?

After I handed in my final exam to my professor, that's when I started to feel relieved and accomplished and the excitement of going to see my global counterparts and long-lost friends started to kick in.  

Day 1 - I arrived very early at Heathrow Airport and managed to explore it to get to where I'm supposed to go - to Heathrow Express, the non-stop train going to Paddington Station which is just across the hotel my friend booked for me.  I was given instructions by my friends from London to find Heathrow Connect - the cheaper version - only 9 sterling pounds compared to 22 in Heathrow Express.  Travel time was only 15 minutes.  There are discounts if you book the tickets early.  This is something to remember when I go back with the family on our next travel goal.  Anyway, when I arrived at the station, I bought the Oyster Card to use for going around the city I did it using an ATM style kiosk, I arrived before 8:00 am on a Sunday and there are few ticket sellers at the counters.

AM - Check-in at Hilton, Attend SCM Service 
I was able to meet my friend at Hilton Edgeware Road and checked-in early.  After dropping off my luggage, I headed to The Shard - the tallest building because that is the landmark nearest to SCM London - My former church family counterpart in UK.  I walked cause they said it was only a block away but then I realized that I've been walking miles and still couldn't find it. The Lord was with me and the weather was great so I didn't mind but then I remember the service starts at 10:00 am.  With God's provision and miracle, I arrived just in time before the Pastor's sermon.  I was so happy to see fellow Filipinos worshipping the Lord.

PM - The London Tube System, Sandeman's Walking Tour and Hillsong London Service
I did some research and I found out about the Sandeman's London Free Walking Tour.  The meeting place was at Covert Garden, this is a market place where there are lots of people - tourists and places to eat.   That's where I bought some lunch - German Hotdog to eat while walking - my schedule was tight and the going around the Tube was "challenging".  

The underground subway stations here are deep. Sometimes, there are more stairs and tunnels to pass before transferring to another line.  I found that walking on the road is cheaper and faster and lots of people and stores to see.  If you are just going from Leicester to Covert Garden - don't use the Tube, This is the shortest distance in the Underground.

Here are some of the busiest or deep stations that I remember and you may want to avoid:
Oxford Circus, King's Cross and Pancras - this is where the 9 3/4 platform of Harry Potter is, Piccadilly Circus, Earl's Court, Embankment, London Bridge, Baker Street and Victoria.  Well, these are the stations that I remembered going to and getting lost in hahaha.

When I reached Covert Garden, it was not that hard to find the free Walking Tour guides because they are wearing red shirts and they wait under RED umbrellas. I was able to eat lunch and register for the tour - again -> just in time.  These are the areas we went to and I found out interesting facts and some history about London:


I knew I was doing the walking tour so I wore comfortable shoes but maybe I lack sleep (because of excitement)  and the change of time - London time is 5 hours ahead of EST and got really tired of walking for 2 hours, I doze off at the Tube.  Before I fell asleep,  I counted the stops to go to my hotel and I thought that that was my last stop.  I ended up going to Richmond on the Green line which is the opposite of where I was going and I had to go back and spend another 30 minutes "touring around" the other zones. What an adventure!  

Finally, after arriving in Zone 1, I went straight to Tottenham Court Road station to attend Hillsong London last worship service schedule at Dominion Theatre.  I had a breath-taking experience, the singers are very close and the service is like a concert.  The songs played were new ones but that they also sang old songs.  I loved Hillsong- always does and I was blessed that night.

Going back to my hotel, I decided to explore and find the famous English Fish and Chips and took it to my room to rest my tired feet and eyes.  Day 1 was amazing.  Thank you Lord.