Erin Virginia

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Around the World for Work

I count myself extremely fortunate to work for a company that allows me to travel. Right now, I'm working to set up a new clinical trial that will involve hospitals around the world. We have never worked with three of the hospitals previously, so the director for my group and I traveled to each to "qualify" them for the study. This was my first visit to each of the countries.

We flew to Sydney, Australia first. I was able to steal a couple hours my first day to take the ferry across Sydney Harbor to Manly Beach. Australia is just emerging from winter, but several surfers still bobbed in the water. The next couple days were very busy for work, but the day before we left, Joy and I took a cab to Bondi Beach and walked a few miles along a beautiful coastal cliff walk that connects several small towns and beaches.
We next flew overnight via Malaysia to Amsterdam, arriving very early Sunday morning. Joy and I changed clothes and then took a train from the airport to downtown Central Station. I loved Amsterdam. It barely rained the entire day. We took a canal tour, toured the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum Museum (lots of Rembrandts, including Night Watch) and spent hours walking along the streets, past the flower markets and Red Light District. I didn't realize how many canals circle through the city - I learned on our canal tour that the reason the houses are so narrow is that city residents were originally taxed on the width of their houses, irrespective of height.
Early Monday morning, Joy and I jumped on a train to Rotterdam to visit the next hospital. We didn't need to stay as long as expected, so on our way back to the airport, Joy and I stepped off the train in Den Haag (Hague), hoping to spend an hour or so at the Mauritshuis Museum, but it was closed for the day. So instead we ate lunch near the government buildings and then took a cab to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal is continuing to prosecute alleged perpetrators of crimes committed during wars in former Yugoslavia (crimes against humanity). Joy and I sat in on two different trials, one with two defendents and the other with six. It was extremely interesting to be so close to the actual trials and to hear statements from both sides and the panel of three judges - just a pane of glass separated us from the coutroom.
Joy and I flew Monday night from Amsterdam to Barcelona for the last leg of our trip. We stayed near the old part of town and close to buildings by Antoni Gaudi, the famous architect. Our first day, we drove an hour north to Girona and spent the entire day at a hospital and also catching up with some work colleagues based in Barcelona. The next day was also a working day, but I was able to head downtown late afternoon. I walked through La Rambla, the main tourist strip, did some shopping in the Gothic part of town, walked through the Cathedral and arrived at Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's most famous building (church), too late to take a tour.
It was an amazing trip, but I was SO glad to arrive home this past Thursday to see Chris. Ten days is a long time to be away.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Back to Portsmouth

Chris and I spent Saturday night in Portsmouth, NH. In the past, we've visited for an afternoon and also driven through many times on our way to Portland, but this was our first full day and night. It was a beautiful Saturday. We ate lunch at the Red Hook Brewery, shopped at the Kittery Outlet Malls, walked along the beach and sunned ourselves on snaily, flat rocks. The ocean water was frigid! Afterwards, we went downtown for dinner. One of the Portsmouth restaurants has the best clam chowder I've ever tasted - the secret ingredient is chive oil.