Saturday, April 9, 2011

My European Adventures - Part 1

This is part 1 of my 10 day business trip to Europe with a brief 3 day stop to my homeland of the Czech Republic. I visited 3 countries – Germany, Czech Republic, and Sweden, completed 7 different flights, and ran 48.61 miles in the process hoping that running will help me keep most of my biking/swimming fitness.
I left Boston on Sunday night - March 20th, and arrived in Munich Monday morning after a brief pit stop at the London Heathrow Int’l airport. The days of sleeping on the plane are gone! The little sleep I got was when dinner was served! Booooo! The flight itself was pretty uneventful. However, once we arrived in Munich, the action picked up a bit thanks to our driver a.k.a Mr. Mullet!  Up first was Ingolstadt, Germany!
Day 1:
Mr. Mullet not only had the best mullet I have seen in a long time (I was too tired to even take a picture, but it looked something like this), but he also thought that he was driving a F1 instead of a 8 passenger minivan with luggage stacked up to the ceiling.

We honestly made it to our hotel in Ingolstadt in about 20 min, when it really should have taken more like 45 min! We were absolutely flying like there were no other cars on the highway. We were going about 200 km/h the entire time! Let’s just say that I am glad we are all still alive. Monday was an arrival day, set up day for our sales meeting presentations the next two days, and we were able to get in the tour of AUDI facility, which was the highlight of the day! I had planned on getting a run in when we got to the hotel, but instead I laid down to take a quick 15 min nap, that turned into a 2 hour one! Oops!  The AUDI tour was awesome! It was a 2 hour tour, that really took us through most of the facility and we were able to witness how AUDI’s are made from scratch! Some quick facts before you are all bored:
·         Around 32,000 employees at the AUDI facility that work around the clock 6 days a week!
·         They make around 2,400 cars EVERY day!
·         Majority of the process is done by robots! Robots that will eat you alive if you bring your cell phone or a camera on the tour hence I don’t have any pictures to show you! They love the wave links! J … and they are HUGE!
·         There is a small grocery store on site that besides food also sells beer! Lots of it!
·         Workers can drink on the job! And they can drink however much they want, but since everyone knows who is responsible for what part on what car, and each car gets put through hell before reaching our hands, I don’t have to tell you what happens when mistakes happen and/or are repeated!
·         Each car travels through the process with a small box attached to the bottom of the car that gives the robots/employees info about what needs to happen at each of their stations in terms of special/custom features etc.
·         The middle console including the radio, gps navigator, cup holders etc. consists of about 150 various pieces, and one person puts it all together in a matter of minutes! It’s  a Lego Land!
·         The car literally gets put through hell, consistent rain, downpour, bumps,ice,  you name it, it probably goes through it,  before it gets into our hands – I would NOT want to be the driver doing the testing in this one tiny room! I am guessing he doesn’t drink much beer on his job! J
·         All employees get asked once a year about their ideas on the overall process improvement/cost savings etc. Couple of years ago, an idea of one of the employees was implemented, which saved AUDI millions! The person was awarded a brand new AUDI of his choice as a sign of appreciation!
·         You can order your own car, travel to Audi, watch them make it, and then drive away in it!
·         Start saving your $$$$$$$$ now! J
And in the end, this is what you get! Apparently this is the up and coming most popular color on the market right now! Think chocolate! Yum!

Day 2:
I wasn’t going to let another day go by without moving, which meant an early am wakeup call! Ingolstadt isn’t exactly a very runner friendly town, and I really wanted to get in a good workout, and work up a great sweat rather then having to stop every 10 yards for lights, cars etc. Our hotel gym didn’t have a treadmill, but we found this!  24 hour McFit gym!  (pic. 39)

I wonder when McDonalds will start opening McFit’s in the U.S! It was more or so a planet fitness type setting, but what we didn’t know that no one works the front desk. We waited around for a bit, and since no one showed up, 3 of us “broke in” to McFit! I didn’t get up at 5:45 am to not get my run in! The rest of the day was spent in meetings, and ended with a quick trip to overpriced German outlet malls, another dinner out, and a few drinks! Come 2 am, I was finally back in bed – phew! What a looooooooong day! 
Day 3:
Another early morning wake up call! This time we decided to run outside! As I suspected, Ingolstadt really wasn’t runner friendly, and this run involved bunch of stopping and going due to traffic etc. , but it was better than nothing! More meetings followed, and in the pm was my flight from Munich to Prague! Czech Republic here I come!  To say that I was excited was an understatement!!!!!!! At this point, I have consumed more alcohol than I had in the past year, and I couldn’t wait to get home to see my family whom I haven’t seen in about 2.5 years! 
Overall, Germany was alright. Sales meeting went great, but  I wasn’t really a fan of Ingolstadt I really wouldn’t care to come back here except if it was to pick my custom made Audi! J


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