My life: work, fun and then some...

Friday, August 25, 2006


Monday, August 21, 2006

Back from Africa and still alive

You might laugh, but I have never gone through such an ordeal. Africa was fun, but with delayed flights, lost luggage, a bus breaking down in the middle of nowhere, not really so much fun...

This note is just to report that I am back, alive and even though having to deal with way too many problems here in the UK, still trying to stay positive. I'll get into more details later this week (most likely - during the week-end). At least I don't have malaria. Well, I'll know for sure in 4 weeks, and given that I was forced to stay off the pills for 3 days and was bitten by many mossies during these 3 days, I am kinda worried. But anyway - like I said - I am trying to stay positive. More - in a few days...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

And finally... California update

Fine, fine. I know it's been almost 2 weeks since I came back, but life's been busy too, I had to take care of my flat situation (got a beautiful 1bd flat in Earl's Court, with a huge, and I mean HUGE patio, which is not a common thing in London).

Anyway, to the point, all right. Here is a photo-update from my last visit to California. Just so you know - it was a business trip, even though these pictures might give you just the opposite feeling. Well, I still don't have the pics from the company event - sailing competition on the San Francisco Bay. I'll bug my workmate and as soon as I get them, I'll post them here too.


The flight was 3 hours late. Rushing to a rental office and hitting the 101 north to check into my hotel. Traffic is a nightmare (I wasn't really expecting anything else). Quick shopping in a local outlet (yes, you got it right - quick shopping), shower and let's party in the city. An absolutely delicious dinner at Balboa Sushi House, accompanied by a bottle of sake and we're on the track. 2 pubs on Clement St (my favourite The Dog's Bollix and The Bitter End), 3 beers. I am driving. Time for some real fun - North Beach. Incredibly lucky with parking... 2 pics below were taken with my Nokia, so forgive poor quality.

North Beach by night. Great Friday hang-out area in San Francisco.

Got munchies? Chicken. North Beach.

All events that took place after I parked the car seem quite blurry. We went to a few clubs, had another few drinks, then around 1:30am hit the local "grocery" store and continued partying at Marcin's house. I think (and that thought is based on what I found on the table next morning), that we drank warm vodka with Coke and / or Mango juice. Thanks god I remembered to buy a couple of Redbulls for the next morning.

Next morning. All 3 of us. The blanket is pink and very old-school.


"Early" in the morning we take off to Sonoma for a wine-tasting-tour. Done that dozens of times and will do it again. The lead-song for today (and as we later found out - for my whole California visit) - "Loving you", mixed by my friend Jon. Here is a photo-story.

Just about to get there. Beautiful weather, beautiful everything.

Hop Kiln winery. Wine tasting, lunch (cheese, grapes, baguettes, incredible Pinot Noir vinaigrette) and wine drinking. And ducks of course, as we had lunch by the pond.

Apparently, we got a little tipsy after 2 bottles of the Big Red, but we had to move forward. Me driving again, Tomek and Marcin fighting. Actually, water-fighting. Actually, all of us.

Marcin after the "water-fight".

And we're good friends again. I was lucky to be driving - didn't get wet at all!

Belvedere Winery was next on our list. Again, wine tasting and loads of fun.

Alcohol - your enemy.

Let's try to look normal, for once...

So, we leave Belvedere even tipsier and the last winery is Ferrari-Carano. We won't be drinking there, just have a look at their beautiful garden and enjoy the scenery. Meanwhile...

Need some rest?

Cooling system. Marcin, you should definitely file a patent on that!

Ferrari-Carano gardens. And Marcin's idea of an unusual shot.

Marcin. Somewhat tired.

Tomek. He is hoping to have this pic printed in the HBS-guide-book. Good luck ;-)

Me. Not hoping for anything, just admiring flowers.

And Tomek again. You better make sure this one doesn't end up in the guide-book!

This was on the restroom door. Restrooms were located next to the wine-cellar. Phew...

So, enough of wine-tasting. Time to get home, park the car and start real partying. Had I known how far from that I was. So, we hit the 101 south, trying to get back to Mill Valley (my hotel), stop by for a dinner in San Francisco and continue southbound to Palo Alto / Stanford.

About 6 miles before our first stop however... Anyway, I was driving, rather sober by now (and completely sober by California standards). The traffic was slowing down, so I started to slow down as well. Then I could see about half a mile ahead, it was actually stopping. I prepared to stop and when the car in front of me stopped, so did I. The distance between my car and the car in front of me was about 2 meters. Thanks god, otherwise we could've gotten in to real troubles.

So, I stopped, and quickly looked into my back mirror, to see what was going on behind me. A rapid thought "please, no!" and then a rather powerful hit.

This is the story. And what happened? Well, two white-trash chicks (kids actually) were not focused enough (we'd seen them a few minutes earlier, they were completely crazy in their Mustang - loud music, dancing...) and hit our car. Like I said - thanks god I was 2 meters behind the next car. And thanks god we took a rental, not Marcin's or Tomek's car, because even though you couldn't tell anything by the way it looked, it just wouldn't start.

Anyway, CHP officers arrived, standard blah-blah-blah ("Daga, did you drink anything today?" - "No") and about an hour later we were free to go. Except - I didn't have a car, Marcin's car was in my hotel parking lot and Tomek's car was in San Francisco. To make a long story short - about 2 hours later I was driving down to Palo Alto (scared I would be hit by any car behind me, that fear actually didn't go away till the end of my visit), in a new rental and everything was just fine.

I took us over an hour to find a Safeway in Palo Alto, but we eventually got back home.

Very late dinner. Junk food, but we would eat just about anything.

We ended that day watching Borat and Bruno. That was a real "wa-wa-wee-waa!"


Woke up rather late. Bought a tennis racket at Sport's Authority and a few things from outlets. Met up with Iris for magaritas in Tiburon. Went to bed early.


Woke up early, drove to my office, met with my team. Then took off to exchange GBP into $$$ (you won't believe how hard it is to find a venue that will actually do that), take care of my stolen California Driving License (love these queues at DMV) and do some shopping. Then back to the hotel to officially start the conference. Finished the day with 3 workmates, playing pool and sorting out some career issues within my company.


The day started with a few hours in the conference room and we took off to Sausalito about 12:00pm. This is the company sailing day, don't' have pics yet. We all got completely pissed during the company dinner.


Semi-annual sales & marketing conference. Leaving for San Diego tomorrow. Checked out of the hotel and drove down to Palo Alto / Stanford to Marcin's place. Wine and more Borat. Loads of fun.


Not exactly. Strange string of events, but I eventually had to give up the trip to San Diego. I am sorry Jon, I just couldn't make it. Knowing that I went shopping. All day. Spent way too much money. Tennis with Tomek in the afternoon, more Borat and Ali G along with assembling Marcin's furniture from IKEA till 3am.


All day in sun. Mmm... Tennis in the afternoon and too many cuba-libras in Palo Alto with Tomek. Oh, did I mention Borat and Bruno?


Right. So we leave early, as we've got many things to see today. Santa Cruz (the absolute heaven for surfers, so I hear) was first on the list. So much fun with Tomek, chasing kids and fat chicks and making the most idiotic movie ever, which is absolutely funny too, but problem is - funny only for me and Tomek (yes, we did check that, nobody laughed).

Santa Cruz. Me. Beach.

Santa Cruz. Me. Pacific Ocean.

And me again...

Me, and the Boardwalk behind.

Mystery Spot was next. That's "a place where you will be baffled as the laws of physic and gravity do not apply". I've been to Mystery before and that's just outside Santa Cruz, but somehow I had troubles finding the way. You're right Tomek, the very sophisticated way I was asking for directions was not a good idea.

Mystery Spot. I am trying to stand up straight...

This is not a Photoshop cut. It's weird, but gravity was obviously making fun of us.

Being rather confused after that, we rushed off to Monterey to make it to the Bay Aquarium before it closed. The jelly fish were spectacular.

Me and the jellies.

Great for a desktop wall-paper... And they were REAL!

A lovely town of Carmel-By-The-Sea was our last stop. A beautiful sunset, going completely nuts on the beach and a beach-sand-artist with no business strategy.

Aliens strike back.

Me. And gorgeous Pacific Ocean.

Me. Going crazy.

Me. Even more insane.

Me... That's actually quite a nice picture.

Anyway, time to go back home to have the last party before I take off tomorrow. Literally 10 miles from home we had another car problem. Whether it was the cooling system or just the AC liquid - we won't know. Either way - we arrived home and I got the car towed. Won't need it anyway, will save some time tomorrow (won't have to go to the rental office to return it) and the gas-tank is almost empty, so we saved about 35 bucks. Time to party and watch more Borat...


Beach. First thing in the morning. Then shower and almost late to SFO. I did make it, though for a moment I had a very tempting thought to ignore the plane. 11 hours later I was back in London...

So this is it. What's worth noticing - I absolutely had no jet-lag in California. It was like a switch. It did kill me when I came back to London.

Anyway - like I said - I'll post the photos from our sailing adventure when I have them. Meanwhile, I need to get ready to moving out and moving into a new flat, I'm going to Africa on Friday and there is also work between all that, so it might take a while till I post another note....

Oh, and this is the result of 2 adult, educated and smart people spending the whole day driving from place to place. We are educated and smart, right Tomek?

Rubbish - part 1.

Rubbish - part 2.