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You heard it too, didn't you?  The voice of the wind.Demon Eyes Kyo (Oni Mi No Kyo)
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Saturday, October 20 2007, 05:48PM

Company trip to Milan!!

Thursday, last week, there was a company trip Liones hosted that I attended (lasting three full days) that had been announced via countless e-mails and word-of-mouth.
The location as to where we'd go, however, had been kept a strict secret and undisclosed until the very last moment of departure.

Everyone (21 employees including staff) got together at 5PM sharp on that Thursday, bags packed and everything, and after having been kept in further suspense for about fifteen more minutes, we were given our directions as to where we'd go.
The note given revealed the location to be a hefty 200 meters from the building!
Dreading the long time on the road, we reluctantly got into the cars and started this treacherous journey into the void, arriving at our destination no less than 3 minutes after departing!! :o
It was to everyone's surprise to be at a very ancient place filled with mystiques of the orient: a Chinese restaurant!

Of course, this was just the very beginning of the trip. :P

It had been tossed around that the actual place we'd head to would be in a 200 kilometer radius surrounding The Netherlands, so we knew it would be a long trip getting there and we speculating all sorts of destinations (for instance: Denmark, London, even Finland and Sweden — even though those were outside the given radius.. but in saying that, there had been rumors that "200 kilometers" itself was a lie.. so who knew?  Let alone the fact every e-mail was signed off in a different greet from a different language, inciting more speculation).

Anyway, needless to say, we ate a very nice meal at the restaurant before being given the location of our true destination: a hotel in Belgium (seemingly in the middle of nowhere).

After dinner, Michel inputted the destination into his navigation system and we were off (we had sort of a bet as to who'd be to arrive there first).
We stopped twice: once in The Netherlands to get some snacks and use the restrooms and once in Belgium to get cigarettes.
It took us a couple of hours to get there (I don't recall how many exactly, could have been around three hours) but after arriving at the destination we came to the discovery that we were the first ones to arrive! :P
What was also of note was that while nearing the destination, we saw some road signs telling passing vehicles the way to the nearby airport.. this only added to the speculations and thinking about it made sense of a lot of things that had been told to us, like needing to get up the next day at 5 in the morning and only having our bags in one bag (preferably a suitcase).
We were certain this would be the reason we headed to Belgium as it makes sense (it's cheaper, thus better affordable, to fly from certain airports).

When the others arrived and we were complete, we were told that one of the organizers was baffled that no one had seemingly gotten it because he still heard speculations as to where we'd go (by car, down south in France or Spain perhaps) to which I quietly but noticeably reacted with airport! to which he responded with Exactly., going on to tell us that we'd need to get sleep now because we had to check in the next day at 5AM (still not revealing our true destination!).
Anxiously we headed off to our rooms for the night to get ourselves some shut-eye (I was put in a room with Michel — they told us that because we were such good friends, they gave us the room with a single bed for two people.. thank God that was just a joke as it was actually two single beds stuck together. :P  Needless to say, we quickly separated those two beds).

Getting to sleep was a real challenge for me but even more of a challenge was getting up at 4:30AM!
We quickly assembled and headed off for the airport and checked in where we were handed our tickets to.. Milan!!!!
Never had I thought Milan would be a real option but how excited I was just to get to be in Italy! :D

We boarded the plane and landed in Milan just one and a half hour later!
With a serious case of jet-lag (I'm kidding :P) we got our baggage and got onto the bus that was going to take us into the city.

After arriving in the city we immediately headed for our hotel there to store our baggages so we could go explore the city (we didn't check in, we only placed our baggage there).
We were told that they tried to set us up with scooters but were unable to get enough scooters for everyone so they had arranged bicycles for us all; all we had to do was go into the city to pick them up.
So on we went, stopping once by a small place for a quick cup of coffee and some breakfast, enabling me to quickly boast with my extensive grasp over the Italian language :P (in all honesty, I don't know many words outside of daily life, enabling me to just get by).
After breakfast, we arrived at the store to get the bicycles but there was a bit of trouble acquiring them, where I was put in the position of being the interpreter.
The problem was that we didn't finalize the deal resulting in the owner of the store to not have our bikes ready.
In order to get the bikes ready he needed 30 minutes, so we waited in the bar next door where we got some coffee.

When we finally got our bikes we headed off to the park called Parco Sempione in which lay a castle called Castello Sforzesco.
Getting there proved to be challenging to say the least.
As a colleague so aptly stated in his weblog entry: the rules of traffic didn't seem to apply when Liones traveled through Milan. :P
We didn't get there undamaged, however, as one of the employees was hit with a stroke of bad luck: a flat tire, resulting in the need for a repair shop or tools to fix it.
After asking some people, we came to find out that there was a store nearby, so we fixed the problem without taking too much time.

The castle itself was really something: very impressively put together and a real cool sight.
We took a company photo in front of a big fountain which I may link to later, if allowed to do so (I'll modify this entry for that — something I normally don't do — so keep this entry in check :P).

We then headed off through the city in search of a cathedral, or I should say: the cathedral; the Duomo.
The Duomo is such a magnificent building.. absolutely stunning, to say the least!
I took many pictures with my phone in hopes of capturing anything of its excellence but the results didn't capture anything worth showing here.

After having seen the cathedral, it was time to head back to the hotel.

The Hotel was a three-stars hotel and it was a very nice hotel to stay in.
The best part was that some of us (including me) got their own individual rooms! :D

After taking a shower and freshening up we assembled for dinner.
We headed off to the nearby subway to take us into the city, stopping at an apperativo bar before going to the restaurant where we had reservations.
The restaurant we went to was a very nice place, we had a four-course meal which was absolutely delicious!
There were a lot of laughs, a lot of drinking (wine, obviously :P) and we all had a nice time. :)

The night was young and after dinner some of us (group of about 10) decided we'd want to go out clubbing.
Before that, though, some felt it necessary to go to a bar first to get some drinks and possibly just remain there.
As time passed, I made it clear that I wanted to go clubbing (I don't like bars much) so I told Michel and we mentioned it to the group (we were all getting to be a bit drunk too, including myself).
It was then decided to search for a nice club to go to and our boss (who shall remain nameless due to privacy reasons.. bla, you know how it is :P) went up to some girls asking for directions.
I accompanied him (thinking I might be needed if they didn't speak English — which they did, as we were to find out) and we discovered there were a lot of places to go to within a small area not too far from where we were.
The Boss arranged some taxi's to come pick us up (some felt ill or didn't want to come with us so they went back to the hotel) and just a few of us, I believe we were a six or seven man group by now, ventured on to the clubs!

We got there at about 2 AM (I knew this because at 2 AM, bars across Italy are forbidden to serve alcohol.. and we were thirsty :P) and after managing to get a single alcoholic drink, we went into a seemingly very interesting club: Discoteca Hollywood.
I won't describe everything that went on in there but we danced a lot, had fun, etc. :P
We left the place at 5 AM and needless to say, I slept like a rock. :P

The next day we had breakfast at a bar somewhere in the city and we split up in two groups.
One group wanted to go to the burial grounds (which was noted for having nice sculptures and decorative tombs, etc.) and the other (including me) went into the city again, just to check the stores and maybe buy some clothes, etc (I ended up not buying anything :P).
In all, we didn't really do much noteworthy: I got to eat Granita  and we ate a pizza for dinner (couldn't resist :P).

We went back to the hotel later in the day to check out (two of our bikes got stolen in front of it —not mine :P— which needed to be resolved: we needed to pay for them) and after going by a local supermarket to buy my favourite of all cheeses (Galbanino) we left off for the airport again.

We landed back in Belgium at 10:50PM and left for home.
I eventually got back home at around midnight.

The story has been cut short near the end because it grew to be a huge weblog entry but make no mistake about it: this has been the best company trip I've witnessed and been part of and I don't think it'll get beaten by future trips easily (although I have some hopes :P)!
I want to thank the managers for such a cool destination and I want to thank the Boss for paying for it all: I never thought it'd be so elaborate as it turned out and I sure had the best time! :D


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