So, last week I was afforded an amazing opportunity to travel to our IBM office in Hursley, United Kingdom. About 60 miles outside of London, and just a few miles from Winchester, I spend the week meeting with people I’ve worked with for 10+ years that I’ve never met in person, and doing some detailed study on VMware testing. This was an absolutely amazing opportunity to meet with some great minds, and I’m glad I was able to take advantage of it! I learned a ton, and forged some new relationships with some gifted colleagues.
My main goal, as I’ve said, was to meet with the folks at IBM Hursley. This is the entrance to their site:
You’ll notice off the bat that it’s green there…very green! England as a whole is super pretty, but for some reason, I found the Winchester/Hursley area to be particularly beautiful. Perhaps part of the reason was because it rained most every day!
The IBM site has a rich history, having been bought in 1963, but having been used for development efforts since 1958. The main attraction on the site is the Hursley House, which has a long history of things like being a hospital and Spitfire production site. Here’s a look at it from the front:
Here’s a shot of the back of the Hursley House:
The house is currently used as an Executive Briefing Center, but there’s also a very cool Hursley Museum, with some vintage IBM stuff in in it, as well as a cool library that they’ve restored. If, in this picture, you were to turn around, you’d see their cricket field, along with the IBM Club house (had lunch there…awesome!). The Hursley IBM site is simply magnificent. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to visit.
While doing my work in Hursley, I stayed in nearby Winchester, home to, among other things, the Winchester Cathedral (which was about 200 feet from my hotel). Here are a couple of night shots:
This church, or perhaps some other nearby ones, has bells ringing literally every 15 minutes. Yep, even at 3AM, as I found out one day! But you simply cannot beat the ambiance of having a major cathedral right next to your hotel!
I can’t say enough about Winchester as a city to visit. It’s about as European as you can get, the people are nice, the food is good, and it’s rich in history and scenery. Like this:
This the the River Itchen, which runs though town. I love how the buildings go right down to the water. There’s an old mill upstream, and downstream you seem some ruins of old Roman activity in the area. There’s a nice walk along the river as well. Super beautiful place.
I’ve resolved someday to go back there with Michelle. I found a garden, called the Abby Garden, that is just amazing – tranquil with a great view. I sat on bench there…deemed it “our bench,” and vowed to sit there with Michelle someday. It WILL happen!
So, here’s where things get interesting. Given that I was already “all the way over there,” I decided to take a few days and visit my half-brother (on my dad’s side), Paul. He lives in Barcelona, Spain! I’d never been there before, and the flights from London to Barcelona were cheap (in addition to it being cheaper for IBM to fly me home from Barcelona than London). So, I decided to spend the weekend with Paul, and, boy, am I glad I did!
I can’t say enough about Barcelona. It’s an amazing city with amazing architecture, good food (even a ton of gluten free stuff), and nice people. There’s literally nothing I don’t like about that city! So, let me show you a few things we did:
This is me, on the left, with Paul, in the center, and his partner Toni, on the right. Paul was gracious enough to let me stay at his apartment, and both he and Toni took many hours of their day to show me around the city they love. Paul has been living there for over 20 years, and I can see why. He is the owner of Barcelona Virtual, an internet marketing company. You really should check them out! And, yes, I do own a selfie stick!
We saw so many things that I can’t put all the pictures here. But we did see the Arc de Triumf, which was very cool:
This scene is typical of many of their streets. They cater very heavily to pedestrians and cyclists, and it seems to work out well. In addition, all their streets have great foliage and are very clean.
Next we have the facade on the Hotel Gaudí, who is one of Barcelona’s famous citizens. I really like how the balconies look like opera masks!
Of course, no visit to Barcelona would be complete without taking in Sagrada Familia, which is another Gaudí work. Here it is in the Barcelona skyline, on the right:
Those colors are from sunlight streaming through some stained glass windows. There’s no real way to describe how warm and inviting these colors are…it’s something that truly has to be experienced. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen light like this before.
Here’s a panorama of Sagrada Familia:
I also have an interactive way to experience the cathedral here.
We did a LOT of great walking the city. On evening we spent some time in the Plaça d’Espanya area, which includes Font Màgica de Montjuïc, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and the Estadi Olímpic de Montjuic Lluís Companys, which is the Olympic Stadium. Here’s what the art museum looks like from down near the fountain:
The scale and grandness of the architecture in Barcelona is staggering. It’s huge, super detailed, and just shows a sense of pride that you don’t see in many other areas. Crazy big pretty much sums it up!
I could go on and on with pictures of this trip, and I’ll be putting more in a Google+ or Facebook album coming soon. But I’ll end the pictures with this one…a full moon on the Mediterranean at Port Olímpic:
I truly feel blessed to have been able to take this trip. From meeting my colleagues in Hursley, to walking the streets my brother so loves, often praying along the way, and not once having to worry about where the bathroom was…it was truly a great week!