Frankfurt Airport – The German Experience

FrankfurtAirport

It seems the most difficult Schengen Visa to get is from the German one, all the others were more routine and less difficult with the paper work. I can understand if they wanted to clarify paperwork, but they out right refuse any bookings from a local travel agency, the whole process was annoying and if you just want to make a one or two week stop they just give you a one month or two month visa. Previously they used to give 3 to 5 year visas without an issue. If you get it from Italy or Spain they still do that and 3 years from the French Embassy and the French used to take the longest. At least the British have a normal two week process or a 45 KD VIP process which takes 3 to 5 days.

I have my Visa and took off with a one day trip to Frankfurt and the rest of the week in Amsterdam. Unluckily for us there were probably two planes that landed from China because the lines were insanely long and these people do not know how to que. A new line opened up which one lady went to who wasn’t European and so I tried my luck and so did a friend. The lady immigrations officer was thinking of letting us pass on the European line since there were no Europeans but the guy next to her told her to send him back and he sent me back to the insanely long line. We understand rules but there was no one there and the lines for Europe remained empty.

We got back in line and waited, the Chinese were getting stamped without any questions and I would say at least 80% of them didn’t speak a word of English. They didn’t even bother looking at their paper work. We thought at least the line will move quickly.

When it came to our turn, instead of taking 2 mins it took 20 mins. The guy wanted my confirmation booking in Frankfurt and in Amsterdam, and he wanted to see my ticket back to Kuwait. I told him I have the printed booking from Lufthansa that I already gave to him and my confirmations are on my phone. He looked at my phone and then shrugged, he asked me why I didn’t have a ticket with me, I told him no airline issues a ticket one week before the flight. He went through my passport twice and kept typing on the computer, I was done to his annoyance and my friend was still going through questioning. The Chinese guy behind me walked out 30 seconds after me.

That was a very strange experience, and I’m surprised that Germany is turning into this, since when I spoke to people about it they told me it isn’t an isolated incident.

Now as for when we were leaving my cousin wanted to do the tax refund as he had one item from Frankfurt and one item from Amsterdam. In Amsterdam the Customs people told us he would have to exit the European Union to get the customs stamp so in his case he would get it done in Germany. When we went to Germany they stamped all the things of the Chinese guy in line in front of us without asking a question or asking to see the items.

When my cousin step up he just had to invoices with the details filled out but he refuse to stamp the one from Amsterdam and we explained to him what we were told and he simply said it wasn’t his problem. Then he refused to stamp the other invoice and said he would get it done after immigrations, but then when we went inside they told us it was only Jewelery at the inside customs not a Tumi bag.

This was the strangest experience I have had at Frankfurt Airport, it seems they are getting a bit aggressive with arabs from what I can tell. In Frankfurt itself it was easy and an enjoyable trip for me even though I was just there for 24 hrs but this treatment at the airport was not expected.

I AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam1

Went to Amsterdam for about 5 days and 1 day in Frankfurt, had to go for a big technology conference called the IBC and its huge. We went from meeting to meeting over the five day period but still we made sure to enjoy the city when we can. We stayed at the Conservatorium Hotel and it was a beautiful hotel, a modern European hotel with a historic twist, and staff that were just amazing.

This is the second time I visit the city and I honestly fell in love with it. When crossing the road you have to watch out for people, bicycles, cars, scooters, motorcycles, and Trams. This city has an organized level of chaos going on but you can feel that there is a level of mutual respect that is why it works. I loved walking around the city, we would walk at least 10 to 15 km a day, and there are so many amazing restaurants to eat in. We had a lot of work to do so we didn’t have enough time to enjoy ourselves, so on my next European vacation this will be a spot I want to visit.

Amsterdam2

Vacation @ Home

There was one point in time where I was between jobs, so I had some time off and I took full advantage of it. I remember those days, I was getting a lot of work and errands done and meeting with a lot of people for potential work and yet having a lot of time to myself. I even remember riding during the week which was a lot of fun. That was a good time, but now it seems like a distant dream.

On The Back Burner

  • Major Gaming – Halo 4 & StarCraft 2
  • Playing the Games that are in still in their wrappers
  • Watching Anime
  • Cleaning Up My Office
  • Catching Up With Movies
  • Getting Some Computer Automation Done (Syncronization Details)
  • Take A Cooking Class

Personal time is a luxury that I don’t really have, even sleep these past few weeks hasn’t been at the top of the list so there are days where I just crash, I just shutdown, even an earthquake couldn’t wake me up (I have slept through an Earthquake while traveling recently). I have been thinking about taking time off work for about a week and then telling everyone I am out of town and then just get things done at home while enjoying every moment of free time, but that probably won’t be happening. I would like nothing better then to abuse the internet I have at home, on this vacation I wouldn’t want to leave the house if possible except for Riding and food.

On The Go

The last week has been hectic, I had to travel for work for a few days only to find that my emails and things in Kuwait piled up when I got back. But as usual when I’m in Dubai I take full advantage of what ever movies were playing but due to the lack of time I only managed to watch 3 of the 5 that I wanted to watch and one of them was sadly a waste of time.

The last few weeks were pretty good, I got into a rhythm of finishing work, and family events as well as getting the right amount of online time and slowly catching up with my RSS feeds. But just those few days of distortion totally messed up my routine, even the gym routine, I tried eating healthy but that wasn’t happening due to the amount of popcorn I was having.

Not blogging was annoying since I wanted to get as much done as possible, but even sitting at the computer was a luxury I didn’t have while on the go. Even when I managed to slightly catch up on my RSS feeds a few weeks back, that number shot up again because I didn’t have time to read through any of the feeds.

Lacking In Skill

iMovie

One of the things that I always wanted to learn is how to edit videos and put something decent together. I always admire quality video work and I always wonder how they did together and the team that put it together and the equipment. Sometimes I come to the realization that I should just try it, I planned so much and even thought about buying Final Cut Pro, I was really really wrong! I got a lot of equipment that I use for photography and I use a lot of it, and recently I had the courage to try to put together a video together from all the footage I had. I use my Canon 7D for all my video footage and Go Pros or Flips for tight spaces, I have a storyboard or image in mind, I can even describe how I want it to together but I do not have the technical skills to do it, I wanted to rectify that and gain those skills. Since this time around I thought to myself that I had no expectations and I had the right tools in mind to try it out easy with iMovie. I spent the first two hours trying to figure things out and then another out trying to figure out how to transition, I was going nuts, it was taking too long to do something my head thought it was too easy.

Bloggers That Have Made Amazing Videos:

I really need to take a few lessons from these guys! I respected the work they did and now I respect them even more, I have managed to make some headway but I’m going to take it easy and figure this out. It is very time consuming but the end result will be worth it once I get it all together and get the perfect clip. Hopefully I will keep learning and getting better footage and better ideas together. Right now I’m going to stick to the simpler editor before going to something more complex.

Amsterdam – A Short Visit

Just before GulfRun I had a quick business trip that came up and had to take off to Amsterdam for 42 hours, two longs meetings and heading back to Kuwait. Luckily we had some time to spend sight seeing and walking around, and the first thing you notice is that everyone is on scooters and bicycles in Amsterdam, they even have their own roads.

I was surprised how much they speed but being neighbors with Germany I should have kept it in mind, they were flying down the highways and our taxi was flying which I honestly enjoyed, they knew how to drive. One thing to keep in mind, always use official taxis and not the mini-cabs which are random cars just to be safe. We checked into our hotel which was very nice and luxurious, the rooms were a bit small but the atmosphere was amazing. We went walking right away since our meeting was the next morning in The Hague which is about 25 to 45 minutes away depending on traffic.

We started walking from 3 pm until 12 am, you literally can’t help but enjoy walking in such a cozy city. We kept walking from alley to alley and walking around these canals. To my surprise a lot of shops close early in Amsterdam, most of them close by 7 pm which is rather early so after that we would go somewhere to eat and there were a lot of very nice places to check out.

The flower section was amazing, it was honestly beautiful seeing so many kinds of flowers and I know that a lot of flower shops in Kuwait import their flowers from Holland which have huge flower farms and it is a beautiful view. Then there is the cheese and they do love their cheese, lots of cheese shops all around. The one thing that surprised me is all these french fries shops and mayo, thats all they sell and their are people waiting in long lines for them.

What I found surprising are the Dutch themselves, I just had a mental image that they would be the same as the Germans, but I was very wrong. The first time me and my colleague held out a map someone came over and ask if we were lost or looking for something. They really wanted to help us when we were just looking at the map to get our bearing and to figure out where we are going next. The whole city is beautiful and I honestly really liked it and thought about coming back again to really check it out. There were so many bicycles and scoots around it was ridiculous, they rang their bicycles bells and honk their scooters, and they expect you to jump out of the way, it was hilarious.

I knew that illegal substances were legal in Amsterdam but it was very different knowing it and seeing it, specifically smelling it. You can smell the Marijuana a mile away, you get a whiff of it every once in a while and sometimes in front of cages that you don’t expect, you would think they would be dingy places but they turned out to be very nice cafes with people smiling and blood shot eyes which looked hilarious. Then there were the stores they were right on the main street, I thought it was a jewelry shop only into turned out to be designer store which sold drugs, it was hilarious they had so many different names and presented in nice lighting.

It reached a point where I had to double check if I was buying a normal muffin or if it was laced with something, maybe just a little bit too paranoid but I didn’t want to eat something I shouldn’t. Then of course there is the red light district that you could see a mile away. They are open about their rules and regulations about where these places are, and you can see people walking around. As expected the Dutch don’t care too much for these entertainment drugs as much as people would think, its mostly tourists who are smoked up and chilling in the cafes.

It is a very interesting city and there is a lot to it that I didn’t have a chance to see, and I really loved their highways, people were speeding normally and the police weren’t harrassing them. Turns out in Holland the policy is very anti police, so they aren’t as abusive as police officers in the US who have a lot of power so people seem to be more relaxed around them and speed a little. And I want to rent a scooter next time around and zip around town.

(Check Out The Pictures Below! There are ALOT)
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2011

2011

A lot has happened the past year, and a lot to look forward to this coming year. 2010 was an interesting year with lots of ups and downs, like the end of 24 and Jack Bauer no longer will be a part of our daily lives. Then there was the release of the revolutionary iPad which really change things for the computer industry. The release of the Nexus in January and Android taking the mobile companies by storm. We still want faster internet at cheaper prices and good movies, I’m happy that I am fully taking advantage of riding this season and will continue to ride. Hopefully everyone has had a great 2010 and a fantastic 2011 to look forward to.

Production I.G. Studio – Anime Office

I always wonder what an Anime production company’s office looks like and this time there is a look into Production I.G. Thankfully Danny Choo has gone into this Anime Company and taken a look at their offices and how they work. Production I.G. have made some well known anime and one of my favorite being Sengoku Basra, and they are currently making Sengoku Basra 2 which I am very much looking forward to watching as soon as its out. I always thought that it would be very cool to work in an Anime Studio

They are also responsible for one of the greatest anime movies of all time, Ghost In the Shell! I even remember watching it on a Manga Video when I bought it from Tower Records in Whiteleyes in Bays Water, London. That used to be my main source for videos back in the early 90s, I would walk to the basement and pile up some videos from the anime section. They even have their own cafeteria so I’m assuming the company is doing pretty well. I wish they would sell some of those art cels, I would buy them in a heartbeat, they would be very cool on a wall, I have seen one restaurant with anime cels and I wish I could take them off the wall.

Link: Culture Japan


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Bouncing Around

The last few weeks have been insane! I just can’t believe how meetings I have been to and how long some of them take, and I had to fly to Dubai out of the blue for an urgent meeting, I took the night flight instead of the 7 am flight, it would cut too close to my meeting and any delays would have been a huge problem. I really didn’t feel like taking off since I had too much on my plate already, I wished I could have cloned myself to manage everything that I had to do. Sleeping isn’t an option these days and writing reports, visiting family and getting some personal work done, all before a Eid trip. I honestly felt like I have been running for the past few weeks with very little breathing room but I love when I get work done, and I know I keep saying this but there isn’t enough time in the day. And this weather is just amazing, I hope it continues to be this good until at least April but thats probably hoping for too much.

At one point in Dubai Airport I fell asleep at the Gate and the Wataniya Airways staff woke me up to board the plane back to Kuwait. I was one of the first people there but the last to board. I was so exhausted by the end of the day that I passed out. It was a choice between being hungry and being sleepy, I couldn’t even wait for food, I passed out before take off and I leaned my chair back not caring that we haven’t even moved from the gate yet. I’m hoping to catch up with some rest in the next few days!

One recommendation, if you have lots of work in Dubai and want to check out late I recommend that you stay at The Address Club Rooms or Suites. They have an excellent policy of your check out time being the same as your check in time. So I came in at night around 11 pm then my check out is 11 pm the next day. So I had meetings from 9 am until about 3:30 pm, I went back to my room and napped for about 30 minutes before taking my time to check out which is fantastic. The normal room is 114 KD but the Club Room was 154 KD, but I would have paid for half a day which would cost an extra 70 KD because they charge half the normal rack rate, so overall its much better to get the Club Room if you need to check out late. I for one don’t like packing up and leaving early from the hotel and going to meetings and dragging my carry on with me, even if I’m going to walk around the mall.

Swamped

KuwaitWeather

You never know where the time goes, there should be a more hours in the day to do things. I think I got a combined 8 hours of sleep in the last four days and haven’t sat still for the past three days. I have been up at 6 am every day and passing out by 1 or 2 am in the morning. This has been a fun and productive weekend and I got a lot of work done and got to see family which was great, I wanted to spend some time doing nothing but that didn’t seem to be on the menu. Friday morning I had a ridiculous amount of fun riding the Ducati hard in the early hours of the morning and their were more then 250+ motorcycles on the road and a majority of them were at Arjan complex in Bida’a in the morning. After that I had a ton of work to do, and I still managed to meet up with family, had to deal with some unexpected events but it was a good weekend. Still I do wish I had some time to chill in front of the computer and do almost nothing but read up, every time I finish some articles on GoogleReader they pile back up again since I miss a few days of online surfing. I think one of the factors keeping me away from indoor activities is the AMAZING weather we have been having, I think it is the best weather I have seen in a long time, it wasn’t like this last year, and I want to take advantage of it, I keep driving with my windows open, I even sat outside with my laptop and a nice cold glass of lemonade. I’m loving this weather, just wish there was more time in the day to enjoy it!

Link: Flickr