Some more European adventures

Last week I spent in Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.

The purpose of my trip was a work conference: SQL Server 2012 & SharePoint Connections in Berchtesgaden, Germany. The conference was interesting, though there were far less attendees than I expected. I was nervous about my first keynote and spoke a lot faster than I should have. I felt very confident about my message and delivery – I spoke about why I’m excited to be in the SQL Server space right now – but finished about 15 minutes faster than my rehearsals.

It was a beautiful city with a very rich history. We had time before and after the conference to do a little local sightseeing, but sadly the Eagle’s Nest was still closed for the winter. Even though we had unseasonably warm weather, the only way up is by a bus road, and it was still packed with snow and ice. And the best cable car, up Jennerbahn, closed about 15 minutes before we got to Lake Konigsee on our last day. We did get to go up a different cable car where we got to take a few pictures of a fantastic view of the town. The river that goes through there runs extremely – and almost unbelievably – clear. See the pictures I took in Berchtesgaden: Part 1 / Part 2.

Everything is so close, you can see a lot in a short time. On Thursday morning I caught a ride with Klaus Aschenbrenner and his family to Salzburg, Austria, which took all of 40 minutes. I spent three hours walking around Salzburg, taking pictures of some fantastic buildings and what I thought were scenes from The Sound of Music (apparently I went to the wrong abbey). Then I hopped on a train to Ljubljana, Slovenia, which took a couple of hours. On the way out of Salzburg I saw a house near Dorfgastein that was flying a huge Canadian flag. I was not quick enough to get a picture, but there are others here.

In Ljubljana, I met up with fellow MVP Mladen Prajdic, who was a very gracious host, even though he made me eat horse. Which was good, by the way, but I’ll probably feel eternally guilty about it nonetheless. Had a great time in Ljubljana, with some photographic evidence here.

On Friday I decided to go to Zagreb, Croatia, a 2 hour train ride away, where MVP Marko Culo met me at the train station and showed me around the town. Everyone was very hospitable. I was only there for a short time but felt like I got a very thorough guide through the old part of town. I posted a handful of pictures of this city as well.

I was back in Ljubljana in time to go up to the castle, have a beer, then meet Mladen for Turkish dinner, then ice cream, and then absinthe cocktails. Saturday morning Mladen and I met and walked around Ljubljana some more, had real hot chocolate, bought some local foods to bring back home, and had a great Mexican lunch at Cantina before I had to hop back on a train.

The scenery on the 6-hour train ride back to Munich was phenomenal. They just don’t make towns like that over here. For one stretch between Spittal and Mallnitz the train tracks carve a path half way up a mountain for several miles, providing excellent views of several towns nestled in the valley hundreds of feet below. And of course the peaks of the Alps across and miles away. I’m not even going to bother posting crappy iPhone pictures complete with train glass reflection because it would be unfair to betray the region’s beauty. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Sat across from Dianne Pawlowski’s German doppelgänger (how ironic!); you’ll also just have to believe me on that one too, because I’m not creepy enough to take someone’s picture like that.

I got to Munich at 10 PM, time enough to have a beer and pass out. Sunday morning I had 20 minutes to walk over to one pedestrian area near the train station and take a few pictures before we headed to the airport. Then I sat on a plane for 9 hours, and you’re all caught up!