Monthly Archives: April 2015

Potsdam, Germany

Neues Palais (New Palace)

What a week it’s been! Meeting new people from our other offices, walking tours, conference meetings and lots of food were all a part of the itinerary.

We flew into the Berlin – Tegel Airport and then made our way to Potsdam. Our accommodations were at the Dorint Hotel Sanssouci Potsdam and it was huge! There were several dining rooms, restaurants and quite a few amenities. It was a very comfortable stay.  The breakfast buffet was delicious with lots of options.

I was very glad to have stayed in Potsdam instead of Berlin because the pace of life was slower and more peaceful. During the day we did walking tours around the city and it’s beautiful. The architecture of buildings with the vast amounts of green space gave me a sense of relaxation. It was very inviting to go for a walk and just explore. We walked through the Sanssouci Royal Park and saw an array of buildings and palaces. The Sanssouci Palace is on top of the hill, overlooking vineyards and fruit trees. It was former summer palace of Frederik the Great, King of Prussia. Our guide explained that there weren’t any female servants or guests, making it the ultimate “man cave” in my opinion.

How could you not love this place with sights like this?


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5 Packing Tips for Business Travel

I have spent this weekend fretting over what to pack for my upcoming business trip to Berlin/Potsdam, Germany. This will be my first time travelling for work and it’s been a challenge trying to figure out what to pack because I usually backpack everywhere and it doesn’t matter how I look. However, I got the itinerary for my trip and it’s consisting of: lots of walking/hiking, conferences, walking property tours, an opera show and fancy dinners. How do I not pack my entire closet for this? Well, after talking to some colleagues and doing some research, I’ve come up with the following five tips on how to best pack for a business trip:

  1. Plan your outfits! If you have the itinerary ahead of time, you know what you’ll be doing so you can plan ahead. Depending on the length of your trip, you can usually wear the same bottoms a couple of times. A blazer can dress up a pair of jeans for casual dinners while it can be worn with dress pants for the more formal occasions. Take notes/photos of your outfits.
  2. Check the weather. Look at the forecast for the days you’re there and it can help you decide if you really need that parka or a light rain jacket will do. Potsdam is going to be 15-20C so I’ve decided not to pack my fleece layer because it’s going to be too warm and just taking up space.
  3. Bring the essentials. If you have a specific shampoo/conditioner that you absolutely swear by, then pack it. If that’s not the case, the hotel you’re staying at will probably provide the basic toiletries. This goes the same for clothing – if you can live without it for a week, you don’t need to bring it with you.
  4. Electronics. Nowadays, we travel with a phone, laptop, tablet, camera, etc. and have all the accompanying cords for it. I ask, why not just bring what you need? Depending on what you’re doing on your business trip, a laptop might be necessary but that means you don’t need to bring a tablet. If your phone has a camera, then leave the camera at home. Also, don’t forget to bring the appropriate adapters/converters for your gadgets.  If you’re going to Europe, I found this article to be very helpful on what adapters/converters to bring.
  5. Footwear. This can be a tricky one because as a women, we have a lot of choices. This goes hand in hand with which outfits to wear as well as what is the most comfortable. For my trip, I’m bringing a pair of running shoes, flats, heels, and flip flops. This covers all my needs for each activity/dinner.

At the end of the day, remember you are going for business so you’re not gone for too long. Plus, with all the extra room in your suitcase, you can fill it up with souvenirs 🙂 Happy packing!


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Donating Blood

Donating blood has always been on my to do list but I never really took the time to research it or actually do it. My first blood donation was last November when I tagged along with my BF when he went for his second donation. As the Canadian Blood Services slogan says, “It’s in you to give” so why not?

I’m trying to keep up with it but I got rejected last time because my hemoglobin levels were too low to donate so I was really glad that I was able to donate this time. The goal is to go every two-three months. The BF and I are trying to coordinate times so we can go together.

It’s my way of trying to volunteer on a consistent basis. The entire process takes about an hour and you can donate blood every two months or so. There are other options as well, platelets or plasma donations are also done at the clinics and there is a separate guideline for those donations.

There are four steps to the blood donation (taken from the CBS website):

  1. Registration. All donors are required to register with Canadian Blood Services by providing proof of identity with your full name and signature such as a donor card or full name and photograph such as a valid driver’s license.
  2. Screening. Screening ensures both your safety when giving blood, and also protects patients from transmissible disease. It involves physical tests and answering questions on general health, travel history and high-risk activities, consistent with the guidelines of Health Canada’s Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate.
  3. Donation. When you are taken into the donation area, your arm is swabbed with a disinfecting agent to ensure the needle site is sterile. A new, sterile needle is used for every donation and used needles are safely disposed. When your blood is drawn, a portion is kept for testing, and about 450 ml is collected for transfusion. While your blood is being drawn, staff monitors you and your progress to make sure you continue to feel well and there are no concerns. After the needle is removed, sterile gauze is applied to cover the puncture site.
  4. Recovery. Once you have finished donating blood, the clinic staff is there to ensure you are feeling alright. There’s a short recovery time, about 5 minutes, during which they monitor you to make sure you have no adverse reaction to donating. Then you’ll be shown to the refreshment area and given food and beverages to boost your blood sugar level (there are cookies and juice!!). When you leave the clinic for the rest of the day, drink plenty of fluids such as water or juice (avoid alcoholic beverages), avoid strenuous activity for 6 to 8 hours.

And that’s it!

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Euro Trip Reflection

Happy Easter everyone! I’m very glad it’s a long weekend because I’m finally sitting down to catch up on my blog and have some relaxation time.

I’ve been wanting to create a map of all the places I went to in Europe and finally did that today. Now that I see it all in one picture – it’s a bit overwhelming to think that we visited over 30 cities in 13 countries in only nine weeks!

Euro trip places

List of Europe destinations from my trip

I remember this time last year, I had just resigned from my job and was still planning for our Euro trip. How quickly a year goes by. Looking back on things, I’m really glad I took that leap of faith and made my dreams for travelling a reality. It was a very hard and scary decision to make since I would be going into the unknown. Questions like these popped into my head constantly:

  • What if I ran out of money while on the road?
  • What if something happened to me and I got sick and couldn’t come go home?
  •  What if something happened at home and I had to cut my trip short?
  • What if I got in a fight with L? How would I handle travelling with her for the rest of the trip?

The “what if” questions kept of going and at some point, I realized I was asking myself the wrong questions because we had planned for the unexpected as much as we could. Money was budgeted and there was an emergency fund. We had gotten travel insurance for any medical emergencies and travel interruptions. We knew where we were staying and had gotten directions and maps ahead of time.

The planning took away a lot of the scary unknowns and I began to get more excited because I could start asking questions like:

  • What are we going to see in each city?
  • Who I’m going to meet in hostels?
  • What are my friends’ addresses? I want to send them a postcard!

I am very grateful to have had a travel buddy. It made doing everything and going to different places a lot more fun – whether we had gotten lost or we found some delicious local food. There was always someone to share the experience with.

From the places we visited to the people I had met, it was a very memorable trip and I can’t wait to go back to Europe in just over a week (even if it’s just for work).

What has been your most memorable trip? Let me know in the comments section.

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