Wow, I'm not even sure where to begin. Suppose for starters, I extended my trip by 5 days and thus, I finally returned to SF today. The total trip looked something like this:
New York City -> Berlin -> Dresden -> Prague -> Augsburg -> Munich (day trips to: Neuschwanstein Castle & Salzburg)
Couple tidbits about my trip. First, the Forte Conference in NYC was amazing. My Thursday evening commenced with a UVA dinner at which I met a number of 2010 admits. I was impressed to see so much involvement from my fellow classmates - those both at Darden and in the general MBA class of 2010. Ironically, I met a fellow blogger - we happened to sit at the same lunch table. The seminars and information provided by general speakers were very useful. The best seminar was Effective Collaboration, which mainly discussed giving and receiving feedback. Quite beneficial!
As for reading progress, I'm excited to report that I have finished 3 books already and put a 3/4 dent in a fourth. I have 2 more that I hope to finish before my next plane flight - 10 days from now.
Europe is quite expensive, not that anyone needed to be told that, but WOW! At first glance, prices don't seem as bad as anticipated, but then you take the second to convert to dollars, OUCH! I missed watching the EuroCup final from the center of Berlin due to a flight delay in NYC, which made me miss my connection in Paris. My newly adopted "brothers" watched intently with 500,000 fans an unfortunately boring Euro Final. Berlin was very short for me because I opted to attend the Forte Conference.
My travel group consisted of my parents, our family friends and their two sons. It was the perfect combination! We took trains between each city until Augsburg.
Dresden was incredible and is in the process of being rebuilt after a WW II bombing. It also houses one of the most fantastic armory museums I've ever seen. In Prague, the boys and I enjoyed the club Karlovy Lazne located near the Charles Bridge. The first night we danced until the wee hours of the morning, often switching among the 5 dance floors. The second night, we swapped life stories for 3+ hours. Not a lot has changed since I was younger. (I have 6 years on one guy and 8 on the other.)
We attended a German wedding outside of Augsburg. It was traditional in many senses except that it lasted 12 hours instead of the typical 2-3 days. It was fascinating to learn about some of the cultural differences. One is that in these small country towns, each household bakes a cake for the wedding, so instead of having one large cake, we had one large and 30 or so small. I didn't understand any of the spoken German, but it was a great day nonetheless.
From Munich, we took two day trips in our large 9 passenger van (there were 7 of us traveling together). It never failed that we would get lost going to and coming from our destination. We spent a day at the Neuschwanstein Castle, which was built for King Ludwig II - though he was declared insane before its completion. We also spent a day in Austria, starting at Eagle's Nest - Hitler's 50th birthday gift, taking a tour of the Salt Mine and finishing with Italian food in Salzburg.
My final three days were spent relaxing and shopping in Munich. Though we could have crawled through another dozen museums, I welcomed the break.
One observation I had was that Germans LOVE their dogs and a lot of hotels actually let owners bring dogs with them. They're also allowed in restaurants/bars (though I'm not sure if it is all inclusive). Additionally, all the hotels at which we stayed had NO clocks in the rooms. Odd if you ask me.
Fantastic trip and the perfect length in my opinion. It's definitely good to be home, but I'm starting to freak out a bit. The gist is, 10 days from today, I hop on another plane. That sequence of flights commences my move. More on that later.