Mike Grehan says...

Random musings about search marketing, flying around the planet, networking and people watching.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

ad:tech, London... and then hospitality Fantomaster style!

I thought that being unemployed I'd spend a lot more time at home and a lot of time in the unemployment benefits office. The truth of the matter is, I'm a complete stranger to the "dole office" as Ralph Tegtmeier (AKA Fantomaster) reminded me it was called in the UK (I don't even know where it is :-) And just about the same applies to home, I'm a complete stranger there still. But at least I do know where that is!

Since I returned from my last trip to Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago, I've been in London most of the time. Although, last weekend I ushered myself up to steel town (Sheffield) for a huge family get together. Both my younger and elder brothers were there with their kids. And for the first time in months and months I had my own two boys to prop me up at the bar. A great time was had by all.

And then, it was back to London. My buddy Gerry Jacobs was also in town on business, so once again, we had an opportunity to hook up. While he had his various meetings to attend in the city, I had ad:tech.

The London conference is a much smaller event than the US shows (much like SES) but it's a great opportunity for the little UK SEM community to have a second annual get together.

I was very much looking forward to the "Ten pillars of SEO" session I was moderating. It was an all star line up with Lyndsay Menzies from Big Mouth Media and her client, Tesco. And Bob Price from Your Amigo with his client, Sony.

Unfortunately, at the last minute, Sony had to pull out due to their guy suffering from tonsillitis. So we padded it out a little bit, with Lyndsay getting extra time to demonstrate the great work she's been doing with Tesco. And then Bob morphed himself into his Sony client and did a splendid job of covering for him.

I'll just throw in a quick and very special thanks to all those who hooked up with me for dinner, lunch, beers and general whispering in corridors at times. You all know who you are, so I won't bother mentioning here. Cheers!

Big time hospitality on the river Rhine.

Gerry and I flew to Cologne, Germany on Friday evening where we teamed up with my long time SEO buddy, the legendary Ralph Tegtmeier (Fantomaster). He and his business partner Dirk travelled over the border from Belgium, and the four of us checked into the most wonderful riverside hotel in a pretty place called Konigswinter, for a most splendid late dinner.

The Maritim Hotel literally sits right on the river edge. It's a wonderful location and Ralph had ensured that both Gerry and I had river facing suites. The view of the riverboat from my bedroom window, first thing Saturday morning was an excellent sign of a great day ahead.

The day began with a hearty breakfast. I have this strange pursuit, in that, everywhere I travel in the world I try to create the full English breakfast, no matter what ingredients are available. And the Maritim even had baked beans on the menu... (hehe! I hear the sound of many Americans going "ughhh! baked beans for breakfast!" :-)

The town of Koenigswinter is located on the Rhine in a beautiful landscape. And so it was, after breakfast, that we met in this beautiful little town... Outside a pub, where else!

Ralph has lived in this extremely pretty town before, and was able to give us a lot of history. In particular about Drachenfels mountain. According to the legend, it is right here where Siegfried's fight with the dragon took place. Ralph took us all on a ride on Germany's oldest rack railway, the Drachenfelsbahn, which went into operation in 1883.

Yes, after Lake Como and Hong Kong already this year, I was on another tram heading up a another glorious mountain.

The views from the mountain down to the river Rhine and surrounding countryside were spectacular.

And at the top of the mountain, I captured Gerry and Ralph together in a picture which just generated its own caption: Investment Banker meets Cloaking Ranker.

The countryside is beautiful, but we were all stumped for an answer to what the large golf ball was doing in there.

At one point, I couldn't find Ralph. And then I noticed he'd sneaked off for a quiet smoke :-)

There's a story about a guy who wanted to build a fairytale castle on the mountain. Which, in fact, he did. However it was very much a Gothic, Disney... er... bottom of a bottle of Asbach inspired creation. I really wanted to capture its entire tastelessness... But it was being renovated!

Next we delved into some real German folklore and mythology by visiting a Gothic style temple.

Inside we were treated to the dark imagery of Siegfried killing the dragon, accompanied by the "not at all whistle along to" music of Wagner (at his most demented, by the sound of it).

And then, something completely out of the ordinary happened... I found myself sitting on the romantic Rhine... drinking beer!

We rounded off our day with a late lunch watching the river flow and eating the most wonderful local dishes.

I can't thank Ralph and Dirk enough for such fabulous hospitality.

And now, from the top of one mountain, it's time for me to make my way to the top of another. Metaphorically speaking, that is ; -)


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