Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sojourn in Seville

More notes from my Europe trip... I arrived in Dublin on a Tuesday, and then on Wednesday turned around and flew (along with a bajillion Dublin Googlers—or is that Google Dubliners?) to Seville in a monster double-decker jet. I can't remember ever being on a plane this big. Luckily I was still too sleepy (thanks, jet-lag) to put much energy into worrying about how something that large can fly.

We were all travelling to a Google conference in Seville that lasted for three days and covered a variety of topics specific to our EMEA offices and markets. It was quite interesting for me to hear about our business from that perspective; Google is a global company, but sometimes it's easy for American Googlers to forget about this since we develop our products in English first and most of us aren't too tapped into what's going on in foreign markets.

It was raining and in the 50s when we left Ireland, but sunny and over 100° when we stepped off in Spain. The Dubliners were particularly excited since apparently it had rained in Dublin for the last 60 days straight (!). After checking in to our hotels we wandered around downtown Seville for the rest of the afternoon, meeting Googlers from various offices all over Europe (Seville city center was completely swamped with Googlers, it was kinda other-worldly). I love that all the folks I met were friendly, engaging, and easy to hang out with even though we'd only just met.

narrow Sevillan street

Like many European cities, Seville has its own feel and lots of intriguing architecture and city layout that are unusual to my American eyes. Most of the streets are unbelievably narrow and winding (good luck giving directions in this city!). Even with a map you'll get lost at least 5 times before you make it anywhere. I can't imagine how anyone deals with having a car here. Many of the streets seem not to be wide enough to even fit a car. Lots of building exteriors are painted with the same dusky yellow color:

Sevillan house

While I was in high school I spent a couple weeks in northern Spain (Burgos), but I'd forgotten about the Spanish evening schedule: lunch starts around 2 or 3p, and instead of dinner at 6 or 7, people go out for tapas at that time and then have dinner as late as 10p. As a high schooler I thought it was a great setup (that way you can hang out with your friends all afternoon/evening rather than having to come home at 6 for dinner and then not being able to escape again for the rest of the night); but this time around it just left me wondering how people digest so much fried food so late in the day. The Sevillan specialty dish is apparently frito variado (assorted fried fish), and Adam and I ended up one night with an entire fish, sliced into rings and then fried and then plated in the order that it had been sliced (head and tail and all), so it still looked like a fish, just with some space in between. It was tasty (and this coming from a girl who doesn't like fish), but I don't think I could handle it on a regular basis.

Guadalquivir After the conference was over I stayed the weekend in Seville with a few other Googlers and did some sight-seeing. One of my favourite parts of the city was the river (Guadalquivir) that runs through Seville. Something about it reminded me of the Seine in Paris; probably the wide stone walkways down by the water, and all the people biking and strolling down there. Souvenirs brought back from Spain: a tiny oil panting of a street scene from a street vendor, and a really nasty cough (both of which I still have three weeks later...).

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