All posts tagged #travel

Back in Business Again

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Going back to work in the corporate world meant going back to business travel. To be honest, the chance to travel was one of the big reasons I entertained the idea of corporate life again. I love to travel and some of the nicest hotels and best airplane rides I’ve had have been corporate sponsored.

My transition back to the 9-5+ has not been without its interesting moments. First time I called a benefit hotline for new hires I was offered a conversation in a private phone booth with the girl of my dreams. I carefully dialed 866 (not 800) the next time and signed up for health and dental with a private conversation, recorded for training purposes

I now commute to the land beyond O’Hare airport. For those of you not in the Chicago region, that means far, far away from my downtown neighborhood. First drive to the office went without a hitch. Second time was full of hitches. Somehow the directions I printed from Google left out step #8, which meant that I drove west instead of north. I am directionally challenged when I get outside of either seeing the lake (it is always east) or being guided by Chicago’s easy grid & numbering system. Luckily, I only have to drive to the burbs once a week.

Which brings me to my latest escapade. I’m sitting in an airplane lounge awaiting my first international business trip in many years. And I am excited. International makes it feel a little less business to me, for some reason. And I’m going to a location where I will be able to visit family, turning the trip into an international business–with a side–of personal trip.

I have been sitting in this lounge for a long time. For most of the inauguration parade, from what I can tell. I’m here enjoying the free Diet Coke and crackers instead of lunch at home because I misread my ticket. I arrived 4.5 hours early for my trip because I looked at my ticket for my return home. This is not a complaint. At least I’m in an airport lounge. And the bands along the parade route are good entertainment. This is just a reality check for me. I’m back in business again. Time to check everything twice, because the difference between a questionable telephone connection or a unexpected layover is just a few digits away.

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What Happened When I Met The Prince?

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“Seriously? You met a prince and it’s all about what you wore?” my sister wrote, referring to my most recent post.

“Yes, but if you read the post prior to the unveiling of the LRD  you would understand why,” I wanted to respond.

Recap: Last week I met Prince Alois, Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein. Husband is Honorary Consul General of Liechtenstein for Chicago/Midwest. When I learned about the princely introduction I thought to myself (and aloud), “What does one wear when meeting a prince?” I figured that out and here’s what happened.

As we approached the castle I realized I didn’t know what to call the Prince. Your Excellency? Your Highness? Prince? Sir? Before I could ask Husband, who was several paces behind me, or the Ambassador, who was moving our little group along, we were ushered upstairs to a receiving room. I’m not sure that’s what the room is really called but since that is where we were received that’s what I’ll call it.

Prince Alois met us at the doorway and the Ambassador prepared to introduce each of the four Honorary Consuls and the two HC Spouses in attendance. Husband motioned for me to go ahead of him.

“I don’t want to go first.”

“Please, go ahead.”

“No, you speak the language and I don’t know what to call him.”

The Ambassador introduces Husband and he says something in German that makes the Prince smile and shake Husband’s hand a little longer and harder. I see a friendship blooming in front of me.

“And this is Julie Danis,” the Ambassador says, and indicates that I’m with Husband.

And so the Prince shakes my hand with a great smile and says something engaging–in German.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I only speak English. He’s the German guy in our house. It is a pleasure to meet you, thank you so much.” And I move on, quickly, realizing I had no idea what to call him so I just avoided the greeting all together, much like I do if I can’t remember someone’s name and don’t want to be found out.

“Shall we do the photographs first,” the Prince suggested. We moved to another room/hallway/photo op location. The official court photographer (I’m assuming) positioned us around the Prince and took a gazillion pictures.

“Don’t squeeze my upper arm,” I say to Husband.

“What?”

“Smile.”

After the picture session the Prince steps to face the half-moon of Honorary Consuls and Spouses.  The Ambassador explains where we are from and what we have seen and done in Liechtenstein for the last several days. A server passes beverages and light canapés.  It’s only 4:50pm and a glass of wine sounds like a fine idea.

I wouldn’t say I was star struck, but I felt speechless and the need to talk at the same time. Like the time I met President Clinton and was at a loss for words until I couldn’t stop myself from telling him: “We share the same birthday along with one of the Wright Brothers. I’m not sure which one but I think It’s Orville.” (It is.)

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t asked about the format of this meet and greet. Clearly my obsession with what to pack/wear had pushed all other thoughts of protocol out of my mind. Against my late mother’s better judgment (she always said my mouth would get me in trouble) I leaned over and whispered to the Ambassador, “Would it be appropriate if I asked the Prince a question?”

How couldn’t I ask a question? I’m the “why, why, why” girl, according to Husband. Always wanting to know why he’s done, said, or thought something. That’s a hazard of being a consumer insight professional. I need to know the why behind the what.  And truth be known, I had been thinking of what I might ask, if he opportunity presented itself.

“I think that would be fine, okay,” the Ambassador responded.

At the next lull in the back and forth I interjected, “Sir, Prince (I still didn’t know what to call him), if I may, if you can…we’ve had a wonderful program full of meetings with different departments and offices and the university…and I’m wondering, if there’s one thing you would want us to take back to our different regions, one message about Liechtenstein, what would that be?”

Phew. That was the longest, rambling question ever. Why didn’t I just ask the question I really wanted to ask, the one I often asked consumers and clients: “What keeps you up at night?” Because I was afraid it might be misconstrued as personal, and therefore definitely inappropriate.

“Hmm,” the Prince started.

“Feel free to have two or more,” I offered, not wanting to constrain him.

I wish I could quote his answer, but I can’t. I believe his message is this: Liechtenstein’s economy is feeling the effect of being reliant on exports to the EU. The country is small but mighty in entrepreneurship, education, high-tech manufacturing and self-reliance. Increasing awareness and interaction between the United States and Liechtenstein is what Honorary Consuls can do.

Our group agreed that we could carry the Prince’s message back to the United States. We all thanked him for his time and energy. In the end it was a perfect visit, except for one small thing, which I’m sure he would have never noticed or remembered.  I just wished I had said: “Your Serene Highness, I think I can do that.” Because that’s how you address a prince.

What I Wore When Meeting The Prince

What I Wore To Meet The Prince

I met the Prince. Alois, Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein. I met him in his family’s schloss (castle) that sits atop a cliff above the capital city of Vaduz, on a steamy afternoon. Husband took the above picture as the gate to the castle’s inner garden was closing on our visit.

You can see what I decided to wear after endless decisions.

A LRD (Little Red Dress), silk (possibly duoppioni) with a standup pleated collar reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth I – but not that big and not completely surrounding my neck.

Black cloth pumps with embroidered flowers and a wooden heel, 2.5 inches tall. A compromise between kitten and stiletto. Remarkably comfortable to stand in, which I knew I would be doing for about 45-60 minutes. It was more like 90, and included walking on gravel and across Medieval pavers.

Accessories included: an antique gold charm bracelet with one heart shaped, garnet charm. Gold hoop earrings with red stones. Red leather clutch, perfect match for the dress.

And I wore pantyhose, sheer pantyhose, out of respect for the Prince and his family who have reigned over the Principality of Liechtenstein forever. Really. Forever. The country celebrated its 300th year this past August 15th, National Day.

Wearing pantyhose was the right thing to do. But it was very, very hot and the castle is not air-conditioned, at least in the man made manner of which I am accustomed in my concrete and brick prairie hometown, because it sits in the Alps where Mother Nature provides the air conditioning.  But even Alpine Mother Nature couldn’t cool the receiving room to a temperature that made pantyhose comfortable, or a jacket and tie for that matter.

I wore pantyhose for the approximate two hours it took for me to dress to meet the Prince, to greet and meet the Prince, and to return to a state of relative deshabile post the Princely meeting activity. It was worth it. My mother would have been proud and I felt appropriately dressed for the occasion.

Alois, Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein is the princely looking gentleman in the middle, wearing a red tie. The local newspaper, Volksblatt, did not print the picture of the Honorary Consuls and their spouses meeting the prince, so you’ll just have to believe me that I did. My LRD and I did appear in another photo from a gathering immediately following the princely reception, which I’ve included in the above screen shot.

(Volksblatt Fotos: IKR)

 

 

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