Monday, June 16, 2008

Toulouse & beyond

Well, I knew it would be a whirlwind, I just didn’t quite expect it to be this way. Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. won a work package on the Airbus A350XWB passenger airplane in May. That was the proposal team I worked on last year. I was able to rejoin the team at the beginning of June. Travel plans changed sometimes on an hourly basis. I received my finalized itinerary 5 minutes before I left work for Colorado. When we got back from Colorado Sunday night, I unpacked, did laundry and repacked and hopped on a plane Monday morning to head for Toulouse, France for two weeks.
On the flight from Chicago to Frankfurt I was upgraded to first class because they oversold business class. Nice! My program director was on the flight from Frankfurt to Toulouse, so I hitched a ride to work with him. We arrived in Toulouse about 3 pm local time Tuesday. It typically takes about 24 hours of travel time due to unavoidable layovers to get from Wichita to Toulouse. The rest of the team had arrived on Sunday (Spirit was gracious enough to work with my vacation plans). We went straight into a meeting. Then Airbus took us go-karting and to dinner. We were done about midnight and got back to the hotel about 1 AM. I was exhausted. They let me sleep in and picked me up at lunchtime. I had been up for about 35 hours.
We work long hours during the week so there’s not much to tell. A run to the marche for groceries, make dinner, and a few minutes to relax before bed. I did go out to eat one night and had grilled duck breast (magret de carnard) & crème brulee.
On Saturday, the 7 of us decided to head south to Banyuls-sur-Mer. It is a little town on the Mediterranean near Spain. Once we got south of Perpignon, we headed to the coast and drove through several small towns on set right on the sea. It is a rocky coast with cliffs and it was very windy. Beautiful views. We ate lunch in Cerbere at a café by the sea. If you look closely in the last picture you can see the blue awning of the café. We had a very animated waiter. A shellfish appetizer and paella for lunch – yum! We drove to the Spanish border a few kilometers away. Then back to a cove near Banyuls where two of the guys went swimming in the cold water. The beaches here are not sand – they are coarse & rocky. It was nice to go somewhere new since most of us where here for the 3 months last year.

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