Monday, February 22, 2010

To Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress 2010 and a warm welcome back

Me working from my hotel room in Barcelona on last minute press documents of course. However much planning and preparing you do there are always last minute changes.
Hi again

I’m a bit late with my blog this week because I have been on the go since last Sunday and only got back last night. I’ve got lots to tell you all.

Last Sunday morning Suzy and I went by the high speed train to Barcelona and were joined by Oli in the evening as she had to work. We nearly missed the train as we left the house too late so my travels started with a bit of an adventure.

The high speed train (Ave) is extremely fast and takes under 3 hours so we were soon in Barcelona and checking into our hotel which was great but turned out to be a complete organisational disaster. We had a triple room which they hadn’t prepared. They then lost my hotel voucher and subsequently the lovely red roses Eladio had ordered for my arrival as last Sunday was St. Valentines. I certainly wasn’t expecting any and they were very welcome. As I write to you, I have one of them saved and being pressed under a heavy book on my desk. I will treasure it in years to come.
My St. Valentine's red roses which Eladio had sent to the hotel and which they lost and finally found again. The thought certainly counted here.
After a quick down day salad we set off for a long walk around the town which also included a quick trip into the Maremagnum shopping centre which proved to be full of foreigners all there for the same reason as me, the Mobile World Congress which is the world’s biggest telecoms fair. But more about that later.

After our cold and energetic walk it was time to relax in the spa and have some Mother and daughter time together. If I can I always choose a hotel with a spa. I love the sauna most and I got that habit from my times with Nokia when I used to go so often to my beloved Helsinki.

In the evening I joined my TeliaSonera colleagues for the traditional get-together the night before the congress. This time it was at Bilbao Berria next to the Cathedral. It was great to see the likes of Birgitta, Anna, Kaisa and Cecilia. However I soon rushed off for dinner with Fátima at Cal Pinxo next to the Palau del Mar in Port Vell, one of my favourite areas in Barcelona. Fátima is my best friend and long standing colleague from Motorola and Nokia and it’s not often we have quality time together so dinner with her was one of the major moments of my time in Barcelona.

Oli and Suzy meanwhile were tasting the delights of Sushi with their Austrian friend Julia from the N-Gage tour days a few years back.

Monday was my lightest day work wise so I was able to have a fabulous breakfast with my girls (up day you see) and spend the morning working from my hotel room.

The weather though was pretty bad, cold and windy and threatening rain which turned out to be the tonic of this year’s congress, very different to the 20ºc of other years and so much for having chosen a hotel by the Barceloneta beach area!

My first professional engagement was meeting the bloggers we were hosting and who were being accompanied by the team from my PR Agency Ketchum. I duly met and greeted them at the very stylish Hotel Diagonal Zero where we had a quick stand up lunch together before going off to register for the congress. In the lobby of the hotel I bumped into an old colleague from my Nokia days, Eva Heller and it was great to catch up. We arranged to meet later but it didn’t work out. Everybody who is anybody is at the MWC but it’s so big it’s always difficult to find or meet people properly.

Once back at the hotel, I set aside some more time this time with both girls to enjoy the spa. Unfortunately when we returned to the hotel the key was no longer active. Thus I had to go down to reception in my bath robe and queue up at reception for another key to my utmost embarrassment. I later made a formal complaint to the hotel and am still wondering whether it reached the manager as their organisation has enormous room for improvement as I pointed out in my complaint.
My darling girls, Olivia and Susana, in the room with me. Going to the MWC in Barcelona just wouldn't be the same without them.
Monday ended with a lovely dinner with Grainne, my friend from school, at el Merendero de la Mari, next to Cal Pinxo in Port Vell again. Every time I go to Barcelona I make a point of meeting her. We go back a long way and then of course there is the chemistry, that vital characteristic of friendship. It was great

On Tuesday work began in earnest with the TeliaSonera press conference. Afterwards I walked a little round the fair to see what was cooking and my first port of call was Nokia Siemens Networks to see my old colleagues such as Julio, Emilio, Cristina or Oscar. Great to see you all as usual and thanks Julio for the Finnish Fazer chocolates for my Father which are always a favourite with us.

On my way out past Golla (another Finnish company and one which makes fantastic design bags for pcs and phone cases) I experienced the highlight of this year’s MWC. I came across my ex Motorola “buddies”, Jesus, Oscar and Nacho. I had not seen Jesus for nearly 4 years and being reunited again, if only for a very short while, was a very happy experience. We all started in the telecoms sector together and as Oscar commented on the photo I uploaded on Facebook, there was some 50 odd years of experience and happy moments in that picture.
The best moment of the MWC, bumping into Jesús, Oscar and Nacho, "my Motorola boys".
Tuesday afternoon was taken up with my bloggers with whom I had lunch before they went off on their guided tour of ZTE, Huawei and Samsung. In between meeting them again I got 10 minutes with another ex Nokia colleague, Claire Backhurst now working for Navteq. We packed into that 10 minutes one hell of a lot of great memories such as press trips to Marrakech where the famous chef, Heston Blumenthal, cooked for us or our countless trips to Helsinki for meetings with our colleagues. Great to see you Claire.

I was able to return to the hotel for a very quick freshen up before I joined my bloggers and some other people too to visit the Ericsson hall and go on a guided tour followed by their so called “social event” which in plain man’s language is a party. And what a party it was too. There I saw many familiar faces including Ana Manjón and my dear ex Nokia Networks colleague Pepe Comas. Our bloggers had a good time as you can see in this picture. We are by a car which has future technology which via mobile telephony will be able to avoid crashes. Imagine!!
Our bloggers at the Ericsson hall next to the car demo.
I went home really early, well actually the party started too soon. The Swedes live on a different timetable to southern Europeans and food was being served at 6 pm which is far too early for me. That suited me fine though as I had to be up really early the next morning for an interview with Expansion (Spain’s FT) and my boss’ boss who is number 2 at TeliaSonera. I hate early morning anything and this was an important activity. I not only facilitated the interview, I also did the translating which got quite technical sometimes, as well as the photography!! Here is the result as the article was published today, very long and juicy and quite favourable to Yoigo.

From there my boss and I and Birgitta from TeliaSonera rushed to our press conference which was being held at the other end of town at Bestial on the beach near the Hotel Arts. I was not there but everything was under control thanks to my PR agency Ketchum and events agency Quinta Esencia. The conference was well attended and afterwards we did more interviews, including Reuters, all of which garnered us quite a lot of coverage.
My press conferences are always very relaxed as you can see from this picture.
Once it was over I could escape and rush back to the hotel to finish my packing and check out before 13h. Oli had had to leave earlier so Suzy and I went for a walk and for lunch as our train was not until 16.30. I repeated Cal Pinxo and this time the sun was shining and we were able to eat outside. I was also able to make my one and only purchase in Barcelona and bought a lovely false Prada bag from the Nigerian street sellers in Port Vell.
Suzy with me having lunch on the last day at Cal Pinxo. Catalan food is generally superb.
From there we walked back to the hotel, picked up our bags (7 pieces of luggage with all the stuff the girls had purchased including a coat from Desigual), hailed a taxi and made our way to the Estación de Sants to catch our train. I read a light novel by Mary Higgins Clark and Susana slept. Soon we were home and my dear Eladio had lit the fire for us to welcome us home and inaugurate the fire insert the chimney company had put in that very day. That was indeed a lovely welcome back.
The new fire insert which Eladio lit for our arrival back from Barcelona. A very warm welcome back indeed.
The next day Eladio and I were off to Brussels for my University reunion so there was not much time for unpacking and packing again or getting enough rest to charge my batteries for the next 4 days which I knew were going to be jam packed with fun activities.

My next post will be on that trip which deserves a single entry as it was so unique.

Barcelona was great as usual, except for the weather. It was lovely to have my girls with me and the satisfaction of a professional job well done. I have been going now for 4 years running with Yoigo. I always ask myself if I will be going next year too. I certainly hope so.

Cheers for the moment

PS Here is the complete selection of photos which I posted on Facebook.

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