I've been offline a bit more over the past few weeks, partly due to a busy schedule, partly due to illness, but mainly because I had to go to Greece for work! I normally don't even leave my office much, so this was quite an event. I was presenting my research at an international conference, on the beautiful peninsula of Halkidiki. I'd had to leave my house at 2:30am and reached the hotel over 12 hours later, but my was it worth it - this was the view from my room.
I'd arrived by shuttle bus from the airport with some other delegates, which was a good chance to get to know a few people. At check in we were given a glass of prosecco, and we chatted a bit more and arranged to meet each other for dinner in a few hours. I took the chance to shower, change and explore the hotel grounds, knowing there would be little free time in the packed schedule. The Meliton hotel we were in is part of the Porto Carras 5* resort, which has a golf course, beach, winery and marina among its facilities. It's huge!
Above: The Porto Carras Meliton Hotel overlooks the pretty marina
After a quick early dinner, the conference began with some opening speeches, a keynote address, and then a welcome drinks party at the marina where I played a game of find-my-complete-stranger room-mate (who was lovely, phew!). It was a stunning setting, but I was laughing at myself and some other Brits who'd assumed the weather would be hot - it was decidedly chilly and none of us had packed warm clothes! I'd only taken carry-on luggage you see, thinking for just a few nights I could manage.
The next few days were pretty intense at the conference, with sessions not finishing until 6:30pm. On a professional level it was fantastic. My presentation was well received, and I had some good feedback and interest in the research. On a personal level, I met some wonderful people, and had a lot of fun. A group of us even managed to escape the hotel one evening, taking a boat to the town of Neos Marmaras where we drank cocktails, ate fantastic Greek food, and had some great conversation.
I have never found networking events easy, and I was very nervous before this trip. There's definitely a lesson here about pushing myself out of my comfort zone! The conference was such a good experience that I'm already planning to present at some more events, including a conference in Paris next year.
It was a good trip, but a fair trek for just three nights, and I picked up a nasty cold and chest infection on the flights and have been battling it for the past two weeks. I've finally got my energy levels back to approaching normal this week, hurrah! I'm not sure I would like a job with regular international travel, it takes its toll.
Do you travel much for work?