USA Travel diary January 2018

On the occasion of AHRExpo, a trip to the USA is planned. In 2018, AHRExpo takes place in Chicago, the windy city, which can occasionally also mean unpleasant cold in winter. Before that I will visit a good customer in Boston, also a city that can offer surprises in the winter weather.

And then came Friederike. A little earlier than usual, I am on my way to Düsseldorf on January 18. But the traffic is easy and there is enough time for a small breakfast at the airport. At 8:15 a. m. the plane should take off, but storm Friederike has already closed down Amsterdam Airport. It’s still calm in Düsseldorf. The staff at the gate reports on the stand in Amsterdam, and the pilots are also present. When it slowly becomes clear that the connection to Amsterdam will be too late for my onward flight to Boston, I try to find another connection. But nothing works. So it’s the second time through security back to the gate. At 12:00 it is clear that it is not impossible to fly to Amsterdam, because now Friederike is raging in Düsseldorf. The windows shake threateningly and the personnel on the apron are simply blown over. I don’t want to sit on the planes that are coming in now, the pilots are doing a great job.

So I get back out. Now I get a connection with Swiss and Lufthansa via Zurich. For the third time today, it’s through security. At 14:00 Friederike moved on, the boarding is on time and we can start. But it doesn’t start, because the passenger list is not correct. Either one too many or too few on board will cost us 90 minutes. So now I’m missing my connection in Zurich. I can spend the night there. Since my luggage stays at the airport, I receive a number of vouchers and an overnight pack and spend the night, together with passengers who Friederike didn’t let go to Leipzig, in a hotel near the airport. But I have a connection to Boston for Friday, where I will arrive at about 13:00 local time in Boston. In the evening I inform the client and postpone the meeting until afternoon. At the hotel, I cancel the reservation. For dinner we’ll have trout, then go to bed.

Early on Friday morning we go to the airport. The hotel is flexible, there is an early bird breakfast before 06:00 and a big bus is also organised. Everything’s working out now. In Frankfurt I manage to book a Business Class Update so that I arrive in Boston more relaxed. Lufthansa has a good day, the upgrade costs only half as much. That’s how it goes on the upper deck of a jumbo to Boston. I have room and rest to work. The food is really better and everything is a little nicer.

In the afternoon we arrive in Boston a little bit too late, but in about 20 minutes I manage to pass the immigration, pick up my suitcase and get to the taxi rank. I call the customer and sign up for 15:00.

We have a successful meeting. By taxi I arrive at the hotel at 18:00. Since there is no restaurant in the immediate vicinity and I am quite tired, I have a pizza brought with me. Two pieces of it go into the fridge as breakfast, because I will miss it in the hotel again.

On Saturdays after my pizza breakfast I go to the airport at 06:30 and again there is a surprise. At the check-in, I find out that the change of booking via Zurich has also shifted today’s scheduled flights to noon. Apparently they wanted to let me sleep in, but I would have liked to know that too. I’ll let it book back to the original connections, everything will be fine. The plane takes off in time, takes a goodbye round over Boston and over snow-covered landscapes to Detroit.


The layover time in Detroit allows a comfortable walk to the gate for my flight to Chicago. I tweet a picture of the fountain and the "disco tunnel" between the terminals. A short hop will take me to Chicago. I wait 15 minutes for the shuttle to the rental car company. On the other hand, picking up the car is fast and I get a class better than I booked. The navi gets unpacked and I’m going to Chicago. The traffic is usable, after less than an hour I arrive at the Dewitt Hotels&Suites near the Hancock Tower. I leave the car in a garage nearby. I’ve been to Dewitt four times already, I’ve been to a nice and affordable lodging and a little vintage. Opera music and Tiffany lighting await me in the lobby. The antique-age lift with dial display struggles on the fourth floor and I’m in my suite overlooking Lake Michigan.

Watch the video here.

I unpack quickly, because the weather is still bright and nice. Since I will be taking care of myself for breakfast, I go shopping in the small grocery store across the street. Then we go out to the sightseeing, North Michigan Avenue towards Chicago City. As always, I admire the old skyscrapers and the Marina City. There are ice sheets floating on the Chicago River. Via Skype I meet for dinner with a business contact. We pick a Mexican and after two hours of business dinner we go back. I let the day end with a glass of white wine – the Americans make well, too.

So the next morning I stand at the stove. After I spread the first packet of coffee on the floor, the second one is better. I’m making myself two easyovers and toast. The Dewitt doesn’t offer breakfast and the experience with other hotels has convinced me to take care of myself, I’m alone anyway and homemade tastes best anyway.

In the morning I take a walk around the icy lake, then I am pious and go to the church, more precisely the cathedral of Chicago. In the USA this is always a bit fresher than in our country. Now the weather is getting modest, from the 15th floor onwards the skyscrapers are standing in the fog. Since there is nothing to see outdoors anyway, I go to the cinema and in the comfortable reclining seat I watch Star Wars 8. Afterwards I walk around a bit to get some momentum after the last three motionless days.

The date planned for the evening is missed, my partner is late and arrives at the hotel at 21:00. I’ll make myself a little supper, then I’ll go to bed.

Since AHRExpo only opens at 10:00 a. m., there is plenty of time in the morning for emails and other small things after breakfast. Because of the time difference, I’ll wake up at 5:00 anyway. I’ll pick up the car from the garage and drive to the McCormick Conference Center. Rental cars are ridiculously cheap in Chicago, you can’t say that about parking fees.

As usual I take the parking lot north, a small walk leads me into the foyer. As always, there’s a long line at Starbucks. At 10:00 a. m. the fair opens, in the rush to the hall I hear the words "crowd of cows" and "stampede". At the LonMark booth I meet Ron Bernstein and his wife Tracy. I unpack my brochures, our Gesytec samples and the LON ISM-RF Evalkit from who. Afterwards I first visit the companies known to us. I meet the team of enguity and others, there are a number of conversations. A contact from France arrives without luggage, his suitcase with the demo equipment will remain in Charles de Gaulle all week long. In the afternoon, GWAC will hold a panel discussion on SmartGrid. Since LonMark invites you to attend, I will participate. Afterwards, around 5:30 p. m. I drive to the hotel and freshen up. Because in the evening, the "Lonnies" go out to eat. I pick up the guys from MegaChips at their hotel, which can be difficult with a hotel with two towers. On foot, which almost always happens in Chicago, we go to the restaurant and meet the rest of the group. Steaks are just better in the US, so I’ll take it. We spend a nice evening, after half an hour walk I am back at 11:00.

On Tuesday breakfast will be made again. The rinsing is pleasantly short for one person. In the morning there are again a series of talks, in the afternoon the two seminars with my lectures. In the first one I present Gesytec and our latest products. The second lecture will be about LON HD-PLC. The interest is great, unfortunately there is no time for questions. We’ll have a few more conversations after that. From 16:30 we make a small reception and a LonMark meeting.

At 18:30 we meet again for dinner, this time Chicago style pizza. It won’t take that long today. By car I drive back to my accommodation, pack my suitcase and enjoy a glass of wine.

We’ll be out early on Wednesday. Before opening the fair we have a meeting for web services. That lasts until about 10:00. Why did I actually sign up for writing the Minutes?

There is still an intensive discussion with a customer. As the weather is getting bad and the journey time to the airport can be longer, I say goodbye and leave. It has been announced on black ice and because the Americans are not big drivers in bad weather, I choose the safe option of an early enough ride. I arrive on time. There is little going on at check-in and control. It’s time to call and write reports.

In the Jumbo I take my place 35C, of course at the emergency exit. The first class doesn’t have more legroom either, only on the right and left it is quite narrow. Anyway, they’re sleeping on the return flight. This time it’s a bit difficult, because behind me is an apparently completely hyperactivity impaired family. Nevertheless, I suddenly wake up around 05:30 CET, after a deep sleep there is a small breakfast. The coffee should be better. Shortly afterwards we land and after a rumbling taxiway it goes out and through the passport control. For my second breakfast I have a croissant and a latte macchiato. Time to check email, read the papers and write reports. Now a Cityhopper brings me back to Düsseldorf. The souvenir photo with the parking lot number leads me back to the car, after another hour I am back home. Extensive showering awakens me, the suitcase is unpacked and the one week long, this time complicated journey has come to an end.