Cesar, one of my former coworkers at WA, invited a big group out to Milliways, a bar in Stuttgart, which also happens to be the Restaurant at the end of the Universe. It was a big party, Cesar was popular and he made a lot of friends so I saw most people from the old office plus many others I had come to know over the years here. I also ended up drinking too much. Even staying away from beer, which normally works well, failed me here, and I ended up ill until about 5pm the following day. Maybe I should see a doctor- it strikes me odd that I should get so sick for so long after one beer and three gin and tonics.
My office shuts its doors from the 22nd of December and doesn't reopen them until January 9th. It's nice to have such a long time off, but I wish I could choose to work more in order to pick and save my time off. We get such a chunk of vacation time, but so much of it burns with with Yule log.
The office end of year party was at the the old restaurant I've been working on intermittently for renovations. It was the first time most of the people in the office had seen it, and it was the first time the new bathroom areas I designed were in operation. It was kind of a kick, to excuse myself from an office party to go use a bathroom I had a hand in designing. This is, of course, the same restaurant that J bought (out of bankruptcy), turned into a LLC, and now runs as the joint owner. I was joking to Rafa on the way home that for many reasons, we should start calling him Don J.
Anyway, the restaurant is actually quite good and fairly expensive, so the Don treated us to a very nice evening. We were nearly twenty at the big table in the middle of the room. J had also invited the two elderly couples from the village who do the cleaning and odd jobs, so I sat between Rafa and our Putzfrau.
The cream of pumpkin soup was the best I'd ever had. The crispy duck not bad, but not as remarkable as the mountain of rotkraut (a kind of lightly pickled and savory red cabbage) or the apple and potato dumplings that came with it. Dessert was mousse. And never ending drinks. We started, naturally, with a rose bubbly (some local Sekt) and then I stuck to a big red wine for the rest of the evening, taking it very slowly since I'd only recovered from Cesar's party about 24 hours before.
We chatted and drank and ate at the restaurant for a full six hours, occasionally joined by the head chef/owner who had some wine with the Don. I had a long chat with Herr L, the other partner in the architecture office, who strongly commended my work and praised me as a "secret champion" of the office. It was a pointed compliment which he elaborated on as saying I was too quiet about myself and my work, and I needed a little "blood transfusion" from the table-thumping, attention-grabbing architects. In short, I need some swagger.
The office paid for taxis for everyone back home, and then again for taxis in the morning to take us back to the office. This was really nice.
Every year, Saori's office brings everyone from all three offices to Stuttgart to celebrate, from the Senior Partner in Munich to the intern from Boston, and they use the opportunity to share ideas, reconnect, there's a day of presentations, a day of architecture tours of old projects, and then a big party. This year the office rented out Bix, the most famous jazz bar in Stuttgart, for a 1920s themed dinner and party, and everyone decked themselves out for the occasion. (Spouses are not invited). It sounded pretty fantastic- the party lasted until about two or three in the morning, and it was still going strong when Saori headed home.
Yesterday was the last workday for Saori and me. I spent the day working on a few details and killing some time thinking of paint schemes for the Neonatology clinic I'm designing. Also lots of cleaning, filing, and an hour in the stuffed material samples library tossing catalogs and samples. At lunch, I stopped by the winery next door and picked up two bottles because they have really nice wines (one of the top 100 winerys in Germany). The last hour or so, we were called into the conference room for a few glasses more of bubbly, and then came presents. The office gave us three bottles of wine (from the same winery), and J passed out all the gifts the office had received from clients and customers. I ended up bringing home from this assortment:
- Bottle of Slovakian wine
- Bottle of German Wine
- Jar of gourmet hot dogs
- Jar of gourmet mustard
- Two cans of prepared Wurst
- Two bags of Christmas cookies
- electronic portable luggage scale
It was quite a haul. Cotton bags were provided for portage. I am glad Rafa and I decided to share a taxi back to Stuttgart instead of taking the bus and S-bahn.