Dan's Blog

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Where I’ve been in 2016 — October 15, 2016

Where I’ve been in 2016

This year I’ve traveled more than ever before. Here’s a summary of my 2016 destinations:

February – Hermanus, South Africa

Hermanus coastal walk
Hermanus coastal walk

This was a team meetup with work, and since most of the team were from South Africa, it worked out most cost effective to have it there. I wasn’t complaining!

Hermanus is a lovely seaside town a couple of hours drive from Cape Town. This was my 4th trip to South Africa, and it never gets old. A+++ would go again.

April – Dublin

Obligatory Guinness Tour
Obligatory Guinness Tour

Shortly after South Africa I moved to a different team, just in time to join them on their meetup in Dublin. Nice short trip for me this time!

I only stayed a few days and now wish I’d had more time as I’d never been before and would have liked to see more of Ireland. Maybe next year.

June – Zadar, Croatia

The clear waters of Croatia
The clear waters of Croatia

In June, my wife and I headed to Croatia for some sun and sightseeing. We’d never heard of Zadar before, but it was the only place Ryanair flew to, so we gave it a chance and it was amazing. We would definitely go back there.

July – Berlin

Street art in Berlin
Street art in Berlin

Yet another work meetup! It’s not common to go on this many team meetups in one year, but this year was an exception because a) I switched teams, so I got to go on a meetup for each team, and b) I got to go to Berlin for the final “WooTrip”, which was a meetup for the entire WooThemes team (WooThemes was the company I worked for originally, before they were acquired by Automattic last year).

Berlin is great. I recommend doing a bike tour of the city.

August – Budapest

In August we went to Budapest for a week, to visit my sister, who lives there. This was a kind of second summer holiday, and the weather did not let us down.

September – Whistler, Canada

Finally, there was my company’s annual Grand Meetup in Whistler, which I wrote a bit more about in my previous post.

I know some people travel a lot more than this, but this was at least 5 more overseas trips than I usually make in an average year, and it felt like a lot of flying, waiting in airports and train stations, and a lot of time away from home. Fortunately I have no more trips planned until probably next April, which suits me fine!

I like to travel, but it’s always nice to get home.

A Grand Meetup in Whistler — September 26, 2016

A Grand Meetup in Whistler

I work for an amazing company. 500 people distributed around the world, working together to democratize publishing, in the form of WordPress.com, the blogging platform I’m currently using to write this post.

The company is Automattic, and every year, all most of the employees come together in one place for a week-long retreat known as the Grand Meetup (GM). This year the GM took place in Whistler, a Canadian resort town just north of Vancouver.

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Lost Lake, Whistler

The main purpose of the meetup is to build personal relationships with our teammates and to work on the kinds of things that are more difficult to achieve through online communication. So there were plenty of  workshops, classes, meetings, and projects throughout the week.

But I won’t bore you with details of those, because of course there was also time for relaxation, socialising and team-building activities, not to mention lots of good food and drink!

Virtual Reality

A few of my colleagues are really into Virtual Reality, and they were kind enough to bring along several headsets and all the accompanying gear, and had this set up all week so people could try it out. Here’s a video of me exploring a virtual world:

There was a really fun archery bit to this game, where you had to pick up a bow and arrows, and use them to defend your castle from invaders.

I also spent about an hour one evening climbing a virtual mountain! It’s impossible to describe the experience – one of those things where you have to try it to believe it.

Via Ferrata

Not content with the virtual mountain, I also got to climb an actual mountain (Whistler Peak), in one of my highlights of the week – Via Ferrata.

Ziptrek

The next day a bunch of us went on an exhilarating zipline tour through the forest, zipping back and forth from one peak to the other.

Running

A group of us also went running most mornings, and took part in the annual WWWP5K run.

wwwp5k
The WWWP5K runners, ready for action

There was plenty more to do: Downhill biking, photo tours, escape rooms, painting classes, ecology tours, and hiking, to name a few. But there’s only so much you can fit in, so some of it will have to wait for next year (it looks like we may be returning to Whistler for at least the next GM).

If you think this sounds amazing, and wish you could work for a company like this, well… you can. We’re hiring.

a8c2016
Automattic 2016 Grand Meetup, Whistler. Photo by Donncha