Where in the world is Ryan today?

It’s now been over two weeks since I’ve been back in the country, and I finally have a bit of time to breathe! It’s wonderful! When we were talking about out weekend I was so excited – plans to do NOTHING!

IMG_0504Since returning from my IWitness adventure it’s been pretty non-stop, so I’m really happy to have a bit of down time. I’m really happy to have been back in time for the Start2Finish 5k end of year run at Guelph University, helping to cheer on (and run with) my Bennetto kids before we got rained out after the run (no bouncy castle!). It all worked out pretty well though – everyone had a blast.

After that I went to my very first TFC game (we won!) which was awesome, took my now second annual “behind the scenes” tour of Pearson, and then just a couple days ago I helped out at the Start2Finish Golf Tournament in Burlington! All that, on top of lots of catching up on work, plus I managed to get sick somehow (maybe I’ve been doing a little too much?) means a very tired Ryan.

So anyway, the IKEA Foundation has published some of the blogs from the trip, and internally within IKEA we’ve been publishing the blogs now on our Intranet as well as our internal social network, which means it’s time for me to publish some stuff on here too!

I basically wrote every day, and I did some specifically for IKEA and some specifically for me… a little more relaxed on my blogs. That’s what I’m going to publish here. I’ll do it on a time delay – so one a day to walk you through the experience. I’m aware I already published where I was, but since I was being a bit coy when I wrote this, I’ll just leave it in 😛

In addition to all that, here’s a teaser for the adventure… enjoy!

Remember that IWitness trip that I couldn’t say when, or where it was that I was going? Well… it’s happening, right… now! Only you’re not gonna get to read about it until I leave the country. So I’m writing these blogs on a daily basis, but post-dating them to be posted once I leave the country on a daily basis. So it’s kinda “real time” for you, but I’m not there anymore.

So let me give you your first hint – مرحبا! Or hello, as we might say in English.

IMG_0017Yesterday evening at 11:00pm I caught a British Airways flight from YYZ Toronto to LHR London – which was a nice flight, but a bit long, and a bit full for my taste. I got the chance to use my super awesome Bose Noise Canceling Headphones (thx for the suggestion, Peever) for the first time and they were dreamy. Made the flight so much more bearable. I still didn’t really “sleep” per-say, but I did a lot better than I would have without them. Huge, huge difference. About 7 hours later, around 11am local time, I arrived in London with the intention of catching the Tube to go for a wander in the city, but we got in a bit later than I thought we would, customs line was a bit long, so I decided timing just wouldn’t work out. I had to be back for a 4:30pm flight in the afternoon.

IMG_0020 (1)So I wandered off to Terminal 1, grabbed myself some lunch at the Giraffe cafe there before finding a couch to stretch out on, dozing off a bit. Around 2pm local time my fellow IWitness Ambassador, Dave, found me on the couch and we finally got a chance to meet in person which was great. We chatted a bit about the upcoming trip, grabbed him some lunch, and waited around for our gate to be called out around 3:40pm.

IMG_0023Headed over to the gate and boarded our second flight in 24 hours – this one for around 6 hours. Again it was pretty full, but it was an uneventful flight. We touched down a bit late, we planned to get in around 11:30pm local time but wound up getting in just after midnight. Thanks to the suggestion of Jen from IKEA we had purchased our Visa’s in advance, which saved us a lineup and got us through customs pretty quickly, and then luggage took another 20 minutes or so to show up.

IMG_0028There were some people in the luggage area holding up signs with peoples names on it, so we weren’t sure if we should be waiting in there or going out to find our driver, but that confusion was quickly cleared up as soon as we left the luggage area and found our driver waiting for us with a sign saying UNHCR and our names. Very exciting!

Have you figured out where I am yet?

Our driver didn’t speak a lot of english but more than enough to get by, and certainly more than we spoke Arabic. Very nice guy, pointed out a few of the sights and good places to eat as we were driving, including the local IKEA, which we will be visiting this week! I’m excited to try some of the food, it looks very good.

We arrived at the hotel, a small place but very nice – were greeted by the desk clerk, even at the late hour (we got there closer to 1am). We were given our keys, as well as a note from one of the UNHCR team members who is also at the hotel. Dave and I went to our rooms to freshen up a bit, then we decided a little stroll to stretch our legs would be nice, having been cooped up in a tight airplane for a good chunk of the last 24 hours. The weather is great at night, though from what I understand quite hot during the day, so it was a pleasant walk. We saw there are lots of shops and places to eat nearby, and we also looked at the tour prices to visit the Dead Sea tomorrow, which is our only real down day before things start with the foundation!

How about now? C’mon, Dead Sea is a “dead” (ha ha) give away!

Anyway it’s now about 3am local time, 8pm at home, so it’s probably time to get some sleep. I wasn’t very tired when I got back to the room so I thought I’d put this together. So I will leave you to ponder my location, and you will hear from me tomorrow!