In Antwerp

Those of you familiar with the filmography of Colin Farrell will recognize the title reference. This post may or may not include the filming of midgets.

I arrived at the Crowne Plaza in Antwerp, Belgium the afternoon of Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in a motorcycle caravan with 5 other riders. As soon as we got there we were recruited to help fill the swag bags for the Belux Lotus User Group (BLUG) conference. The level of organization was obvious as soon as we entered the conference space. The materials were set up in an assembly line fashion so it only took about an hour to fill the 300 bags with all the marketing materials and swag (pens, stress balls, etc).

That evening was the BLUG Welcome Reception in the pool area of the hotel. The pool itself had raised sides with infinity edges on two of them. Which I found out the hard way when I leaned back against one of them and wound up with a wet pant leg.

The highlight of the evening was when the BLUG Synchronized Swimming Team took to the pool and performed for the crowd. (Most of my friends will be shocked to learn that I was not involved in the conception or participation of this plan except for photography purposes.) There was also a lot of catching up with friends, meeting new people, and mini-pizzas. After the reception, many of us retired to the hotel bar to continue conversations and drinking.

The morning of the first day arrived, as with most conferences, very early. Theo Heselmans kicked off the Opening General Session by welcoming everyone and giving an overview of the events for the next couple of days. Then Christopher Crummey of IBM took the stage as the keynote speaker.

I’m not going to list all the sessions or even really review the ones I attended. There was a lot of good information given and the layout of the rooms and meeting spaces was perfect for this size conference. I was also impressed by the fact that there were constant refreshments available all the time and the provided lunches were tasty and plentiful.

Since we were planning on leaving Antwerp early Saturday morning, I did manage to sneak away on Friday to visit some of the historic district. It was a lovely day and I wish that I’d have had more time to spend in the city. It has a fascinating history and the architecture is marvelous.

Friday night there was a boat tour with drinks and a very delicious dinner. Amazingly enough even though I forgot to take my Dramamine I handled to motion of the boat just fine. Once we got back I said most of my goodbyes and turned in to try and get some rest before we headed back to the London area in the morning.

BLUG was a wonderfully informative, superbly run, and efficient event. I can’t thank Theo Heselmans and his team enough for all their hard work. As is becoming usual for me though, the conversations and friendships that happen at these events are the real personal highlights. So if you ever have a chance to attend a BLUG event or visit that area of Europe I highly recommend it.

So for now, tot ziens, Belgium and hartelijk bedankt, Theo.

~more pictures available here~
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