It doesn't happen every week nor every month, but almost certainly at least once a year I get to go on a business trip.
Now, a "business trip" can be almost anything, from going to repair a server in a windowless room in the middle of the most desolate landscape, to participating in a workshop for a new product in the Microsoft's HQ in Redmond.
But the most common are the "Business Meeting", travel to a strange city to meet with colleagues from other offices around the world, meetings where the transition is 50% of information (technical or political) and the other 50% is "networking" : talk, share experiences and problems, establish relationships, and put a face to the voice on the phone or sending emails.
The best part of these business trips is the possibility of visiting new places. The worst thing is the inability to visit these new places :-)
I mean you get to the city (probably by plane), you register at the hotel almost immediately, and (if you arrive early) can probably walk a little while.
At night, you probably have an official welcome dinner with other participants of the meetings (usually in the same hotel). Even if nothing is organized, by this moment you have run into several other colleagues and they will be organizing to go dinner together, but many will be tired by the journey, and you are in a strange city at night, so people will want to stay relatively close to the Hotel.
The next day, the meetings start early, which, unless you're really a morning kind of person (which I am not), you can forget about seeing something in the morning (unless you have to walk to the hotel meeting room, which is really uncommon as meetings are usually made in the same hotel).
The meeting rooms around the world are surprisingly similar, boring and sterile rooms, with a series of tables symmetrically distributed. The existence, size and number of windows is inversely proportional to the beauty of the landscape outside, where the landscape is really wonderful meeting room are in the middle of the building, without windows or with a few very small windows; on the other hand when landscape does not call the attention of anyone, the windows are really abundant ... clearly that no one looks at them ...
Lunch is usually at the same place where the meetings take place (more than once are in the same room).
At night, you have a dinner scheduled, and in my experience is the best part of the day and the funniest. Not just for the free food and drink, but also because they are usually in really nice places (a marina, a settlement in the desert, an old castle, or an amusement park, for example).
You see, even in the most wonderful place in the world, is really difficult to do much "sightseeing" on this "working" days, you might go for a little stroll and such, but the only thing that you get to know well is the airport (due to the time you spend waiting for bags, check-in, security points, or just waiting for your flight).
Real tourism can only be done before or after those "working" days, arriving a couple of days before or staying a couple of extra days at end of the meetings.
Each time I get told about and upcoming business trip I check the dates, to see how much can I extend the trip to enjoy a little of life.
In general, the extra days means I have to pay some nights hotel (which is why I rarely stay this extra nights at the hotel that the company pays for the working days), but sometimes you can get someone in a good mood and get the company to cover the hotel for extra nights, it is rare but has happened a few times.
What it's always "included" is the flight. No matter for how many days is the trip, the fare is paid by the company, and it's really rare that they will give you trouble in getting an extra couple of days (if you ask before they issue the ticket). And were is in business class or "grabbed from Wing" class (as I'm send most of the time), an airline ticket is something that should not be wasted :-)
That is what I did this time, I left the US on Friday (arrived here on Saturday) and I am leaving the Monday after the meetings, so I added 3 or 4 days for vacation.
The second thing I do when I learn about a trip is to check what is there to do, mainly to see if there is any place to dive. This trip to Switzerland was no exception, but while it was possible to do some diving, the temperature of the lake (after all, we are in winter here) and the available operators did not convince me, so I decided to so just sightseeing.
OK, I wrote too much for a day, I leave you all a hug.