I learn lots of things by listening to my dad! There was a trivia question a few years ago that asked players to name countries – besides China, U.S. and Japan – that are the biggest car producers in the world. I don’t remember exactly how the question was worded. I did not play in this particular trivia game, but would have known the answers just by rattling off the names of countries my dad visited while he was a quality engineer for Ford, and later Visteon. Countries I would have named included India, Brazil, and Spain.
The Europa Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where my dad stayed while traveling on business. This hotel was damaged by explosions 33 times between 1970 and 1994.
My dad’s favorite country to visit during his work adventures was Brazil (I like to joke that it’s because of the dress code, lol). Though he didn’t visit any of the popular resort/beach areas, he soaked up the bustling factory scene in Sao Paulo. Knowing that I had recently become a soccer fan girl, he even picked up a couple of club jerseys from Sao Paulo for the teams Corinthians and Flamengo. One of the workers he’d befriended at one of the plants managed to take him out to check out some remote places along the Amazon, too. Thankfully he didn’t take my dad out there and leave him because of an unfavorable plant inspection, lol!
I used to wear this Flamengo jersey while bike riding because it is loud, comfortable, and quick-drying. Once, I heard someone from a passing car yell, “Flamengo!” That was…awesome!
Dad also visited Northern Ireland (the United Kingdom is 13th on the list of top car producing countries) during his plant inspection days, and his review of the plant there was…not favorable. He instantly noticed multiple production problems, and was able to give suggestions about how they best be resolved. When he got back home and provided his report, he asked his boss about it.
“Well, Mike, you didn’t exactly make any friends while you were over there, but they’re implementing your suggestions.”
Classic dad! I said he must’ve been in his element…I mean…working as a “professional know-it-all!” It was a perfect job for such a methodical, meticulous, perfectionist. Add in “wanderlust” to that list and it was a match made in heaven! Yes, he LOVED the traveling aspect of the job. This job took him to Mexico (multiple times), Brazil, India, Spain, Japan and Northern Ireland. When he got back from Northern Ireland, I asked him if he visited any of the pubs there.
“Yes,” he said. I asked if he’d had any pints of Guinness while he was there (knowing full well what his answer would be). “No,” he said. “Dad…you were in a pub in Northern Ireland and DIDN’T have a beer? How did you get home alive?” It was all in jest, of course. Aside from some rum ‘n coke shenanigans in his youth and maybe a very, very occasional glass of wine, my dad has never been a drinker.
Turns out Dad stayed in a very famous hotel while he was in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which was the Europa. This four-star hotel is famous for having been damaged by explosions 33 times between 1970 and 1994, during the peak “troubled” times in Northern Ireland. To read more about this hotel and its recent revival, click here
And to end this blog, I’m going to leave this photo of the “Penthouse Poppets,” whom are Europa’s take on Playboy Club bunnies. Be sure to order an “Irish Smile” from them (A blend of Hennessy Brandy, Tia Maria, Chocolate Liqueur , Mint Sprig and Grated Nutmeg)…Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!
Penthouse Poppets…are your (Northern) Irish eyes smiling yet? 🙂