If you’re an engineer like me, then you know the value of some solid time off. And that doesn’t mean having your phone on 24/7 so you can check email and respond to frantic support requests. I mean real time off, away from your familiar world—maybe even across the world?
That’s what the Zumasys Travel Incentive gave me. Each year, Zumasys gives one lucky employee a travel stipend and a week’s worth of PTO to go anywhere outside of the U.S. It’s another incredible, unheard-of perk that Zumasys provides, and it’s a big part of what makes Zumasys a great place to work.
This year, I was that lucky employee. My girlfriend and I decided to take our first international trip together to France, Switzerland, and Italy. It was the trip of a lifetime, and while I couldn’t possibly share every awesome detail in one blog post, here are some of the highlights.
The first highlight happened before we even left the country. The night before our flight, I asked my girlfriend to marry me. We were so caught up in planning for the trip, I managed to catch her totally off guard. It was an awesome way to set the tone for an amazing trip with my new fiancée.
FIRST STOP: FRANCE
Our trip to the beautiful city of Paris was filled with incredible sights and amazing tastes. From the awe-inspiring architecture of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, to the historic Louvre and Palace of Versailles, I’ve never been exposed to so much history in my whole life. And the unbelievable food was an adventure in and of itself. I have to say, escargot is actually quite tasty but very heavy—not recommended for every meal. Three days was not nearly enough to experience everything France had to offer, and I’m not sure you’d even get it all in a lifetime, but we definitely got a good snapshot, and some great photos.
SWITZERLAND: HALF WAY DONE ALREADY!
Compared to the artsy, sprawling environment of France, Switzerland was a big contrast. Zurich had an industrial feel, but we still managed to immerse ourselves in culture. We learned about the founding of the Red Cross, watchmaking, and, perhaps my personal favorite, the art of chocolate-making. The food was awesome. There’s a big German influence, so lots of hearty meats and potatoes. (And great beer!) Here’s a typical Swiss breakfast, which I could really get used to.
NEXT UP: ITALY
In yet another dramatic geographical shift, Italy felt very warm, and much more touristy. We walked all around Venice, stopped in at a bunch of amazing cathedrals and chapels, and, of course, sampled the local fare. Lots of pizza and pasta and some great seafood. My girlfriend and I had a great time just sitting in coffee shops people watching. Getting around was very different from anything I had experienced, given that the whole city was on the water. Taxi boats and waterbuses were everywhere, and many people had their own private boats to get from place to place. The scene in this picture was pretty common almost everywhere in Venice.
I returned home with a new appreciation for European history and culture. I’ll miss the slower pace of life. Lots of walking, taking time to enjoy an espresso and connecting with people. Here, I tend to grab my coffee and drink it on the run. As an engineer, I sometimes work nights and weekends. This trip was a gentle reminder to slow down whenever possible and enjoy the moment.
My fiancée and I are already looking forward to our next big adventure!