It all comes down to numbers...

I've traveled 13,550 miles...

Flown on 8 planes...

Stayed in 7 hotels...

Had 10 meetings...

In 17 days...

And now I'm on the last night of my trip.

I arrived in Dusseldorf last night. To my delight, the hotel did in fact send a driver to meet me. It was by chance that he found me, as the hotel did not provide any of my flight information except for my arrival time. By process of elimination, he figured out what flight I'd likely be on.

My hotel is about 45 minutes away from Dusseldorf (north I think) in a town called Gelsenkirchen. Its near Bochum, where my meeting was at. I was told that years ago, this area was a big coal-mining area but since coal-mining is no longer a major industry, its an area that has dwindled but is trying to redefine itself. Its apparent in its appearance. Its a small-town area that shows signs of once being a bustling city, but has declined. I'm on the top floor of the hotel so I can see miles around the surrounding area - lots of coal-stacks spreadout over the region.

I'm fortunate to have found this hotel - a brand new Marriott. Its amazing what effect the comforts of an American hotel will do for my peace of mind. Its immaculate, equipped with "American" electrical outlets, its well-lit, has an American menu and an excellent hospitable staff! It was about 25 minutes away from my meeting this morning, but after seeing what Bochum looked like, I'm thrilled to have found this hotel.

I'm so fortunate to have had this traveling experience. Its been professionally, personally and culturally gratifying and educational. Its been exciting, frustrating, thrilling, exhausting, humbling...everything. Every person in this world should experience international travel. You have not truly lived, unless you've spent time in a foreign country. So get your passports and plan your trip...and let me know your plans, because I'll be ready to go again at any time!

Here's some tips to help you plan your travel:

1. Go to Target and get the travel-size toilet seat covers. Like the East Coast, European bathrooms don't have seat covers.

2. Speaking of European bathrooms - they're called "watercoolers" and identified by signs that say "WC". Be sure to have change ready and your own toilet paper. Sometimes you have to pay to use the bathroom and provide your own toilet paper (this is more frequent in Asia, but sometimes in Europe)! Figuring out how to flush the toilet is another story...

3. ATMs aka "cash banks" aren't always available, especially in hotels so always get cash at the airport when you arrive. They aren't located in the departure areas.

4. Taxis are really expensive (as I've learned....). Do you research ahead of time and try to arrive during the day so you're comfortable taking the trains. Public transportation is excellent in most large Europe cities.

5. There's a reason I haven't worked out on this trip until tonight. It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to use the treadmill, since it was on a meter system and in another language!

and....

when in doubt, go Italian. If you're a picky-eater, which I guess I can be, Italian food is the safest to go - its the same no matter where you are in the world. And amazingly enough, the Italian food I've had in Germany is among the best I've ever had.

So, Cheerio London, Adios Barceona and Madrid, Au Revoir Paris (...Paris!) and Auf Wiedersehen Munich and Dusseldorf...its been great but I'm going home.