Each year my company gives staff members a sum of money to undertake a Team Event. Since I started working there, our team has been a bit lax in organising something exciting. But this year we were adamant – we would do something awesome. So we got in early and we threw in some extra cash of our own and we… went to Italy for the weekend. Because why? Because we can.
And while this is a Team Event for employees only, we allowed ourselves to stretch that a bit. You see, we’ve got a collection of wee friends that we work with – and we wanted them to come along too. There’s TMF Bear – he’s the strong, sturdy type that helps out with tough decisions. Then there’s Gartner Giraffe – he’s the sympathetic one, there to hold your hand when you’re feeling a bit panicky. And then there’s the Meerkat – and as much as we love him – he’s the creepy one. He’s judgey and he likes to watch. But he’s also helpful with tedious jobs.
So off we went to Grado, a small Italian town on the coast about 2.5 hours away. The three of us split the drive to arrive on a coolish day to our cosy (read, tiny) cabin in a caravan park by the sea. This was, I would say, a pretty standard caravan park – and it was also shoulder season, so the place was looking fairly rundown, as was the beach. As we stepped into our cabin it literally shook – as in, it was on stilts, so every time one of us moved it was like an aftershock – and that included just rolling over in bed!
We’d congratulated ourselves on the low price we’d found for this gem of a place, and now we understood why. Still, if we were going to do Team Event properly, and really become a Team, living in cramped quarters for two nights would do it – in the end either we’d love each other or we’d hate each other. So we drew straws (ok, stones) for who got the double bed and headed out for lunch.
Thankfully, the restaurant at the caravan park was considerably better than the park itself, and we sat gazing out at the ocean eating delicious calamari and drinking Aperol spritz. In the afternoon we headed further afield to roam the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town, take photos of the beautiful churches and hunt for restaurants.
Saturday morning we awoke to rain. Hoping it would pass, we breakfasted first and thanked that at least the drumming of the rain blocked out the noises we made when we went to the toilet – like I said, it was a very small cabin. And then abruptly at 9, the rain stopped, the sun came out and the ground all but steamed with heat. Which made for a very sweaty run/walk, but again, we’d spent the night together now, so we were comfortable with sweating together.
Then it was back into town for some more wandering (ok, ok, we were just waiting for an appropriate time to enjoy a beverage) – and a couple of sneaky beers on the beach in the sun before dinner.
Grado is a beautiful town, close to Lignano where we go each summer, and while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the caravan park (unless you’re toting a few kids or a dog), it’s definitely somewhere I would go back to. I can only imagine what it’s like in high summer, but it was very pleasant being there before the crowds, immersing ourselves in the Italian chatter, the empty beaches, the gelato and the Aperol spritzers.
On Sunday we packed ourselves up, enjoyed a last Italian meal of calamari and headed home. And do we hate each other? No, of course not – we love each other even more. We’ve levelled up our friendship and our work can only benefit from that.
Either that or we’re all now secretly on the hunt for new jobs!