Sunday, December 22, 2013

20th December –  Meet Martin @ hotel and then Rosario, Maria, Benji and Paola @ Open Knowledge in Milan

Here for just a one night stop over on our way to Ortesei. Our next connection is with Gary and Lyn’s younger Son Martin.
Martin Tong...alias John Steed
We found him waiting outside, in the rain, at our hotel. Martin has an interesting vintage taste in clothing. The bowler hat he had recently purchased in Morocco caught our attention. He only needed the black umbrella to complete the John Steed Avenger look-alike. Martin is the archetype couch surfing traveller. He has also been to Milan many times, spending several weeks on Giovanni’s couch several years ago.
Best place to be on a wet Milan day...Dumo in the background
Julie is obviously happy with her menu choice!

The wet and cold weather was in contrast to the sunny June and September stops I had made this year. The Navigli  looked decidedly sleepy, compared to the buzzing and vibrant place of the warmer months.

Our next connection was with Rosario and Emanuele who are the founders of Open Knowledge and my business partners in Italy. It is worth relaying how I came to be connected to Rosario. Giovanni, Gary’s now former brother in law, had once worked with a former company that Rosario and Emanuele ran. Giovanni introduced us to his friends and business associates during one of my business trips to Italy more than 10 years ago, understanding that we had very similar interests.  Rosario is an interesting character. He has a connection to Australia as in his youth was an educational volunteer in Fiji before moving to Australia. During his time in Australia he not only purchased a didgeridoo to take home, he drove by himself  across the Nullarbor to Perth! He nearly didn’t make it as he rolled his van and ended up in hospital in Perth, then on recovering he bought another van and drove to Darwin! My initial thoughts were this is a crazy Italian. He had probably driven across Italy in a couple of hours and thought nothing of driving across an county… Then again the Italians look at me ordering my lunchtime cappuccino and are thinking crazy Australian ordering cappuccino after 10:am!

Open Knowledge Office
Julie and I visited to Open Knowledge offices to share in their end of year beverages. Open Knowledge was been very successful in building a rapidly growing business around social business despite the European economic struggles. The run an annual conference on social business, which is the biggest outside of the USA. I have been privileged to be invited to speak at for each of the 6 times it has run to date.

At Open Knowledge we met Paolo who is a long term sales person for them and a native of Sicily, which is on Julie and my travel agenda this trip. Its nice to get local knowledge of Sicily, what Mt Etna is currently doing, avoiding the mafia etc..

Benji and Maria...playing 'trains'
Our next connection was a long awaited one for Julie, Benji Sica is Rosario and Maria’s delightful 2 year old son. We had attended Rosario and Maria’ wedding in South Africa three years ago. We had also viewed many facebook updates from his birth so Julie was thrilled to see him in person for the first time.
Rosari and hi-tech Benji. He has mastered the
'Swipe and Select'
Maria I had first met with Rosario and Giovanni before Open Knowledge was started 6 years ago. Maria is Bulgarian but grew up in South Africa. They have a romantic story of meeting on a train between Milan and Venice, where Rosario helped lift Maria’s baggage into the overhead racks … but more on this later.

Social Network Update

New and old connections

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