Magebit Trips - Support Team in Puglia
As a team manager of our Support Team of Magebit I had always dreamed of getting some day my team outside of the office in order to travel to some sunny place on the planet and try to do the development from there. I imagined this to be a sort of going for swimming and diving after the work and enjoying my time with the teammates in evenings. Summers in Latvia tend to end before they actually start, therefore Autumn seemed to be a perfect timing in order to prolong the warm weather at least for just a little bit.
Once the trip for the Support Team of Magebit got approved I started to explore possible destinations. The very important condition for us was to find flights that would fall within weekends, since we could not afford to miss a business day being in airports as communication with customers is very intense. We checked across all the possibilities across Mediterranean region and ended up with only one option suitable - Puglia, Italy. To be honest, there was nothing that I knew about this area of Italy and surely was not planning to go there in the nearest future. It has been said "Take it or leave it", so we just went for it.
Spending a week abroad while still working was something unexplored for Magebit and the first trip had to be an experiment. I started to prepare for this and there were a couple of things that just needed to go smooth. First, it was well understood that we are screwed if get an accommodation with a poor or even unstable internet. Second, I needed to make sure the house we were about to rent will have enough beds, so everyone can sleep comfortably and you cannot always believe everything written on Airbnb. Third, needed to make sure that the house is located in a nice area, from which we can reach all the pretty sights comfortably. Lastly, we needed a vehicle to fit 6 persons into it. Luckily, all the things seemed to be safely resolved and we were ready to go.
We Landed in Bari Airport at around 5pm, grabbed a car and off we went into the highways of Puglia. Our house was located some 100 kilometers from the airport, so it was some distance to drive along the coast. We were promised to be met by a host in Specchiola at one of the local restaurants. Spent some time waiting and calling, and eventually the host (an Italian man) and his daughter came. After exchanging a couple of words we were guided to have a look at the house. It appeared evident that the daughter of the host was brought because of her father not being able to speak a word in English, so it was quite pragmatic from his side.
First impression about the house was pleasant. It had a spacious living room, enough beds to for sleeping and a nice backyard with palms. We did a check on the internet and it worked, so we postponed further testings. While listening to instructions and house rules we suddenly were informed that we are expected to sort all our waste during the week and collect it in 5 different types, which I believe we had not mastered throughout our visit to Puglia. All in all, it was clear how to survive the next week and it was a Ciao to our hosts until the morning of next Saturday.
The next day was vital as it was the only day we would be able to fully spend travelling around the region. I did my homework and browsed for the most picturesque spots in the region, so we headed straight to the cliffs of Torre Sant'Andrea, which were promised by internet to be fantastic. There was 0 regrets about this choice - the water was clear, the sun was shining and the cliffs stood majestic. We jumped into to the water without much hesitation and it felt that it was exactly that is needed after getting away from the autumn in Riga.
Next stop was Otranto that is located at the very bottom of the heel of Italian boot. Unfortunately, as soon as we drove into the ancient city, the rain caught us unprepared. The absence of umbrellas made the Support Team to be stuck in the car for an hour as the showers got heavier.
After the rain had calmed down we went into the streets of a once an ancient town of Greek Hydrus. From Otranto you get exactly what you would have expected from a coastal Italian town - a pretty walking harbour, narrow old town streets and shabby buildings. Just minutes before heading back home to Specchiola we caught a dramatic sunset over the harbour of Otranto.
During the business days we were balancing between working in the mornings and being tourists in the evening. There were 2 main obstacles in getting as much as possible from being in Puglia. First, it got dark after 7pm. Second, it rained from time to time. The dark came at the expected time whereas it was almost impossible to predict the rain as the weather forecast was constantly lying. The master plan was always the same - to get up as early as possible and to do as much as possible in order to get free for some ride around Puglia.
Working together and now also living together was quite practical. We could save a lot of time on not driving to the office and back home from the office. The office was now just one door away from our bedrooms. During the sunny days it was a great bonus to be able to get to our backyard and begin our first e-mail checks under the palms. The atmosphere seemed much more relaxed, though the work routine and the mission stayed the same. After getting back from daily evening trips to the closest towns we were having a nice chill with pizzas and drinks.
During our stay in Puglia we visited various towns in the region. One of those - Ostuni. Inhabited since the times of stone age and currently a producer of wines and olives, Ostuni is a charming fortress type of towns sittin on the top of the hill. We surfed through the maze of the streets with white buildings to get to the very top. The end of September seemed to be a perfect moment to explore Ostuni since during the summer months the city gets overcrowded with tourists and you cannot get the vibe of passing the quiet streets anymore.
Another "must visit" location was Polignano a Mare. The city is the most famous destination for a unique beach experience for those staying in Bari. There is a lagoon type of beach that is squeezed between the cliffs and the buildings of the town, which makes it an exceptional spot. During the summertime the beach hosts many diving competitions where the participants dive into the lagoon from the cliffs and the buildings of the city.
On the last day of our trip we decided to move out from the house as early as possible and try to manage to explore as much as we can on our way back to the airport. First one was Alberobello, which was suggested by every blog or article you might read before going to Puglia. Although being packed with crowds of tourists, the town was exactly as displayed in the pictures. We walked up and down the narrow streets with small houses built in a dwarf style.
Time was ticking and we headed towards our last destination in Puglia - Locorotondo. There it was, just around 20 minutes long drive away from Alberobello. Once we entered the town we came across central square with a fountain in the middle, so we just sat down on the benches to enjoy the sun. While relaxing we suddenly were able to discover the character of this small town of Puglia. All guided by parents and dressed in uniforms children were returning home from school on Saturday afternoon (not sure why on Saturday). Cars were driving by and whenever a driver identified the known person from a town he or she stopped to say hello. There was a feeling in the air that indicated strong links within this small community.
Lastly, after exploring the typical old town streets of Locorotondo we headed to the park on the top of the hill. The temperature was getting warmer and warmer towards the evening, unfortunately it was a time for us to say goodbye to Puglia and start heading towards the airport.
The team can actually boost its productivity while being abroad.
When you get informed by a host before a trip that the internet on the spot is perfect, never take that for granted and never compare it to Latvian standards.
When you have already put on your swimming shorts and are ready to go to the beach, you can still be stopped by a customer with a helping hand of Jira status called "Immediate".
Even when an Italian person clearly understands that you do not get anything in Italian, you are still being advised and answered in Italian.
There must be a responsible person assigned for taking care of cleanliness in the kitchen and taking out garbage.
Interestingly, performing same activities and going through the same work related routine throughout the day felt completely differently when being abroad. Different atmosphere, warm air and the sea cost surely did the work. Everything just did not seem so time sensitive anymore. I believe having our time in Puglia had made the links between us stronger. It was fascinating how many new things we learned about each other. Arguably, we would never find those out if not given the opportunity to breakaway from the usual office routine. I'm quite confident we will have many more new adventures to reveal soon!