A Travellerspoint blog

April 2016: Spain to Stavanger to Salt Lake to Saudi Arabia

With stops in Ireland, Belgium and Amsterdam!

OK, I know when people read these blogs you are probably thinking "Wow, that must be a lot of fun!" Sometimes I could argue and point out the various travails and lack of time between meetings, etc. But not this time. This month was great.



We were just back from my trip to KL for a few days when it was time to hit the road again. First stop Madrid. While there are a few SPE members there this trip was mainly about our sister societies of SEG and AAPG where I was speaking in a plenary session in Barcelona.

In Madrid we saw a Wagner opera at their amazing opera house, toured the Prada and Thyssen museums, saw the Templo de Debod (a fantastic story of an ancient Egyptian temple that would have been destroyed with the construction of the Aswan dam but then relocated to the center of Madrid!). We managed a 14 course meal at a Michelin 2* restaurant and went to the LDS temple. It was cold enough that we had theChurros con Chocolate (basically churros you could dip in a super thick hot chocolate). Yum.



Madrid is far more laid back than Barcelona. The one tourist thing you MUST do in Barcelona is to tour the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. I have been to many churches, temples, mosques, etc in my life but nothing was like this place. Under construction for many decades, it is still incomplete. but they continue to work on it. Plan on 3-4 hours. Wow!

The rest of the town is great. Huge old section of the city promises to get you lost as you explore it, the waterfront, the hills. My wife explored it much better than I did because I spent my time at the conference. We did get to eat the paella.


After Spain we had an all too short trip to Dublin, Ireland.


I expected to like Dublin but I had no idea how much I would love it. I met with many of the section members, leaders and students and was a keynote speaker at a large section meeting combined with another group. We were given a tour of the University College Dublin including the book of Kells and the Long Room. I made a presentation at the University of Dublin. Jan and I toured the city and its many churches and sights. We ate the great food and took a quick trip to the countryside. I cannot wait to go back.

The trip was short because we needed to get to Stavanger, Norway for the SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, Security and Social Responsibility where I participated in student, YP and Plenary events. We did have to get there for the weekend (instead of touring Dublin) since my granson was getting baptized. We did some touring with that family of four super fun boys. One spot we toured was to a WWII era embankment where the Germans built fortified areas for their sea-facing cannons. The boys had a blast climbing all over everything.
The SPE section President is Donal Meehan. Of course my first name is Donald. So here we are!


We had a short trip in Dublin because we had to get to Stavanger, Norway. For SPE I was speaking and participating in many ways (plenary speaker, students, YPs, etc.) in the SPE "Getting to Zero" conference on Health, Safety, Environment and Social Responsibility. I also was going to see our four grandsons including the one who was getting baptized. We toured the Norway sights and our little goofballs climbed all over the countryside. We tasted the local food and my daughter and my gf did a little shopping.


Then off to Amsterdam.


Well, we had some meetings fall apart in the middle of the trip so we decided to kill a few days in Belgium where we could see a few operas. Can't fly home in the middle of the trip! Because of security issues the Brussels airport was still closed so we went to . We caught two operas, toured these wonderful cities and tried the best of the local cuisine.

And now Liege pics


Driving back we went right by the Atomium.

Den Haag and Amsterdam

Most of the Den Haag appointments are rescheduled but we have friends at Delft University. We met at the Mauritshuis museum and the amazing MC Escher museum.
There is also an LDS temple in Den Haag

The tulips were amazing as well.

In Amsterdam after the meetings we caught another opera.


Back in Houston it was flooding. Seriously flooding with water half way up our lawn. We were oblivious until we had to go WAY around to get home. My presentation to the Permian Basin study group on the other side of town took hours to get to as I headed northeast to get to a location well southwest of my home. Attendance was good however.


My youngest son was graduating from college. We saw friends in SLC where I had recently addressed the University of Utah, BYU and SPE sections. I had to race away from graduation to catch a flight to Denver and thence to Frankfurt and Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia

The Saudi section has done an admirable job in building up their annual technical symposium and it now is one of the premier SPE events worldwide. I spoke at the women's section of Energy4me and toured Saudi Aramco. I was a keynote speaker in the opening session and I have to say the hospitality they extended to me was absolutely amazing. I had a chance to meet with various senior executives and participate(!) in their cultural events. I am looking forward to returning.


As a reward for going through all these pics, here are two videos from the SPE ATSE cultural event. The young girls dancing and singing is adorable. I am featured as the "Saudi groom" in the next video. I hope you enjoy them.

When I returned to Houston we caught two more operas in Houston!

Other Blogs

You can of course read about my barbecue at This site
My Baker Hughes reservoir blog is here.
My (old) blog detailing my 18 months in Hong Kong is here,

Travel this trip (basically includes airport to airport) 31,528 miles. SPE travel to date 336,997 miles.

Countries to date (my counting rule is basically that I spent the night there with some sort of SPE content...not just went through the airport like New Zealand or Panama): 36
Czech Republic
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom (Scotland, England)

Operas this month = 6 Operas to date = 48

Posted by fracmeister 17:00 Archived in Saudi Arabia

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