Tom Birch Celebrates 10 Years at Arthrex and Saves the Arthrex Travel Flag From Pickpockets
IT Program Manager Tom Birch and his wife, Family Office Coordinator Barbara Birch, love to travel. They love immersing themselves in history and culture, sampling local cuisine and savoring local wines.
There’s no shortage of places they want to go and things they want to see.
So, when it came time to choose the destination for Tom’s 10-year Trip of a Lifetime, it was just a matter of choosing which places they wanted to cross off their bucket list next.
“I’d been saying for years that I wanted to visit Southern Italy and Greece,” Tom said, “and Barbara found us an 11-day Mediterranean cruise that had ports of call in both of those places as well as Malta and the French Riviera.”
“We love cruises,” Barbara said. “It’s a great way to sample an area, so you know where you want to go when you go back.”
Tom and Barbara started their trip in Rome, where they visited the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Villa Borghese Gardens.
“There were some amateur pickpockets in Rome who were very interested in me for some reason,” Tom said. “No one ever bothered Barbara, but one person tried to take my reading glasses and another woman tried to grab the Arthrex travel flag I had rolled up in my pocket.”
“The whole train laughed at her when Tom slapped her hand away,” Barbara said.
Happy to still have all of their belongings, Tom and Barbara boarded the Norwegian Breakaway in Rome and headed south toward Santorini, Greece. From there, they continued on to the Parthenon in Athens and the site of the original Olympic Games in Olympia.
In Malta, Tom snorkeled in the Blue Lagoon, through caves where the water was brighter and clearer than the air trapped inside the rock tunnels.
After nearly losing the Arthrex flag, Tom and Barbara made a point of taking pictures with it at every destination.
“Every time someone took our picture with the flag, we had to explain that one of the benefits of working at Arthrex is a Trip of a Lifetime,” Barbara said. “People would nod and say, ‘Yeah, yeah, you get time off work,’ and then we’d stop and explain, ‘No, we actually get extra time off and money to put toward paying for the trip.”
“People were always impressed after that,” Tom said.
Among their other ports of call were Sicily, Pompei, Pisa and the French Riviera.
Malta, they agreed, was the most beautiful, but Pompei was their favorite stop.
“Probably because Pompei was so surprising,” Tom said. “At the Colosseum and in Olympia, you have to use your imagination to get from the pile of rocks you’re seeing to envisioning an actual space that was once filled with people. But the entire city of Pompeii – minus the roofs – is still intact.”
“We could have spent two weeks in Pompeii and not seen it all,” Barbara said. “We definitely want to go back there. And we want to go back to the French Riviera and Sicily – oh, and Florence.”
They’re already counting down to Barbara’s 5-year Trip of a Lifetime when they plan to go to Scotland, Iceland and Norway.
“Although, we still want to see Spain, too,” Barbara added. “And Egypt.”
“We are extremely grateful to Arthrex for everything that is provided to employees here,” Tom said. “Arthrex feels like one big family, like a village – with a flag and everything.”
For every five years of employment with Arthrex, employees are eligible for a company-paid Trip of a Lifetime to recognize their dedication. Look for more Trip of a Lifetime highlights on the Arthrex Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn pages.