Sunday, October 26, 2008
Trip to Gummersbach
I arrived here in Gummersbach, Germany late last night. It was another long and tiring trip.
First, almost 13 hours flight (KLM air) from Manila to Amsterdam Schipol airport.
Second, a long walk at the airport, long but quick queu at the immigration, then 2 hours lay over for a connecting flight.
Third, nearly one hour flight from Amsterdam to Cologne, Germany.
Finally, about 45 minutes trip to Gummersbach, 56 kilometers from Cologne.
Audio and video entertainment at KLM air was good. While my seatmates were watching various movies, I contented myself with listening to rock music, then pop and later classical music, and rested and sleep. I lacked sleep before that flight.
Amsterdam´s Schipol airport is big and long. It was the 3rd time I set foot on this airport. The first was in 1987 when I attended a 3-months seminar in Amsterdam, the second when I went to London for a conference in June 2005. The airport´s tarmac and runway fields are very wide and well lighted.
From Schipol to Cologne is like a "show of lights" down below. I was seated on the right side of the plane, the city of Amsterdam could be in the left side as there was a very wide expanse of all lights below. The plane is small, only 4 seats per row, so it was flying low, and good for sightseeing at night. For the entire trip of nearly 1 hour, there were dozens of clusters of well-lighted areas and communities below, all the way from Amsterdam to Cologne. It's like a wide area of wild fires in California shown on tv. There was a portion that was dark, I suspected it could be a lake or a wide cloud that covered the view.
Cologne is another wide expanse of all lights city. The airport is not so big, but it is a steel and glass structure. After getting my luggage, a staff of the International Academy for Leadership (IAF), Martin, was waiting for me at the exit. He will bring me to the Theodor-Heuss Akademie in Gummersbach.
Germany's roads are smooth and excellent. I didn' see a single pothole on the roads. Martin was driving a van, but he was flooring the accelerator at 130, 145 kph. No speed limit in Germany, except in some busy intersections. This alone should give this country a good score in individual freedom.
Gummersbach is 56 kms from Cologne city proper, but we reached our destination in about 35 to 40 minutes. The akademie, operated by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNFL), is on top of a small hill. The dormitory is an 8-storeys structure. My room is on the 5th floor, and there is a good view of the small city below the hill.
The seminar I am attending here is on "Local Govt and civil society", Oct 26 to Nov. 2.
We´ll be 23 foreign participants, from S. Africa, Latin America, Asia and middle east, Europe (Turkey, Kosovo, Lithuania, Ukraine). I´m the only Filipino in this seminar. The IAF is conducting about 12 different seminars every year. Initially there were about 63 of us participants from many countries, including 2 other Filipinos, in the online seminar phase. The IAF choose the "top 24" among participants in the initial online seminar, and that`s how I got invited here.
Today the weather is good. But yahoo weather says the temperature will fall starting tomorrow and the next few days. Breakfast at the akademie is plentiful, but typical European food -- bread, various cheese and meat slices, fruits, fruit juices, coffee or tea.
The internet corner is spacious, and its free.
Our seminar will start at 6pm today.