Sunday, December 07, 2008

Berlin (Dec 08)

So during November and December I somehow had a two day training or conference everyweek. Timing wise it was terrible for work (I only had 1 full week in the office in December before we headed to Aus for Christmas) but because Brush had been away ever week for that period at least it gave me somehting to do

One of these trainings was Berlin for two days for a conference on Disabilty Inclusion in development. I may have already said (or perhaps its in the post on my trip to Armenia that is still half written) that disability inlcusion is my special area of focus along with my country responsibilites (Vietnam and the Philippines).The conference started at 1030 on the first day to give everyone time to arrive, but I had arrived the night before as I didn't want to have to get up at 4 am to arrive in time (I was taking the train). I had planned on getting a nice sleep-in before the confernce but as I got from teh train station to my Hotel and passed the Reichstag and Brandenburg gate I remembered how much I love Berlin so changed my plan to get up early and go exploring. Although it was FREEZING I wandered around for an hour and a half. Just after leaving the hotel I cam across the Holocaust momument (which I think we posted about after our first visit to Berlin) which I love. And this time I was the only person there which was a new and differnt expereince to normal. One nice thing about the momument is that people do just sit around there which gives it more life, but visiting it when it was totally empty and freezing was also great.

Here are some photos I took with my mobile...

One of the trainings I did was in the Netherlands where I did a very expensive but VERY good training course on Appreciate Inquiry. An organisation change, or project plannign tool that unlike normal planning tools doesn't start from a problem analysis but looks at strengths and how to build on them. I think in any work with human beings(which is in any organisation change process) but especially in working on development projects looing at what communiites/organisations already do well and building on that is far more sensible than only talking to people about their problems and what they don't do right... Since I am finished with my masters I am trying to do 1 good course per year to keep learning (thankfully I can tax deduct them :))
(In case anyone has any trainng needs check out www. - they have offices all over the world and if this trianing course is any indication are excellent - very practicle, not just theory blah blah)

The amazing maze that is FRA.

Monday morning last week I had to fly from Frankfurt to Helsinki for a few days, and then on Wednesday evening from Helsinki to Zurich, before returning on Friday evening to Frankfurt. Trips like this aren't normally too bad from the logistics point of view, but as I was flying to Helsinki with Finnair and then back to Frankfurt on Lufthansa my departure and arrival terminals were different - so where to park the car? As I had to be at the airport at 6am, I decided to park in Terminal 2 (departure terminal), meaning that I would have to take the train between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 on Friday night to pick up the car - no biggy.

So Friday night I land back in Frankfurt at 19:00 in Terminal 1, Hall A. I leave the plane and see a couple of signs - 1 pointing to the exit, and 1 pointing to the SkyTrain and Terminal 2, Gates D and E. So I follow the latter sign to the train and get in (calling it a train is generous, as it is more a 2 carriage bus that drives itself...but whatever).

The "train" departs from Hall A on its way to Halls B & C before going further to Terminal 2. At the stop for Halls B & C I notice that our carriage exits on one side, but the other carriage exits on the other. What is the difference? Well, the other carriage has doors on the "public" side, and the carriage I am has doors on the "clean" side - behind security and passport control. Hmmm...what is this going to mean when I get to Terminal 2?

So, the "train" trundles off to Terminal 2 and the same thing happens again. First carriage (mine) exits on the "clean" side, and the other carriage exits on the "public" side - the side I wanted to be on so that I could get to my car.

So I get out of the "train" and follow the signs towards the exit and come to passport control. There was a bit of a line there, and I was a little worried about how the Customs guys would look at someone who landed in Terminal 1 but was trying to clear Customs in Terminal 2, so I decided to get back in the train and go back to Terminal 1 and follow the signs to the exit there before coming back to Terminal 2 on the public side.

"Train" arrives back at Terminal 1, Hall A (which is for passengers only, BTW - public have to get out at B & C) and I get out. Down the stairs and I suddenly notice that where I came in to the train has a big "No Exit" sign, a security guard, and closed doors - none of which I noticed on the way in. :(

So I chat to the security guard and he says that I can either go back to Terminal 2 and clear passport control and Customs there or I can go through the security checkpoint around the corner and then exit Hall A - so I opt for this. Seems a little stupid to have to go through the security scanners just to get to the exit from here, but this was does also lead you onto the concourse where all the normal gates are, so whatever...laptop out, fluids out, belt off, empty pockets, etc.

Through the scanners and guess what? The can of tea that a colleague gave me as part of an Xmas present looks suspicious, so it is off to bomb screening with me and my bags. :( After clearing that it is off through passport control in Hall A, down 2 levels past the baggage collection and through Customs (nobody at the control point in Hall A), up 3 or 4 levels to the SkyTrain, across to Terminal 2, down about 5 levels to my car, and I finally get to go home nearly 1 hr after landing in Frankfurt.

What an ordeal! Next time I will just park in Terminal 1. :)