Bonn as World Centre for Conferences

Trip Start May 30, 2008
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Trip End Jun 2008


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Monday, June 2, 2008

It's nearly the end of my first full day in Bonn.  To say I haven't exactly explored what this Small Town in Germany has to offer yet, would be an understatement - but I have been busy, and I AM here on business not as a tourist.
 
My Zen evening alone in my kitsch room (lovingly described yesterday) was interrupted by the arrival of my friend and co-conspirator (in terms of strategic communications) at 11pm.  Luckily the hotel had given me a key, otherwise his gerney would have come to an abrupt end at the locked doors of the hotel.  We searched high and low wandering the deserted Sunday night time streets of Bonn, before we settled on an Irish pub which was across the street from the hotel.  I blame my friend and the delightfully friendly bar tender, who had the beauty of a Freya (German goddess of love, who I would assume was no back end of a bus) and the charm of the Irish (perfect job for her then).  
 
When I got back to my spinning 1970's room of orange and brown at 2am, I made the mistake of leaving handfuls of facetious remarks on the blogcatalogue discussion boards.  So I wasn't exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed when I met my friend for breakfast in the morning, and was introduced to others who were in my line of business.  Needless to say the breakfast room outdid all my expectations of bad taste.  And the food, as I would have expected was heavy, German and delicious - cheese, bread and gherkins (and, if I wasn't a vegetarian - dried sausages). There should be a sign at the airport, "all ye with notions of weight loss, turn back here".   The ridiculously huge selection of conserves and spreads was enough beg the question "who put the acid in my tee?"  Of which there was over a hundred choices (making me feel like a ninny for bringing my own green tea bags) and a staggering 28 different choices of sugar, set out on a special sugar table.  Nobody NEEDS that much choice.  I am only guessing that someone in the establishment suffers from a bizarre form of OCD.
 
Despite allegations of mental unwellness - the service and friendliness of the hotel staff was exceptional, and I would thoroughly recommend Am Romerhof to anyone visiting Bonn, who doesn't require plush minimal aesthetics.   
 
Taxis in Bonn seem to arrive almost before you have ordered them and the speed they drive at means you often arrive long before you have departed.  Well, I suppose most of them ARE Mercs, not designed to mosey.  
 
The Conference I am attending here in Bonn is at the World Conference Centre - once Germany's Parliament, now turned global meeting place.  I did feel a little bit for the city, as a gaggle of politicians (this IS the correct collective term, I have checked) banged on about how Bonn would become a global centre.  They must feel a bit abandoned, as an ex-capital city.  Let's hope, like a jilted lover, Bonn will go on and make good and give Berlin a run for its money.   
 
I won't go into details here about the content of the conference, as I have already written about it in my Public Diplomacy blog, and the World Bank very kindly asked me to be a guest blogger for the occasion - so I wrote Blogging for Peace and The Media has a Responsibility?  It's blog madness round my house. The conference (Media in Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention) was attended by about 500 journalists and "media types" who live and work in some of the worlds toughest places.  It was a moving place to be, and initially everyone who spoke chose to draw attention to their own plight and the oppression of journalists in their own countries.  I think whilst the dynamism and passion was apparent in the room, there was an element of fcked-up-ness which would have been overwhelming for some.   The emotional scars on some faces were pretty clear. Having done my spell under fire in Iraq (and been in some other difficult spots), I am not quite the conflict virgin - so I was far from overwhelmed (strangely, at home in fact).  A small stand outside was hosted by an earnest woman who spoke of dealing with PTSD for journalists.  Adrenaline junkies they may be, but they ARE purveyors of the truth and as Dr Ebadi said in her keynote speech, "journalists are the spokespeople for those suffering human rights abuses".
 
So.  Well.  Heavy stuff.  I am off to explore Bonn this evening with a handful of delegates.  And if what I said above is true (emotional scars, etc) then, in my experience, helping others enjoy a bit of R&R away from a war zone, promises to be a good night out!
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Where I stayed

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FigueroaDesiree on

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