Ian and I arrived Saturday evening via planes, trains, and zero automobiles. Germany has implemented an efficient public transport system – hooray for lower carbon transportation – albeit a bit chaotic for the non-German speaking Americans.
Our travel experience from Dusseldorf Airport to Bonn, Germany should have been easy, but the language barrier and jet lag were the perfect storm. The train ticket kiosk proved to challenge us both, despite selecting an “in-English” prompt and a touch screen with its myriad of choices. Following two visits to the information booth, a rail employee left his post behind the desk to assist us in printing. He quickly printed our tickets, directed us to platform four and departed, handing us paper tickets printed in German. Off we went from the Dusseldorf Airport to the town center station.
The central train station was a chaotic shopping mall combined with multiple train tracks leading to places unknown. We anticipated COP23 signage, but there were none. With rolling suitcases, backpacks, and a lack of sleep setting in, we wove amongst the myriads of shoppers – all who appeared to be in a great hurry.
Finally, we came upon one lonely information booth and were directed to the proper platform. Our train was late, and unfortunately for two non-German speakers from Minneapolis, an announcement for a platform change was made in German. Rather than risk missing the train on a now-unknown platform, we waited 30 minutes for the next train to Bonn. It was a more circuitous route, taking three times as long as our original plans, but we made it to Bonn in time for dinner but much too late for the Climate March.
We did stumble across a remnant from the Climate March on Sunday afternoon: Lady Liberty proclaiming Free to Pollute.
Yesterday, our delegation got our bearings, attended a Climate Action Network (CAN) event, and registered so we would be ready for an early start. The biggest take away for me was that Climate Generation is present as an NGO, not a negotiator of the climate treaty, but an implementer of the goals determined by the member nations.