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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

TigerHawk travels update 

I'm sitting in my hotel room, listening to the planes take off from Berlin's
Tegel airport, watching the hidious Euro version of CNN, and typing this
post with my thumbs on a tiny little BlackBerry keyboard. Apologies in
advance for the sloppy writing and the typos - thumbs may have been
essential to humanity's invention of tools, but they are a poor substitute
for ten-fingered typing.

First, a bit of a recap is in order. My first European objective was my
meeting here in Berlin yesterday. However, there were no direct flights
from Newark to Berlin on Sunday night, and our cost-conscious travel office
reminded me that I could save the company a grand by flying on Saturday
night. So I did the only sensible thing, which was to fly to Gatwick on
Saturday night and hang out in London on Sunday, flying to Berlin on the
first flight out Monday morning.

Since a large percentage of TigerHawk's globe-straddling readership has been
to London, I'll spare the details. Suffice it to say that I sampled three
pubs and bought the TigerHawk son a pair of Union Jack boxers from a Sikh
merchant just off Picadilly Circus. Don't tell him, though - I want to
surprise him.

Yesterday morning I got up early after a mere five hours of sleep (following
the one hour I had on the flight over), and flew to Berlin for my meeting.
I can't say much about that, except to say that it involved 7 hours in a
conference room with German people who were very tolerant of my drowsiness.
I drank an entire pot of coffee - must have been six cups - and it had no
impact at all. I wonder if they slipped me decaf.

In any case, my German counterpart very generously took me on a driving tour
of Berlin, including through the old Eastern district. He quite learnedly
pointed out examples of commie "architecture," and took me past the great
buildings of Imperial Germany. Suffice it to say that I hope to return to
Berlin someday to take in the architecture, which is really quite something.
Especially if you like statues on the roofs of public buildings, of which
there are a great many in this city.

About the Euro edition of CNN: there is an almost unbelievable amount of
attention paid to the United Nations. CNN has a show devoted to the nooks
and crannies of UN diplomacy which I have never seen in the United States,
and that is but the tip of the iceberg. Is this also true of the European
national coverage? I don't know, since I understand only English. But the
reverance for the UN on Euro CNN suggests a great deal about the huge
differences between European and American attitudes about that institution.

I'm heading to Zurich this afternoon, and renting a car there for the drive
to Tuttlingen, Germany. More later.

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