The ITB circuit

I attended the annual ITB trade show in Berlin. It was the kind of trip that adds new layers to old understandings of out-of-town travel events and about travel itself.

So, some thoughts:

  • Airline bashing is as popular overseas as it is here.
  • A Travel Weekly U.K. colleague told how angry, and vocal, U.K. agents are about British Airways' pay cuts.

    In the forum on corporate travel that I covered (and where I was a panelist), I heard plenty of complaints about airline treatment of the flying public. Birger Backman, secretary general of the Universal Federation of Travel Agents' Associations, provided one such list.

    Throughout the show, I heard remarkably often about delegates whose bags were lost by the airlines. One of them was Birger Backman.

  • Among my new business cards, Tlhabologo Ndzinge's carried the longest, most colorful name.
  • She is the principal marketing officer for the Botswana Department of Tourism.

    Her smile is as big as her name, and she is a patient teacher of tangle-tongued visitors like me who aspire in vain to say her name correctly.

  • Typically, there are hundreds of ITB press conferences.
  • We cannot begin to cover just the ones in English, but you are not being cheated, believe me. If real news is being made, the newsmakers find us. Meanwhile, we seek out news in other ways.

  • A party at a beer hall and a visit to friends were the closest I came to sightseeing.
  • The party was in an evocative below-the-street hall called Aschinger Brauerei on Kurfurstendamm.

    The second took me to an apartment, in a turn-of-the-century building, that featured astonishingly high ceilings, vast expanses of rich wood floors and huge pocket doors for separating the three large front rooms.

    It also was a walkup, which changes one's perspective on charming high ceilings!

  • We returned to Ristorante Peppino at Fasanenstrasse 65 because the food (Italian) is good and we like the ambience.
  • I like receipts that show prices in euros (along with the local currency) because the euro's value is so close to that of the greenback that I can tell at a glance roughly what I am paying in dollars.
  • Getting to Berlin's Tegel Airport is a snap: about 20 minutes from downtown.
  • But once there, you find crowds, chaos and aggravation. There is no point in following those instructions to arrive two hours before departure. Passengers for the prior flight at your gate go first regardless.

    A new, larger Berlin airport, projected for 2007, cannot come on line too soon.

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