Greetings from Poland!
Today is the first day of the conference, and it is absolutely AMAZING. This morning we went to the opening session and heard remarks from some very important people including the presidents of COP 13, 14, and 15 (Bali, Poznan, and Copenhagen, respectively), the prime minister of Poland, and the head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the organization that, along with former VP Al Gore, won the Nobel Peace Prize last year). After the opening remarks, we headed off in search of lunch where we were able to effectively order, partially in Polish, food for 5 vegetarians and 4 non-vegetarians (lots of pointing and charades have been quite necessary, we're finding). We've also found that food is extremely cheap here - my plate of 'pierogies ser' (pierogies filled with some kind of cheese and sprinkled with sugar and whipped cream on the side - SO GOOD) and a .5L bottle of Coca Cola were 8 zloty, which converts to less than $3! Food at the convention is relatively expensive, however, so we plan on packing lunches for the rest of the week.
After lunch we went to the US press conference, which was very interesting. Journalists from all over the world (one from the US, two from the EU [one from Reuter's], one from Japan, etc) were asking questions of Dr Harlan Watson (US ambassador to the UNFCCC) and Daniel Reifsnyder (from the US Department of State) about a variety of issues, mostly about the Bush administration and what Obama plans to do when he takes office.
One thing that was really strange for us at first was the fact that only two or three of us have cell phones that work over here. There have been some incidents where cell phones would have definitely been useful, but now that we all pretty much know our way around, a lot of us are actually kind of enjoying not being constantly connected.
There's a reception tonight being hosted by the Government of Poland - free food and mixing with other delegates! Should be a good time :-)
~Vanessa (or, the Polish spelling, 'Wanessa')