Dominic Kotas is one of Global Lingo’s best transcribers. Here he gives a great look into a day in his life on a recent trip to Amsterdam.
The sun is already shining, so it’s not quite dawn, but it’s not that far from it either.
5am: time for a quick shower, some breakfast and some strong black coffee. Before leaving for the airport, I check that all the essentials are in my case – laptop and power pack above all, but also two digital recorders, spare batteries, various cables and minutes of the previous meeting, which will ensure I’m up to speed with all the terminology and acronyms.
Quite an easy route to Heathrow. Whereas previously I would take the tube into and out of central London, I now jump on the train from Balham to Feltham, then take the 490 to Terminal 4. Get there in good time and relax with another coffee. After nervously shuffling through the thorough security checks, I board the plane and find myself with a lot of legroom. Can’t quite figure out why; only partway into the flight, as the cabin crew hand out fancy breakfasts in embossed boxes, do I realise that I’ve somehow ended up in business class. Too late now – just thankful I’m wearing my suit and tie!
Another easy train ride from Schiphol to the centre of Amsterdam, and a short walk to the Hotel Krasnapolsky, which is on one side of a lively and sunny square.
People are lounging around the fountain outside. I check in, then go for a quick walk around the area. First impression – lots of bikes!
1pm: I meet the delegates for a buffet lunch in the Winter Gardens, a lovely, old room with wonderful natural light.
Everyone is very relaxed; we chat about the English election, politics across Europe, the economic situation and the difficulties of interpreting in meetings. One of the great things about European Works Councils is the diversity: everyone speaks different languages and has a different point of view. It’s so refreshing to hear what the Germans, Italians and Dutch think of recent events.
2pm: The meeting starts. It’s not too fast, so I can note down everything that is being said and condense it later; that way I’m sure not to miss anything. The representatives are discussing what issues they would like to raise with management. There are many similar concerns. One notable feature is the coffee-breaks prepared by the hotel staff – the spread is seriously generous, with fruit, lots of biscuits and cakes, sweets and juices. Certainly keeps everyone going.
5.30pm: The discussion ends and I head back to my room to produce a one-page overview, which I print off in the business centre (a very useful feature of the big hotels). Delegates tell me the next day that they find the overview very helpful, as it lists the action points to discuss with management. (Nice to know your work is appreciated!)
7.30pm: We congregate in the foyer and set off through the streets, in the gentle summery air, to a local restaurant. It’s a small room in the back, with a big mural of chefs on the well. Back at the hotel, I have time for a long, hot bath; after nearly falling asleep in the bath, I decide the bed might be more appropriate. The second part of the meeting starts is 9.30am tomorrow, so plenty of time for breakfast – and maybe enough to use the fitness centre first. Isn’t this bed comfortable…