The journey from Singapore to Gothenburg Landvetter Airport was uneventful and we landed without incident in the early morning. The floors of the airport were clean and white, the few people moved with ease, and I took the time to take a good look at the airport.
As the first place most tourists see of the country, no expense was spared to make a good impression. Numerous plasma screens of arrival and departure times lined the wall of the airport. There was a fountain of a young student reading from an open book and water was sprouting from the book. The water pouring out of book was captured by the base of the fountain; a round basin made of marble. Soft classical music played in the background. At this early hour the airport was about as serene as an airport ever could be.
Located on the west coast of Sweden, Gothenburg is the second-largest city in Sweden, and one of the largest in the Scandinavian Bloc. It was quiet and elegant city, a good place to learn. And the city planners know it.
Several universities like the University of Gothenburg, the University of Higher Science and Technology, and the Scandinavian Technological University were in Gothenburg. As it is home to many students, a lot of key companies located their regional headquarters in the city. This is considered the norm for areas with a lot of higher education. Companies usually donate a lot of money to the universities to get first dibs on their best graduating students, and the universities get a lot of money and a steady amount jobs for their students. You can even say the universities and companies were locked in a virtuous cycle of mutual dependence. As the home to both higher education and key companies, it was no wonder the Conference of New Energy and Technology was being held in Gothenburg this year.
I was exactly a little surprised when Tanner offered me an all-expense paid trip to attend the conference. As the designer of the Mana Minotaur, I had the right to attend the conference, but I thought the council would want to settle the business side of our deals on their own. I was sure the council had their own reasons for wanting me around, but I couldn't care less. I jumped at the chance.
Sure, I would be in unfamiliar territory, but you don't get an invitation to attend a high-level science conference every day. Many scientists and scholars would be present. They would be giving talks, and showcasing their research, so it was a great opportunity for me to learn. I may even find new inspiration for my designs. Using the SWOT analysis model of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, I would be a fool not to come.
Once I agreed, the council took care of everything. Showing their professionalism, the council arranged my travel plans. They booked the hotels, arranged the transport, and even arranged the arrival time of my flight to be in the early morning. However, I wasn't a total fool. I didn't know why the council wanted me here, so I had Salma and Howard with me. Having some protection was better than nothing.
The three of us got through customs without a problem and there was a car waiting for us. The Swedes used various modes of transportation, but the car was still the main mode of travel. Salma checked the vehicle for bugs and bombs before we got onto the vehicle. I wanted to drive, but Salma was having none of it. In her words, I could drive, but I can't 'DRIVE'. In capital letters. Since it was what I was paying her for, I could only nod in defeat and sit quietly in the backseat. We flew over the city and it was beautiful.
First founded in 1604, Gothenburg was a true historic metropolis. The skyline was not dotted with towering skyscrapers, but quaint charming old buildings. I had taken a brochure from the airport in Singapore and had casually read it on the flight to pass the time. I knew Gothenburg had several parks and nature reserves, some of which went into hundreds of hectares. It is home to several museums and theatres and had a diverse music community. The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra was supposed to be world-class. As a city-boy from Singapore, none of these interested me but the fact that there were hundreds of diners, bakeries and restaurants in the city does. The city supposedly offered a plethora of culinary choices and boost several Michelin star restaurants.
What can I say? I'm a Singaporean. Good food attracts us like flies to honey.
After an hour of driving, we arrived at the Vinda Regional. The council had arranged for our stay at the hotel, and said it was a quaint quiet hotel that was prefect for our use. Personally, I think they chose it because it was cheap and near the university.
The Conference of New Energy and Technology was to be held at the campus of the University of Higher Science and Technology, and the council had found a man by the name of Liam Haraldsson to do the presentation. I searched the name on the Solar Net and found that he was an actual professor. At a hundred and six years old, he is considered a veteran in the field of energy research though he wasn't very well-known and most of the commentary I found about the man weren't very flattering. He was considered a dabbler who had not achieved any breakthrough despite spending decades in the field. He also hadn't released many thesis and papers. He fits our needs perfectly.