Sunday, January 07, 2007

Over the next while, I will be posting some of my experiences while I was in Germany and Switzerland. Hopefully, I will be able to capture some of the feel of what happened. I continue to add pictures to my Flickr account. I have broken up into sets by day so it should give a good picture of where I was.

Germany: Arrival

We left Edinburgh on Lufthansa to Frankfurt Airport. We were placed in the back of the plane but the seats were comfortable and the take-off was easy. The in-flight magazine was in both German and English and the flight crew's English was excellent. As it was a night flight, you could see the city lights below you before the plane left the UK to travel over the North Sea. They served these great sandwiches and had a full compliment of beer, wine, fruit juices, and water. I would highly recommend them if you want to have a comfortable flight.

We landed (on schedule) at Frankfurt International Airport about two hours later. The flight was so smooth that I felt like I had not been on a plane for that long. I was just getting comfortable when we touched down. We got off the plane and made our way to the baggage claim. The first thing that struck me as I was walking down the hallway was that smoking was still allowed inside buildings in Europe. It seems natural to me now that smoking is banned inside all buildings in Scotland (soon coming to England). The Europeans are still taking their sweet time on that account.

Our baggage was one of the first to come off the plane, which always makes it easier to get a jump on the crowd for passport control. I was already nervous about going through passport control. It is completely irrational but I am always afraid that they will turn me away and that I will be forced to fly back to wherever I came from at high cost. There were two lines at passport control, one for non-EU people and one for EU people. There were two officers behind the desk for the non-EU people. One man and one very good looking woman. I got in the line for the good looking woman (of course). My flatmate got in the line for the man. We both approached the desk at the same time. The young woman behind the desk then scanned my passport into the computer. She stared at the screen and furrowed her brown for, what seemed to me, like a very long time as the man asked my flatmate a question then stamped her passport. The young woman began flipping through my passport pages. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I was beginning to sweat bullets as I thought that I was on some kind of watch list. She then landed on my Residence Permit for the UK. My flatmate by this time had walked around the desk and was going for the door. The young woman then showed my passport to the man next to her. He waved his hand dismissively at it and she turned to me and asked if I was traveling alone. I pointed at the back of my flatmate and told the immigration officer that I was traveling with the ever increasingly departing flatmate. The immigration officer stamped my passport and I rushed to catch up with her.

After passport control, the doors dump out into the waiting area. There are still many signs that are used to direct US soldiers around the airport so that they can report for duty. My German friend, however, was nowhere to be seen. We decided that it would be best if we stayed where we were and wait for him. Luckily, we only had to wait a few minutes before he and his father arrived.

From the waiting area, after formal introductions, we walked (and walked and walked) to the car park. At this point, I still did not appreciate how gigantic Frankfurt International Airport was. We piled into their SUV and were on the autobahn quickly. For the most part, we were catching up on interesting local and personal news. It was about an hour and a half to Lollar outside of Giessen where we were staying.

Once we arrived at my friend's parent's house, we got a glimpse of the amazing hospitality that would begin there and not end until we were on the plane returning to Edinburgh. His mother made soup and had bread, cheese, sweets, tea, etc., etc. waiting for us when we arrived. It was an amazing spread. We ate that and chatted with his parents until about 11 pm then they took us to our B&B for the night, which would be our home for the next week.

The B&B we stayed at while we were in Germany was in a place called Ruttershousen (I think that is how it is spelled) which was a five minute drive away from our hosts. It was clean and had very nice blankets for us. All the signs, however, were in German so we had to wait for a translation from my friend later. We unpacked and went to bed for the night.

posted by Chris  #2:01 PM | 0 comments |