Friday, January 3, 2014

Day Nineteen and Twenty: That's a Wrap!

Sadly, my time in Deutschland is over and I am back in the ever wonderful United States of America. I know that I love Germany, but it is so good to be home. I never thought I would be so happy to hear an airport worker say "welcome home" to me as I was having my passport checked. January the 1st was excellent I must say. We had dinner at another traditional German restaurant, supper at the hotel again, and spent a good portion of the day packing and then with my great-grandmother. It was sad to say goodbye, but I was ready to be home.

Yesterday started early. I mean early. My mom was up at 0430, I was up at 0450, and my Oma was up at 0500. It was crazy busy, because my cousin's husband was coming to pick us up at 0600. It was a whirlwind morning, because when we went to sleep the day before my suitcase was still not all the way packed and locked shut. We threw in the shower bag, opened the gusset so my coat would fit, and zipped it shut and made sure it was underweight just in time for the knock on the door to come early. Needless to say we were halfway to our on-ramp when my mom and I realized our freshly toasted brotchens were still on the stove (the oven wasn't on, but our bread was in fact left behind). Of course, I managed to remember the gigantic water bottle.

We made it to Frankfurt in amazing time, giving us a whole extra hour to get through security and to our gate. Now, German security is much different from American security now. The Germans do not have the new machines where it goes whoosh and they either have to pat down the masses that show up on your body or you're free to go. Oh no. Not at all. The Germans have a metal detector and agents carrying wands. My mom and Oma beeped and had to be wanded and patted down and it was just uncomfortable to watch; I can't imagine how it was for them. To my great surprise, I didn't beep at all and was waved through to collect my carry-on bags. This was, of course, after having gone through

  1. Bag drop with Delta where we were asked security questions
  2. Boarding Pass Control
  3. Passport Control
And then, after we were through main security, we had to go through another checkpoint at our gate. We had to show our boarding passes and passports again. It was strange because the gates are all cut off from the main area where you can buy things to eat and drink and souvenirs. To get out and back in (even just to take a bathroom break) you had to show your boarding pass and passport. Serious business I say.

By the time we got to our gate, we only had to wait about a half an hour for boarding to begin. We waited and waited and finally were in our seats with our bags stowed in the appropriate places. We were among the first in our zone to board, so obviously we had to wait a while before we pushed back. However, I did not realize that we were actually delayed by about four minutes thanks to a few passengers being late to the gate. I don't fault them however, because of the fact that I watched so many people get pulled away for further searching at security.

This flight took 10 hours(ish). Again it's weird trying to keep track of time when there's so little to do. I watched three and a half movies and that still only got me to where we were four hours out. I took another hour and a half nap, then stayed awake the rest of the time listening to music. I have to say, my favorite parts of the flight were landing, and flying over Greenland. The sky was so clear over Greenland that it seemed as though you could reach out and down and touch the ice and snow covered mountains. Of course this is irrational as we were 36k feet in the air. Here's how clear the sky was: we were able to see a boat in the water on the coast from our windows.

Here's a little something that nobody except me paid attention to: we were flying due south into a 200 mph head wind. Then, we turned in the sky to the southeast and had a tailwind of 200 mph. This completely changed the arc on the map, so my mom didn't believe me when I said we flew over the Great Lakes. We were supposed to come straight(ish) down from Michigan to Ohio to Georgia. I know I'm leaving out states but those were the big ones I remember. We ended up coming over Kentucky and Tennessee before turning to the south again to get us to Georgia and start making our approach. I don't think I've ever been so happy to hear a pilot say, "We are beginning our final approach into Atlanta. Please remain seated with your seat belt fastened for the remainder of our flight". I was a happy girl.

Something interesting about our flight: we had a fantastic pilot. There was a cold front moving over Atlanta when we were making our descent and he warned us that it would be a bit bumpy. But, we only bumped around a bit between 12k and 11k feet and all was well. I was not excited to be landing because I was scared, but because I was excited to get through passport control, baggage claim, customs, and to see my dad. I missed him a lot. I told my mom on our last day in Heidelberg, "I love it here and don't really want to leave, but I miss my dad". It made my day yesterday to come through customs and out into the arrivals gate and see him there. Random: I felt like Harry Potter trying to get all of his things to Platform 9 3/4 on the trolley luggage cart because I was wheeling four suitcases and two carry-on bags. That cart did not handle short, sudden stops to say the least.

Anyway, I got the first hug from dad (hooray!) and let him take over pushing the cart, as it was hea-vy. We made our way to the car, and I must say I don't think I've ever been so happy to see my mom's car, like, ever. We got out of the airport, out of Atlanta, and into another city. Don't ask me to remember the name, because all I know is it had a barbecue restaurant and I had ribs and I was so happy for American food. We then finished our five and a half hour drive (thanks traffic, that swell of you to add an hour) and got home. My cat Bellatrix met us at the door. That was a bittersweet moment because my dog Luna passed while we were in Germany. However, I was happy to be home no matter what.

This was an awesome experience, one I want to have again one day, Of course, next time I'll be able to pitch in and help pay for an American hotel. I want to do more international travel. My passport has two stamps in it, and I want more. There's so many places I'd like to visit! I want to visit the UK for sure, and hopefully Salzburg in Austria the next time I go to Germany. So many places to see! What's more, before my current passport expires, I will have the letters MD permanently affixed to my name. It's odd to think about, but it makes me super excited. This means that I might be able to do some more traveling post grad before I have to renew this thing.

Not sure if I'm going to keep up with this blog outside of travel, but perhaps I'll talk about the adventures I have. I know I'm going to have some unrelated to travel as I prepare for high school graduation. Maybe I'll make a campus visit to my top choices to see if any of them pull ahead in the rankings behind Hopkins, but that remains to be seen. Until next time,

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