The first leg

Trip Start Aug 24, 2009
Trip End May 24, 2010

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Flag of Germany  , Hesse,
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I am safe and sound and currently sitting at Stern Kafferosterei, a small café in Frankfurt, Germany, devouring a caprese ciabatta and a coffee with milk. Let me begin at the beginning though. My plan was to be totally prepared by Monday, thereby spending my last day sleeping in, eating breakfast, and visiting family. This plan went horribly amok when I ended up still awake at 2:00 am the night before, not fully packed and having a moderate emotional breakdown. Perhaps it wasn't wise to offer to move my entire room elsewhere the week before my departure just so my sisters could finally stop sharing a room. Oy.

Anyway, adding to my stress was the fact that when I finally finished packing the morning of my flight, my bags were both overweight. Needless to say the thought of the $150/per bag overweight fee did not excite me so my whole family and I went into high gear removing and weighing anything and everything that I could do without. Question: "Is this roll of toilet paper absolutely necessary?" Rebuttal: “Does that roll of toilet paper even weigh anything?” The answers are no and yes in case you are wondering. Triumph finally came when both bags were an even 50 lbs.

It should also be said that putting off going to the bank until the 24th was a less than bright idea because they apparently employ sloths.

Finally, after many a farewell bash and many last minute short but sweet goodbyes, I was off to the airport with my nuclear unit and Nicholas. Of course by now we were pushing the time limit for international flights so I am booking it to the United Airlines counter only to find out a need to go to the Lufthansa counter. Bah. So I go to the Lufthansa line. Waiting, waiting, waiting. My turn! The attendant takes my passport somewhere and again I am waiting, waiting, waiting. She finally returns and the stress I was already feeling was compounded by the next words that came out of her mouth…wait for it…wait for it…are you ready? She said, “Your ticket was voided earlier today, you’ll have to talk with United Airlines.” My reaction was tried and true ::blink blink:: …., followed by ::cry::

It turns out there was some mistake – my credit card bill could have told them that. Even though they were still able to give me my tickets, I am pretty sure the acute stress induced by that incident shortened my life by a few years.

As always, security was fun. Remove shoes, remove laptop from case, remove netbook from case, remove bangles from wrists, remove paper thin “jacket” because I suppose I could be hiding explosives underneath.

The flight that brought me to Frankfurt was nine hours long. Shockingly I didn’t get up once during the flight…mostly because I was dehydrated, exhausted, and sandwiched between two large men who also never got up. The flight was smooth, the food was good, and I watched I Love You Man between my much needed naps. Unfortunately the men behind me were a bad combination of what can only be described as partially deaf, probably rude, and definitely drunk. And the grumpy man to my right, who couldn’t help but seep into my personal bubble since the armrests couldn’t contain him, got in a weird verbal confrontation with the open shirted man behind us. I think I had flashbacks to the CSI episode where a group of passengers ban together to kill another passenger who is out of control and endangering their flight. I wanted to ask if one or both of their brains was swelling because that was the explanation for the erratic behavior in the episode.

Once I arrived in Frankfurt I went through customs, exchanged some cash, checked my bags, bought a train ticket, and headed into the city. Haha, that makes it sound so easy! It actually took me like an hour and a half to figure all this out. I think I literally know like four words in German (hello, thank you, two, and chalkboard easer). Plus, there is hardly any English in Frankfurt (on signs, maps, etc) and I feel so awkward asking people for help when I can’t even pretend to ask in their language. But I managed to make it out of the airport and after wandering a bit and seeing a few churches and a modern art museum I finally decided I should nourish my body and spend some of these Euros that make the US dollar feel like pesos.

This brings us to the ciabatta and coffee. It’s now 1:45 pm. Where I am sort of feels like my brief time visiting Rachel in Rome (cafes, piazza type areas, lots of public transit, brick roads, gelaterias), but the buildings of note are more gingerbread/Dutch-like. Yes, I understand that gingerbread/Dutch-like is probably not an official architectural term, but I am neither an architect nor an art historian so this is my description.

I am going to try and find a wireless network to post this from (according to the tourist butt wipers who give you maps and circle things like “you are here, and yadda yadda is here,” there are no cafes or public places that offer wi-fi to the public). If I can’t post now I will just put this entry up later. Now off to the Palmengarten and/or the Zoo before I head back to the airport to leave for Amman.


Nope, no free wi-fi anywhere in this city (that I know of). Oh well, I will post this after I get to Amman. I am back in the airport waiting to board the plane. After I left the café I headed to the Palmengarten which is like an arboretum kind of. Very beautiful and calm. They had these awesome reclining benches dispersed all over to lounged and read some more David Sedaris. I wanted to go to the zoo afterwards and I was so proud that I figured out exactly how to take public transit to the zoo and then from the zoo to the airport. Dun dun dun. It couldn’t be that easy, could it? On my way to the zoo the driver said something over the loud speaker and everyone exited the tram/train/metro thing. I played sheep for awhile but it was unclear to me where everyone was going so I finally found out that there was some kind of fire underground at the next stop which is why we could not continue. No sweat. I’ll just walk a few stops and then take the system to the zoo… not. Fire trucks and police cars started coming from all over and everything got roped off while one of the officers announced what was happening over a loud megaphone. This was of course in German so I tried to find out from people what was going on but apparently the story was sort of unfolding so no one really knew yet. Meanwhile I was getting more and more nervous because I needed the public transit system to get to the airport and the fire situation didn’t show any sign of dissipating. I just started walking here and there asking people this and that and none of the answers matched with each other. To make matters worse, although I really didn’t want to exchange more money for a cab because I feared the high fees, the cabs were being ordered by the police to take people (free of charge) wherever they needed to go within a particular distance so none of the cabs were even available to drive me to the airport. Trust me, I asked. Finally I figured out how I could still get to the airport and although it took me awhile to book it to the main train station on foot, hopped on the train (different than the underground system which had been closed), picked up my bags, ran through customs, and wrote this up, all with 15 minutes to spare before they begin boarding! Whew! I wonder how common it is to travel without a major crisis like “voided” tickets and massive fires in the public transit system that is supposed to take you back to the airport to catch your connecting flights. Hopefully my arrival in Amman goes well because I don’t think I will be able to handle a crisis at 2:00 am in a foreign country.

Special PS to my mum: If I would have gone to Best Buy I probably would not have bought the netbook case you chose (not that I cared when you brought it home, I was just happy to have one before leaving). Long story short, I threw my passport and money in it while I ran around Frankfurt and it is PERFECT. The pockets and the strap….it really is like the perfect bag because anytime I use it I won’t need to carry anything else. Shukran!
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