Taking the Scenic Route

Going Home. At Last.

24th August 2008

Going Home. At Last.

In Kansas, it was 2am when we woke up and had breakfast in Germany, and 4 am when we pulled away from the hotel in the shuttle bus.  Our hearts ached to see the faces of our kids, and it was 9:30 at night before we rounded the corner and saw them standing there. 

The Frankfurt Airport has got to be the most stale, institutional airport we have been in.  Our trip here we went to the basement and wound through corridors, and didn’t see the outside until we exited the parking garage.  Up a floor it wasn’t much better.  Everything is shades of gray and white, with so many security and passport checks I lost count, and a huge maze of endless corridors to walk through.  For the first time ever we actually had to open up bags at one of the security checks…they wanted to see Zach’s shaving razor.  A little nerve wracking when I couldn’t find it right away and had to dig through our cram packed luggage. Even worse to try and close it again.  We finally made it to our gate an hour and a half after arriving from the hotel, very thankful we only had our carry on luggage to deal with through all of that.   We had another hour and a half to wait.  I knitted, Zach played games on the computer.  I was so glad when they started boarding.

The plane going back for the longest leg of our journey was a seat narrower than the one we flew up in, and without the personal touchscreen tv and information panel.  Boring old fashioned, narrow, crowded seats, but at least this time I had a window seat and Zach was next to me in an isle seat (a little more ability to stretch the legs and not jammed up against a stranger this time).

Accending

Most of Germany and most of the rest of Europe, actually, our view for 80-90% of the trip

The clouds break enough to get a peek at England

and a quick peek at Ireland as we go out over open ocean

Where the sky meets the sea

And after watching Horton Hears A Who, in German, on a little screen off in the distance,  I finally see land again.  I would guess it is Newfoundland, but since I couldn’t watch where were where specifically like I could on the way there, I can’t be sure.

We landed in Chicago O’Hare.  We thought a 2.5 hour layover was a long layover until we had to actually experience it.  We waited in enourmous lines for Customs, were sniffed by drug and agricultural dogs, and I was constantly distracted by a teen I presume was autistic and wished I was physically close enough to the mom to try and help them out as she was obviously struggling with a boy who was just done with the whole thing.  I felt bad that all I could offer where prayers she couldn’t hear.  I had noticed them earlier and could hear them about 20-30 rows behind us when the plane landed and he started crying.  I was glad to see no negative reaction from fellow passengers.  It was hard on me knowing I couldn’t really help, especially since I had heard them speaking exclusively in what I assume was an Indian language.  It further intensified my ache for my own kids.

After the long wait through customs, we found that we had very little time to get the hot dog from Gold Coast Dogs we had been dreaming about since we heard we were flying through Chicago, but we booked it there and back to our gate, arriving with a happy tummy and just in time to board the little plane that would take us home.

After about 19 hours in daylight, the sun finally goes out of sight for us.

Finally, we land.  We walk across the tarmac and once again lug our suitcases up the stairs, and start the longest walk of the trip, the last few hundred feet to see my babies again.

When we came around the corner, Zach spotted them first (height has it’s advantages.  lol).  Zora had her arms out reaching for us, and Zane was clapping in joy.  The grown-ups were all a bit teary.    Mom and Dad took our luggage and we held on to the kids as we went out to the car, hugged good-bye to them, and drove home.  (through a drive in for some burgers because there was no way we were making ourselves supper.  lol)

The kids had the signs up for us when we walked in:

We made it. 
Home Sweet Home.

posted in Frankfurt, Germany, Stress, The Kids, Travel | 3 Comments

24th August 2008

Leaving Attendorn, on to Frankfort for our Last Night in Germany

The hotel in Frankfort was the picture of modern efficiency.  I was impressed by the technology, but after a week with such charming hosts in a smaller town, it felt very sterile. 
When we got to the room this was on the tv

The key had to be put in the wall slot in order to turn on any lights.  It keeps guests from leaving lights on when they leave the room.  It might also tell the desk when a guest isn’t in the room any more, but that is just speculuation on my part.

You could buy internet access for $5 Euros and hour.  Uh, no.  It takes a good 10-15 minutes to connect to anything, so we didn’t mess with it.

The bed was softer than the one we had in Attendorn, but still not very comfortable.  Notice the quilt is smaller than the bed.  It’s a good thing we don’t mind sleeping close together.  lol.

If you opened the windows, the air conditioner shut off.  Pretty clever. 

The view from our window.  The hotel was once the city’s airport (we deduced from the pictures on the wall).  I suspect the orginal building was the gray part, like the section we were in. 

Supper in the eveing was so overpriced that we were appalled.  Clearly dealing with a captive audience here and taking advantage of it.  We finally settled on a four cheese pizza and a ham and cheese sandwich.  Everyone who worked there seemed to speak English like natives, and most of the tables that surrounded us were filled with Americans.  It felt sort of weird after the experience we just had.  Service was paced much more like Americans would be used to also. It was like we were being broken back into “American Life” and we hadn’t even left Germany. 

The breakfast was in the area straight ahead, on the first floor.  It was a buffet breakfast and you had to use your room key to enter the area.  Breakfast was bountiful, but much more geared towards American tastebuds rather than German.  Lots of eggs and bacon, and in the areas with more German foods, it was still good, but clearly not top quality like we had experienced in Attendorn.  One bonus was the coffee machine.  Instead of serving you coffee, you went to a machine and pushed a button of what kind of coffee you wanted…everything from lattes to coffee, to expresso…about 8 or 10 kinds of coffee.  It took about 5 “servings”/press of the button to fill a cup with expresso.  Zach was well wired before leaving.  lol.

If we do this again, we will stay in Attendorn and just deal with the two hour drive the morning or our flight out.  The hotel was fine, but it was a let down after the previous weeks.  It lacked the personality and intimacy we had come to enjoy in Attendorn.

posted in Attendorn, Autobahn, Frankfurt, Germany, Travel | Comments Off

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 15 years, 9 months, and 21 days old
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  • Zora is 11 years, 9 months, and 25 days old
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