Friday, February 10, 2012

Sprechen sie Englisch?

With my first airline, about as "international" as we got was going to and from Canada. Nothing was really foreign so to speak except for "Smarties" are apparently Canadian "M&M's" where as they're like mini "Sweet Tarts" here. Yup. Oh, and it was very very cold when I went. I remember the roads being iced over and I gripped the door handle like my life depended on it the entire way from the airport to the hotel and back.

Once I started flying for my DOD charter airline, 9 times out of 10 we were overseas. I would leave home and not touch Georgia soil for 3 whole weeks most months. Hence the reason I stretched my maternity leave out as long as I could, while the money was fantastic, I couldn't imagine leaving Lo behind for 3 weeks at a time.

Taken on descent into Frankfurt.
 
My first trip overseas was to Frankfurt, Germany before they closed the Rhein-Main base. I remember being so exhausted from working overnight (we would leave in the late evening Atlanta time and arrive in Frankfurt right at Breakfast Germany time.) It was all I could do to keep my eyes open on the shuttle from the aircraft to customs. I kept telling myself, "YOU'RE IN GERMANY! YOU'RE IN EUROPE! WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO FIRST!!!" My answer? Sleep. Sleep sleep and more sleep. At that point with the company I didn't have enough seniority to choose my beloved Galley position, so I spent the majority of my flight hauling drink/meal carts up and down the aisles, waking up sedated soldiers for snacks and meals was not a high point of my career.

Riding the shuttle to customs.
I learned several things about Germany the first few trips in.
  • Germans don't believe in washcloths and you must bring your own should you want to use one when bathing.
  • Chocolate is a necessity.
  • Donor Kebabs are delicious.
  • Once the sun goes down, boobies are EVERYWHERE on t.v. 
  • It's much cheaper to stock up on "supplies" at Aldi's (they were on every corner not unlike 7-11's in the states) than to eat meals at the Hotel, and much safer than bringing snacks and meals off the plane. What? They were just going to get thrown away!
  • Graffiti is (unofficially) embraced.
  • If you run out of cigarettes, there are cigarette machines everywhere.
 
 Some of the fabulous artwork near the train station in Bingen.

Once Rhein-Main was closed, we started flying into other airports. Hahn was always a favorite because we were more than likely headed to Bingen. Bingen was my FAVORITE little small town in Germany as we had a fabulous view at breakfast looking over the Rhein river. Across the river were dozens upon dozens of vineyards (or maybe it was just one large one?) I would sit and eat my breakfast trying to figure out just how the workers would climb the steep slope up the side of the mountain to pick the grapes. It looked like a near 90 degree slope up the mountain. All I could imagine was one wrong step would send you straight into the Rhein. Next to our hotel, there was a "cruise" boat that would take you back and forth across the Rhein to, what I'm guessing was the vineyard or to see other sites around the area. I'm not a boat person, so I let the others enjoy that. Sometimes we would see Freight ships, once I even got to see a boat filled with bananas. It's amazing to me that little things like a Freighter full of bananas can make you stop and think about how your food gets to you. Granted, I know that most of our region receives their produce from South America, but it still makes you think about how small the world is and how we all have our place in it.

 
You see the "fort" on the hill? Our hotel was directly across the river from there.

The bridge connecting Bingen to Weiler bei Bingen.
Bingen captured my heart because a.) there were tons of places to see in such a small area and b.) shopping!!! There were lots of little markets, an "Eis Cafe" serving authentic gelato, little corners with neighborhood musicians filling the air with beautiful music... it was exactly what I would envision any little old world city in Europe to be.

 Flowers and vines lining the alleyway towards the little town square.

 Countless Euros were tossed into their cases while I indulged on chocolate cherry gelato.

My most memorable trip to Bingen involved all my luggage (clearly marked CREWMEMBER luggage) being shipped off to Doha with the troops we'd dropped off in Kuwait. I was sick with yet another sinus infection at the time and PISSED that I had nothing to wear other than my uniform. I trudged up the hill wrapped in my pea-coat so my uniform was hidden and had to buy a set of pajamas and slippers and other toiletries to make it through the inbetween or until my luggage magically showed up. Which it did... in Atlanta... A MONTH LATER. Regardless of the minor setbacks like ridiculous schedules and lost luggage, I was smitten with what little time I got to spend (while conscious and alert) in Germany. Tomorrow? We will talk about Mainz. Our little "German" vacation isn't quite over yet!

4 comments:

  1. Wunderbar! I miss Germany *so* much! Thanks for doing this (even if it's not *just* for me, I can pretend it is!)

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    1. You're so very very welcome! Part 2 "airs" tomorrow. ;)

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  2. Your pictures are incredible! I've never been to Germany, but it looks absolutely beautiful and charming. :( for lost luggage.

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    1. Thanks! Those were all taken with disposable cameras (doctored by piknik of course!) I have been extremely lucky with my luggage for the most part. I didn't actually start having issues till the end of my career when I was fat and pregnant. Pregnant ladies need their cozy jammies!!!

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