A Long Haul Day

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Friday, October 19, 2012

Howdy folks,

It is hard to say when Thursday ended and Friday began, but then again it didn't feel like there was two days so I would just call it 'A Long Haul Day' or perhaps 'A Hard Day's Night.' It started in Fort Lauderdale where I woke up in the USA for the last time and went out to have a nice cooked breakfast in an American Diner with Kai and Matt. It was the first time (and possibly the last) that I have eaten grits which is a Southern American breakfast side which apparently originated with the Native Americans. It is basically a tasteless porridge made from ground corn and water and I had to put some syrup into it to make it edible. It was still a nice way to end out my stay here in Florida and Kai left to go to school thereafter

Matt and I returned to the house and I got showered and packed for my flight. He kindly dropped me off at the Tri-Rail Station at Dania Beach and I caught the train into Miami Airport. I checked in around 1:30pm so I had a few hours until my 4pm flight. Unfortunately, the airport wifi was not free so I had to entertain myself and spend my last remaining US Dollars. The gate opened just before 4pm because of a 30 minute delay so I was happy to get on the plane for the 9 hour journey to Berlin.

The flight was on Air Berlin which I have obviously never flown on before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Steffie flew back on Iberia which is a Spanish airline and had a much different experience than I did. On my flight I was given a travel pillow, blanket, socks, eye mask and ear plugs whereas on her flight she didn’t even have a personal TV! At any time I could look on the flight map and see altitude, direction, speed, temperature and estimated time of arrival while she couldn’t. We left around 4:30pm and were served dinner after takeoff which was pasta and it was filling enough. Instead of flying directly across the Atlantic, we flew up the East Coast past Washington DC, New York, Cape Cod and Newfoundland, although I couldn’t see any of it from the middle of the plane. I was surprised that was the course taken although I thought it might have been for navigation or safety purposes in case of emergency.

I watched around 5 hours of movies, TV and music on the screen because it was too early to sleep. The lights were turned on after midnight to serve breakfast which was a strange feeling. I had a few coffees to stay awake and we crossed over Ireland and England to land in Berlin-Tegel at 1:30am EST or 7:30am local time. Unfortunately the Airbus A330 didn’t stop at the terminal and we had to catch a shuttle there. It took forever to get through the German customs although the border guard didn’t ask me a single question and it took about a minute.

Happily I raced across the entire airport which is shaped like a hexagon to the other end to catch my connecting flight. I only had to wait 30 minutes until we boarded and I sat down next to another Australian who was flying back to Brisbane from Helsinki. I chatted to him about his travels on the hour flight to Frankfurt although it felt longer just taxiing out to the end of the runway. Walking past the indoor smoking booths on the way to the baggage claim, I was happy to see my bag fall out at the end and walked through the nonexistent customs to the arrivals lounge. Waiting to see me stood Steffie with a big welcome sign along with her parents, brother and niece.

I was pretty tired and thought about sleeping in the car, but decided to wait until I had a proper bed. Edingen-Neckarhausen is an hour drive south from Frankfurt and close to Heidelberg and after a light lunch I crashed into bed for a nap. I was still tired after an hour, but decided to get up early so that I would sleep in the night. We had a relaxing afternoon before going out to the local Gasthaus for dinner. It reminded me a lot of the German Club in Adelaide and I ate a good schnitzel and spaetzle. I definitely know that I won’t be going hungry here and I’m happy not to see another McDonalds for a while. After a beer with dinner I was falling asleep at the table and was happy to see the bed at 9pm.

Definitely a long haul day!
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