Into the Stargate and Through Hyperspace
Trip Start Nov 23, 2006
90Trip End Sep 01, 2008
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Sam: This is it.
Frodo: This is what?
Sam: If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.
Frodo: Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
Brunei was humid, and playing hacky sack with a group of Poms in the departure lounge between flights added to the sweat. From Brunei I flew to Bankok, a most impressive airport recently renovated
The flight from Bankok to Sharjah (next to Dubai) was 90% Germans, which allowed me to practice the language a little bit. Sharjah airport was interesting, filled with no´-smiling locals and strange toliets (little holes in the ground with a hose and no paper) so I improvised. The flight from Sharjah to Frankfurt allowed me to view places in the Middle East such as Beruit at night which were beautiful. Also, it was interesting to think about places like Bagdad and Jerusalem as we flew between them and thinking about all the events that have taken place recently and during history in these areas, and there they were some ten thousand meters below, just sitting there quietly, littered with street lights and darkness. Overall the flight was long and sleep was difficult, the food was fine, and I filled up on peanuts and mango juice. The airline hosts were very nice, the women wear these little white hats which have some see through cloth covering their necks, quite pretty too. The fellas wore suits, but they were pretty calm and relaxed about the whole safety drill, indicating exits and other important things with a general wave of the hand, unlike the direct and purposeful gestures made on Qantas and Virgin
My arrival in Frankfurt felt unreal, especially seeing Claudia, she ran up to me and everything else vanished for a few moments. Then she pointed to her family and friends off to the side, they held a sign that Claudia had made which read Welcome to Germany Sam. At the airport was Claudia, her dad Herbert, best friends Thi Thu, Claudia and Theo. They are such nice people and we got along immediately over kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) I even paid for my very first drink in Euros, actually that is a lie, I bought a Shiraz in the duty free shop in Bankok airport, where the female staff wanted to get married to either me or the German bloke, Andy, whom I had met on the plane on the way to Frankfurt
The drive out of the Frankfurt airport was impressive, Claudia says there is a plane landing every 30 seconds. The sky has about 3 or four plane trails at any one time, very busy air space, planes heading in many directions, mostly to Amsterdam I`m sure.
The autobahn was insane. Cars flying past us, while we did 180 km. The terrain here is beautiful, big fields for growing corn, but were empty due to it being autumn. There is a strong presence of industrial sectors also, and a huge nuclear power plant. The villages are spaced out in a very agreeable manner, providing plenty of forest space for walking and distance from the main city centres.
We arrived in Hagenbach, Claudia´s village and went to her house which is six stories including basement for growing hydros and an attic where Claudias Dad has a stargate. The surrounding houses are all so very cosy and cute, just like what you could imagine from a German tourist brochure. There are no real fences between houses, just more garden and trees which is delightful.
Claudia and I went for a little walk through the village after I had settled in
When I met Claudia´s Mum, we were both happy and nervous, but smiling heaps. I gave her a hug and held both her hands for a while. Apparently Claudia´s parents (Herbert and Imgard) think I´m tops.
Claudia made me stay awake until midnight German time so I could start getting used to the time here, I was very tired and crashed.
Yesterday Claudia and I drove towards Karlsruhe and parked the car, then caught a tram into the city centre. We went looking for a winter jacket and walked around for hours, it was amazing, so many people, so many shops in beautiful old style buildings and alleyways, shops are open til 8pm weekdays. Not too cold yet, everything is heated indoors. It´s awesome with all the people speaking German, I´ve been attempting a few phrases, Claudia says I´m doing fine, even though she cracks up laughing at my initial attempts.
We walked through the park towards the 16th century castle / palace which was trashed during WWII but rebuilt after. The whole area around it is designed to represent the sun. The palace is now a museum with some old school stuff, mostly Christian gear, and an excellent tower which we climbed and looked over Karlsruhe - top view! Bobbie, you would have loved the tower, the inside reminded me of the tomb in Adelaide - excellent accoustics.
In the evening Claudia and I went to her friend, Claudia´s house in Landau (a nearby village) for dinner and a played a game much like Cranial Challenge. There were about 9 friends there, and all speaking German and sometimes English. Seems totally incomprehensible at the moment, but I am picking up new phrases and words all the time, such as Wo ist der toliette? I was also practicing the names on signs on the autobahn on the way there and back. Still getting used to German time - I get sleepy around midnight and realise that it is 7 hours plus in Perth.
zoom in on the map to see exactly where i am living.