Monday, December 10, 2012

Ich bin zu Hause aus Deutschland. (I'm home from Germany.)

I'm so glad to be home. I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she found herself in Kansas again.
Going to Germany was an adventure that I will never forget. Being a world away from my home and my family was a hurdle I didn't expect to find so hard to overcome.
My sister and I arrived at the San Francisco airport with a friend, "K" who organized the trip for us.
and after unending lines and security checkpoints we squeezed onto a Boeing 747 with hundreds of other travelers that were putting themselves through this ordeal, like us, for the sake of  international travel to foreign countries.
Eleven hours later we landed in Frankfurt, transferred to another airplane and flew for another hour to Berlin.
We arrived, picked up our luggage and walked out to the "arrivals hall' to find the driver carrying an Insight Tours sign with our names on it. No one was there. We were tired, didn't know where we were and couldn't find anyone who spoke English. We finally found an information both. A nice man who spoke very little English said that we could take a bus to the hotel. We would only have to transfer once at "bla, bla, bla.". We thought about this and didn't want to end up in Poland or France, so we found a Taxi. At that point it didn't matter what the cost. We only wanted to get to our hotel.
We found a taxi with a friendly young German man who, again, didn't speak much English. We showed him the address for the hotel on our itinerary. He put our luggage into the trunk and off we drove trusting a taxi driver, in a strange city. He took us to the Berlin Marriott...
"K" was waiting in the lobby with another California girl.
"K" had no idea why the tour people were not there to pick us up. She got a ride with them from the airport. They said they would go back and pick us up but they didn't. It's all a mystery.
Even though we both had phones and paid for international  connections, we couldn't call each other there in Germany. These are the little "snafu's" that can make or break your sense of vacation security.
I began to feel the distance between where I was... and home. I was also very tired. We had come a long way in a very short time. I was told I was suffering from "Jet lag". It felt like being lost and disoriented.
We took a nap and later we walked to a shopping center that was a few blocks away. There was a small Christmas market in this area.
Lots of Christmas ornaments, cookies, woolens and "gluhwein", a hot, red wine and spices drink.
We ate dinner at this small restaurant that enticed us with a hot gluhwein outside its door. We ate soup and enjoyed the festivities.
The Germans do celebrate Christmas in grand and beautiful ways.
The walk down through the open mall was filled with trees, lights and people... and many children with their parents.
The city was a lovely mix of new buildings and old, with blue lit trees and white decorations that fluttered in the breezes.
The big mall at the end of the street was like a huge holiday ornament shinning in the darkness.
This was a pleasant beginning to our stay in Berlin... which is pronounced "Bear" lin and the reason that all the major hotels have a BEAR out in front welcoming everyone who comes to stay.
After dinner we walked back to the hotel thorough the Sony Center.
A courtyard surrounded by tall buildings with decorations everywhere and covered with an immense metal and cloth umbrella that was lit up at night astounded the eye. The turquoise trees are made from strings of lights and the real trees are covered with small gold Christmas lights. Everything was reflected in the windows of the buildings that surround the plaza. The center was very striking.
The air was bitter cold and we learned that gloves, scarves and hats were standard accessories along with winter underwear, a heavy coat, warm socks and good walking shoes or boots. You never went outside without all of this.The Berliners have taken winter wear to a high style. They are some of the best looking and best dressed people I have ever seen.
The wind moves through the city's high buildings with determination.
It cut though you and being prepared for this weather, sometimes wet, sometimes snowy and always cold ... was a challenge.
We were ready for the heat of the lobby in our hotel
 and the wonderful warmth of our rooms.
Tomorrow we would met our tour guide Carl, (with a "C") and begin our journey.

10 comments:

Paxie said...

Gosh, I've been waiting to hear from you and I'm so happy you got there and back safely!

I believe you also had a little culture shock with the jet lag :)You still sound a little shaken and I remember that feeling...

Your photos of Berlin are beautiful and I can't wait to hear all about your trip ♥

joan said...

I lived in Germany for 2 1/2 years. I loved it and would go back in a second. I look froward to reading more about your trip.

Brian Miller said...

yay i am glad you made it ok...smiles...even with the snafus....what cool sights...the umbrella...all the modern and old architecture mixed.....very cool

Madeline's Album said...

Thanks for sharing the first part o your journey. The photos are great and it really looks like a very pretty Christmas town. Hope the rest of your journey will go well. Welcome back home. have a blessed day. Madeline

Suz said...

oh ..hee hee...I am going to enjoy this story telling....
me...usa terra firma

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Welcome back! Sounds like even though the trip started out a bit rough, you got into the swing of things. Can't wait to hear more!

Tombstone Livestock said...

Welcome home ..........

Tina Dawn said...

I am very glad you are home safe and sound, I have missed reading your blog and your wonderful pictures. I can't wait to read more. Tina

thecrazysheeplady said...

Looking forward to more stories :-)

Mairéad said...

Glad you got there and back safe - your photos of the city at night are wonderful. It looks magical.