There and Back again…

In a way I feel a bit like a wayward hobbit.

I’ve made it to Germany, and back. It was incredibly interesting, busy, sometimes a bit tense, and over-all very exhausting.

So I’ve been recovering the past few days a bit.

Flew out last Monday afternoon. All weekend I had been expecting my flight to be around 6pm or so, but when I check on Monday morning it flies out at 4:15pm. Eek. This means I need to be at the airport at 2:15, or earlier. And I still haven’t done all my errands.

Ran to Radio Shack to get a power adapter, and to a bookstore to get some reading material. I have quite a few magazines already, but I decided to get some books. Whaddya know the bookstore seems to have a few of the early books in the Magic of Recluce series, by L.E. Modesitt. The two main forces in this world are order and chaos. Order is black, and is the ‘good guys’, and Chaos is white, and the bad guys. So darkness is good, and light is bad. It’s a neat juxtaposition, and the books are very good… talk a lot about balancing the two forces, pursuing your dreams, following your heart… good stuff.

But, much to my consternation, that’s all I did on my flight. I had big plans… writing to do (which I wanted to do on the laptop, but there are no AC plugs at my seat), my magazines… but all I did was read a book. Didn’t quite finish it. I didn’t sleep a bit. The flight went pretty quick, considering. When I think about it is the same as driving to Florida the previous week. So basically I got to ride about the equivalent of a drive to Florida, without the stops.

I flew into Paris and had to switch gates. It was surprisingly easy to get out an IN France. The flight from Paris to Hamburg was actually about the same as a domestic flight in the US, so I had to pass through security, which consisted of 4 guys standing around by the exit. I could have walked by, but I was asking directions so I got quizzed about my trip for a few moments, and then sent on my way. I walked out into the main terminal and saw the doors to the taxis and buses and thought, ‘Wow, that’s it?’

Hamburg was just a hop away, and mosty cloudy but I was able to see some ground and the villages that dot the countryside. It did look quite a bit different than flying over the US, but it’s hard to describe. Villages dot the landscape, but none of them looked like they were more than 50-60 buildings, and most were smaller.

Once in Hamburg my luggage never made it out, so I had to go ask at the desk. It was left behind in Paris, which was not surprising since my flights were so close together. They would deliver it to the hotel, so I had no problems with not having to lug it there. I might even recommend it.

Made it to the hotel, and after the first 20 minutes of trying to figure out what a light switch was, and how to flush a toilet, I settled in and my exhaustion settled over me and I took a couple hour nap. No internet in room without wireless, of course, and most of the TV was in German, except for CNN and one other channel (it wasn’t FoxNews). Made contact with my fellow Nortel engineer and we decided to meet down in the pub that night.

Went to the restaurant and my first meal was wiener schnitzel with pomme frits (french fries). The french fries were just normal frozen fries, but the wiener schnitzel was very good. I vowed to eat it more during the trip. At this point I realized the futility of trying to keep to any kind of semblence of Weight Watchers, and decided to eat a bit of as many different things as I could get my hands on.

And drink, too, apparently, as I had to try a different kind of beer every place I went.

Wednesday night we had dinner with the customer, and that was a treat! It was at the Groninger brewery, which is below a very grand building, in the basement. And it didn’t so much look like a basement as a burrow. More beer there (I tried a couple different types) and the food was brought out. It was this wooden slab on which all different types of meat were on a mountain of vinegar potatoes. We also got some fried potatoes, baked potatoes, and brown bread with mustard. I had to have something of everything, and was quite full walking out of there. Also while there two waiters walked by carrying a roasted pig! It was a very cool place.

Didn’t get to do anything more exciting until Friday, when 2 of the customer engineers took me on an automobile tour of Hamburg, including a stop for lunch down at the wharf in the harbor. A lot of touristy shops with the cheesy gifts, and fish restaurant after fish restaurant. I’ve been eating a lot of fish lately, and I’ve pretty much liked everything that I’ve eaten so far, but I wasn’t quite into the experimental mood right then, so the fellows took me to an italian restaurant. I had noodles and some meat in a whitesauce. I couldn’t tell you what it was called, but it was good.

There at the harbor where we ate there was also a tunnel that you could drive through, but the cars had to enter an elevator in order to go down to the tunnel. That was pretty neat.

They dropped me off at the pedestrian mall where all the shopping was so I could do some shopping for those at home, and I spent the evening reading in the pub in the hotel.

Saturday was the flight back, and I ended up reading the second book the entire way. Doh.

So while I’ve been back I’ve been trying to catch up, get a handle on everything here at work again (found out I got a raise, yay! … not much of one, but still better than nothing), and everything at home. I still feel a bit off-balance, but I’m settling back.. 🙂

And as it turns out I didn’t gain 42 lbs on the trip…. or even 4, apparently. We’ll find out tonight, I guess.

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