Well, we made it to Germany without any problems. I managed to catch an early train home on Wednesday, so we were able to do most of our packing that night. The only major problem we had is that I managed to leave my camera battery charger in my office in Boston. After some frantic searching, I ended up ordering one from Amazon.de (at an exorbitant cost) and having it shipped to Joanna’s. Thursday wasn’t so hectic. We did have to do a final leaf raking as the last pickup is while we’re gone. It even started to very lightly snow, starting to get is the mood. Aside from the last minute rush, it was pretty calm. Our car arrived a bit early and the trip to the airport was very smooth as there was little traffic.
The airport itself wasn’t so busy. We expected this as we had flown to Florida in 2004 on Thanksgiving Day. Security was non-eventful. At Newark, they’re still using the old procedure and don’t have the new scanners yet, so we didn’t have to deal with them. After grabbing some dinner at the food court, we had a hour or so before boarding. As a Select Plus member of Amtrak’s frequent traveler program (akin to elite status on an airline), I get access to the Continental Presidential lounges. Let me tell you, if you have the ability to access these, do so. It was very nice. One of them in Newark’s terminal C (where we were) even has a small room for families, which we shared with a mother and her son awaiting their flight to India (after an 11 hour layover).
The flight itself took off on time as was maybe 50% full. They actually told people after boarding was done that they could spread out. I don’t think any row was full and most sections (it was a 3-seat–3–3 configuration) had only 1-2 people. I watched Toy Story 3 while Kyle watched some Handy Manny and insisted on watching some of my Toy Story 3 (using one of my headphone pieces to do it). We did learn that we should have brought over the ear headphones for Kyle. At home he tried a set of ear bud ones and they seemed okay (and they pack much smaller), but they kept falling out. We’re hoping to pick up a pair somewhere before we head back. The rest of the flight was fine, though we didn’t sleep. While I don’t normally sleep on a plane, we were shocked that Kyle didn’t either. Both of us were dreading Friday. Other than this, Kyle was quite well behaved on the plane. The lady behind us even complimented us. (At least I think she did. She said something in German that included nice/good.)
Arrival in Frankfurt was uneventful. It was very foggy as we came in. Once we landed I could swear the grass was snow covered, but it was hard to tell as we didn’t have window seats. Turns out I was right. They had they’re first snow Thursday night. We did manage to neglect to get Kyle’s gate checked stroller as we got off the plane. (We boarded a bus and it was raining/snowing at the time.) They ended up delivering it (slightly damp) to baggage claim, so the crisis of a lost stroller was avoided. Immigration and baggage claim was uneventful. One bag was on the carousel when we made it there and the other popped up within a few minutes.
Other than having to wait for a bit for the S-Bahn into town (we just missed the previous one), we had no problems getting to the hotel. (Of course, we know our way around reasonably well as Marburg is an hour northeast of here.) Our hotel (the Best Western Scala) is a few minute walk from one end of the main shopping street and from one of the main S-Bahn stations, so is very convenient. The hotel itself it nice and feels fairly new. We did have to wait 20 or so minutes for our room, but as official check-in isn’t until 3, we didn’t mind if it meant we could get to our room then. (It was about 11 at this point.)
After moving some stuff around, we headed back out. Our first stop was McD’s to get Kyle lunch. The line was quite long and by the time I managed to actually get it, Kyle was nearly asleep. He managed to eat a french fry and a half before falling asleep with the second half in his hand. We figured (and hoped) this would happen, but would have liked him to eat something since he hadn’t eaten much Thursday. While Kyle slept, Suzanne and I headed down the Ziel (the main shopping street) and over to the R?merplatz, site of the Christmas Market. It seems the market has expanded since we were over here. Being back in the atmosphere was great. It wasn’t so busy, despite it being the first day it was open, as it was only mid-afternoon at this point. We toured the whole market, stopping for a Gl?hwein (hot mulled wine — a staple of any Christmas market) and a bratwurst. We then headed back towards the Ziel, stopping in a couple of department stores to (a) pick up a few grocery items (most department stores here have a grocery store in the basement) and (b) (at one) to “preview” the toy department with a sleeping Kyle.
Back at the hotel, we switched a few things and headed back out to meet our friend Katrin (from our time in Marburg) at a cafe about 10 mins from the hotel. We were running a few minutes late, but so was she, so it worked out very well. Kyle woke up just before we arrived, though he was still a bit grumpy. We had a nice conversation over coffee and then wandered around the market for a bit. The lightly falling snow really added to the festive mood. Kyle took a ride on one of the carousels, of course insisting on the one with the bright orange hook-and-ladder firetruck. We then all walked back to the hotel.
After saying our goodbyes to Katrin, we headed back upstairs to grab the stuff to take to Joanna and Job’s. The trip there was also fine aside from my forgetting to take the nice printed transit directions. Luckily I remembered them well enough and had a map to their flat. We had a wonderful visit with them including Joanna’s delicious steak and pepper (?) stew. (She made this for me when I visited on a previous visit.) About 7:30 we were all starting to feel the effects of a night without sleep, so we packed up and headed back to the hotel (about 30 minutes) after making plans to meet at the main train station in the morning and head out to Heidelberg for the day (about 90 minutes from Frankfurt). All in all, it was a pretty good trip over and a first day.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest update.