Monday, January 09, 2006

Home Sweet Home or Something Like That

I was trying to kill time on Saturday in the airport. I wrote the following before I got on the plane:

"I am writing this from the Chicago O'Hare airport. The German and I are
finally on our way home. It is amazing. At times this has been the
trip that would never end, and other times it was the trip that I wish would
never end. Phase 3, which took place in Racine, WI, was a lot of fun. My
aunt and uncle have the coolest cats ever, Dweezel and Lulu. The German is
NOT a pet person and it a thorn in our marriage, but even he was taken with
Dweezel, a large, orange cat. As I sit in the airport and examine my fellow
travelers, I am actually pretty pleased with our trip. Remarkably there have
been no major screw-up this time around (KNOCK ON WOOD). Sure, we had to run
for our plane in Paris, but everything after that was okay. I looking
forward to my smooth re-entry into German society."

Certainly, God or Murphy or some other being who manipulates my life laughed and decided that I should regret that statement. Sure, the German and I got home in one piece, but the German's luggage did not.

The only thing good about Air France was the plane. It was a nice, fairly new Airbus. It was fairly quiet and a smooth ride (for the most part, more on that in a minute). This confirms the German's feeling about anything with a motor: if it is not German, it is crap. (He has never actually said this, but I know he thinks it.)

The flight from Chicago to Paris was okay, but it took off over an hour late. This was not due to something being wrong in Chicago. No, the plane was late getting into Chicago. In fact, all of my flights with Air France landed and took off late. I wonder if they work in a different time zone? We met a nice girl from Berlin on the plane to Paris. Because of the delay, she missed her connecting flight. She was able to get on a plane three hours later, and the people from Air France gave her a voucher for a free cup of coffee at the coffee shop. Wasn't that nice of them?

On the plane, the food was not much to speak of. I was very disappointed because I thought, hey, the French make great food. Unfortunately, they make terrible airplane food. The smooth flight turned turbulent off the coast of Iceland. It was shaky for about 30 minutes but that was enough to send so many butterflies in my stomach that I did not sleep for the rest of the flight and made me physically ill. (I will stop there because my Grandfather told me I should not talk about my bowls online. I do not want to offend anyone with stories about how stopped up I get, but I am sure anyone with a nervous bowl system, like myself, can understand.)

We landed in Paris, and once again we were confronted with tight hallways and unfriendly people. I gave the people in Charles DeGaul a break on Dec. 22 because I thought that the Christmas rush is enough to put anyone in a fowl mood. However, they were just as unfriendly on Jan. 8. Our plane took off (late) and when we landed in Bremen we were VERY happy to be back on German soil. Unfortunately the luggage did not make it.

We were not the only individuals to loose luggage. 10 people stood in line with us to report missing luggage. Is it just me, or is that a lot? All of this is enough to convince me of an important travelingg tip for all my friends: NEVER FLY THROUGH PARIS!

My "smooth" transition back into German life is going okay. Smarty was a little angry that I left her for over 2 weeks. Her breaks were a bit squeaky and her heater took awhile to get going this morning. I have already committed several social sins: laundry on Sunday and taking a really long shower.

I went to the supermarket. I over looked how annoying it is to pack my own groceries. In Germany you have to bring your own bags with you or you have to pay for them. Then you have to pack them yourself. Instead of annoying this was some how "quaint." However, what surprised me, was that for a culture that is often described as reserved, many Germans have no sense of personal space.

As the young woman was ringing up my groceries, the man and woman next in line came right up beside me. The woman was standing thiscloseto me, and her husband was right behind me. It was unnerving, especially as I was typing in the code to my check card. I really wanted to say something, but here that is considered rude. I don't get it. Why is it okay for someone to stand so close to me that she could reach into my purse, but I cannot tell her to back off?

Welcome home, Claire.

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