Friday, August 29, 2008

From Sixteen Weeks to Six Weeks

Where have the weeks gone? Ten weeks ago I posted my first announcement about my upcoming trip to Berlin in October. At that time, there were 16 weeks to go and I felt that I had all kinds of time to plan for this trip. But the weeks have flown by and what have I accomplished towards the trip? Let's see:

The tickets are ordered and paid for. I am flying out of Chicago to Düsseldorf and then to Berlin. I have been to Berlin before, in 1993, but at that time I had not connected with my Berlin Kolberg cousins and my trip was mainly a sightseeing event. This time it will be much different and the opportunities to really tour the city and connect with family will be great.

I have an apartment already reserved and paid for by my cousin, Gerhard. He told me that his new apartment building has a "guest apartment" that is kept available for guests of the tenants so he ordered the apartment for me. He describes it as a 2 bedroom apartment with living room, kitchen, water closet, bath, balcony and TV all for 60 Euro a day. That is a pretty reasonable price when compared with the pricing for neighboring hotels or a Gasthaus in the area. Of course the Dollar to Euro is at a terrible exchange for our money but one can't worry about that. A trip can't be planned around the monetary exchange rate. Here is a photo that Gerhard sent me of his new apartment complex. Certainly looks like a relaxing atmosphere and what I need is definitely relaxation.

I applied for and received my passport. My former passport had expired and it was necessary to obtain a new one. It was rather humorous to have my passport photo taken at a neighborhood Walgreen's as they have the customer stand out in the middle of the store against a backdrop while they take the passport photo. Felt like a criminal lined up for a mugshot but the photo actually came out decent and that is saying something about myself!!

A biggie accomplishment - I found a fellow medical transcriptionist in the area to cover my work. This is major as finding people willing to take on more clients is difficult. I really need to find a second person because my 4 clients are heavy dictators and I doubt my friend will want to take on all 4.

Another big challenge - finding a way to get from St. Joseph to Chicago - 90 miles away. When I was living in Detroit, it was never a problem to get from the suburbs to Metro Airport. There were services throughout the Detroit Metro area, from various hotels, that would transport passengers to Metro for reasonable rates. Here in tiny St. Joseph that does not exist and it is very difficult to find someone willing to "drive into Chicago". That is like asking a person to drive across the country, in a torrential downpour at 2 in the morning. Nobody wants to make the trip to Chicago. I did find out, though, that in Michigan City, IN (just about 30 miles from here) is a similar shuttle service to what I am familiar with from Detroit. My neighbor is going to drive me to the shuttle in Michigan City so that I can get to O'Hare for my flight. Thank goodness for good neighbors.

This same neighbor also loaned me her brand new luggage. My luggage is old and not too handy any more. But my neighbor insisted on letting me use her brand new luggage which includes a case for my laptop so I am pleased about that.

So all seems to be set with the majority of the plans. What remains is trying to decide how much money to exchange here for Euro's, getting my work caught up and getting everything I want on the laptop transferred from my desktop computer. I have lists, lists, lists but that is the compulsive person in me. The same compulsion that made me back up my blog which saved me during my latest fiasco with the disappearance of my former blog.

Now what remains is what to take Gerhard for a host gift. When he and his grandsons came to Michigan in 2000, they brought me lovely hostess gifts. It is tough to try to decide just what to take to an older male as well as for his daughter and her family. But I have come up with what I think is a winner and that is the topic for the next post.

Stay tuned for my (I feel) very appropriate host gift for my fellow genealogist cousin!

Above photo of Berlin apartment building - Copyright © 2008 by Gerhard Kolberg


T.K. said...

Glad to hear you've found someone to cover your workload while you're gone, Cheryl. I know that's a load off your mind. You're probably right, though, about her needing some help with it. Maybe you can get a little help too during the last week or so before the trip, so you'll have a little time to get ready? That would be nice!

Cheryl said...

Thanks, TK, for the comment. The weeks are rapidly flying by for this trip. I'm getting excited now about it.