Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 2 – Düsseldorf to Berlin

It was 6:30 a.m. and we were landing in Düsseldorf. The terminal was very empty this early and going through customs and security check again took but a few minutes other than the fact that for the first time in my traveling history, I set off the security alarms from what I don’t know. Here comes running a woman security guard with her electronic wand which she passes over my body top to bottom, raise your arms, hold your arms out, lift up one leg, turn your foot, lift up the other leg, turn your foot and then – okay – go. My gate was quickly found and it was deserted as it was way too early for the 9:25 a.m. flight to Berlin.

Again, I sat and read more of “Family Tree” and was getting mighty interested in the plot of the book when people starting arriving. Finally a Lufthansa agent arrived and opened up the gate but it was NOT for my flight but for an earlier flight to Stuttgart. More sitting, reading and people watching of which there were few. An Air Berlin airplane pulled in outside the window and I took this picture though that was not my airplane.

It wasn’t until 9 a.m. when an agent appeared and opened up the gate again and activated the sign board showing:

Now we were getting someplace!

Boarding took place and this plane was nearly empty. Again, I had the seats to myself which was really good. By now I was getting mighty excited to be seeing Gerhard again after 8 years and to be meeting his daughter, Uschi, who is near to my age. My niece and nephew had both visited Berlin in the intervening 8 years and met the remainder of Gerhard’s family but I had not.

The flight to Berlin was only about 35 minutes during which beverages and snacks were again served. There is no lack of feeding passengers with Lufthansa. More was read in “Family Tree” which was getting very exciting as well.

The plane landed quickly in Berlin and we were at the gate in no time at all. Once in the terminal the luggage was retrieved within only a few steps in a glass enclosed room. I was glancing around through the glass windows while waiting for my luggage when I saw Gerhard and Uschi waving at me. It appeared that the rest of the arriving passengers did not have anyone waiting for them as when I went through the security doors into the terminal itself, Gerhard & Uschi were the only people waiting – or maybe it was Lufthansa giving me private accommodations!!

It was good to see Gerhard again and to meet Uschi and they both promptly took my luggage and my arms appreciated that. A few steps away was the entrance to the parking garage and we were on our way into Berlin in no time. I wish now I had taken a photo of Uschi & Gerhard meeting me but everything was so fast that I didn’t have time to get my camera out of my purse. I had envisioned a room full of people at Berlin all waiting for their friends or family members and thought I would be searching for Gerhard and Uschi but I did not have to. I had previously e-mailed Gerhard to make sure I had his correct phone number which I thought I should carry with me just “in case”; he confirmed the number in a follow-up e-mail but said “you will not need that, Cheryl, as we will meet you immediately” and he was correct.

They informed me that we would take a short driving tour through Berlin and then find a restaurant for lunch. This short driving tour was very lengthy as traffic was exceptionally heavy and traveling was slow. Much was seen which we will see again later in the trip in more detail. We did find a favorite restaurant of theirs which is an Indian restaurant. I had never had Indian food before and it was very good though the portions are large and the several courses (for a lunch) I found more than adequate. First a lentil/tomato soup in a large bowl with Indian bread (delicious), then a large salad and finally my menu choice of a chicken and rice dish. Way more food than I could possibly eat. This was followed by an after dinner drink of mango juice with some cognac. Interesting, indeed. Must be an Indian delicacy. I have to admit it was interesting to see an Indian server speaking German. When I spoke in English to him, he responded in English as well. How many Americans can say that they speak two other languages besides their own?

Following lunch we drove to Marzahn, which is the district in Berlin where their apartments are and where I would be having my guest apartment. Uschi took my luggage to the guest apartment “to get your apartment prepared for you, Cheryl” and I went with Gerhard to his apartment to visit for a while. His apartment, new to him since April of this year, is very smartly decorated with several rooms and a nice balcony overlooking Marzahn. His computer room is wonderful and he showed me his new laptop computer in which he had installed hundreds and hundreds of family photos. Books lined his shelf, many related to genealogy and/or the history of Germany. After a short visit we were off to meet Uschi at my apartment.

The guest apartment is wonderful, spacious and well decorated. I found that Uschi had brought in many items such as potpourri in each room, flowers, her own bed linen to make up the bed with the lovely featherbed that German homes are known for. A lovely dining room and kitchen were included, living room, two bedrooms, bath and large hallway with mirrors and a table. There even were two balconies with one off the dining room and one off the living room. Really a lovely place for an extended visit.

By now I was dragging; over 24 hours since I had first arisen yesterday morning and I was ready for some rest. We made plans that I would get settled and perhaps take a nap and then meet in Gerhard’s apartment at 7 for dinner. I did unpack, get settled in and decided to just lie down for a short time. I had brought a small alarm clock and figured I would just close my eyes and rest. Rest I did, because 3 hours later I awoke with a start and noticed the clock said 6:45. I had to hustle to get spiffed up a little and go to Gerhard’s apartment but did make it only about 10 minutes late. Dinner was set with breads, cheeses, lunch meats and the condiments that accompany such a meal. Uschi came from her apartment as her husband, Harald, was still at work and we ate and visited. Harald then arrived with their dog, Kira, and I was able to meet him, too.

I then went back to my apartment to retrieve the two gifts I had brought for them, one of which was a pictorial book of Southwestern Michigan sites taken by a photographer who photographs pictures from the air while piloting her own plane. I thought this would be a good gift for Uschi & Harald as there were many beautiful photos and they are very interested in photography themselves. They both looked thoroughly through the book and seemed to enjoy it. I then gave Gerhard the Ancestry book that I had made for him and he, as well as Uschi and Harald, were most interested, each reading it through completely and commenting on many of the photos.

We visited longer into the evening and then I was ready to return to my apartment and catch up on lost sleep. We made arrangements to meet at 8 in the morning at Uschi & Harald's apartment for breakfast.

Above photos - Copyright © 2008 by Cheryl Schulte


Apple said...

I'm so happy to be hearing about your trip! Sorry it was overshadowed by work concerns. Looking forward to more.

Jasia said...

Hi Cheryl!
I'm so relieved to finally be reading about your trip. I was getting worried that something bad had happened to you. I had just decided that if I didn't hear anything about/from you in the next couple days I was going to contact T.K. and see if she'd heard from you.

I'm excited to be reading about your adventure to Germany but you've got me hanging here wondering if you took the new job or not! LOL! Can't wait to read what comes next!


Cheryl said...

Hi, Apple and Jasia,

Yes, I am home and the memory of my trip is still bright and strong. I took my laptop but there was no Internet connection so I typed up a blog post each day in Word and downloaded my photos. It should be easier now to just do the blog posts.

As for the job, Jasia, I am giving it a whirl. Came home to jump into this new position and the bigger challenge is going back OUT in the workforce after being totally self-employed for 9 years. Big challenge; only been 2 weeks on the job so it is too soon to judge.