Friday, December 12, 2014

Heading Off

I left my house on Tuesday  at 2 am. I had no issues driving to the airport, checking-in (my bag was checked through to Dortmund) or going through security. The plane to Newark was very small and bumpy. I had 9 hours to wait in Newark. The only real good thing about Newark is that they have several charging stations so you could charge your phone or computer (most airports don’t.) There were no issues waiting or boarding the flight. The flight to Munich was packed (because United was trying to accommodate passengers from their partner Lufthansa which was cancelled because of strikes.)
The guy who sat next to me (he was at the window and I was on the aisle) kept coughing all over me the whole time. It was a little gross. He also kept getting into mini-fights with an old German woman sitting in front of him. She kept putting her seat back and then jumping around in her chair and he tried to stop her. I didn’t get involved and just watched some movies. United lets you watch movies or TV from the minute you board until you land and so I watched 4 movies during the 8 hour flight.
When we landed in Munich the real “fun” began. It was 7:30 am and they had no one meeting the plane and there were no information signs to tell you where to go. I have been to Munich several times before and it was always a pleasant experience – I can’t say the same anymore. I had 9 hours to wait for my connection but wanted to get to the gate and wait. The German Immigration guy looked bored. All he asked me was where I was flying to. I told him “Dortmund” and he stamped my passport and told me to go down the stairs to get to the gate. I went down the stairs and again there were no signs or people. I finally found someone from Lufthansa (everyone in Terminal 2 seemed to be from Lufthansa) and she told me to go another direction. In the end, after walking all over Terminal 2 I finally learned I had to take a bus to Terminal 1 for my flight. Terminal 2 had everything (lots of shops, restaurants, showers, currency exchanges, etc) and  Terminal 1 looked like it’s poor brother. There were 2 shops, a restroom (which you had to walk down 8 flights of stairs to get to) and 1 restaurant – actually it was just a table with prepared food on it. I was waiting in line for some food when I heard a British guy in front of me being told by the German food server that she would not accept his Visa card and he  would have to pay in Euros. He said he only had Pounds and she yelled at him for being so stupid. I asked the guy how much his meal cost and then gave him the Euros to cover it. He tried to pay me in Pounds, but I told him I understood how it feels when you are travelling and people (ie the German) are nasty to you. He thanked me and then I got my food – the German woman kept giving me nasty looks the whole time. I don’t understand how people (especially those working in a place like an airport) are so mean to foreigners.  I then bought some post cards (and had to show my passport and boarding card) even though it wasn’t at a Duty Free shop and it was in the secured zone) and spent the hours just waiting.   At  least the Internet at the airport was free (although you had to register for it.)
I flew Germanwings. We had to walk outside to board and I was made to wait outside in the cold while everyone else boarded and then the flight attendant said something in German to the other passengers and then I was allowed to board. Apparently, she had told everyone I was the only foreigner and so she would have to say everything in both German and English. It was very weird to walk down the aisle to my seat with everyone staring at me. I was in the 2nd class (out of 3) and so got a free sandwich. The flight attendant started talking to me in German (even though she was the one who made the speech about having to use English) and offered me a turkey sandwich. I don’t know how German turkeys look, but what they gave me was not any turkey I know -  and I cook it for both Canadian and American Thanksgivings.
We landed in Dortmund a few minutes early and again had to walk outside. I picked up my bag and as I was walking to the exit I was stopped by a German Customs guy. He had my name on a list to check and even though it said I was American he talked to me in German. He finally switched to English and asked me more questions than the German Immigration guy did in Munich. I was allowed to leave, but thought it was very strange to go through Customs in Dortmund and not in Munich where I first landed .
I then waited for my friend to pick me up. I was the only one in the dark Arrivals area for about 30-40 minutes. It was pretty strange. My friend picked me up and drove me to her house.  I met her sister and her sister’s birds. I have never dealt with birds before so it was interesting. Later she took me to my hotel  - Tryp  - (it took me about 25 minutes of walking around the whole building to find the entrance.) I had been travelling for around 31 hours and was exhausted and so went to sleep right away.

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