Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eurotrip 2011, Days 1 & 2: From Charlotte to Berlin

As whatever-the-opposite-of-luck-is would have it, it was gloomy and raining the day we were leaving for Berlin. Which meant a slower drive to the Charlotte airport, which is usually about an hour and twenty minutes from our house. And then there was traffic, which gave me a mini heart attack because of the weather and the fact that we couldn't tell how long the jam was going to last. Thankfully, we made it to the airport about an hour and forty five minutes before our flight. We were already checked in, so after dropping off our bags (OH HEY NO BAGGAGE FEES ON FLIGHTS TO EUROPE!) and taking all of ten minutes to go through security, you can guess what time it was.
@ the Tequileria in the CLT
By the time we made it to our gate, they were about to start boarding. And I gotta say...how. freaking. disorganized. Of course, this is US Air...so what can you really expect? Basically they only announced AFTER we were in line to board that "oh by the way, everyone needs to have their passports checked prior to getting on the plane". So we get out of one line and into another. We get to the desk a few minutes later and some random woman approaches from the side...and the agent motions her over, mumbles something to us about how he's going to take her first, checks her passport and sends her on her way. Ummm...since when do things work like this?

Anyway, we finally got on the plane and took our seats. This was a fairly long flight - eight and a half hours or so - but we had free movies and meals and figured we would try to get some sleep. Of course...the flight left at 4:15 in the afternoon so obviously what little sleep we got happened in the last two hours of it. But it is what it is when one is flying overseas, I suppose.

The food was crappy, as airplane food is on any US-owned airline, and my little television kept freezing, which sucked. But I'm not about to let a "meh" flight ruin the start of an awesome vacation! We arrived in Frankfurt about an hour late due to delays in Charlotte, but no worries...we had a three-hour layover. Because I'm smart like that. We napped a bit while waiting for our flight to Berlin, though at this point I was starving and thirsty, we didn't have any Euros (and weren't about to pay airport prices to get some...hindsight is 20/20, we should have exchanged some money here in the US I suppose), and it was hot as Hades in that airport. No A/C plus an 80+ degree day? Blech. Still, our flight for Berlin left on time, Lufthansa (LOVE) gave us yummy candy (and gave me some water when I asked for it right when we boarded), and I got to sleep for the short flight across Germany. Finally...we were there.
At this point we sucked it up and took some Euros out of an airport ATM, then grabbed a cab to our hotel. I know a bus/the metro would have been faster, but please. We were still on US time and running on maybe 3-4 hours of sleep...we just wanted to get to our hotel. I want to say the cab ride cost 27 Euro and we gave the driver 30 even. It was about 1 PM when we arrived at our hotel (the Best Western Berlin City Ost), which left us a few hours to nap before showering and getting ready to meet our tour group. By the time we were in the lobby for the meeting, we were still starving and still tired, but at least we were clean and ready for that time again.
First beer in Germany!
Soon, a group of like-aged and like-minded people began gathering in the lobby. Figuring they were part of our tour (they were) we joined them and made introductions. And then...the Natalies arrived.

The Natalies being, of course, my friend Natalie M from Australia whom I met on my 2007 Contiki tour, and her college chum Natalie C. Of course there was squealing and hugging on the parts of Natalie M and I; then they were up to their room to drop things off and we settled back in to wait (and drink) some more.

Coming up...our first [and very random] night in Berlin. Be excited.

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