Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 0: Hamburg

So here are the events that led up to my trip to Hamburg.

I left Sunday morning for the airport with my family in tow and the two neighbor boys as the family was dropping me off and heading to church services. Parting is always sad and I never enjoy leaving them.

I spent some time at the airport counter working on seating assignments with the Platinum desk (yep, made platinum with AA, though I'm not sure how this helps me just yet) and arranged to get an aisle seat in what appeared to be the premium economy section of the plane; free upgrade.

The flight from DFW to ORD (Chicago O'Hare) was delayed by over 2 hours. Most of that time was spent waiting on the plane on the tarmac. Not fun. I at least had a nice smelling and talkative traveler sitting next to me. I mention the smell as the flight down to Argentina last month was plagued by a smelly foot guy behind me and all I could do was smell foot odor for 11 hours. Yuck. I digress.

We made it to Chicago to have our flight delayed yet again. Same flight, same plane. We had to get off the plane so that security could sweep through as the next leg was the international leg.

Once in the plane, however, it was smooth as cream and we made great time with a tail wind pushing us the whole way. And I know is was pushing us as the ride was quite bumpy.

Just before take off, I spotted that the last row of seats was empty. I also noticed that two people in the row in front of that row were both eyeing it. I walked back to the attendant in the back and asked if I could occupy the row and she said I could. Once I sat down, feeling satisfied that no one else would then come and sit down, the two in front of me slumped with dejected looks. I apologized but only half heartedly. The still had 2 seats each and I've sat upright through 10 hours of flying time. I didn't feel all that terrible.

I spent some time reading on the flight, some in-flight movie watching, and sleeping for about 3 hours. That's not really that much considering the time difference here. We're 7 hours ahead of Texas and to only get 3 hours of sleep makes staying awake quite difficult.

Once in London I had to make time to get to my next flight to Hamburg. I met a very nice family from Hamburg that spoke great English. They had been traveling in Canada by RV'ing through the high country. They were very friendly and they helped me feel comfortable about traveling to their home town.

I must interject that Heathrow Airport is a nightmare of lines. You work your way from one line to the next (they call them queues). You never really feel like you've escaped a line as from the time you exit the plane until the time you board the next you're in a line. I'm pretty positive that even though I'll possibly have 4 hours of lay over coming home, it likely isn't possible to leave the airport, in a line, and get back in time. I'd likely get stuck in a line somewhere in London, just to either take a picture or visit the "lu."

Once on the plane I had a full flight conversation about religion, God, Christ, family and life in general with a business woman next to me. She was obviously, and outspokenly, atheist. Yet amazingly, she talked about religion or lack thereof the whole flight. It was nice to be able to share my testimony with her, not in a converting manner, but as what I believe to be true. You can't reject someone's opinion just on the basis of you having a differing opinion. Fact you can argue, opinion is impossible to dismiss.

The airport in Hamburg was really quite easy, fast and efficient. I made it through baggage, to a cab and into the office in 30 minutes. I think the staff here was actually quite surprised to see me so early.

And that was day 0, and a little of day 1. More to come on additional days.
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