Monday, January 14, 2013

Good departures make for happy arrivals!  

Good morning, Sioux Falls and hometowns of Augie Choir members!

Checking in at Lufhansa, Chicago
We have arrive safely in Berlin and are taking a few minutes to recoup/regroup/recover from our trip.  As you know, half of the group drove to Omaha this morning and departed at 5:30 a.m. from the Commons Circle.  Three other groups departed from Sioux Falls International and we all joined together in Chicago for our Lufthansa 747 to Frankfurt.   We actually got to watch the exciting end of the Seattle/Atlanta game just as boarding began.    Before I go on, however, imagine - just for a moment....three separate flights heading to Chicago on a snowy day and all arrived on time and without incident.  Hmmmm.  So far, this has been a lucky day.

So, on we go, and we are spread throughout the 400 seats on this plane.  We get de-iced, head to the runway and moments later, this monster of a plane lumbers off the ground.  (It still amazes me how this thing can fly.....we know how much stuff we packed - what about the others on this bird???).  Anyway, the pilot says "A quick trip - only 7:10 tonight," and sure enough, we arrive in Frankfurt a full forty-five minutes early.  That early arrival gets us through passport control (it's official now, we're in Europe!) and to Gate A17 for our final flight of the day to Berlin. 

"Some" of Bus One
As we descend into Berlin 45 minutes later, this pilot leaves us with a happy line, "Well, enjoy your last glimpse of the sun - you won't see it for a few days!"  Sure enough, it's snowing quite hard in Berlin, but we're here.  Now, will all our luggage show up?  YES, it will!  And will we find our tour guides Hans and Liz?  YES we will!   And are we happy to be on the bus?  Well, you be the judge of that!

A snowy Berlin
We had two "step-on" tour guides with us today as well, to provide the "Welcome/Panorama Tour" of Berlin - Sue and Sasha.  For the next two hours they happily informed us about interesting places to visit, historical sites and, of course, the best shopping spots.  Those of us who have done these trips before know that the reason for this panorama tour - especially when people are fighting to stay awake (!) is that the hotel can't check us in until at least 1:30 p.m.  So, I guess if we were in the US on tour, we'd find a mall and wander.  It's much more fun to see the Reichstag, The Berlin Wall, 17 Juni Strasse, Unter den Linden and, of course, the infamous Adlon Hotel from which Michael Jackson hung his baby out the window.......(every great city has something goofy that people remember, right?)  Check out the photo on the right....they use chemicals on their streets too!  Seems the sign says something about "stay back" but this was done without a zoom......

I think we're happy to be here!
So now, a couple of hours to undwind, relax, perhaps take a walk, run to the bank, "work out" or even nap (although we are warned against that.....we'll sleep better tonight if we plug on through this day..).  We meet at 6:45 pm for a quick walk to our first "group dinner" (travel agent-speak for "it's included in your tour price) and we'll see how the group is holding up.   If they allow it, we'll maybe grab some good dinner shots and share them with you later.  Otherwise, our next update will be tomorrow after our day in Potsdam.   (Special note to Chris Johnson and RJ Fitzsimmons.....the TSA approved case for our keyboard impressed the socks off of everyone who came in contact with it. BIG kudos to Andrew Paulson for managing to charm his way into getting that oversized keyboard stand into and out of each of our flights.  I never in a million years thought we'd arrive with that!