Hello from Germany,
I finally made it over to Germany. The second flight was on time and I arrived in Germany at 10:10 a.m. on Aug. 25th, that would have been 3:10 a.m. central time. The flight went by really fast. (I thought of using the terrible pun of the time on the flight flew by, but I decided against it) I think the main reason the flight went by so quickly was the fact that I got to watch three movies and some tv. Apparently flights now have tv screens in the back of every seat, and on our flight we had a decent selection of free movies and tv shows. I chose to watch Big Bang Theory, Hunger Games, Superbad, and The Five Year Engagement. The food on the flight was about what you would expect, tv dinner grade, but at least they provided something. Unfortunately I was unable to sleep on the flight, which made for a long first day in Germany.
Once Meghan and I got off the plane, we had to find our way through the Frankfurt airport. Fortunately, this was fairly simple as every sign was in German and English. Customs was surprisingly short, all they did was check and stamp our passports. I think there will be a more elaborate registration process tomorrow. We had to take the ICE, high-speed train, from Frankfurt to the Cologne Hauptbahnhopf, central station, there we met Evelin our coordinator and her husband Chris. The train ride was fairly short only about 45 min. It was crazy seeing the German countryside. We traveled through a hilly area with lots of old pine trees. Occasionally a picturesque German town would pop up. The mix of architecture was something I was not expecting. Like I already said, whenever we passed a town it was your picturesque white walled red roofed town; however, when you saw random houses in the countryside the architecture could vary greatly, and typically looked similar to an American house in a wealthy area with some type of modern architecture to it.
When we finally arrived in Cologne it took us about 15 min. to meet up with Evelin and Chris. They were both very welcoming and even offered to help Meghan carry her bags. This became quite amusing when they had to carry one of her bags between the two of them. They each took a strap and the bag hung between them. It looked sort of like a pink flowered covered battering ram. We took a quick tram ride, then walked to the school. Because it was a Saturday we were not able to go into the school, all we did was drop our stuff off at Evelin’s car. Then we went to get our tram passes. Surprisingly, the tickets required a picture i.d. This meant that we had to go to a little self-service kiosk. Not realizing I would not get change back I used 10 euros instead of the 6 the machine required, and of course the picture was spectacular, what with my lack of sleep, and shower after the plane. After we got our tram tickets it was off to lunch.
We ate at a bakery called Bastian’s, and the food was delicious. We ate a typical German breakfast of bread and a variety of toppings: salami, smoked ham, salmon, scrambled egg, jelly, honey, butter, and a mix of cheeses. We decided to sit outside in a little courtyard. The whole lunch was really pleasant, and it was nice to talk with Evelin and Chris about their experiences with the COST program. On a more random note I ordered water during the meal, and I definitely forgot my old German lessons about ordering water in Germany. Instead of getting a glass of tap water, I was given a bottle of seltzer water. Now this might seem strange, but I had learned in German class that this was the norm in Germany, so I was the one who should have ordered differently.
After dinner we headed towards the apartment. The apartment is in the southern part of the center section of Cologne, and the area around the apartment is surrounded by food shops and restaurants. I can’t wait to try all the different types of food around. The apartment is an old German style apartment with high ceilings, and it is a very nice apartment. Our rooms came fully furnished, courtesy of Evelin and our host Sabrina.
Sabrina had a friend over, his name was Christian. It was great talking to both of them. They were really welcoming, and helped make the first day really relaxing. They also introduced me to a really refreshing drink, Erdinger mit Sprite. Erdinger is a wheat beer, we used the alcohol free version, and they mixed it with Sprite; it looked to be about a 3/4 Erdinger to 1/4 Sprite. Anyways, it was a delicious and refreshing drink to enjoy while getting to know Christian a little better. After finally moving our stuff in and relaxing for a bit, I was able to shower. This was a big deal for me, because I felt disgusting after the flight.
After showering all four of us: Sabrina, Christian, Meghan, and I, went out to eat dinner. Sabrina and Christian took us to a restaurant that I think was fairly authentic German; I say this because they had been talking about Mediterranean food for dinner, but the restaurant we ended up at did not seem to serve Mediterranean food. I ordered the Schweineröckensteak, ham steak, with mushrooms in gravy, french fries, and a salad. Christian also bought everyone a round of the traditional Cologne beer, Kölsch. The meal and the Kölsch were delicious. During dinner Sabrina and Christian also told us about the places we should try to visit while we are here. They strongly encouraged we go to Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, and Prague. Hopefully I will be able to see all of those cities.
When we got back to the apartment it was already about 9 p.m., which meant it was time to finally go to bed. After being up for over 24 hours, 8 of which were spent on a plane, and a 7 hour time change, it was finally time for bed. However, my first day in Germany can be summed up in one simple word, incredible.
Lastly, I would like to apologize for the lack of pictures. I forgot to charge my camera before I left. However, I promise there will be plenty of pictures in future posts.