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Have Arrived Safely …

… in Hersel.

The journey was uneventful and without problems. On  Monday morning after the good breakfast [see previous entry] and a short break for some rest [well, rest for me only as Mary did some jogging/walking in the vicinity of the motel] and for surfing the internet and e-mailing, we left the motel for the airport [George Bush Intecontinental Airport, aka IAH] shortly before 11. And as it was just a tad over 2 miles to the terminal, it took only a little more than 10 minutes for us to get there. It didn’t make much sense for Mary to walk to the departure area and there kill the time with me. So she just let me get out at the curbside of Terminal D and then drove on, back home to Karnes City. Thus she was able to avoid the rush hour on the one hand and also be at home before dark on the other hand. And that also saved us the parking fees, too.

Talking of killing time: there’s not much to do at Houston airport, at least not in Terminal D before you get through security. There was only one Starbucks plus a news- and booksstand. Well, that was enough for me. And even if I had packed one book [Molly Ivins, Nothin’ but Good Times Ahead] to read on the plane, I still bought Clive Cussler‘s “Crescent Dawn” and the most recent National Geographic magazine. After that I went over to Starbucks, got myself a grande Caffe Mocha, sat down at one of their tables in the international arrivals section of Terminal D and started reading while sipping the coffee.

At around noon I slowly walked over – through the connecting tunnel – to the Lufthansa check-in, which – to my surprise – I found manned already. That was good as there was no line that early before the flight, which was due to leave at 16:10.  Checking-in therefore was rather fast, as was security – with no line there either. The only one to hold things up was me: as usual I had put my small change in my hat previous to screening, and the rubber curtains at the end of the screening machine turned my hat over and the money fell on the floor. A friendly TSA-agent helped me to pick it up.

After checking-in but before security I had taken the opportunity to go to the restroom and give myself my usual “pre-flight-blood-thinning” injection. That is a ready-to-use syringe with Heparin to prevent in-flight trombosis. I must admit that I always feel like a junkie sneaking off to the restroom for a shot. But it’s a safety measure. And to my mind it’s not unusual in American airports as there are receptacles  in the restrooms to safely dispose of syringes.

After security I was at my gate even before 1 p.m., and with boarding scheduled to begin at 15:30 there was plenty of time to kill again. So I sat down and read some more and also surfed the internet and wrote and sent e-mails, even if the hotspot there was not for free. Later I walked around some more, even as far as Terminal E, and had another Caffe Mocha, a small [“tall”] one this time, at Starbucks, plus a Cheese Danish and a Chocolate Chunk Cookie: both really yummy.There are quite a few restaurants and shops in the terminals once you have passed security, btw.

Boarding started on time at 15:30. As it often – annoyingly – happens at airports, the PA system wasn’t working properly: the announcements were nearly undecipherable as they were way too muted and scratchy, and also as there were up to three different announcements at the same time. I keep wondering why the airports/airlines don’t seem to be able to get their PA systems working properly. In spite of these barely intellegible announcements boarding was quite fast. I waited, though, till the lines got shorter, and then was pleasantly surprised when – contrary to what I had expected – I still found a completely empty overhead bin above my seat so that I could stow not only my carry-on case, but also my jacket and my hat – a luxury that I had not had on many a flight before.

My seat [43H], directly aft of the galley, turned out to be not bad a choice at all. With no seat in front of me I not only had quite a bit of legroom, but also there was nobody in front of me who could push back their backrest. It was only the view of the monitor that was limited, but no problem for me as I had planned on reading and sleeping anyway, and not on watching the movies.

As boarding went very fast we were able to start even two minutes ahead of schedule, and due to a goodish tailwind on quite a bit of the early section of the flight [we sometimes had a ground speed exceeding 625 mph] we arrived in Frankfurt 15 minutes early. The plane was not completely full, btw, and thus some people were able to choose the seats they wanted. The seat next to me was vacant, too. About two hours into the flight we were served supper. Unfortunately there was no choice. I assume that they had run out of the second dish by the time they arrived at my row. And so I was served pasta without being asked for a choice. But that wasn’t too bad as I might have chosen pasta anyway, had I had a choice. What I did mind, though, was the fact that the food was lukewarm only. But I still liked it. As usual with me I had the salad – so as to avoid making a mess – without the dressing. The dessert – chocolate cake with whipped cream and half a strawberry – was yummy, as were the wine [I had red] and the coffee. I didn’t eat the bread roll that came with the supper, but I did nibble the cheese together with some wine. And then I finished the meal with a good cognac. After finishing my supper I read some more and later slept for about three hours or a little more.

In the morning [European time], while flying over Ireland and England, we were served breakfast: omelette with little friend potato balls [unfortunately lukewarm again only], a bread roll with preserves, a fruit salad and coffee. I didn’t eat the bread roll as it looked somewhat on the dry side, but I did eat the remainder of the breakfast. Shortly after breakfast the plane started its descent and we landed at around 08:40 – 15 minutes early. Customs was fairly fast and since there were not many people on board who had Frankfurt as their final destination there were only about 10 people [I’ve never seen so few there] at the baggage claim. Thus everything was on a fast track and I was out of the restricted areas early enough to have been able to take the 10:09 train. But cautious as I am, I had planned for a delay, and thus booked the 13:09 train only – which gave me plenty of time to kill again. But I had to take that train as my cheap ticket was only valid on that specific train. Well, I again chose a restaurant to sit down, read, have some coffee, and – later – a salami sandwich, too. It was after 12 only that I left the restaurant, strolled through the airport some more and then walked over to the station.

My train arrived on time at 13:07. I quickly found my carriage [#24], but once inside I got annoyed again – as I normally do on these ICEs – because the people who designed these trains don’t seem to have assumed that someone might travel with more than just a toothbrush as their luggage. The aisle is quite small even for my narrow duffel to get through it easily, the luggage racks above the seats are too small for suitcases and suitable only for carry-ons, and there’s no luggage rack in the entrance area to the carriage. And, of course, you’re not supposed to block either the entrance or the aisle with your luggage. So I decided once again to simply stand in the entrance area for the trip – luckily 38 minutes only – to Siegburg: doable, but annoying still.

In Siegburg, where we arrived on time at 13:47, I was quite surprised to see Klaus Koch on the platform. He had taken the trouble to drive to the station to meet me there and take me here to Hersel, so that I would not have to take the tram and the bus: absolutely nice. And more than welcome by me! And without the hassle with tram and bus I was here in my temporary Hersel with the Kochs even before 3 in the afternoon and could get my rest.

Um diesen Beitrag in Deutsch zu lesen, hier klicken.

Read about my return trip here: Taking the Bus to Houston?!

3 responses to “Have Arrived Safely …

  1. booo – you need to take the cam everywhere ; )
    yeah enjoy the time in Gemany.
    i had to laugh badly bc of the junkie-story.

    have a nice weekend yall

    Brian

  2. I hope you enjoy yourself while visiting Germany! It was very nice of your friend to pick you up at the station. Will you be posting any pictures you might take? Have a wonderful time.

    • Yep, Klaus and Gabi are wonderful friends. I can always stay with them when I’m here. And they also took me in 2 times for 6 months each while my divorce was going on and I had to leave my condo and find a place to stay.
      Re pictures: as I’m here mainly for routine visits with doctors plus a class reunion and not for travelling and sighseeing, I didn’t take my camera. So: no pictures – sorry.
      Thanks for your wishes,
      Pit

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