I'm writing this post as I've just gotten in to Linz, Austria and have no idea what day it is or exactly what time it is in other parts of the world. I'm hyped up on caffeine and the delicious chocolate they gave us on my regional flight from Frankfurt to Linz! The journey began sometime yesterday...(or was it three days ago?) when I clumsily finished packing after only three hours of sleep. (Damn Netflix and my obsessive need to have as many of my Harry Potter books on tape as possible in my iTunes library.) After bidding my family adieu and carting my three (miraculously less than 50 pound) suitcases downstairs, I left for the Springfield Airport!
I then made it to Chicago and spent the better part of four hours there. I bought some noise canceling headphones ate some moderately tasty salmon at the "Chili's To Go". Knowing that airlines require you to be at an international gate 2 hours before departure, I got myself to the gate 2 and a half hours early (take that family who believe I am incapable of punctuality!) I began to get nervous when I had been sitting at the gate for over an hour and there still were no flight attendants or even a screen saying "Frankfurt" at the appointed gate. It turns out that the german flight attendants of Lufthansa are so efficient that they can load 700 people in a 767 in under an hour! During my search for this glorious information, I ended up in line behind a very, or "wery" as she pronounces it, nice lady from Austria. The two of us were pulled out of line because our bags apparently looked too heavy to be allowed as carry ons. We both looked at each other in astonishment as they declared that both would have to be checked and that we had better get what we needed before they abruptly and unceremoniously took our bags. Computer, books and my copy of Details Magazine now stuffed into my pillowcase, I boarded my 8 hour flight to Frankfurt.
The flight to Germany proceeded as all of my trans-atlantic flights do: sleeplessly! Unfortunately, this particular 767 did not have individual screens in the back of each seat. So, I was relegated to watching a terrible british film called "Street." It was a cross between Center Stage and Save the Last Dance. My friend Patty might just be the only person I know who would have enjoyed the lack of plot coupled with overt sexuality. By hour 5 of the flight, I grew desperate and started listening to the "Relaxation" channel on the in-flight radio. This was a rousing 40 minutes of breathing in and out, imagining Mountains and fields and flexing and unflexing every muscle in my body. In my desperation I listened to it again in German, which was thoroughly unrelaxing because I spent the whole time trying to figure out the words I didn't know. In hour 7 Lufthansa threw me a bone and put on an episode of "The Golden Girls" before turning on "Air" robics. All in all, a successful flight, decent food, and completely free alcohol!
My time in Frankfurt was short and was spent mainly in a passport line because they only staffed 1 officer for 300 people?!?!?! As I began to board my flight to Linz, I noticed the same lady whom I had met in the Chicago airport. I introduced myself again and we chatted (this time in German) about where she was from and why I was going to Linz. I'm sure I made a million mistakes, but it felt good to at least try to make myself understood. The flight to Linz took approximately 40 minutes and at the end my austrian mystery woman and I had a final conversation. It turns out her name is Hermine. She gave me her card and told me to call her for coffee whenever I was settled in. She also gave me a euro for the luggage cart and bade me adieu. What an exciting day! I got to test my German in real life (for better or worse) and I made a friend.
I never believed my german friend Jennifer Jakob that austrian German truly is unlike any German one would learn in a book! It hit me like a wall trying to converse with the taxi driver. I was left to simply nod and hope that I actually knew what he was saying.
A big hug and thanks to everyone!