Ok. I'm back. 172 emails and 361 blog entries to catch up on...... after my 10 day vacation in Germany with my family. And what an adventure it was.....
Last Monday, July 3, we headed to the airport. My dad earns a lot of frequent flier miles, so we were able to fly using miles, but that does also complicate travel plans when you are trying to arrange for 5 people to travel together! So, no direct flights for us.....first day, a flight from DFW through Chicago to Frankfurt. Well, when we got to DFW (way early, I might add), we were beginning to discover that our flight was being delayed. One delay after another, we began to realize that we might miss our connection. Luckily, there was an earlier flight to Chicago that left in about 10 minutes and they had 5 seats, so we hopped on. Unfortunately, taking a different flight means that your luggage is still on the original flight and might or might not make the connection. We got to Chicago and made our connection no problem. Turns out our original flight was delayed so much that we most likely would have missed the plane to Frankfurt.
Long flight over, passport control, then baggage claim. One problem - only 1 of 5 bags made it. Normally that would just be a slight inconvenience, however on this trip (unlike any other we've ever taken), we were renting a car and driving all over Germany staying in a different city every night. Ugh. Thankfully, my sister and I had both packed toiletries in our carry-on bags, so both hotel rooms had at least minimal supplies. We were able to find a store and buy a fresh set of clothes.....with a trip to Europe, you know it will be at least 24 hours before your bags get there, but in our case, it would be 48 before they made it to us, since we were driving to the south of Germany.
The first couple of days/nights were really hot and miserable. The beginnings of what looked like a looooong week. By our third night, a storm had come through and cooled things off dramatically. It still wasn't as cool as a mountain vacation in Colorado in the summer, but much much better than the first part of the trip. Europe doesn't really believe in air conditioning like we do here in Texas, so we were dependent on the windows being able to be wide open and air flow coming through to cool the rooms. Some were better than others, but after those first few days, I was at least able to blow dry my hair without melting in the mornings!
The first night, we were met by Peter and Brigitte who showed us around Wurzburg (the hometown of Dirk Nowitzki, by the way). Peter's sister, Ute, is married to my third cousin, Thomas. We met Thomas and Ute, along with Thomas' parents, Ernst and Lydia, the third day. Thomas showed us around Munich, then we visited his home and enjoyed some very tasty cherries and apricots grown on the family farm. We ate dinner with the family, then really felt like we started our vacation because we finally got our suitcases!!!
Over the next several days we visited castles, small towns, waterfalls, Lake Konstanz, and the Black Forest. It was so nice. And we all learned that we really do prefer a vacation where you go one place and stay put. Much easier than unpacking and repacking every day!!
Our travel home was more convoluted than going: flight from Frankfurt to London Heathrow. Changed airports from Heathrow to Gatwick via bus. Flight from Gatwick to Raleigh-Durham, NC, then finally the flight to DFW. The alarm went off at 4 am Germany time on Wednesday morning (9 pm Tues in Dallas) and we finally made it back to my house about 11:00 pm Wednesday evening. So, about 26 hours of travel, with each of our connections requiring us to get our bags and go through customs! Crazy. But we did all make it in one piece, all of our flights were on time, and we all made it home with luggage!
Overall it was a great vacation -- I'm so glad that it worked out for us all to go together. And I don't have to go back to work until Monday, so I've still got a few days to continue to relax!!