“Bird seed?” –Me, waking myself up from a very odd dream I had on the plane to Berlin.
Well, I finally made it to Wittenberg: exhausted, thirsty, and unpunctual.
Having Amanda and Missie come over on Monday to my house the night before our flight out of Chicago was a ton of fun! We had a Hogwarts feast, thanks to my younger sister receiving a Harry Potter cookbook for Christmas last year. What a way to send us off to Europe!
On Tuesday, we woke up and went shopping, so we could get our future host families something fromAmerica. I ended up getting some Mike and Ikes, Baseball League bubblegum, Chicago magnets, and a Chicago theme deck of cards.
Then we went back to my house to shower and (for me) make final packing preparations. My dad took us to his office at church to print our tickets (in case you didn’t know, my father’s a pastor of a Lutheran congregation).
And then, we loaded up the car and were dropped off at the airport. Checking our bags were easy and built our excitement. I don’t know about Amanda or Missie, but I sure wasnot thinking at how much time I would be spending with my checked bag, my carryon bag, and my backpack.
Getting through security was a tad perplexing. Everything was so rushed, but we had to take off our shoes, take out our laptops, cameras, liquids, etc. I am pretty sure I received some glares from the…more experienced travelers. I did not get to endure the full body scan. I just went through the detector, got my backpack searched (since I had two tins with me, which the lady was really sweet about), and got to go on my merry way.
Waiting at the gate of our plane was a little boring. But somehow the time passed and we found ourselves on the plane. It was the biggest plane I had ever been on. There was
a column of two seats, a middle column of four seats, and another column of two seats. Missie and I sat together, since we purchased our tickets at the same time. Amanda was a few rows in front of us, but we couldn’t see her because there was a bathroom blocking our way.
But there were individualized TV screens on the back of the chair of the people sitting in front of us. Missie and I soon discovered the movies and music that we could entertain ourselves with. Listening to Eric Whitacres’s Light and Gold was super fun! There was also a screen on the wall in front of us which went from where we were in the world, to what time it was in Chicago to what time it was in Dublin; I won’t bore you too much with the more miniscule information presented.
The flight was long! But we got our complimentary pretzels and drink. And then came a dinner of chicken and rice, which was better than what I had expected. The rice reminded me of Augustana’s cafeterias, actually.
Then we were served coffee or tea (I chose tea, of course). And the food kept coming: before we landed, we got a breakfast bun with meat and cheese with a cup of tea (or coffee).
Of course I was tired, since it was getting late in the time zone that I’m used to. But overall, I maybe got about twenty minutes of sleep. Then I was in Dublin.
Amanda, Missie, and I were thrilled to be in a different country. We waited in line to have our passports checked while trying to listen for as many Irish accents as possible. It was really cool to have my passport stamped and a relief to find that my checked suitcase had made it with me. As we collected our bags and trade a few American bills for Euros, we realized that we were getting tired. And we still had two more airplanes to go.
After finding out that our checked bags wouldn’t be taken five hours before our next flight to London, Amanda, Missie, and I lugged our backs with us to an upstairs Starbucks, where we sat, drank caffeine, and played Spot It and Trigger, two easily portable games I brought with me.
After a while, we were finally able to check in our suitcases. Once that was done, we had two hours to wait until our two o’clock boarding time for our two thirty flight. So we
walked outside for a bit, trying to get some fresh, Irish air before heading
back into a stuffy airplane.
As Amanda, Missie, and I went back into the airport, we knew that we had to go through security again. This time, however, it was way more laidback than O’Hare. Things weren’t as rushed, and there weren’t that many people.
This plane ride, from Dublin to London, was a little under an hour. Missie passed out for a few minutes next to me. Amanda was somewhere in front of us. And I was trying my hardest to catch a glimpse of London. I didn’t get to see a lot, much to my disappointment.
We landed in London, tried and starving. It was about lunchtime our local time, but it was four in the afternoon in London. After figuring out that our checked bags would
transfer from our plane to London to our plan to Berlin, we rushed to a
currency exchange. We threw down some of our Euros. Missie and Amanda got about seven pounds, whereas I got eleven. I asked if this amount of money would suffice to get us some food.
The lady hesitated in her answer, but she slowly said that we might have been able to get a sandwich and a drink.
That answer was good enough for us. We dragged our carryons with us to a restaurant area. Much to our dismay, we were unable to eat at about 98% of the places. So we found this little sandwich place with packaged sandwiches.
Let me tell you: the rumor about Britain’s food being terrible is true. Even if it’s packaged.
My chicken fajita wrap had spice—and that was the only thing I could taste. But I was desperate. By now, I had been up for about twenty-four hours. I considered myself lucky, though. Missie and Amanda told me that they couldn’t taste a thing.
London airport security was tiring. This was our third time in a day where we would go through it. Granted, we didn’t have to take our shoes off (Dublin was like this, too), but Amanda, Missie, and I were almost at our wits’ ends.
We got on the plane. I zonked out for a few minutes, but the effort towards obtaining more energy was meager, if that.
Finally we were in Berlin. But in our haste to get to a bathroom, we missed our opportunity to get our luggage, so we had to be directed to this place, where we waited, though we didn’t care because we were FINALLY in Germany.
We met two others from our group there—Caitlin and Connor, who secured a bed at a hostel. Once everyone had their luggage, we hopped on a bus and walked to the hostel. My body was aching during that walk, with a heavy backpack (my laptop) and two suitcases to tow around. We finally made it to the hostel, in a neighborhood that was…well, it certainly didn’t look like anything from the suburbs, that’s for sure. It was described to me as ‘ghetto’, though it truly wasn’t. The hostel was cheap, and there was a bed (and a shower!), so I paid and hulled my things to my room.
Missie, Amanda, and I were in one room, whereas Connor and Caitlin were in another. We took showers, brushed our hair and teeth, and crawled into a bed. I fell asleep almost right away, since we had been on the move for about thirty hours, give or take.
There was a fourth bed in my room, with sheets on it. The bed was the bottom bunk, and mine was the top. As I went to bed, I wondered who our unknown roommate was. Don’t worry, my question was answered. I felt someone roll over, waking me up. I listened, and then came the grunt and snore of a man. I never spoke to him, and I was partially unnerved. But, I guess Europe’s perception of separating the sexes is different from the way I’ve grown up. I hope my parents don’t freak too much about it.
The next morning, we felt a hundred times better. We ate breakfast and headed towards the airport. Now I’m going to give a brief summary of what happened, since the details may bore you and this blog post is long enough.
But we never made it to the airport because the bus we took with said the airport’s name never went there. So, in a rush, we took a taxi to the airport, but the van had already left, meaning that we had to find our own way to Wittenberg. We got onto another bus—mind you, we had all of our heavy luggage during this entire time—and were dropped off at the train station in Berlin.
There we had to read the big board to find a train that would get us to Wittenberg. We picked one out, which was the cheapest option but the easiest. I was excited for the train ride, even though we were all stressing about finding our way on our own.
Before we knew it, we were in Wittenberg. We were tired. We were perplexed. We were late. But we made it.
In twenty-four hours’ time, I had taken pretty much every form of public transportation: plane, train, taxi, bus. But I’m here, with rusty German and a handful of Euros.
I’ll update you guys later on where I’m living and what Wittenberg has been like thus far. There will be pictures. Promise.