While Mark got his ticket, and I watched from afar (some rules about passengers only which was probably in German somewhere). He got ready to go through the gate at 9:30am. Unfortunately, Air India doesn't even start boarding until noon. So I read my book (the one Mark finished by A.C. Clark), then moved closer to the Gate for Air India... and waited some more. A woman sat next to me with a large amount of luggage who was taking Air India as well and we chatted a bit. She travels to Europe to watch operas, she is a big Wagner fan and just bought a life-size plastic duplicate of Wagner’s hound- it looked like a black lab to me. I also learned that she attended the first opera at Madison's new Overture Center- they purchased a German organ built by organ makers just down the street from the Beethoven house in Bonn- we probably walked right by their shop. The amazing thing about this organ is that if folds up so that when plays or things that don't need the organ are going on, the organ won't take up as much room. Mark would be fascinated.
Just before noon, we both got into line where a curious Air India employee asked us the standard airport questions. Going through security was a bit more complicated, everyone gets the full pat down and then you have to get a stamp in your passport from customs (one line for euro and another for non euro passengers). Next I tackled the maze of terminals to get to mine. Now the trick was that I actually didn't know which terminal I was suppose to go to. When I got my ticket, the clerk said that the actual location was still unknown, but above him, the digital readout said C13, so that is where I headed.
Now by this time it was about one and I really had to use the restroom, I hadn't passed any along the way, or at least I didn't recognize them. So after I located C13 I kept walking and found a security guard who pointed to a restroom on the other side of the security point. Which meant that to use the restroom I would have to leave the airport and then check back in through security. Since it is an international flight, I can't check in just anywhere... grrr. He also mentioned that there was a restroom inside of C13- Now I couldn't get inside of C13 since there were glass doors- it was like another ticket desk. And when I tried to go past, the women there started talking very loudly in German... So I had to wait an hour. At this point I was really missing the American airports with water fountains and restrooms everywhere!
Sitting right outside of C13, I was watching the departure schedule that was only posted an hour in advance- but when my flight was posted, I was in the right spot. After waiting to be let into C13, I got through, did my business, and found a nice seat in the second row next to the door- now there were about 20 rows of seats total, which should have prepared me for what was next. Slowly every seat was filled. Then all the passengers who were on the plane (coming from India) had to deplane and half of those had kids that were tired and hungry at this point- needless to say there were not enough seats and it was very noisy...
Unfortunately there was a problem with the EU computers, so we waited an hour longer in that cramped little room before we could get on. On the plus side, the sky was perfect for flying and I got some good shots of little fluffy clouds before the batteries ran out on the camera. It was an excellent camera for the trip. With two batteries, we always had enough power and the 4 CD's could hold all of our 750+ pictures that we took this trip.
The food was again delicious, curry chicken with curried veggies inside of a pastry, yummy spinach balls, strawberry yogurt, a cup of mixed fruit, water (the best part!), roll slathered with butter, a little wrapped Swiss chocolate with almonds and honey (perfect), and a yellow cake with little red currents and light white icing topped with chocolate shavings. I ate every bite!!
So Mark mentioned that I should try and stay awake the entire trip- so I watched the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy- but the earphones were not meant for such complicated sound, and so I only caught about half of the movie. Then I watched Tool Time (fortunately an episode I haven't seen) and a very long and sad Indian movie with English subtitles- I think the jist of it was that the king wanted a son and so he went on a pilgrimage. As a result, he did get a son, but his son only liked women and drink. So he sent him off to war for 14 years and when the sad prince came back he fell in love with a dancer maid. Of course, the king forbade the prince from marrying her and put the girl in prison to be executed. Well the prince couldn't have that, so he decides to fight the king. In the end the prince is to be executed by a cannon which the girl saves him from. As her punishment, she walled into a tower of stone to die, but the girl's mother can ask one favor of the king (due to her bringing good news of his son in the past) and so the girl is saved, but everyone thinks her dead... such a sad story, but the plot was always in flux, so it kept my attention.
Throughout the whole trip it was perpetual sunlight. I was so happy to land in Chicago 8 hours later (it took a half hour longer to come back). While I had about another inch of legroom this trip, my whole body was knotted up. After going through customs- a lot less painless than I thought- and getting the stamps for refunds that I needed, I headed to the domestic flights where Mark will be. Unfortunately that meant I had to get to the other terminal. After a shuttle ride, I couldn't go through to the gate and meet Mark when he arrive like we planned (since I had to go back through security), so I talked with someone for his carrier- who directed me to talk to someone down in baggage claim. All I wanted to do was give Mark a page or message that I would not be able to meet him at the gate and he shouldn’t wait an hour for me. After I told the baggage attendant my story, was nice enough to give me a pass to get past security (I didn’t know you could do that)- with only 30minutes before Mark landed, I ran to get into line. There I met a nice man who told me about what he enjoyed in Germany- manly he likes France- lived there for 5 years- and so we ended up talking about that for 20 minutes or so till I could get through the gate- it helped me to stay awake.
On the up side, I arrived about 5 minutes before Mark’s plane arrived at the gate. Which was great, any more time and I probably would have fallen asleep- we had been up about 24 hours by now. Heading down to the Van Guilder, we purchased a small pizza and Sprite to split and found the right bus. After a nap that was way to short, we arrived in Madison and trucked to the bus stop on University Ave. and headed home!!! It was so nice to use our own shower and to sleep under our own sheets. Germany was nice, but it was great to be back home!