Greetings everyone! I am writing this inaugural entry for my travel blog while I am on a bus somewhere between Frankfurt and Leipzig.
Travel is Hell. We left Abilene at 10:50 AM Central Standard Time. The bus ride was relatively uneventful. The eight of us going to Germany claimed our seats in the middle of the bus and proceeded to speculate about this place we would eventually make it to. We covered topics like food (where will we get Mexican), cold (we’re from Texas), language (none of us speak German), and future travel plans (I’m still working on that). We took the first photographs of the journey and consumed the first gummy bears. We made the first jokes and took the first naps. Around 1:00 PM CST we arrived at DFW and hurried forward in order to wait for thirty minutes to check our baggage. Now, I’m not exactly a patient person, and so I resorted to jokes I found to be hilarious but others found to be disturbing. I leaned over to Jacquline, one of my fellow travelers, and asked in a loud whisper, “I hope they don’t find my bomb!” She laughed, but everyone else hissed at me to stop. Did I want to get arrested? Party poopers. The line finally started moving and I quieted down except for the occasional petulant question demanding to know if we were there yet.
Arriving at the baggage counter I was told by the American woman working for British Airways that the line was so slow because “the Brits don’t understand understand technology. They make us work with this crap” gesturing to her computer. Giving neither approval of her words nor judgment of them, I politely asked how much I would need to pay for my obese bag; it weighed 22 pounds over the limit, which is to say that it was 73 pounds. After paying the fee, I wandered over to security where I was ordered to explain the presence of an entire suitcase of books. I explained that they were textbooks for classes I would be taking this semester. The TSA officer clearly thought I was nuts, but seemed to decide that the books posed no dangers. Finally, we made it into the airport proper only to be confronted with the knowledge that the flight would be departing two hours late. This news did not, however, phase me one bit. I was well equipped with two more episodes of 24 season 7 and a $9 dinner voucher, spent on a Monte Christo at Bennigans.
At 6:45 PM CST we boarded the plane. I was duly impressed with first class, I was mildly approving of 2nd class, and defiantly cheerful about coach. To make the “can of sardines” impression even more real, I was placed in the middle between fellow Study Abroader Kyle Anderson and an elderly lady on my right who made sure I had everything I needed out of my carry-on. After soothing her motherly instincts (she declared that once a mother always a mother), pre-departure conversation yielded the fact that she was on a trip to Nairobi for an African safari. This peeked my interest because she had to be at least sixty, but she was going for three weeks by herself. We took off, by ears popped, and dinner was nasty. After throwing dinner away, I succumbed to a sleeping pill given to me earlier by Drew Stuart and woke up seven hours later as breakfast was being served one hour before we landed. The pilot came on and said something in a thick cockney accent and the seat belt sighn came on, and I was having my first view of London as we landed. We touched down at 10:15 AM London time, which is 4:15 AM CST. We got off the plane and rushed to our connection only to discover that our connection had left twenty minutes previous; it was to the ticket counter we went.
I’ll save you the boring details of the line except for two interesting anecdotes. First, I loudly declared my hunger and Rachel Brown, the Study Abroad coordinator, responded with dried mango strips. I decided it was mango jerkey and ate it. The hunger was restrained for a time. The second anecdote is that Rachel successfully convinced British Airways to give us each a 5 pound food voucher. We got our new tickets (the flight would be at 2:20 PM London time or 7:20 AM CST. I got Starbucks, read a book, and waited for the plane. We boarded and had a short flight to Frankfurt. On the flight, a British flight attendant offered me a choice between “sweet” or “savory” snacks. I chose savory, which is just the British version of salty. It was mixed nuts and seeds. Arrival in Frankfurt precipitated the long anticipated adventure through immigration and customs. Told to expect anything, I proceeded with caution. The customs officer glanced at my passport and then I was through. I was astounded that that was all, but I guess they figured the UK had taken all of our acids and poisons (expressly forbidden by the British on their flights.)
After that, we met up with Ron Morgan, the director of ACU Study Abroad in Leipzig, and Stephen Shewmaker, who originally scoped out Leipzig as a potential place for ACU Study Abroad. We loaded up in a charter bus, driven by a man who speaks only German, while none of us, including Stephen and Ron, speak German. We stopped briefly for food at a truck stop where I ate pork Schnitzel, Bratwurst, and sweet red cabbage (it was actually good). Then we loaded up and headed out. The bus ride is a total of four hours. As I complete this entry in my journal 2 hours and fifteen minutes have passed. It is now 9:28 PM German Standard Time and 2:28 PM CST. I will post this on Friday the fifteenth and will likely post again before the weekend is out.
I give you now this blessing: Philippians 1:3-11
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my…[travels in Germany and the rest of Europe]…and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.