Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Germany. Day 1. Arriving to Hellenbach

It’s past midnight – in Germany. Which makes it even worse because in Romania that means 1:00AM, so for those of you who thought I was resting and catching up on my sleep, well… no. haha. Bad bad Mela! But I’m having such a good time, what can I do.

Anyway, this is Day 3 of my vacation in Bavaria and I finally find a little time to talk about… Day 1 hehe.

So… Mom arrived on Friday and thank God she helped with a few things around the house ‘cause otherwise I would have not been able to take care of everything before leaving. Grasu was safely delivered to Laura (THANKS AGAIN!!!), packing was done at about 1:30AM, the garbage was thrown the prior morning (YESSS!!!) so now all we had to do was get some sleep. That sounds like an easy thing to do, but when I have missed on 4 alarms every single morning this past week, I was honestly afraid I was not going to wake up on time to catch the flight. Namely at 3:45am – in two hours that is. Mom says, let’s just stay awake. I say, mom, this is what I’ve been doing for the past month or so. I have been more awake than asleep and that’s why I got where I am now: deaf to all of my friggin’ alarms literally ringing in my ear and I still can’t hear them. I need some sleep or I’ll die.  So I set both my personal and work phone with 4 alarms each and then I decide mom’s phone should add some value to my efforts to wake up, especially when her alarm could raise the dead from the worst curse of eternal sleep. Three phones ready to mash my brains in two hours, so I feel safer now.

3:45AM and the damn phones start ringing and I can barely hear the first two. Then mom’s phone starts ringing. Her alarm is Beyonce “All the single ladies”. Haha. All the single ladies, all the single ladies… oh my God, shut the fuck up! I get up and roll over my mom trying to open both eyes but I fail. Before I move again my mom is up – I mean she’s the younger one between us – and she urges me to get up and get ready. I am not leaving without my breakfast!!! Rule no. 1 for Mela’s daily survival: never miss breakfast or the evil twin will surface by 10:00AM and bitch at everyone. Sooo… I “rush” into the kitchen and prepare some cereal. Mom is taking care of the bed, and then we both wash our faces and have some cereal in the dead of the night watching some stupid thing on TV. I put make up on and then I struggle to fit my make up kit somewhere in the already overfilled luggage. I call a cab and waiting for the operator to tell me they have a car available is really a challenge for me, especially that we are running a little late.

The guy is there, we go downstairs with the entire luggage and we are finally on our way to the airport. Mom gets in some sort of discussion with the driver over drug and alcohol addicts and I am not even sure how they came to that at 4 o’clock in the morning, but I don’t try to find out. I just nod sitting on the back seat in the dark and I’m content with my ignorance. We arrive at the airport and make our way to the check-in. The lady there is really nice to us. Perhaps because the level of stress at 4:00AM is minimum ‘cause there was no one there. We are transporting gifts for our friends, some of which are made of glass and I have them in my hand luggage. I ask her whether that will be a problem in the customs because then I should move them now in my luggage before it’s too late. She says, no it’s ok, as long as the bottles aren’t filled with liquid. They’re not but you know, I’m trying to avoid any questions. I mean if I were a security officer I would be wondering: what if I’m a terrorist and once on the plane I’ll break the glass and hijack the aircraft with my broken bottles?!? The woman smiles at me. Mela is 31 going on 4, that’s all. I smile back and ask her if she can give us window seats. She smiles again. Fine. How about seats next to each other? She gives us the passport and the tickets and we rush to the check in point. We look like we’re working at NASA. We have a small suitcase filled with electronics: my camera (in pieces), three phones, mom’s camera, my laptop, mom’s IPad, three chargers. Haha. Yeah, we travel in style. Eventually, after my striptease routine (just the belt and jacket this time), I make it through and wait for mom. The lights go red on her and I have to wait for them to frisk her and she’s laughing all through the process. I try to signal her to be more serious about things but she approaches me with a grin showing me the buttons on her jeans. “What was I supposed to do? I’m not taking my pants off!” I look at the long line behind her. They were all so tired and so bored; they could’ve used a bit of amusement. We move to the customs and it’s my turn to lack seriousness facing the Romanian authorities, because mom has gone through already and I keep looking for her and not at the guy before me. Eventually I put a grin on my face and the guy smiles back. I am cute and cuddly Mister, let me pass! Check in is over.

We rush to the gate, we are a few minutes away from boarding. We are using Tarom this time and unbelievably, other than the fact that a few days before the flight, they changed it adding a stop in Sibiu, now we find out we’re flying with one of those propellers kind of planes. Not the usual ones with the big engines hanging from the wings. It looks more like a miniature private plane. The seats are small, the staircase is small, the windows are small. The only big thing is the flight attendant who’s playing video games in his breaks away from the passengers. An elderly lady behind us is freaking out because it’s her first time flying so she doesn’t know anything about luggage and seatbelt and seats and what not so we help her out the best way we can. We finally sit down and as the plane is ready for takeoff, the flight attendant takes his time in detailing the safety conditions on board. I find it rather alarming he never says anything about the oxygen masks. Does that mean there are not oxygen masks on the plane? Then they better sit me next to a 6 feet tall chestnut hair dark eyes slender body man who can work a miraculous “bouche a bouche” in case I needed it. I break away from my nasty thoughts for a moment to check mom out. She says she wants to nap. I know she won’t because if she does she’s gonna miss a hell of a sunrise. She takes her IPad out waiting for it.
The sunrise high in the sky... and a little bit in the back of the plane haha
40 minutes into the flight and we land in Sibiu. The sunrise is about to start. A lot of people board there so the plane is as full as it can be. We take off again and this time we enjoy a great weather and a beautiful sunrise from atop of the clouds. Mom films our little adventure so you get to see my morning grin at a cruising altitude. It’s not much different than my grin on ground level haha

So here is our little movie, mom's high quality production stuff. Be ware! It causes smiles hehe

The flight goes smoothly (with a small note that mom says she saw this “very young guy” going into the cockpit and he seemed to be the pilot – I say “how very young?! – I mean it’s not enough we’re flying on a damn aluminum kite, now they brought teenagers to drive this thing?!?) and we finally land in Munich. We are 15 minutes late which worries me because we have to take the shuttle from the airport to the Central Station and from there, the train to Ansbach. I have the tickets to Ansbach but for the shuttle I couldn’t get them online. So now I want to hurry and get the tickets and on the shuttle to catch up for the delay, especially that it takes 35 minutes to get to the station. But alas – there is a humongous queue waiting at the customs. A large group of Russian kids and women bulk us into an unorganized line while they take over a whole side of the corridor. Jesus! Eventually we make it and mom goes first and I try to stay as close as possible and hear if the guy is asking her something. Let us remember we are both on foreign soil, none of us speaks German and mom doesn’t speak English either. I hear the guy asking her whether she’s from Bucharest and she nods with a smile. She’s a natural. My turn and then we’re out. Munich airport is so big. I keep looking for the S sign which stands for Bahn (the train!). We make it and I realize I have to buy the tickets from the machine because there is no more time to stay in line at the ticket booth. Guess what? The damn thing is in German, but I see the British flag and I have never been happier to see it haha English saves the day!!!! I knew how much they would cost from the internet so I spot the price, I press the button and then I have the tickets. And then the damn machine says I have 5 minutes to make it to the next train. And then I panic! I turn to mom and she’s in a total tourist mood taking pictures of the entry to the train. Moooooommmm!!! I hurry her down the stairs and there I find a train, it says Haupbhanhof and I jump on it. Then I ask whether it’s going where I want. Again luck strikes twice the same day: an English couple says yes. Then they say, BUT there are some works on the railway so you will probably have to change trains. What?! NO! NO, I can’t change trains, I’m barely gonna make it for the other train as it is. Unfortunately they are pretty sure that’s how it’s going to go. More passengers intervene and eventually the conclusion is that I don’t have to change trains. But we still have about 16 stops to go. I count the minutes as they go. I try to read the map but my German withers with every word I try to pronounce - mentally; because if my mouth opened I could not spell more than half of the damn thing. Mom finds my attempts to figure out German totally hilarious so she takes a few pictures of me staring emptily at the map. She wants to shout at me to check for the station we had just passed by but she realizes she can’t spell the name either so she just yells at me “look at this word and then find it there.” That’s not even funny.

11:15AM. Central Station. Big, very big Central Station. Our train is supposed to be on Gleis 3. I can’t even move away from the shuttle because there are so many people coming from different directions. I don’t see anyone who can guide us so we wonder aimlessly for a minute knowing that we have just a few minutes before the other train leaves. The English couple finds us and guides us to our line, blessed be your souls eternally. We rush like crazy – I believe my poor hand luggage could take on a Samsonite any day after that ride! I pull the tickets out of my bag and wave them at the conductor yelling for his attention “Is this it? Is this it?” he smiles and says “Ya Ya…” We get in, the wagon is empty, no one but us. Relief. Bathroom time. Food time. Damn. No food, because we didn’t have time to get any and we’re about to be stuck on this train for two hours.
That's me looking like I know what I'm doing when I actually failed to find the shuttle on the online thingy at the airport haha

ZA S-Bahn, saviour of our lives.

And that's Mela again buying the online shuttle tickets. 

The way to the shuttle

The British couple assisting us in our ordeal and far in the back my idiot face trying to descipher the train map...
Half way through the ride this guy comes and seats opposite to us. He is a younger version of Brad Pitt, I swear to God and I wasn’t hallucinating because of hunger. Plus he is all prepared for a long journey: newspapers, food, drinks and everything and mom and I glimpse at him like two homeless people. We had nothing to eat other than cereals and a little breakfast on the plane since 4:00AM. And now this guy and his food. And then a lady comes in serving coffee and cappuccino. Cappuccino has never been more appraised and valued than at that time. It tasted like beef steak and fries, and the cream on top had the savor of lettuce and bell peppers, with blue cheese and walnuts. And then I added the sugar and all the salt, pepper, vinegar and a pinch of chilly garnished that amazing salad. Hahaha. We were lost in the desert and we had been given a drop of water. And we were crazy about it. We made so much fun about it, laughing until my make up ran down my cheeks.
And that's the Brad Pitt fellow ignoring our retardness
Ansbach. We came out of the small station and Nancy was there with Finchen waiting for us. Both a pair of darlings. Finchen is the puppy our family sent to Nancy last year. She is the only puppy we ever sent for adoption abroad and now we are visiting her. She has grown so big and she is the same age as Nancy’s young daughter Zoey. Only 2 weeks difference between them. Nancy speaks very good English thank God, so we are safe. It takes us another 40 minutes to get to her village, Hellenbach. They live on a farm and the surroundings are absolutely gorgeous, but that late afternoon we only saw little of the scenery. Instead, they prepared a quick meal for us upon our arrival and then we spent some time with the family, sharing gifts and impressions over the journey.
Our first encounter with Finchen after almost a year
Haylee and Zoey

Nancy is so lovely and keeps worrying about what we want to do, if we need anything and so on, while Andy, her husband, watches us calmly with a smile on his face. He doesn’t speak English all that well but he understands it better and Nancy helps with the translation. On the other hand, Haylee (5) and Zoey (1) do not have a problem with the language barrier and we bond immediately. We go out and do some shopping as we plan on cooking a Romanian dish for them on Sunday and when we get back, they return the favor and cook a special German dish – the name of which I would like to reproduce but she has to write down for me first haha. I eat like a pig. I will not be amazed if I bring back a few German pounds extra. But that’s ok. I’m on holiday. I would like to enjoy my stay and my experience here.

The rest of the family includes Finchen of course, who is 1 year old, Rocky who is a really old dog, probably 15 years old; has long nails and he makes a lot of noise as he goes through the house but he’s so sweet and calm. Then there is Baghera, a white cat with one blue eye and one green eye. And he’s deaf. Nancy and Andy are my kind of people. They save animals from shelters and from other people. Except from Finchen, all other animals in their household have been saved in one way or another. They have two more cats, 2 rabbits, two ponies (Louis and Moriz) and a Frisian horse called Riddick. But more about them in future posts.
Here is Riddick. We met him the same night. I have more fun stuff with him, but as we say, to be continued hehe
Right now I should go to bed. It’s past 1:00AM. Mom is playing Totem on her IPad. I got all my wonderful genes from her. Including the Dracula “never sleeping” ones too. Maybe if I put the laptop away she’ll do to. So good night for now – and guess what, I’ll post this in the morning, so it will be good morning for you – and catch up later!

Mom and Mela from Bavaria.

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