Getting underway, getting there

So: I left for Germany on Monday the 7th, taking an evening flight from JFK Airport in New York. (More choices for flight times, and it’s actually not that much further than the Philly airport for us.) This is not my plane, but rather an Air France Airbus A380 getting ready for the milk run to Paris:


She’s an unusual bird – two decks running the length of the plane, a first in the commercial jet age. I would have enjoyed having a chance to take a tour, or better yet, to go out for a spin. Another time.

My bird was no slouch, though… this was my first time on a 747:


First impressions: Huge plane. Incredibly long – I was in one of the back rows and it felt like I had traveled a mile to get to my seat. Kind of like a fun house version of an airplane. Also, it turns out the 747 is a pretty ungainly bird on the ground and at low altitude. Below 10,000 feet (3,300m) it shook and shimmied like a car with a bad transmission.

Anyway, after seven hours aloft we touched down at mid-day in Frankfurt. I took the train from the airport to Heidelberg, and then picked up a car. The train was an Inter-City Express (ICE), and it was gorgeous inside:


Hard to see from the picture, but they have this beautiful glass sliding door arrangement between the passenger compartments, and it is slightly mirrored, and the information display is set into the mirrored surface so it looks like it is floating there. German engineering.

My hotel was only a few minutes from the train station and rental car place, so I was in the room fairly quickly. The hotel is a boutique, not part of a chain, and the rooms are actually distributed among three older buildings along the same block in a neighborhood. The room itself was bright, airy, and surprisingly spacious for a European hotel:


The strange little oval in the foreground of this picture is actually a small dining table and two chairs:


There was a small kitchenette in the room, which came in handy:


In fact, soon after I arrived I went to the local Aldi supermarket (yes!) around the corner and bought some essentials:


Don’t let anyone tell you life in Germany is always outrageously expensive – I picked up a six-pack of beer for the equivalent of $2.40. Try that in Pennsylvania.

The room had no air conditioning, but this wasn’t a problem – most days the weather was cool enough on its own. And anyway, the room had a fan with the brand name Alaska. Isn’t that a fine brand name for a fan?


So, there I was, safely ensconced in Heidelberg. I went out and had a nice dinner, and then had a long, long sleep – 13 hours! Woke up fresh and ready to get to work the next day.

Tomorrow: Trees, bikes, and cathedrals.