Flew out of Denver 5 May and landed in Frankfurt 6 May. I didn't have trouble going through US security--there's a reason I'm stating this and you'll see what it is later--and made it to my gate early. We ended up boarding and leaving early, so that was pretty awesome! I had a pretty uneventful flight over and we landed in Frankfurt early. Clearing German Customs and claiming my baggage and meeting up with my boyfriend went well and without any trouble. Yay! Since there was construction on the Autobahn on the way up, he (The Boyfriend) opted to take a different route home. We took a few wrong turns, so we had a very scenic drive back to his place over near Heidelberg. It was fun and definitely worth it. I got to see some gorgeous scenery that I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. I got to meet his family, then I did the "I made it here alive" call to my parents and posted on FB for everyone else before called my cousin to figure out when to meet up with him. Not a bad first day there I'd say.
Monday-Thursday we went and checked out Heidelberg, Mannheim, and different sites in the area. I got to see Heidelberg Castle, Luisenpark, Sinsheim, and a few other things, including a fair/carnival in Mannheim! Friday-Sunday we went to see my cousin and his family over in Grafenwöhr (he's in the military and is stationed there). I haven't seen my cousin in quite a few years and hadn't met his wife or kids yet, so that was really awesome! It was good to get to see family I hadn't seen in years.
Monday-Wednesday was more local sightseeing and hanging around the house and trying to decide where to take a spontaneous mini-holiday to. We opted for Paris (he's been there a few times before, so he knew how to navigate the city some and what was awesome to see) so we bought plane tickets and made reservations at a motel and flew out Thursday afternoon. The next morning we did our own super quick tour of Paris and went to the Eiffel Tower, walked around Notre Dame, checked out Montparnasse Tower, Centre Pompidou, Hôtel de Ville, Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, Père Lachaise Cemetery (we checked out Jim Morrison's grave--awesome!), Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, and back to over near La Grande Arche de la Défense where we were staying. I know we saw more stuff just walking around, but I can't recall what they were. I became somewhat well acquainted with the Paris Metro and RER since that was our main form of transport besides our feet. My legs hated me for 2 or 3 days after that, but that's ok. We got back Saturday evening, then I unpacked and repacked so I could leave Sunday.
Sunday was a bit rough. I did not like leaving, but alas, it had to be so. Made it to the airport, cuddled with the fella awhile, then cleared Customs (didn't take long), cleared Security (who eyed my bag with a bunch of Ritter Sport chocolate bars kinda funny, but let it through), then went to my gate to wait. Here's where crap started to kind of go downhill. Plane was supposed to leave at 1:30, but sometime around 1 they were asking all the Economy Class passengers to limit themselves to one personal item/bag on the plane and check the other because the plane was full. Sometime around 1:30 we were starting to board. We ended up taking off about 2ish. The rest of the flight was uneventful and we actually landed on time in Denver at 4 pm. Yay! Mobile phone battery died 10 minutes after landing, so I was incommunicado for the rest of the day. Cleared US Customs and Security (the lines were just really, really long), then waited almost 45 minutes for my luggage, handed in my Customs Declaration form (a matter of seconds), and headed for the front door to wait for the shuttle back home. That was about 5 or 5:15. Well, since my battery on my phone was dead, I missed the call that the shuttle was running late because the one van broke down, so they had to wait for the other to arrive and instead of picking me up at 6 as planned, it'd be closer to 7. Oi. There was another person waiting for the shuttle too, so when they didn't show up and were about 30 minutes late her daughter called and found out what happened. The shuttle didn't show up until 7:30. It's about a 3 hour ride home and we had to stop for fuel at Fort Morgan, CO. I didn't get to town until 10:50 and it was after 11 by the time I walked home. Dropped my luggage off, then went to reclaim Bear from a friend's place and talked to them a bit, so it wasn't until 12am when I got home for good. Notified other people that I was home, alive, and safe, then went to bed close to 1am. Talk about a long day! By that time I'd been up over 24 hours (I did nap for about an hour or so on the shuttle ride home). And guess what? I had to get up Monday morning so I could go to work! At least I made it home ok and got about 5 hours of sleep.
Oh, back to my mixed thoughts on Paris-- Parts of Paris were just beautiful! We were over in the business district, so the area wasn't that bad and a bit cleaner. The places we ate at over there had at least one person on staff that spoke enough English for us to order without major issues. We did eat lunch somewhere in the middle of Paris which had awesome food and although the staff didn't speak English we were able to point at the pre-made sandwiches and get some food. On the other hand, Paris seemed to be a rather dirty place and a lot (not all, but a surprisingly large portion) of the people were quite rude. The Metro usually stunk. Where I had been in Germany was much cleaner and although a lot of the people were brusque, I wouldn't call them "rude." I'll admit though that I'm from a small city (about 900 people). Until this point in time, Denver, Colorado was the biggest city I'd been in. There are some really dirty parts to Denver, but something about Paris just really didn't appeal to me. I'd definitely visit again-- there were things that I didn't get to see this time that I'd love to go see. Personally, I couldn't live there though since there though. WAY too many people. I've never been able to figure out the French language, so I think that's part of why I didn't care for the place either. How they say words and how they're spelled usually don't match, so you're left wondering what the heck they just said. Or at least I am. I tried to learn a bit of French one time, but other than counting to 10 and saying please, thank you, shit, big, small, exit, and cabbage, I really don't know much.
As for German it was easier for me, but that's partially because I'd learned some of the basic sentence structure and pronunciation rules in 5th grade and I've always had a fascination with the language. I know a little bit, but nowhere near enough to have a conversation. After 2 weeks there, I do understand a bit more, but I definitely couldn't communicate by myself. With the help of a dictionary or phrasebook I can kind of make what I want or need known. Still have a lot to learn of the language and culture though.
Some major differences I noticed between the US and Germany:
- They really like carbonated mineral water (I dub it "fizzy water). That stuff is vile and evil in my opinion. Generally in the US we only use something like that for mixing drinks. It has not other purpose. lol
- They don't believe in lines...or at least lines as the US understands them. If you're waiting in line in the US, people generally don't cut in front of you. Not quite the same in Germany. There's a line looking thing and where ever there's an opening, someone (generally more than one someone) will make a move for it no matter if they're farther back in line or next in line. The opening is free game for all.
- The cashiers in stores get to sit down on chairs at the register. I haven't ever seen that in the US. All our cashiers have to stand. It's enough of a difference to make me notice it.
That's about all I can think of right now. I had a blast going though! I can't wait to go back. :)