The super secret big black nerd case….is locked.
Aaron brought home this big black case on Friday to take with us on our flight to Germany on Sunday & I totally felt some nerdtastic secrets must be locked away in it. I stewed over it until Sunday morning when I finally confessed my curiosity & he opened it up. It was exactly like the millions of boxes of wires, cables, keyboards, mice, & gaffer tape that we already have in the garage & office, except this stuff was surrounded by padding to not damage their delicate electronic parts.
We made it to the airport in plenty of time thanks to Aaron’s generous parents Misty & John. John brilliantly made both our carryon bags & the pelican case (super secret big black nerd case) all fit in the back of the car. I didn’t think they would all fit. Misty gave us card protectors for our wallets so we would be safe. So thoughtful! Misty also gave me an adorable sticker that said “Danke.” Danke schön to you two! At the airport the desk attendant, after examining our passports (yay passports!), heartily congratulated us on being more than two hours early for our flight. Through security (without having to remove shoes) & then on to lunch! I went for the delicious Petite Provence BLT on their buttery flakey croissants. (Danke!) Aaron went for Panda Express & was greatly honored by a fortune cookie. Aaron pointed out it was very odd & counterintuitive to have actual food carts (on wheels & everything) deep inside the airport. As a side note the Lake Oswego location of La Provence has addictive bread pudding.
Go, you will love it.
As we walked to a gate I’d never seen before, we spied this Giant Cuckoo Clock I’d never noticed. (Yes that is Sasquatch & Portlandia.) Who needs to travel the whole world, when your very own airport is so exciting? We suddenly had schemes of getting our very own Not Giant Cuckoo Clock from Germany. At our gate we said hello to Ken (Aaron’s co-worker also headed to Germany), & then settled in to some serious electronics charging. We were some of the last people to board & walking past the gate agent I realized we would be walking outside the terminal to board the small airplane & not through a hallway to a large plane since it was just 45 minutes to Seattle. Our carryon bags were too large to fit in the tiny overhead compartments so we dropped them on the loading cart before ducking into the rear door of our plane.
Seattle is where we were greeted with British accents & loaded onto the largest plane I have ever had the privilege to board. Three seats on the left, middle & right sides. We walked past the first class individual sleeping pods, the business class leg room & had no idea how we would pine for either of those for the next 9 hours. Over the snowy Canadian Rockies & icy Greenland dipping below Iceland & on to London Heathrow airport! I wish it were so simple. I did not sleep.
The young man behind me did not sleep all night & playing with his screen which pushes on my seat, so I did not sleep all night. He left his overhead light on & at one point put his blanket over my seat onto my head. Yep, there are terrible parts to vacations, & apparently it is the getting there, not the being there. We did have a row to ourselves & the food was SO good. Turns out British accents are harder to understand in person than on the Tele. I picked one of two food choices, not understanding a word & my dinner surprise was Ravioli. Delicious! I convinced Aaron to take the other choice so we could switch if we wanted & the flight attendant said something about “cottage.” Turns out Aaron had Cottage Pie, which we know as Shepherd’s Pie. I had a bite of that & it was excellent. We each had a roll with butter, cheesecake for dessert & little creamer-sized tubs of milk. They were supposed to be for the tea, but I promptly drank both in two tiny sips.
I love milk!
We also had breakfast about an hour before landing, it came in that little adorable British box. More milk sips! They offered us tea a couple of different times & at first we were confused by the lack of coffee & then delighted at the cultural differences. Looking at the pictures now I see exactly how little room we had. Aaron actually gave up business class to slum it with me. What a lucky guy. It wasn’t until we were landing that I spied this note on my free toothbrush that I could have requested eyeshades & British socks the whole time! By this time it is officially Monday, but we still had hours in LHR & another flight to Stuttgart. It turns out that Heathrow is a huge airport, a fact I would only realize on our way back when we actually changed terminals. We had to pass through security again at LHR & we made two mistakes; 1 I put both my liquids & Aaron’s liquids together in one bin, 2 he forgot to take the iPad out of his carryon. That meant additional checks on our items & the line for those checks is not quick. LHR is apparently just a huge mall wherein people occasionally leave on flights. On the way to the loo I was overwhelmed & nauseated by all the perfume samples puffed into the air. Usually I’m not at all bothered by that sort of thing, probably just jet lag.
After that it was a mere hour & a half wait for our flight, which was a mere hour & a half more to Germany. I get motion sick & I’m a photographer so I always get the window seat. My eyes were absolutely glued to the window & I saw London pass behind us & the channel open below us, it was full of ships & surprisingly full of wind farms. Lots & lots of them in the water & then on the land. The farther we were from the coast I started to notice how different the land was settled. I’ve flown over the U.S. a few times in recent years & our cities do not look like German cities. Here you will frequently have individual farmhouses surrounded by farmland (worked in circles) & further along a sprawling city. In Germany, from the small part I could see, it was a close grouping of white 3-story homes with red roofs all surrounded by green farmland worked in squares. We passed over the Black Forest, which was a very beautiful dark green. The first thing I noticed after we landed was a huge red Bosch sign, which made me think of my Mom’s Bosch mixer, in which she used to make delicious bread. This is when the smile never left my face for an entire week.
Aaron, bravely & adventurously, tried to get the three of us (& all our luggage) a cab to the hotel. The driver he first approached did not speak English, but said something about a “wagon,” which the three of us decided really meant like a station wagon type vehicle & not a minibus we’d been waiting to catch. When we finally figured that out, Aaron stepped right up to the cab immediately in front of us & the driver tucked all our luggage perfectly in the back of the Mercedes hatchback wagon & we piled into the seats. Turns out unlike Portland with all our Prius cabs, Stuttgart has all Mercedes taxicabs. Fancy! The views on the drive down into the valley where the city of Stuttgart was built made me forget anything about sleep or lack of sleep. It was all weird & different & beautiful & exciting. Cobblestone streets & sidewalks, buildings 3 or 4 stories tall with business on the ground level, subways, strange street signs & people. You are MINE Stuttgart!
After a quick unpack we only had time for a short walk & dinner at Cafe Félix. We originally thought we’d sit outside (“Can we just sit anywhere? Yes, you can sit everywhere.”) because it was such an enchanted evening, but we soon learned that quite a few people smoke & that any & all outdoor spaces are quite useful to them, but not so happy for us. I had a chicken gyro (Félix wrap) & Aaron had a cheeseburger. So adventurous! Delicious, if not adventurous. During dinner I saw people across the room looking slightly panicked at another area of the restaurant, I followed their gaze & saw that somehow a candle had burned through the glass votive it was in & had caught the well-saturated-with-alcohol table on fire. The server walked quickly over to the table & tossed some kind of liquid (water?), which made the fire blaze up, & then go out. There is the adventurousness for you.
We walked around the Berliner Platz & spied a market that was still open so of course we bought chocolate. You will be surprised to know that Kit-Kats in Germany taste different than Kit-Kats in the States. Look at us being adventurous again. We also got Euro cash from the ATM outside the movie theater. Yes people watch movies there! I know!
Back at the Maritim Hotel we spied the Genivi conference tables all set up for the nerd conference the next day. Notice Aaron’s name shield was the first in line. I say nerd, but I really mean super important, intelligent, ground breaking & exciting conference.
Speaking of super important & exciting just wait for tomorrow.