So today is stage 2 of the trip to Germany – Brisbane to Berlin. I was up bright and early this morning, showered, dressed and rearing to go, so I let Demelza know that I was ready to be picked up. About 40 mins later she arrived and we set off to Brisbane. There was still a while until we had to be at the airport for our flight to Germany where we are going to celebrate my grandson’s first wedding anniversary. This celebration is to be held with Lucia’s friends and family in Germany as many of them couldn’t make the wedding in Fiji.
Dee’s partner, Ros cooked up a delicious breakfast of pork chops, bacon and eggs and then we set off for the airport. As we were really early it took no time at all to book in. Dee needs a new pair shoes for the trip so we headed off to DFO to pick up a pair of Van’s for her.
Ros drove the us back to the international airport for our flight. Our flight has been booked with Lufthansa and the first leg of our journey is with their partner airline Singapore Airlines. I have travelled with Singapore Airlines before and love the service the staff provide on long haul flights.
Not long after we take off, the flight attendants come around with hot towels for everyone to freshen up, and we are also given a pack containing socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
A menu is provided with a number of options. I decided on the chicken dish and am rewarded with a delicious meal of roast chicken pieces, cabbage, peas and a creamy sauce, bread roll, butter and jam is served, followed by a delicious Maggie Bear chocolate ice cream. Drinks are constantly available throughout the flight. And later on we are given a chicken roll. My inflight entertainment kept dropping out but I did manage to watch The Professor and the Old Man, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I read my kindle for the rest of the journey.
8 hours later we land in Singapore. The other half of our group flew with British Airways from Sydney and we had agreed to meet up in Singapore. Dee and I had landed at terminal 1 and the girls were arriving at terminal 3. It took a while to walk up to where they were and on the way we took in the butterfly garden. It was late and the butterflies were all asleep but the floral arrangements are really lovely.
Unfortunately the girls only had a 20 minutes layover so we didn’t have time for coffee. After lots of hugs they board their flight to London and we head off to take the skytrain to go and board our flight to Frankfurt. I think that Changi Airport is one of the nicest airports I have been in. There is so much to do and the garden areas are just beautiful.
Our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt is called and everyone is on board and settled in but our flight to Germany is delayed. So it’s just a matter of being patient and waiting for clearance.
Once again my entertainment unit isn’t working and this time it applies to everyone in our row. We have a couple sitting next to us and they have a toddler who cries and wails for most of the flight. I am sure that had the entertainment unit been working it more have been less of a problem as he could have watched movies. The parents do what they can to placate him but to no avail.
This leg of the journey is with Lufthansa and the service is not quite up to the standard of Singapore airlines. It’s been a really long day and we had both managed to doze off and miss dinner. The flight path program isn’t working so we have no idea of knowing how long we had to go to arrive at our destination.
Breakfast is delicious, we are served scrambled eggs, hash brown, bread roll, jam and butter. Drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, are freely available.
We disembark in Frankfurt and going through customs is quick and easy. But as our flight had been delayed in Singapore we were late arriving in Frankfurt. We arrived at gate Z69 and had to get to gate A14 for our next flight to Berlin and we only had 15 mins to get there. So we ran as fast as we could. Once we got through the security check we couldn’t see where we needed to go. There was a sign above a duty free shop showing terminal numbers but we weren’t sure where we were supposed to go. Demelza approached two police, one of who was holding a rather large rifle plus their pistols. When she asks where where we have to go he says “Look at the sign”. It turns out that we fo to go through the duty free shops to continue through to the terminals. But you know what, it really wasn’t that obvious.
Dee says to me that she is shocked by the fact that the security had not only a sidearm but was also carrying a large rifle. Quite different to how our security police in Australia are armed. Travel certainly shows how different things are in other countries.
Well we make the flight, totally out of breath, with a short time to spare. The flight attendant hands us chocolate biscuits as we board, so our effort to get there on time is rewarded.
We did miss going through Duty Free though so I didn’t manage to pick up sim cards for my phone and iPad.
The flight from Frankfurt to Berlin is only short and before long we have landed. We wanted to go to the duty free shop then realised that this was a domestic flight so we weren’t able to get into the duty free store. We walked through a door and were out in the terminal. Again, not thinking it through, I thought we were supposed to go through customs so I approached security to query if we had missed something and the response was “No. just go”. So as I say I hadn’t realised that the quick and easy pass through security in Frankfurt had been our introduction to Germany.
It’s going to be some time before Varinia and the girls arrive so we get a couple of drinks and prepare to wait. Our Sebastian surprises us. We weren’t expecting him to pick us up, our understanding was that Sebastian (Lucia’s brother) was going to drive us to Steinhagen.
Once Varinia and the girls arrive on their British Airways flight from the UK, Seb and Sebastian drive us down the autobahn to Bielefeld. I do feel sorry for the guys as the girls in the back keep them entertained by singing along with the songs on the radio.
We stop at McDonalds for some lunch. Wow what a difference to what we get in Australia. The burgers are so much bigger for a start and the flavour of the meat is delicious. Our second stop is at Edeka where the girls buy cigarettes. remarking on how cheap they are, even when you double the price allowing for the exchange rate. They ended up buying 3 packets of cigarettes as they are so cheap. We are all blown away by the prices. The girls get a bit of a giggle as at the checkout, I am standing looking at an amazing range of chocolates and Varinia is standing behind me facing the other way looking at the really cheap booze. I can see we are going to love being here.
After lots of giggling and discussion about the prices we head back to the van and continue on to Lucia’s parents home.
Once more we treat the two Sebastians to musical performances as we sing along to the songs on the radio. I’m not sure they appreciate our efforts as there is much groaning from the front of the van. During the drive Seb gives Ayla pointers on driving in Germany. She will be driving our camper van on this trip.
As we drive down the Autobahn I have to say I have never seen so many trucks, and cars whizz by us at great speed. My husband would have loved driving here, the number of speeding tickets he received over his lifetime was quite substantial. So driving where there are stretches of road where there is no speed limit would have been a dream come true for him.
It takes around 3½ hours to get to Steinhagen, and we finally arrive at Karlheinz and Gerlinde’s home. They live in a little piece of paradise with a large garden, so Varinia is in her element as she loves gardens and gardening. And Demelza is delighted to find that there are three dogs for her to dote on, Luna, Nala and Zimba. There are hugs all round as we meet up once again. We are all delighted to be here and our gracious hosts have everything organised to make our stay enjoyable.
A stroll around the garden reveals nooks and crannies where delightful garden ornaments and flower pots reside. It’s really quite captivating.
There is an area away from the house where the smokers can enjoy themselves with a cigarette and a coffee.
And it’s just as nice for the non-smokers to sit and relax in the peaceful garden surroundings.
And I really love the small pond covered in duckweed and surrounded by tall grasses and plants. A quick peek reveals frogs and other small statues in amongst the greenery. It’s just delightful, and so relaxing.
More of the gardens and a my daughter and grandaughters having a celebratory drink with our wonderful hosts.
Varinia and I share a room on the upper level and when I open the door we all burst out laughing when we see the wine collection. Varinia has been known to enjoy a tipple or two.
We enjoy a barbecue later in the evening. It doesn’t get dark until quite late at night so we spend a pleasant evening relaxing and just chilling out.
We were intending to go shopping in the morning but we have just found out that tomorrow is a holiday and all the shops will be shut. It’s Ascension Day – the 40th day after Easter, and Fathers Day or Men’s Day because it’s a day for all men not just fathers.
Sebastian has planned a visit to the Heimat-Tierpark Olderdissen, Bielefeld Farmhouse museum, the wild bird flying demonstration at the Adlerwarte Berlebeck and the Externsteine which is a sandstone rock formation in the Teutoburg forest. So looking forward to tomorrow.